As a result of rearrangements made in the participation of the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) mission by Finland, beginning next year, Estonia will no longer deploy an infantry platoon but rather continue participating in the peacekeeping mission with three military personnel.
A bill has exited the Ministry of Defence with which the ministry is to seek the approval of a mandate to deploy up to three Estonian personnel to the UNIFIL mission in 2019, it appears from the draft made available in the document register.
"With this, Estonia will discontinue deploying an infantry platoon to Lebanon," Ministry of Defence spokesperson Andres Sang told BNS.
"Finland is reorganising its involvement in UNIFIL and their participation in the joint battalion with Ireland will not continue, among other things," Sang explained. "Since it is not possible for Estonia to participate in UNIFIL with a company-sized unit and no suitable alternatives for making a contribution with other partner states were found, the proposal of the Ministry of Defence is to discontinue participation in UNIFIL with an infantry unit."
The ministry spokesperson noted that as a country contributing to collective securiy, Estonia cannot ignore the security political importance of developments in the Middle East and the direct impact of events there on strengthening security and stability both in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. "Therefore we plan to continue contributing up to three Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) personnel to UNIFIL," he added.
UNIFIL, to which Estonia has been contributing troops on a rotational basis since spring 2015, was first established in 1978. The Estonian contingent, which serves as part of the multinational Finnish-Irish battalion (FINIRISHBATT), consists of approximately 40 personnel and is rotated out every six months. ESTPLA-25 deployed to Lebanon this May.
Since 1997, Estonia has also participated in the UN observer mission UNTSO in Lebanon, the objective of which is to monitor compliance with international treaties by Israel and its four neighboring countries — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Estonia contributes to UNTSO with military observers and the head of the observation group.
Editor: Aili Vahtla