Estonia plans to extend mission in Kosovo

  • 2000-08-17
TALLINN (BNS) - Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik said the government was planning to extend the Estonian peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and to increase the unit so it could be assigned an area of responsibility of its own.

Luik told Radio KUKU that the government was planning to extend the mission and was indeed obliged to do so as a member of the international community.

The defense minister said Kosovo needed an Estonian defense force unit to carry out the duties of the military police, because although the war was over, ethnic hatred and crime were still rampant in the area.

During his visit to the Balkans starting on Aug. 7, Luik visited Estonian soldiers in Bosnia and Herzegovina where they comprise part of the international stabilization force SFOR and in Kosovo where they serve in the ranks of international peace--keeping force KFOR.

There are 21 Estonian defense forces soldiers in an Italian carabinieri detachment, and their mission in Kosovo started in May, while a 74-strong Estonian reconnaissance squadron in Bosnia and Herzegovina was dispatched to its mission in March.

The Estonian peacekeepers' participation in missions abroad is based on decisions of Parliament made this May and June, by which Estonian participation in international peacekeeping forces was extended at least until the first half of next year.