TALLIN, Estonia – On Friday, Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik awarded medals to 140 soldiers of the Estonian Defense Forces for the participation in international missions, having characterized the Estonian soldiers as the best in the world.
During the meeting in the Ministry of Defense, Luik thanked the military for the service, noting that its work is very important for people in the different crisis regions, as well as for Estonia, since thanks to them, the country maintains firm ties with NATO allies.
“The experience gained during the operations is of inestimable importance for the defense of the Estonian State. Our country is not too large to have an expeditionary army, so all the experience gained during the missions’ participation is a part of the development of the independent defense potential,” Luik was quoted as saying by the press office.
According to the minister, he knows many soldiers he met recently during his visit to Afghanistan.
“The experience gained here confirms once again the widely recognized view that the Estonian soldier is the best soldier in the world,” said the minister.
The medals for the participation of international military operations were attributed to military personnel who were on missions in Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq and in the line of control between Israel and Lebanon. Some decorations include tapes with marks on the number of operations in which the military participated. The most experienced military personnel participated in five, six and even nine missions.
Estonia, a former republic of the Soviet Union, has since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 has pandered towards the West and NATO. For this reason, Estonia has a hostile relation with Russia despite Moscow’s emphasis that it has no desire to control and occupy Estonia. Despite these assurances, Estonia continues to antagonize Russia by hosting NATO and allowing the alliance to creep towards the Russian border.