Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Isamaa) presented medals to Estonian servicemen who participated in foreign missions and emphasised that their "selfless service" is valued highly by both Estonia and Estonia's Allies.
Luik said Estonian men and women have served, and continue to serve, in areas with a very complicated security situation, and have been successful in their endeavours.
"Your exemplary service in crisis areas has brought Estonia closer to its allies. This, in turn, encourages our allies to contribute fully to Estonia's national defense," said Luik.
"This is solidarity, the readiness to help each other not only in words but also in deeds," he explained.
Luik said 20 years ago we could not have anticipated joining NATO or the EU, or that the Defense Forces would soon need a desert uniform, yet the Defense Forces has convincingly demonstrated that it is able to operate very efficiently - along with its equipment – in distant lands and under very complicated logistical conditions.
Luik said that the brutal attacks and murders committed by terrorists in Europe - but also in Afghanistan, Mali and elsewhere in the world - are proof that there is no end in sight in the fight against terrorism.
"We need to step up our efforts with the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and other allies," Luik said, explaining that the aim is to support conflict areas such as Mali, the Sahel region, and Afghanistan so that they would one day be ready to ensure their own security.
Luik added that it is still too early to think about complete withdrawal. "Leaving could lead to those countries and regions falling under the control of terrorist organizations and groups, which would mean facing even bigger problems," he said.
Luik also thanked the family members of servicemen for their support and waiting for them to return home.
Mission medals were awarded to Estonian servicemen who had served in Mali (EUTM MALI, BARKHANE, MINUSMA), the Middle East (UNTSO) and Afghanistan (Resolute Support).
Editor: Helen Wright