Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Estonia

02/27/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/27/2024 05:00

Defence Minister meets with French Chief of Defence Staff, Army General Thierry Burkhard

The Defence Minister met yesterday, ahead of Estonia's Independence Day parade, with the French Chief of Defence Staff, Army General Thierry Burkhard, to discuss defence cooperation between Estonia and France.

"General Burkhard was in Estonia on a symbolic day for both us and Ukraine to send a clear message of good defence cooperation between Estonia and France," said Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur. "After the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, France very quickly reinforced its military presence in Estonia and made it permanent here. France is a strategic partner for Estonia and a NATO ally with whom we are cooperating daily across all aspects of defence."

"I am truly honoured to be invited to celebrate Estonian Independence Day," said Army General Thierry Burkhard. "This invitation illustrates the strength and the dynamic ongoing military cooperation between Estonia and France, especially within the NATO alliance. Throughout 2024, France will deploy its state of the art capacities, including Jaguar and Serval armoured reconnaissance vehicles, and the light infantry company to contribute to the major exercise Springstorm. Also, the French air force pilots are committed and work every day to ensure the airspace security of Baltic countries alongside its allies."

Members of the French Armed Forces have been serving in the NATO battlegroup in Estonia since 2017. The French company stationed in Estonia from October last year until the end of February is part of the 1st Infantry Regiment and is supported by VBMR Griffon armoured personnel carriers and AMX-10 armoured reconnaissance vehicles. At the end of February, the next French company will arrive here from the 13th Battalion of the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade.

From August to December 2023, France also bilaterally contributed an airborne company from the 1st Parachute Regiment, to cooperate in particular with the Defence League. The French have carried out Baltic airspace patrols from Ämari three times, most recently in the summer of 2022, using Mirage aircraft. From 2018 to 2022, Estonia in turn contributed up to 70 Defence Forces personnel to the French-led Operation Barkhane and its Special Operations Task Force Takuba in Mali.

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Photos: Defence Minister Pevkur and General Burkhard (24.02.2024) | Flickr