Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas (Center) says that Estonia's commitment to its allies does not begin and end with Afghanistan, but incorporates a whole range of other theaters.
In his speech marking Veterans' Day, Ratas said that: "On Veterans Day, we pay homage to our servicemen who have taken part in international military missions on behalf of Estonia for more than 25 years."
Such missions include Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, The Lebanon, Mali and the Mediterranean, as well as Afghanistan, Ratas said. A total of over 3,000 Estonian citizens have been involved, a Riigikogu press release reported Friday.
Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) personnel have been present in Afghanistan for the bulk of the time-span of the U.S.-led mission which began there in 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, and, following U.S. President Joe Biden's announcement that his country's troops would be coming home this year, Estonia and other allies have stated they will be doing the same.
The speaker also laid a wreath at a memorial stone relocated from Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, to Tapa base, east of Tallinn, Friday morning, to honor the memory of fallen EDF members, who total 12 since the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991, the bulk of these in Afghanistan.
"Estonia will never forget the hard work and sacrifices that you and your families have made," Ratas said.
"We are extremely grateful for your contribution to ensuring our security and preserving our independence," he added.
"Duties end but memories remain," Ratas said went on, noting that the EDF had performed these duties in Afghanistan over the past 18 years with flying colors.
Veterans' Day was initiated in 2013 and provides a way of recognizing the service of Estonia's military personnel, and their families.
Readers can also support veterans via the Anname Au charity, whose wristbands and cornflower badges are available in kiosks and other stores, or via the website here.
Other events marking the day include a rock concert, Veteranirock 2021, taking place Friday evening and broadcast live by ETV2.
Editor: Andrew Whyte