Last week, the Estonian government approved an agreement which regulates the status of the US soldiers who would be stationed within the territory of the state. This is yet another element of the expanded security cooperation in the region.
The agreement, covering the defence collaboration, which is to be concluded with the representatives of the United States of America, is to provide a proper framework for stationing of the soldiers, their families and contractors in Estonia. The document would provide the aforesaid parties with specific benefits, and make it easier for them to get accommodated within the host state’s territory. As it was stressed by the Estonian Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna, the aforesaid agreement is also going to deepen the collaboration established by and between the two states, and consequently, reinforce the security of Estonia.
The document is going to have a complementary character, when placed alongside the memorandum of understanding which remained in force so far, covering the status of the armed forces and signed by and between the NATO member states (NATO Sofa). The agreement is going to supersede the former documents concerning the use of the infrastructure, owned by the Estonian Army, by the US Forces.
The memorandum of understanding with the United States is yet another step taken by the Estonian authorities, in order to reinforce the national security. Just recently, Estonia also activated its military relations with Finland, which would be seen in the expected renewal of an agreement which regulated the collaboration of both nations within that scope. The new document is to be signed during the visit of the Estonian defence minister to Finland, which is scheduled to happen later this week. During the meeting between the MoD leaders, Baltic Sea security issues are going to be thoroughly discussed.
The fact that both nations are getting closer, which is a consequence of military collaboration, as well as the introduction of legal regulations related to the US Army’s presence within the territory of Estonia, are both corresponding with further development of close military relations between Talinn and Washington. Last week the Estonian army, together with the armed forces of the US, Germany and Poland, have all been involved in a multinational exercise, meanwhile, in October last year, the Finnish authorities announced that a declaration of will has been signed between Helsinki and DC, in order to expand the military cooperation between the parties.
The steps taken constitute a response to a growing threat posed by Russia, and this means that Finland is becoming less and less neutral on the international area, which was the main characteristic of its stance taken during the Cold War.