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Defense minister: Mali going well, European progress on Belarus also good

Defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa).
Defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa). Source: ERR

Defense Minister Juri Luik (Isamaa) Luik said that Estonia is satisfied with the defense cooperation between countries involved in a French-led counter-insurgency, anti-terrorism and anti-human-trafficking operation in the West African country of Mali, as well as stances towards Russia and Belarus.

Speaking to colleagues via video link-up Friday, Luik noted the importance of defense ministers holding regular discussions on key issues affecting European security, particularly in the framework of the European Intervention Initiative, aimed at pooling the experience of like-minded European countries with similar strategic interests and global military compatability.

"Today we held a discussion with our colleagues on several problems ... directly affecting the security of Europe. While there are many such issues, we focused today on the continuous disinformation campaign carried out by the Russian Federation, events in Belarus and in Mali," Luik said.

"I am glad the countries were in agreement over the need to rapidly come to a consensus on additional EU sanctions vis-a-vis Belarus and that they expressed support for the Belarusian people," he went on.

Estonia, together with the other two Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania, recently extended their sanctions list to include more individuals connected with the Lukashenko regime, in the wake of violent state crackdowns on protestors following the Belarusian president's reelection last month.

The European defense ministers also talked about the implications of the coronavirus. 

Countries signed up so far to the European Initiative include Germany, the U.K., Spain and Finland, in addition to Estonia and France.

Estonia provides an infantry platoon as its contribution to Operation Barkhane, which covers the Sahel region, including Niger, Chad and several other states in addition to Mali, as well as other specialized personnel.

The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) personnel are primarily based in the city of Gao, Mali.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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