Minister of Defence Jüri Luik met on Friday, in Rome, Italy, with Italian Minister of Defence Elisabetta Trenta, to discuss the security situation in Europe and cooperation with NATO.
At the meeting, Minister of Defence Luik emphasised that Estonia supports NATO's 360 degree view, in which an equal amount of attention is paid to the security needs of each ally.
‘Estonia and Italy are good examples of the solidarity that exists between Alliance members. Italy is an active participant in ensuring the security of our region and Estonia contributes to the containment of threats from the south,’ said the Minister of Defence.
At their meeting, a mutual overview of the security situation and possible developments on NATO's eastern and southern wings was presented. The ministers discussed the situation in Libya and the recent actions taken by Russia.
The ministers found that Estonia and Italy are capable of developing successful cooperation within the framework of the European Union's Permanent Structure Cooperation (PESCO) project, and they also discussed further mutual cooperation in the field of cyber defence.
Estonia and Italy share a long history of defence cooperation. During the period 1996–2006 an Estonian ground forces unit served together with Italian Carabinieri in Kosovo, as part of the NATO operation KFOR. Italy is one of the founding members of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, located in Tallinn, and has participated in cyber defence training exercises organised by Estonia. Italian teams have participated for many years in the military patrol exercises Erna Retk and Pitka Retk, organised in Estonia.
From January–April of this year the Italian Airforce took part in the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission at Ämari Air Base. Italy has previously participated in the Air Policing Mission from the air base located in Lithuania.
As part of the increased presence of allies within the framework of Enhanced Forward Protection (EFP), the Italian Army is participating in Latvia with a mechanised infantry platoon and various smaller units.
This afternoon, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik visited the headquarters of the European Union’s Mediterranean Mission Sophia (EUNAVFOR MED), where he met with Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Erico Credendino and the Estonian servicemen serving at the headquarters.
The goal of the European Union’s Mediterranean Mission Sophia (EUNAVFOR MED), which began at the start of 2015, is to restrict human trafficking and prevent the operation of the human traffickers’ networks in the central portion of the Mediterranean Sea. The secondary objectives of the mission are to monitor and train the Libyan coast guard, deter smugglers and support the actions of EU agencies.
All European Union Member States are contributing to the mission with more than 1000 servicemen, 6 ships and 6 aircraft.