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Hanso: The significant contribution by Belgium to our air policing speaks loudly about NATO's collective defence

27. April 2016 - 15:11

At their meeting in Tallinn, Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso and Belgian Defence Minister Steven Vandeput discussed the security situation in the Baltic Sea region and across Europe, and the ministers spoke about further defence related cooperation and the fight against terrorism.

“The contribution by the Kingdom of Belgium to the security of Estonia and the entire Baltic Sea region as a whole is a shining example of NATO’s collective defence,” said Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso. “Estonia is truly grateful for the active contribution to our air policing by NATO member Belgium. “

F-16 fighter aircraft from the Kingdom of Belgium were the first Allied aircraft to begin air policing from Siauliai, immediately after Estonia's accession to NATO in 2004. This is the sixth time that fighters from the Kingdom of Belgium are participating in air policing in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, and the first time they are doing so using aircraft stationed at Ämari Air Base. Belgian F-16 fighter aircraft were previously stationed at air bases in Lithuania and Poland.

Belgian anti-aircraft personnel have participated on numerous occasions in live fire exercises with the Mistral Short-Range Air-Defence Missile Systems in the Estonian training exercise Kevadtorm. A Belgian anti-aircraft subunit will also be participating in the Kevadtorm training exercise beginning next week. Belgian Navy ships have for years been participating alongside Estonian Navy ships in NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1.

Defence Minister Steven Vandeput confirmed that at the beginning of next year Belgium will be sending a representative to serve in the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and plans to participate in air policing on a rotating basis.

During their meeting, the defence ministers discussed bilateral security related cooperation, preparations for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the security situation in the Baltic Sea region and across Europe, the situation in the Middle East and the fight against terrorism.

During his visit to Estonia, Steven Vandeput will meet with Commander of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Riho Teras and Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson; he will visit the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, meet with members of the Belgian Air Force stationed at Ämari Air Base, and lay a wreath at the War of Independence Memorial. Members of the Belgian Parliament’s National Defence Committee are accompanying the Minister of Defence on his trip to Estonia.

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