This week the delegation of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) is on a visit to Lebanon, where they will meet with Minister of Defence Yacoub Riad Sarraf and their colleagues in the Parliament, and learn about the service of the Estonian peacekeepers participating in the UN peacekeeping mission United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
“Estonia is interested in a stable and peaceful international security environment, supports peaceful resolution of conflicts and considers the protection of civilian population important,” Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso said. “Therefore Estonia has always taken peacekeeping missions seriously and supported such missions according to its possibilities.”
Hanso said that Estonia cannot be only a consumer of the security produced by others, but also has to contribute to it. “Several problems that concern the security of Europe and our allies today start in the Middle East,” Hanso said, and added that our contribution to missions is highly appreciated.
In his opinion, the mission in Lebanon is important also for the reason that we participate in it together with Finland. “Estonia is a NATO country, Finland is not, but in peacekeeping we can practice cooperation and joint long-term activities,” Hanso said.
38 Estonian troops have been serving on the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon as a part of the Finnish contingent of the joint Irish-Finnish Battalion since May 2015. It is also the largest foreign mission of the Estonian Defence Forces.
Most of the Estonian contingent consists of the motorised infantry platoon together with supporting element and staff officers in the composition of the Finnish company. The duties of the platoon are observation, patrols and the manning of checkpoints, which also involves cooperation with the Lebanese armed forces.
The Riigikogu has the exclusive competence to make decisions about the participation of the Defence Forces in the fulfilment of the international commitments of Estonia. Last December the Riigikogu gave the units of the Defence Forces the mandate to participate in the UNIFIL mission until the end of 2017.
On the last day of their visit, the delegation will have meetings in Beirut with the National Defence Committee of the Parliament of Lebanon and Minister of Defence of Lebanon Yacoub Riad Sarraf, with whom they will speak about fighting against Islamic terrorism and the restoration of border control in Lebanon.
Besides the Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso, members of the Committee Oudekki Loone, Johannes Kert and Madis Milling will participate in the visit.