TALLINN, Apr 20, BNS - Enhanced forward presence of NATO allies in Estonia increases the country's defense capability, speaker of the parliament Eiki Nestor, chairman of the Riigikogu national defense committee Hannes Hanso and chairman of the foreign affairs committee Marko Mihkelson said on Thusrday.
Nestor said the point of the presence of allied troops at Tapa is for no country ever to get the wish to attack Estonia, spokespeople for the Riigikogu told BNS.
Hanso added that the presence of UK and French troops at Tapa also has an effect on the defense personnel of Estonia, who will spend longer time in field camps. Intense construction activity is currently going on at the military compound at Tapa in order to ensure all amenities for Estonian personnel and allies alike.
Mihkelson said that members of the Estonian defense forces have a lot to learn from allies. The arrival of allies in Estonia, however, does not mean in any way that the security picture here today was substantially worse than several years ago.
Nestor, Hanso and Mihkelson, as well as members of both parliamentary standing committees are taking part in a ceremony at the Tapa military compound on Thursday marking the start of the enhanced forward presence of allies here.
At the ceremony, which will be attended by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, the defense ministers of Estonia, the UK, France and Denmark will sign a political declaration.
The 1,200-strong contingent of allies arrived at Tapa in the course of the past just over a month. The core of the contingent is made up of approximately 800 UK personnel, equipped with Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles and AS90 self-propelled artillery. France has sent a contingent of 300 soldiers to Estonia, armed with Leclerc tanks, VBCI infantry fighting vehicles and VAB armored personnel carriers. The French will be replaced by Danes at Tapa after eight months.
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Baltic News Service