Interview: Defense minister on Estonia’s NATO experience now and in future, eews.err.ee

When it comes to EU defense, we have to make a distinction when, if we’re talking about the EU as a whole, then European countries have their own ‘coalitions of the willing’ and which are not under the EU flag, especially in Africa. Estonia is part of one of these, being led by the French, in Mali (Operation Barkhane – ed.), and this is our way of indicating that, while Estonia may ask other countries to help us in the east, we are certainly ready in return to help other countries in the south. We believe that European security is 360 degrees, and that we all share these security threats together. We understand that the instability in the south impacts us in the north and what happens in the east impacts our allies in the west of Europe In fact, when people ask us why we are in Africa, that’s the main reason. […]

No better concrete example of both the NATO-EU interface and the posture towards Estonia’s giant eastern neighbor could be found than the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), based in Tapa, since 2017, and British led, with the regular participation of units from France, Denmark and Belgium – all EU countries of course – in particular.

“Naturally, our defense is very much dependent also on our collective efforts with other NATO countries, hence the term collective defense. The most visible aspects of collective defense are of course the eFP and air policing units here in Estonia. But, of course, collective defense is much more than that, including rapid reinforcement by allies, something which is vital for the defense of NATO and Estonia.” […]

The EDF is centered on two brigades, principally armored, mechanized infantry-based, but this is more than augmented by the fact that Estonia has both a large reserve of ex-EDF personnel and people in the Defense League.

When the Estonian conscripts finish their military training, they are added to the reserve and can be mobilized very rapidly. In addition, the Defense League – Kaitseliit – is a voluntary military organization, some of whose aspects are supposed to be integrated into the operational structure, the two main brigades, but others are meant to be used in various locations as territorial defense units, to cover the whole country, which is quite large in comparison with the size of the population. The Defense League officer corps is generally made up of professional troops. Läs artikel