Prime Minister of Estonia Taavi Rõivas welcomed home the last Estonian troops from operations in Afghanistan, the Estonian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “Your families and the whole country have been looking forward to your return. Welcome home! The Estonian flag is back from Afghanistan,” said Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
The Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government, paid tribute to the valor and tenacity of the Estonian troops. "Today, I would also like to pay respect to all the previous contingents and your colleagues, nine of whom, sadly, lost their lives in the conflict," said Rõivas.
Rõivas said that the returning of the last contingent marked the end of Estonia’s participation in the ISAF mission, which spanned more than 11 years. The Prime Minister recalled that Estonia's participation started with six servicemen taking part in a mine clearance mission and grew into a permanent contingent of 150 troops, reports LETA.
According to the Prime Minister, our allies in Afghanistan recognized and appreciated the efforts of our troops and have said that the Estonians always lived up to and even exceeded the highest standards. "Afghanistan is definitely no longer the country it used to be; it is no longer a country that exports instability and terrorism," said Rõivas.
"However, what is more important to Estonians is that Estonia is secure; we have strong defense forces and excellent relations with our NATO partners," said Rõivas. Minister of Defense, Sven Mikser, presented the troops of Estcon-16 with medals of recognition for international missions.
Yesterday, the Estonian flag was lowered at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan, marking the end of the participation of the Estonian Defense Forces in the long-term operation. Today, the last Estonian contingent, Estcon-16, and Estonian company Estcoy-17 returned home from Afghanistan.