UK defense minister makes two-day visit to Estonia
The United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace is on a two-day visit to Estonia and will visit Tapa military base to meet Estonian and UK soldiers on Tuesday.
Estonian Defence Minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa) met with Wallace on Monday and the pair discussed the UK's contribution to NATO's battlegroup in Tapa, cooperation in NATO and other formats and regional security issues.
In a statement made after the meeting, Luik said the UK is one of Estonia's most important allies as the countries share an understanding of security threats from Russia.
"The over 800 UK soldiers in Estonia and today's meeting affirm this and we are thankful for the UK's commitment," he said.
Luik also welcomed the UK government's decision to increase defence investments and expressed hope that other NATO members will follow the example of the UK and Estonia.
Wallace said the UK's decision to leave the European Union will not decrease its contribution to the region's security. Instead in line with the new integrated review on defence, a bigger and stronger UK presence can be expected in Estonia and elsewhere in the world.
Today, the ministers will visit the NATO battlegroup at Tapa, made up of UK and Danish forces. Next year a French company will take over the Danish rotation.
Estonia and the UK's defence cooperation began during the Estonian War of Independence 102 years ago, when the British Royal Navy brought weapons and equipment to Estonia. Today close defence cooperation continues in maintaining NATO's deterrence in Estonia, but also on operations in Afghanistan and Mali.
You can watch the ministers' press conference below.
Wallace also met Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Monday, who tweeted his thanks for the meeting which was held in a difficult time.
Thank you @BWallaceMP for your visit to Estonia in such difficult times. We highly appreciate your commitment to eFP and our close military cooperation in many parts of the world. pic.twitter.com/CAxlHqVDqT— Jüri Ratas (@ratasjuri) December 14, 2020
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Editor: Helen Wright