Defense minister: Finland extremely significant regional defense partner

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Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform). Source: ERR

Defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) has stressed the importance of bilateral defensive cooperation between Estonia and Finland.

"Finland is a crucial long-term regional partner for us, and Estonia highly values defense cooperation with it, both bilaterally in the Nordic-Baltic format, and in the European context," Laanet said via a ministry press release, after a video meeting with his Finnish counterpart, Antti Kaikkonen, Wednesday evening.

Finland, unlike Estonia, is not a NATO member, though it is in the EU and engages in training exercises and cooperation with the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and other defensive bodies, while joint procurement – such as in the case of South Korean-made K9 self-propelled guns, as well as other armored vehicles – has also taken place in recent years.

"We are pleased that Finnish servicemen will be participating in our training exercises and this mutual acquisition of defence experience will continue in the same good spirit of cooperation," Laanet went on.

On the matter of procurement, Laanet, who became defense minister in January, said Estonia has benefited greatly from Finland's experience in the field.

Bilateral cooperation in airspace and maritime surveillance, relations between the EU and NATO, and the role of Finland as a partner of NATO in regional cooperation between the countries located on the Baltic Sea, were all also on the table, BNS reports.

Historically, the two countries have also come to one another's aid. Finnish volunteers served in the 1918-1920 Estonian War of Independence, while Estonian troops, most famously in the 200th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Soomepoisid" (Estonian for "Finnish boys") fought on Finland's side in the 1940 Winter War and subsequent Continuation War with the Soviet Union, even as Estonia had been occupied by the latter.

The two ministers added they hoped they would be able to meet face-to-face in the future, if and when the coronavirus situation improves.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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