Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Hannes Hanso and members of the Committee Johannes Kert, Ants Laaneots and Madis Milling are visiting Ukraine today and Georgia tomorrow. They will meet with their colleagues in the parliaments of the two countries and discuss the security and defence issues relating to the Eastern Partnership.
Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso believes it is important to support both Georgia and Ukraine. “Estonia has had long-time defence cooperation with these Eastern partners, both bilaterally and through NATO,” Hanso said. “We have trained the troops of both countries, we share our experience in the field of cyber defence, and we wish this cooperation were even deeper and more frequent.”
At the meetings in Ukraine, the delegation of the National Defence Committee wishes to get an overview of the developments in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict and the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. “Together with the Allies, we are ready to contribute to resolving the Ukrainian conflict, support potential peacekeeping missions, disarmament of the region and restoration of the rule of law,” Hanso said. “Estonia’s political support to restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia and to the continuation of the Euro-Atlantic integration processes is very important to those countries. The final aim of these processes should be the NATO membership of Ukraine and Georgia,” Hanso added.
Member of the National Defence Committee Johannes Kert said that Georgia has concluded a bilateral defence cooperation agreement with Estonia, which covers both training and military cooperation. “We have supported them in training their troops and shared our experience in the organizing of conscription service,” Kert added. “The Estonian Defence League has a role in building up of the National Guard of Georgia, and the cooperation continues.” Kert also said that Georgian armed forces were a market for the Estonian defence industry. As examples, he mentioned unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and simulation systems.
Member of the National Defence Committee Ants Laaneots considered it very important that NATO used the conclusions made from the Ukrainian conflict and the war in Georgia to ensure the security of the whole region, and did not let the Eastern neighbor lull itself. According to him, the purpose of this visit is to collect information and demonstrate Estonia’s support of the territorial integrity of both Ukraine and Georgia.
Today, the delegation of the National Defence Committee has meetings in Kiev with the Ambassador of Estonia in Ukraine, and with the representatives of the Parliament and the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. Security issues will be discussed with Head of the National Security and Defence Council Oleksandr Turchynov.
On Tuesday, the visit will continue in Georgia, where the presidential elections were held on Sunday. It is planned to meet with Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia Irakli Kobakhidze. In Tbilisi, the delegation will also have meetings with Head of the National Security Council of Georgia David Rakviashvili and members of the National Security Council. Meetings with representatives of the Parliament of Georgia, and visit to the State Military Scientific-Technical Center are also planned.