Today, Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso met and planned further defence related cooperation with the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Colonel General Stepan Poltorak, and participated in events marking the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence in Kiev.
“Ukraine is an important nation for Estonia in terms of both foreign and security policy. Over the past few years, we have vigorously developed our defence related cooperation,” said Minister of Defence Hanso. “The time is right to take our defence related cooperation to the next level.”
Minister of Defence Hanso presented an official invitation to Colonel General Poltorak, and invited the Ukrainians to participate in training exercises in Estonia. Minister Hanso spoke of the opportunity to take the training cooperation for special operations forces to the next level, to develop cooperation between medics in the Defence Forces, and to search for opportunities for cooperation in the field of cyber defence.
According to Hanso, defence related cooperation with Ukraine is beneficial for Estonia, since Estonia is able to share its knowledge and experience and learn from the experience that Ukraine obtains on a daily basis from combat operations.
Minister Poltorak gave an overview of the security situation in Donbass and the Crimea, which remains tense, and where the Putin regime is consistently trying to escalate tensions. According to Poltorak, occupied Crimea has become a militarised zone with more than 60,000 Russian soldiers. According to Poltorak, Russia is responsible for provocations in the Crimea region as well as Donetsk Oblast, they wear Ukrainian uniforms and fire upon separatist controlled settlements with heavy weapons, in order to accuse the Ukraine of war crimes.
Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso observed Ukraine's military parade through Maidan, the main square in Kiev, and placed flowers at the Heaven's Hundred, a memorial to those who were killed during the protests at Maidan.
Military cooperation between Estonia and Ukraine has grown over the last few years, with Estonia providing steadfast support to Ukraine. Estonian special operations forces, in cooperation with U.S. special operations forces, are providing training to Ukrainian special operations forces, who are participating in combat operations in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. The Seli Health Centre has offered rehabilitation treatment to combatants injured during combat activities. There are currently five Ukrainians undergoing medical rehabilitation at Seli.
Estonia has trained Ukrainian special operations forces medics, and volunteers are keeping up the campaign for acquiring medical supplies and organising the training. Estonian army engineers have participated in training exercises held in Ukraine, and Estonia has purchased from Ukraine bridge layers for engineer battalions.
Estonian Food Month, celebrated in September, will feature more than 30 events and festivals dedicated to Estonian food. Last year, almost 65,000 people attended events that took place as part of Estonian Food Month.
“Estonian Food Month will open the doors to our food culture in all its variability during harvest time and includes over 30 festivals and food events,” said Kadi Raudsepp, the project manager of Estonian Food Month. “Local food matters to the Estonian people, because the foodstuffs we grow and produce are of high quality and match our preferences. That is why the leading concept of the food month is: ‘I love Estonian food’.”
Estonian Food Month lasts from 3 September until the middle of September and will be officially opened on 4 September in Koguva, on the island of Muhu. More than 30 festivals, fairs, exhibitions, trade fairs and concerts will take place all over Estonia as part of Estonian Food Month. Kadi Raudsepp commented: “The food programme for Estonian Food Month will reveal our local food culture, starting with how we use products gathered from the forest and how we make preserves and finishing with special offers in rural restaurants.”
“Hiiumaa Food and Art Week, festivals dedicated to preserves and mushrooms and the high-end SAUCE 2016 business forum for top Nordic food professionals will all be happening over the course of the month,” Kadi Raudsepp said, adding that tens of restaurants in the rural areas of Estonia that belong to the Estonian Culinary Route network will also be directing their focus on local raw products.
Estonian Food Month was first celebrated in September 2015. Altogether Food Month featured more than 30 festivals and was attended by more than 65,000 people. Additionally, over 100 top restaurants and eating places participated in Estonian Food Month, focusing on Estonian-grown raw products.
Food Month is part of the sales development plan “Estonian Food 2015-2020”. Previously, the Ministry of Rural Affairs along with cooperation partners has organised the Estonian Food Court for the 2014 song and dance festival “Touched by Time. The Time to Touch”, Estonian Food Month in 2015 and the nationwide Open Farm Day in 2015 and 2016.
For more information about Estonian Food Month: www.eestitoit.ee.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in Estonia for a two-day visit, today met with Commander of Estonian Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Riho Terras, as well as Estonian and German troops at Headquarters Support and Signal Battalion in Tallinn.Currently around 200 German troops from Gebirgsjägerbataillon 231 of Gebirgsjägerbrigade 23 of Bundeswehr serve in Estonia. German officers also serve at NATO Force Integration Unit and NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.
This year German forces participated in exercises Kevadtorm and Saber Strike in Estonia and took part in a motorized march Dragoon Ride through Europe. Next week, Luftwaffe´s Eurofighter Typhoon fighters are scheduled to take over NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission in Ämari for the third time.
In total, the German fighter jets have participated in mission on eight occasions. Germany has contributed considerably in the development of Estonian Navy. Several Estonian officers and non-commissioned officers have been trained there. Estonian and German troops have served together in the Horn of Africa and currently participate in an UN-led mission in Mali.
Today Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and is scheduled to meet President Toomas Hendrik Ilves tomorrow. Merkel will also deliver a speech on the development of digital society and the future of Europe in Tallinn.
Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso met in Kiev with Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, and received a thorough overview of the security situation in Ukraine and Ukraine’s security reforms.
Minister of Defence Hanso stated that Europe must maintain a consensus regarding the policy of sanctions, until the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Refusal to recognise the annexation of Crimea is a question that cannot be forgotten in the light of the other crises with which Europe is currently grappling.
“The people of Ukraine can always count on the support of Estonia," said Minister of Defence Hanso at the meeting. “In principle, Estonia will never accept the annexation of Crimea or Russia’s aggression in Eastern Ukraine, as this is not simply an isolated incident, but is instead the aggressive politics of the Kremlin, something with which the democratic world cannot agree."
According to Minster Hanso, it is extremely important that Ukraine continues the process of integrating with the Western World, since it is Ukraine that requires reforms and not officials in Brussels. “We support in full the democratic ambitions of the people of Ukraine concerning the question of NATO integration and encourage them to continue with their reforms,” said the Minister of Defence.
The Chairman of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine is President of Ukraine Petro Porošenko.
On Wednesday, Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso will be in Kiev, participating in festivities celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.