Ratas thanks Estonian soldiers who served on international missions

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on Tuesday welcomed members of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) who served in international military operations in 2016-2017 and earlier at a reception held at Stenbock House.

In his speech, the prime minister emphasized the importance of loved ones in supporting the troops sent on missions, according to a government press release -writes err.ee

"I know I should start with the idea that Estonia security begins with Afghanistan, Mali or Lebanon — the distant lands where you stood for a safe world," Ratas said. "But I will begin with another one: Estonian security begins from our homes — from the feeling that people care about you and await your return."

The same sentiment was expressed by Col. Vitali Lokk, who spoke on behalf of the members of the EDF. "Support is the most important thing when you are far away from home," he said. "I wish to thank all of our loved ones. Waiting at home is often much more difficult than participating in a mission."

According to the prime minister, Estonian security is currently stable thanks to the country's membership in NATO and the EU, but armed conflicts, terror and malicious intent are far from gone in the world, which is why Estonia must be prepared to contribute to similar operations in the future as well.

"Peace is the greatest value for us as well as our partners in NATO and the EU," said Ratas. "Thank you for building this peace."

Tuesday's reception was attended by members of the EDF who participated in the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) and United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) missions in Lebanon, the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) and the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) missions as well as Operation Inherent Resolve(OIR) in Iraq, primarily in 2016-2017.

The prime minister gifted all attending Estonian troops with copies of Mati Õun's "Estonian Military, 1920-1940."

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