Foreign Minister Urmas Paet expressed support for President of the United States Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy, which emphasises the importance of focusing on the civil sector in addition to increasing the military contribution in Afghanistan, as well as on co-operation with Pakistan.
Paet welcomes the US president’s decision to significantly increase the USA’s contribution in Afghanistan. “Adding 30 000 soldiers is a valued decision that will help allies come to terms more effectively with the upcoming obligations,” stated Paet. The foreign minister emphasised that in order to improve the security situation and ensure sustainability in Afghanistan, it is necessary for the Afghans to accept greater responsibility. “One goal of sending in additional forces is to increase training for the Afghan security forces, which will result in the Afghans being able to carry the responsibility for their own nation’s security in the future,” Paet added.
Estonia will continue to contribute to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan to the same degree as before, according to Foreign Minister Paet. “On average there are 150-165 Defence Forces members participating in the mission, including the fire support team sent to strengthen the Estonian contingent and provide greater security,” said Paet. “During the next year we also plan to add an improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) team,” stated Foreign Minister Paet. A majority of the Estonian Defence Forces members will continue to ensure security in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.
Paet stated that while the military contribution is being increased, more attention should be paid to building up Afghanistan. “Estonia plans to increase its civil contribution in the next year, and we plan to send a third Estonian police officer to join the two already participating in the European Union police mission EUPOL Afghanistan,” the foreign minister stated. Paet added that Estonia intends to continue its development co-operation projects in Afghanistan to the full extent of their original plans.
Estonia Welcomes USA’s New Afghanistan Strategy