Coalition of Sahel defense ministers discuss operations in the region

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Regular EDF personnel in Mali, based in the eastern city of Gao. Source: Taavi Karotamm/mil.ee

In a video meeting on Wednesday, defense ministers of the Sahel Coalition's countries discussed the security situation and military operations in the Sahel region.

The defense ministers of the Coalition for the Sahel covered developments in the Sahel region, focusing on the security situation in Mali and military operations.

The Estonian Ministry of Defence was represented by defense policy undersecretary Kadi Silde, who provided a summary of Estonia's experience participating with special operations unit Task Force Takuba in the counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane.

In her speech, Silde emphasized Estonia's positive experience involving co-operation with the French and Malian servicemen and the importance of achieving stability in Mali, according to the ministry.

"Estonia was one of the first countries to join the French-led Task Force Takuba, where we have an excellent opportunity to apply the skills of Estonian servicemen in the training of Mali's military units, thereby helping to create stability on the ground. This, in turn, directly affects European security," Silde spoke.

At the meeting, the defense ministers noted that progress had been made in the fight against terrorism in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. In order to ensure the security of the region, it is also necessary to focus on economic development, strengthening state power and ensuring the provision of basic public services to the local population. The ministers also reaffirmed the need for continued international cooperation and coordination in the region. The ministers also reaffirmed the development of a partnership with the G5 Sahel Joint Force.

Estonia joined Task Force Takuba in the summer of 2020. The Coalition for the Sahel includes France, the G5 Sahel countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad – the European Union, the United Nations, countries participating in Operation Barkhane, and other partners contributing to the Sahel region.

The operation aims to support the fight against Islamic extremismin the five countries of the Sahel region (Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, as well as Mali itself). The operation also aims to prevent illegal immigration and human trafficking in Europe.

Estonia's rationale for taking part primarily revolves around a trade-off; helping to secure the EU's southern approaches in Operation Barkhane and other initiatives in return for the presence of both the EU and NATO in Estonia, at Tapa and Ämari and with it the securing of the union's eastern flank.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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