English newshttp://www.mil.ee/www.mil.ee recent newsenSat, 27 May 2017 03:36:40 +0300Sat, 27 May 2017 03:36:40 +0300The United States’ most advanced fighter, the F-35, landed at Ämarihttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9727/the-united-states%E2%80%99-most-advanced-fighter%2C-the-f-35%2C-landed-at-%C3%A4mari<p>At 01.00 yesterday, two US F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighters and an accompanying Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker landed at &Auml;mari Air Base.</p><p>&ldquo;The visit by the fifth-generation, i.e. most advanced, fighter aircraft to Estonia is a clear sign of the special allied relationship between our countries and the strong presence of the United States in Europe,&rdquo; said Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna. &ldquo;We share the same values and we are together ready to defend the territory of NATO member countries from any form of possible aggression. The use of the United States&rsquo; newest combat aircraft in Europe ensures the sovereignty of all NATO member countries.&rdquo; According to Minister of Defence Tsahkna, the landing of the high-tech fighter aircraft at &Auml;mari Air Base demonstrates great recognition of Estonia&rsquo;s Air Force.</p> <p>The F-35A type fighter aircraft arrived in Estonia from U.S. Air Force-operated base Lakenheath, located in the United Kingdom; the fighter aircraft are permanently located in the United States, as part of the 34th Fighter Squadron and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The fighters were escorted by a KC-135 from the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England.</p> <p>&ldquo;The United States showed that their new fifth generation fighter is ready to protect the skies of the alliance,&rdquo; said Commander of the Estonian Air Force Colonel Jaak Tarien. According to Tarien, the arrival of the fifth-generation US fighter is given even greater value based on the fact that the F-35 type aircraft had never previously landed outside of a US Air Force base. &ldquo;This demonstrates the strength of the defence related cooperation between the two countries as well as the level of our &Auml;mari Air Base,&rdquo; said Tarien.</p> <p>The F-35 type fighter aircraft arrived in Europe in the middle of April, in order to participate in training exercises along with NATO allies.</p> <p>The F-35 aircraft is able to operate as a fighter and reconnaissance aircraft as well as a tactical bomber. The F-35 is able to fly at speeds in excess of 1900 km/h; the aircraft&rsquo;s primary armaments include a GAU-22/A 25mm Gatling-type rotary canon and air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. Two additional missiles or bombs can be attached under the wings.</p> <p>The maiden flight of the F-35A fighter aircraft took place on 15 December 2006.</p>news_9727Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:31:00 +0300Brigadier General Indrek Sirel discussed the arrival of allied units in Turkeyhttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9716/brigadier-general-indrek-sirel-discussed-the-arrival-of-allied-units-in-turkey<p>The Deputy Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Brigadier General Indrek Sirel, took part this week in a meeting organised by NATO Allied Land Command, in Turkey, in order to discuss questions related to the arrival of the NATO combat group and its presence in Estonia.</p><p>&ldquo;The meeting gave us an excellent opportunity to hone topics related to the NATO combat group,\" said Deputy Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Brigadier General Indrek Sirel, according to whom the arrival in Estonia of British and French servicemen and the transferring of their equipment is going according to plan. &nbsp;&ldquo;The integration of a multinational combat group will take a little bit of time, but their arrival definitely strengthens our defence capability as well as the interoperability of the alliance as a whole.&rdquo;</p> <p>Representatives from 14 countries participated in the NATO meeting, including the countries contributing to the NATO combat groups and the countries hosting them, with servicemen from NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) also taking part in the meeting.</p> <p>Last June, at the Warsaw Summit, the leaders of NATO&rsquo;s 28 member countries decided, as a result of the changed security situation, to station alliance combat groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.</p> <p>The United Kingdom is the lead country for the allied battle group being sent to Estonia, with France and Denmark also contributing. &nbsp;A total of 1200 Allied soldiers will be arriving in Estonia as part of the combat group. The United Kingdom is contributing more than 800 servicemen, who will be equipped with Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, and AS90 self-propelled guns. France is contributing a unit with 300 servicemen to the combat group, which will be armed with Leclerc tanks, VBCI infantry fighting vehicles and VAB armoured vehicles. The French will be serving at Tapa for the next eight months, after which they will hand over responsibility to the Danes.</p>news_9716Thu, 30 Mar 2017 14:40:00 +0300French tanks arrived in Tapahttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9713/french-tanks-arrived-in-tapa<p>The last part of the French military\'s technology park arrived today at the Defence Forces&rsquo; Tapa armed forces campus, with Leclerc tanks among the nearly thirty military vehicles.</p><p>France is contributing 300 servicemen and various types of combat equipment to the NATO combat group being stationed in Estonia. &nbsp;In addition to the tanks, the French servicemen are equipped with VBCI infantry combat vehicles and VAB armoured vehicles. &nbsp;At present there are 50 French servicemen in Estonia, the remainder will arrive in the first half of April. The French will be serving at Tapa for the next eight months, after which they will hand over responsibility to the Danes.</p> <p>The Estonian Defence Forces have prior experience working with the French in the operation in the Central African Republic as well as the anti-piracy operation Atalanta.</p> <p>The combat group is comprised of nearly 1200 allied soldiers. The United Kingdom is contributing more than 800 servicemen, along with Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, as well as AS90 self-propelled guns, and armoured vehicles.</p> <p>Last June, at the Warsaw Summit, the leaders of NATO&rsquo;s 28 member countries decided, as a result of the changed security situation, to station alliance combat groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. &nbsp;The United Kingdom is the lead country for the allied battle group to be stationed in Estonia, with France and Denmark also contributing.</p> <p>Photo gallery: <a href=\"http://pildid.mil.ee/index.php?/category/58022\">http://pildid.mil.ee/index.php?/category/58022</a></p>news_9713Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:38:00 +0300Transfer of allied battle group to Estonia continueshttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9712/transfer-of-allied-battle-group-to-estonia-continues<p>The second half of the shipment of French military equipment, including infantry combat vehicles, being contributed to the allied battle group arrived today at the Estonian Defence Forces\' Tapa armed forces campus.</p><p>France is contributing 300 servicemen and various types of combat equipment to the NATO combat group being stationed in Estonia, including Leclerc tanks, which will be arriving tomorrow. &nbsp;In addition to the tanks, the French servicemen are equipped with VBCI infantry combat vehicles and VAB armoured vehicles. &nbsp;The French will be serving at Tapa for the next eight months, after which they will hand over responsibility to the Danes.</p> <p>The Estonian Defence Forces have prior experience working with the French in the operation in the Central African Republic as well as the anti-piracy operation Atalanta.</p> <p>The combat group is comprised of nearly 1200 allied soldiers. The United Kingdom is contributing more than 800 servicemen, along with Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, as well as AS90 self-propelled guns, and armoured vehicles.</p> <p>Last June, at the Warsaw Summit, the leaders of NATO&rsquo;s 28 member countries decided, as a result of the changed security situation, to station alliance combat groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. &nbsp;The United Kingdom is the lead country for the allied battle group to be stationed in Estonia, with France and Denmark also contributing.</p>news_9712Mon, 27 Mar 2017 18:18:00 +0300British tanks and self-propelled artillery arrived in Estoniahttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9711/british-tanks-and-self-propelled-artillery-arrived-in-estonia<p>Today, more than 130 pieces of military equipment belonging to the United Kingdom arrived at Paldiski – part of the armaments belonging to the NATO combat group arriving in Estonia – including Challenger 2 tanks and AS90 self-propelled guns.</p><p>More than 200 soldiers from the United Kingdom and 50 from France are already present in Estonia, with the combat group’s remaining servicemen and their equipment set to arrive in Estonia in the coming weeks.</p> <p>The combat group is comprised of nearly 1200 allied soldiers. The United Kingdom has announced that its contribution to the combat group will be an armoured unit of more than 800 servicemen, which will be armed with Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, as well as AS90 self-propelled guns, and armoured vehicles. France has announced that it will be contributing a unit of 300 servicemen to the combat group, which will be equipped with Leclerc tanks, VBCI infantry fighting vehicles, and VAB armoured vehicles.</p> <p>The equipment that has arrived will be transported from Paldiski to the 1<sup>st</sup> Infantry Brigade’s armed forces campus in Tapa. Each convoy consists of up to 20 vehicles, with the convoy travelling at a speed not in excess of 70km/h. The convoys will be moving primarily along the route Paldiski-Keila-Tallinn Ring Road-Peterburi Highway and the Tapa-Loobu Highway.</p> <p>Last June, at the Warsaw Summit, the leaders of NATO’s 28 member countries decided, as a result of the changed security situation, to deploy NATO battalion combat groups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The United Kingdom is the lead country for the NATO combat group to be stationed in Estonia, with France and Denmark being contributing countries.</p> <p>We are connected to the Brits, the Danes, and the French by long-term defence related ties and a brotherhood in arms arising from joint participation in international military operations.</p> <p>Photographs: <a href="http://pildid.mil.ee/index.php?/category/58013">http://pildid.mil.ee/index.php?/category/58013</a></p>news_9711Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:41:00 +0200NATO combat group’s equipment moving from Paldiski to Tapahttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9709/nato-combat-group%E2%80%99s-equipment-moving-from-paldiski-to-tapa<p>Equipment convoys will be moving from today until the day after tomorrow, along the route Paldiski-Tapa, transporting machinery that belongs to the United Kingdom and which is part of the NATO combat group, including tanks and mobile artillery.</p><p>Each convoy consists of up to 20 vehicles, with the convoy travelling at a speed not in excess of 70km/h. The convoys will be moving primarily along the route Paldiski-Keila-Tallinn Ring Road-Peterburi Highway and the Tapa-Loobu Highway.</p> <p>More than 200 soldiers from the United Kingdom and 50 from France are already present in Estonia, with the combat group&rsquo;s remaining servicemen and their equipment set to arrive in Estonia in the coming weeks.</p> <p>The combat group is comprised of nearly 1200 allied soldiers. The United Kingdom has announced that its contribution to the combat group will be an armoured unit of more than 800 servicemen, which will be armed with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, mobile artillery, and armoured vehicles. France has announced that it will be contributing a unit of 300 servicemen to the combat group, which will be equipped with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armoured vehicles.</p>news_9709Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:26:00 +0200The first group of French servicemen arrived in Estoniahttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9708/the-first-group-of-french-servicemen-arrived-in-estonia<p>This afternoon, the first group of French servicemen &ndash; who will be serving as part of the NATO combat group &ndash; landed at &Auml;mari Air Base.</p><p>&ldquo;We are here to show that France contributes to cooperation between NATO allies and also to serve together with our allies of Estonia and the United Kingdom,&rdquo; said the commander of the French contingent, Colonel Michel de Mesmay, adding that French soldiers have past experience involving good cooperation with Estonians in the Central-African Republic as well as anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.</p> <p>The first 50 French servicemen who are part of the combat group arrived in Estonia today. France will be contributing a total of 300 servicemen to the combat group which will be stationed at Tapa. The French will be contributing to the combat group for the next eight months, after which they will hand over responsibility to the Danes.</p> <p>The combat group is comprised of nearly 1200 allied soldiers. France has announced that it will be contributing a unit of 300 servicemen, who will be armed with Leclerc tanks, VBCI infantry fighting vehicles, and VAB armoured vehicles. The United Kingdom has announced that its contribution to the combat group will be an armoured unit of 800 servicemen, which will be armed with Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, as well as AS90 mobile artillery, and armoured vehicles.</p> <p>Last June, at the Warsaw Summit, the leaders of NATO&rsquo;s 28 member countries decided, as a result of the changed security situation, to deploy NATO battalion combat groups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The United Kingdom is the lead country for the NATO combat group to be stationed in Estonia, with France and Denmark being contributing countries.</p> <p>We are connected to the Brits, the Danes, and the French by long-term defence related ties and a brotherhood in arms arising from joint participation in international military operations.&nbsp;</p>news_9708Mon, 20 Mar 2017 18:18:00 +0200Nearly 130 servicemen from the NATO combat group arrived in Estoniahttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9707/nearly-130-servicemen-from-the-nato-combat-group-arrived-in-estonia<p>This evening, nearly 130 servicemen from the United Kingdom – part of the NATO combat group of nearly 1200 soldiers arriving this spring – arrived in Estonia.</p><p>“Participation by servicemen from the United Kingdom, France and Denmark is a clear sign that the member states of the alliance stand together in the defence of peace and freedom. With your presence here in Estonia you are defending all of NATO, not just Estonia,” said Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna to the Brits who arrived at Ämari Air Base.</p> <p>The soldiers were also greeted by Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia, Mrs Theresa Bubbear, and Colonel Veiko-Vello Palm, Commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade.</p> <p>Eighty servicemen from the United Kingdom arrived beforehand in Estonia to prepare, in cooperation with the Estonians, for the arrival of the personnel and equipment of the NATO combat group.</p> <p>The first 50 French servicemen who are part of the combat group will be arriving in Estonia on 20 March. The French will be contributing to the combat group for the next eight months, after which they will hand over responsibility to the Danes. The NATO combat group’s remaining personnel and their equipment will arrive here in the next few weeks.</p> <p>Last June, at the Warsaw Summit, the leaders of NATO’s 28 member countries decided, as a result of the changed security situation, to deploy NATO battalion combat groups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The United Kingdom is the lead country for the NATO combat group to be stationed in Estonia, with France and Denmark being contributing countries.</p> <p>The combat group is comprised of nearly 1200 allied soldiers. The United Kingdom has announced that its contribution to the combat group will be an armoured unit with 800 servicemen, which will be armed with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, mobile artillery and armoured vehicles. France has announced that it will be contributing a unit of 300 servicemen to the combat group, which will be equipped with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armoured vehicles.</p> <p>We are connected to the Brits, the Danes and the French by long-term defence related ties and a brotherhood in arms arising from joint participation in international military operations.</p>news_9707Fri, 17 Mar 2017 22:21:00 +0200It’s not possible to take over our country in just a couple of hourshttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9747/it%E2%80%99s-not-possible-to-take-over-our-country-in-just-a-couple-of-hours<p><span>Article appeared in Dagens Nyheter; March 7, 2017</span><br /><span>By Mikael Malmstr&ouml;m</span></p> <p>In Estonia, we&rsquo;re not afraid of Russia, but it&acute;s better to be prepared to defend ourselves. This is the message coming from Riho Terras, the Estonian defence chief, who will be receiving allied troops in April. &ldquo;Our main task is to get Putin to believe in NATO,&rdquo; he says.<b></b></p><p>DN meets General Riho Terras at the Estonian Embassy in Stockholm. In Sweden, he has been speaking with Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist (Social Democrats). Along with Commander Micael Byd&eacute;n, last Friday, General Terras also visited Gotland, which Sweden began to militarily re-equip last year.</p> <p>&ldquo;Gotland is a strategically important area for the entire Baltic Sea region. We got the opportunity to drive tanks, see Gripen aircraft from an incident preparedness perspective and talk with local authorities about how they view the military\'s return and the total defence capability. I liked driving a tank on Gotland, which reminds me very much of our own Saaremaa,&rdquo; says Terras.</p> <p>Saaremaa &ndash; known in Swedish as &Ouml;sel &ndash; is Estonia\'s largest island. Defence League units from there will be taking part in the Swedish major exercise Aurora 17 on the island of Gotland in September. There are other spots where they see eye-to-eye. Both countries are observing increased threats from the Russia of Vladimir Putin.</p> <p>&ldquo;The western media often claim that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are afraid of Russia. No, we&rsquo;re not afraid, but we need to be prepared. Today we are much better prepared to defend our country than ever before in history. It&rsquo;s not possible to take over our country in just a couple of hours. Full Stop!&rdquo; says General Terras, firmly.</p> <p>He has been the defence chief for five years and recently received an extension for a further two years.</p> <p>Estonia is one of the five NATO countries that have reached the goal of investing two per cent of GDP in defence. This year, the figure is 2.17 per cent (Sweden which is not part of NATO is at 1 per cent, the lowest of the Baltic countries).</p> <p>When General Terras is asked whether he believes that Russia plans to attack Estonia, he replies:</p> <p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know. But I believe in NATO. And our main task is to ensure that Putin believes in NATO.&rdquo;</p> <p>Estonia joined the alliance in 2004. At that time, there was d&eacute;tente and during the initial years, NATO had no defence plans for the Baltic States. But Russia&rsquo;s annexation of the Crimea and warfare in Ukraine brought about a decision at NATO&rsquo;s summit in Warsaw last summer to fortify defences in the east.</p> <p>And so, for this reason April 7, a battalion of 1,200 troops from Great Britain and France will be on stand-by in Estonia. This spring, NATO reinforcements in the three Baltic countries will total 3,600 allied troops and 1,000 armoured vehicles.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is not that the British are coming to defend Estonia. Rather, it&rsquo;s the 28 allied countries that have decided to defend NATO&rsquo;s eastern front &ndash; which happens to be Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It has value as a deterrent. In Estonia\'s case, we have taken on board the two nuclear powers: Great Britain and France.&rdquo;</p> <p>In Sweden the debate is whether NATO is hostile toward and trying to encircle Russia?</p> <p>&ldquo;NATO has never been an aggressive organisation. But I have seen Estonia practicing attacking Moscow in a Russian video. They showed pictures of Estonians in our forests and compared them with the forests near Moscow, &ldquo;they&rsquo;re training in the same type of terrain.&rdquo; Yes, sorry, but Estonia has the same type of terrain. But, that&rsquo;s propaganda,&rdquo; says General Terras.</p> <p>&ldquo;If we&rsquo;re going to compare military exercises, the Russian Zapad (West) manoeuvres in 2013 entailed more than 100,000 soldiers while NATO&rsquo;s Steadfast Jazz exercise had only 7,000,&rdquo; says Terras and turns the perspective around:</p> <p>&ldquo;If someone is saying we&rsquo;re being provocative, I believe, on the contrary, that we should provoke Russia by not doing anything. Leaving a vacuum &ndash; as in the Crimea in Ukraine &ndash; is provocative enough for them to take the first step. So let&rsquo;s not provoke Russia. If there&rsquo;s a vacuum, we&rsquo;d prefer to fill it with our own security and we&rsquo;re on track in doing that.&rdquo;</p>news_9747Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:25:00 +0200Commander of Defence Forces: Protection is afforded to those who want and can protect themselveshttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9620/commander-of-defence-forces:-protection-is-afforded-to-those-who-want-and-can-protect-themselves<p><span>The address of the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, General Riho Terras, to the parade in honour of the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia on February 24, 2017 in Tallinn.</span></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Honourable President of the Republic!</span></i><span></span></p> <p></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Honourable President of the Riigikogu!</span></i><span></span></p> <p></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Mister Prime Minister!</span></i><span></span></p> <p></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Your Excellencies! Members of the Defence Forces and the Defence League!</span></i><span></span></p> <p></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Dear compatriots!</span></i><span></span></p><p class="BasicParagraph">99 years ago, Estonia created itself a new future. Proclamation of the republic was a clear demonstration that our own statehood is the best way to preserve our people, our language and culture.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Europe was caught in the whirlwind of the First World War, which erased empires from the map and created an opportunity for the birth of nation states.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">A small nation only has a slight chance to establish its own state. An unlikely chance. Such moments need to occur in favourable times and environments. On top of that, people themselves have take charge on the right day and the right hour.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Our people were ready for that day. Estonia had its educated intellectuals and nationally-minded leaders. Estonia had the individuals who hoped, believed, and willed. Who went into battle and won Estonia’s independent statehood.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Indeed, the wider significance of the War of Independence in our history is the recognition that even a small nation has its place under the sun and the right to make its own decisions as a state. The War of Independence gave us courage and confidence to claim that this here is the Estonian state.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Today, on the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, at the foot of the War of Independence Victory Column, it is appropriate to remember those for whom Estonia remained forever young. Who gave their lives without knowing, what will happen, but hoping that our people and our state will persist.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">The days of the War of Independence proved to us that we can only be strong as long as we have friends and allies beside us. We remember from history, how important the military support from the British navy was to turn the tide of the battle in our favour. In addition to the Brits, volunteers from many other countries had come to fight for Estonia’s independence.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Similarly, we are strong today, because Estonia is a member of the world’s mightiest military alliance. No country has managed to call into question the effectiveness of NATO’s deterrence. This power was created to protect our members from any kind of military threat. This power is present in Estonia. Estonia is a part of this power.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Deployment of allied forces on the territory of NATO members is normal and customary practice. Like in Estonia, the US troops are present in military bases of more than half of NATO member states. These troops are involved in training and defence cooperation. The goal is to improve the efficiency of communication between allies and to ensure better protection of NATO.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">In the spring of this year, the town of Tapa will welcome more than a thousand new inhabitants whose daily work and service is associated with NATO’s increased presence in the eastern part of the alliance. The United Kingdom is the lead nation of this battle group, with French and Danish servicemen also serving side by side with our British friends.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">For Estonian Defence Forces, it is almost like a reunion with our brothers in arms. We served with the Brits in the difficult conditions of Afghanistan. Together with the French, we were the first to respond to the outburst of religious violence in the Central African Republic. The Danes served with us, shoulder to shoulder, in Bosnia and Kosovo.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Our wish is to make our allies feel welcome in Estonia. For this, the Estonian state has made the necessary preparations. We have built new barracks and extended our training grounds. But the most important is for Estonian people to accept our allies. This is the best way to move together closer to the ultimate objective of Estonia’s presence in NATO and NATO’s presence in Estonia.  This objective is ensuring better protection for us.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph"> </p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Dear compatriots!</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Collective defence and independent defence capability are two equally important pillars of Estonia’s national defence. Estonian state has been consistent in its choices, with the development of the Defence Forces remaining in the public focus for many years. We cannot afford to look idly to the horizon, hands at our sides, waiting for help from the West. Protection is afforded to those who want and can protect themselves.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">The development of our national defence in the coming years will require involvement of a larger number of conscripts in bolstering our reserve forces. We have tested the preparedness and skills of our reservists in large exercises and flash meetings. We have seen a real and considerable desire and willingness of Estonian people to defend our country.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">In order for Estonian Defence Forces to train more conscripts, we need to be prepared for a closer dialogue with entire Estonian society. Estonian Defence Forces would like to see that our young people are healthy and active. That they perceive the conscript service as an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills. Our reserve forces are based on such knowledge and skills. They help to keep our independent defence capability continually up to date.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">However, if we want to be able to protect Estonia in the future, we need to increase our numbers. Today, survival and growth of Estonian people is a crucial challenge. For the members of the Defence Forces, this issue has a very practical dimension – with whom and who are we protecting?</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">I am very glad that we have many families where participation in conscript service, reserve meetings or exercises of the Defence League is a natural choice. There are large families that have raised quite a few defenders of the country.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Today, standing here on the Freedom Square, I would like to thank and mention the family of Kirschenbergs from Southern Estonia as a positive example. Four of the five sons in this family began their service in the Kuperjanov Battalion. The fifth son, the youngest, has said that he would like to start his conscript service in the Kuperjanov Battalion in the next year. This is a clear sign that serving Estonia is a matter of honour in this family.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph"> </p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Dear people of Estonia!</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">A few hours ago, a video bridge connected us to our servicemen who serve their country far from home. Our troops have taken part in missions in different corners of the world for more than 20 years. They have made Estonia greater. They have given us the opportunity to speak and decide as an equal among our friends and allies. Our soldiers have built a bridge of trust, which has brought allies to Estonia.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Our willingness to be present in places, where vulnerable groups are in need of protection or where peace needs to be kept with arms, is a confirmation that Estonia sees itself as a part of a community. A community firmly based on European principles and values.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">In an unpredictable and changeable world, we need to remember that the independence and freedom of our people has never been and will never be a given. The Estonian state was established to protect our people and our freedom.</p> <p>Long live the Republic of Estonia!</p>news_9620Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:36:00 +0200