French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Isamaa) met on the margins of the European Intervention Initiative (EI2) Ministers of Defence in Hilversum, Netherlands, on Friday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of a bilateral defense cooperation agreement between France and Estonia on May 11, 1994. The two ministers also reaffirmed the shared goal of deepening bilateral defense cooperation between Estonia and France.
In recent years, defense cooperation between France and Estonia has significantly increased, the Ministry of Defence said in a press release. Both countries' military personnel have served side by side in the Sahel region in Africa and as part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup in Estonia in order to strengthen a shared strategic culture, European security and NATO's collective deterrence and defense posture.
Building on this excellent partnership, France and Estonia have a common understanding regarding the further strengthening of operational cooperation, both in Operation Barkhane and as part of Estonia's eFP, and thus also bringing their bilateral security cooperation to a new level, the ministry noted.
Within the framework of NATO's eFP posture, France has contributed to NATO Battlegroup Estonia on a rotational basis, in 2017 and again in 2019. France is determined to continue its operational commitment by serving in the Estonian battlegroup again in 2021. This continuing contribution of French troops to the battlegroup is an enduring sign of how seriously France and, more broadly, the alliance take the strengthening of its deterrence posture, the statement read.
Both countries consider fighting terrorism and illegal human trafficking in source and transit countries an important part of common European security, the ministry said. Under Operation Barkhane, which it joined in 2018, Estonia has participated together with France in the fight against terrorism in Mali and assisting the Malian Armed Forces in building up their capacity to ensure their own security.
Estonia is determined to continue its participation in Operation Barkhane with an increased contribution in 2020; it is to deploy an infantry platoon and special operations forces to serve in the operation.
Estonia and France have also actively cooperated in the cyberdefense domain via policy discussions and practical information exchange. Both countries consider cyberdefense as part of the conduct of military operations and participate in dedicated training and exercises.
Editor: Aili Vahtla