Estonia seeking mandate to deploy up to five EDF service members to Niger

EDF troops serving n Mali on the bank of the Niger River. November 2019.
EDF troops serving n Mali on the bank of the Niger River. November 2019. Source: Headquarters of the EDF/

The Ministry of Defense has submitted for a round of approvals a draft Riigikogu resolution that would authorize the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) to deploy up to five EDF service members on an EU military mission in Niger.

Formally established in December 2022 at Niger's request and launched this February, the EU Military Partnership Mission in Niger (EUMPM Niger) is a non-executive military mission with a strategic aim of developing the Niger Armed Forces' capabilities to contain terrorist threats and protect the local population.

According to the letter of explanation accompanying the draft resolution, Estonia's participation in EUMPM Niger is crucial in emphasizing its contribution to fulfilling the objectives of the EU's Strategic Compass approved by the European Council last March, in which crisis management plays a key role.

In participating in the mission, Estonia will be contributing to ensuring the security of EU's member states, thereby also contributing to the resolution of the challenges and threats in Europe's southern neighborhood, such as the spread of terrorism, and mass migration, at their source.

"Considering that the Sahel is a priority for both France as well as several other important EU member states such as Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal, Estonia's contribution to EUMPM Niger demonstrates the solidarity needed in addressing various security concerns," the ministry's letter of explanation reads. "In addition, EUMPM Niger may also be the only format in which Estonia would have the opportunity in the near term to maintain operation cooperation with France in Africa."

Following the U.K., its framework nation, France is the second biggest contributor to NATO Battlegroup Estonia, the alliance's multinational enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup stationed in Tapa which contributes to Estonia's defense.

Estonia wants to deploy two staff officers on the Niger mission next year, but the specific tasks of these positions won't be determined until an EU military operation force creation conference taking place in October at the earliest. Nonetheless, the ministry is seeking a mandate for the deployment of up to five service members.

The European Council formally established EUMPM Niger on December 12, 2022, after receiving a request from the Nigerien government sent on November 30.

EDF troops had served on various missions in the neighboring Mali since 2013, but were returned to Estonia by no later than last November.

Two years ago, the Ministry of Defense had requested that the mandate for the Estonian special forces serving in Mali be expanded, and that they be authorized to cross the border into Niger if necessary, as that would help them combat terrorists unhindered by national borders.

According to the letter of explanation accompanying the draft regulation, the EU's desire to establish a new military operation in the Sahel is based on the region's challenging political and security situation. The Sahel has supplanted the Middle East as a hotbed for terrorism in recent years, contributed to by the African countries' deteriorating economic, political and social conditions, which terrorist groups are skillfully exploiting in recruiting new members.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: