President Kaljulaid meets Estonian soldiers heading to Mali
President Kersti Kaljulaid met with the members of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) on Monday. The personnel are soon to head to the West African country of Mali, where Estonia contributes to the French-led Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism and anti-human trafficking effort.
During the meeting that took place at the Seli health center near Rapla, President Kaljulaid thanked the members of the EDF for their contribution to the security of Estonia.
She said that thanks to the contribution of Estonian soldiers, life is a bit safer for the people of Mali.
The impact of the EDF troops' service also reaches the politicians, generals and officials of France and our other allies, who are sincerely grateful for our contribution, the president said, according to spokespeople.
Kaljulaid noted: "And it loops back around to our own country, where the NATO allied troops stationed here are very well aware that Estonia is not only a consumer of security."
The president added: "I also felt this myself yesterday, when the eFP contingent on a bicycle tour around Estonia was welcomed by a flyover of French Air Force fighter jets near the Kaali crater. Dear soldiers and officers, I wait for you to come back by the end of the year!"
The core of the Estonian contingent heading to Mali is made up of the infantry platoon BKN ESTPLA 7, which will replace the ESTPLA-36 platoon serving in the operation Barkhane since April of this year.
Operation Barkhane sees Estonian troops tasked with force protection and the conduct of joint patrols with French units. The contingent also includes a national support element and staff officers.
The objective of Operation Barkhane is to support the governments of the five Sahel region countries Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad, as well as Mali, in their fight against Islamic extremism and terrorism, as well as illegal migration and human trafficking to Europe.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste