Transfer to civilian rule should go ahead in the West African country of Mali, Estonia's ambassador to the United Nations Sven Jürgenson says. The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) regularly deploys an infantry platoon and other personnel to Mali, as part of the French-led Operation Barkhane, and in support of both United Nations and European Union peacekeeping efforts there also.
Speaking in New York Friday, ahead of a UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting focussed on Mali, Jürgenson said: "The situation in the country is extremely difficult, as confirmed by the recent joint UNSC visit to Mali."
"It is important that there is a transfer of power to civilian power in Mali and that the country returns to constitutional order," Jürgenson continued, according to foreign ministry spokespersons.
"Preparations for elections that are free, credible and transparent must also continue, and progress must be made in implementing the Mali peace agreement. Cooperation at both regional and international level plays an important role here," Jürgenson added.
Estonia reaffirms its continued support for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and calls on Mali's interim government to strengthen cooperation with them, Jürgenson went on.
"With its participation in the UN peacekeeping mission, the French-led operation Barkhane and its special operations taskforce Takuba, plus the EU training mission EUTM Mali, Estonia supports efforts to improve the security situation in Mali," he said.
Operation Barkhane is a French-led counter-terrorism and anti-human-trafficking endeavor, covering a vast area of terrain and several Sahel region countries, such as Chad and Mauritania, in addition to Mali.
EDF personnel taking part in Operation Barkhane are centered around an infantry platoon deployed on a rotational basis and based in the city of Gao, which primarily undertakes patrolling and training duties.
Estonia is nearing the end of its two-year UNSC non-permanent member stint.
A military coup in Mali this year saw control assumed by Colonel Assimi Goïta and the overthrow of Ban Ndaw as president. Ndaw was released from house arrest in late August.
The presence in Mali of Russian private military contractors employed by the Wagner company has also caused recent tensions.
Editor: Andrew Whyte