Baltics decide on war in Iraq

The Baltic Times
In cooperation with BNS
September 30, 2008

TALLINN – The Estonian Defense Ministry has completed a bill that would extend the country’s mission in Iraq by another year.

“The security situation in Iraq has cardinally improved over the past year and Estonia hopes for an ending of the Iraq mission soon, but that depends on when the Estonian defense forces personnel will be able to hand over their area of responsibility to Iraq’s own security forces,” the Estonian minister was quoted by spokespeople as saying.

Under the bill, Estoniawould just like now participate in the Iraqmission with a 34-strong infantry platoon and two to three staff officers on the NATO training mission.

The decision came just days after the Latvian defense minister announced that Latviawould not renew its own mission in Iraq next year.

Defense Minister Vinets Veldre told the Baltic News Service that the decision to pull out of Iraqwas made in talks with commanders of other coalition forces, as control over more and more territories is given back to Iraqi authorities.
“The situation in this country is returning to normal, the number of terror acts in there has decreased by 80 percent over the past year,” the minister said.

No changes are being planned for other multi-national missions involving Latvian troops, Veldre said, adding that the number of military observers in Georgiawas the most important issue at the moment.

At present there are three NAF soldiers serving in Iraq– one in Baghdad and one in Divania.
Lithuania, meanwhile, has recently pulled the majority of its troops out of Iraq, leaving only eight military instructors and four officers in the country.