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Cablegate: Estonia's Support to Kfor Ends in 2010 but Development

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DE RUEHTL #0353/01 3341304
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301304Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0249
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TALLINN 000353

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MOPS KV EN
SUBJECT: ESTONIA'S SUPPORT TO KFOR ENDS IN 2010 BUT DEVELOPMENT
COOPERATION CONTINUES

1. SUMMARY. Estonia will likely end its military mission in
Kosovo in February 2010, but it will maintain a staff presence and
civil assistance program over the medium term. Estonia's
commitment to development cooperation with Kosovo has deepened
significantly in recent years; over the next two years the GOE will
complete an investment of USD one million in capacity building,
sharing EU integration experiences, and development of e-governance
infrastructure. The GOE has also made long-term commitments to the
EU's Rule of Law Mission and will continue to seek ways to engage
with Kosovo, primarily through the EU and projects of other
European regional bodies. END SUMMARY.

ESTONIA COMMITS EARLY TO KFOR

--------------------------------------------- -

2. The Estonian Defense Forces have participated in a variety of
peacekeeping missions in Kosovo since the establishment of NATO's
Kosovo Force (KFOR) in 1999. This 10-year commitment to achieving
peace and stability is all the more impressive considering it was
only Estonia's second peacekeeping force sent abroad, and it
occurred less than a decade after the re-establishment of Estonian
independence and more than five years before Estonia's NATO
accession. (NOTE: Estonia's first deployment abroad was to Bosnia
and Herzegovina in 1996 as part of NATO's Implementation Force
(IFOR).) The First Estonian unit deployed to Kosovo, ESTPATROL-1,
a military police platoon, assumed duties in November 1999 in
Pristina under the command of an Italian Carabinieri regiment.
ESTPATROL-14 was the final unit to rotate through Kosovo as part of
this commitment, completing service in December 2006. On three
separate occasions, Estonia also provided a company-sized unit as
part of the Baltic Squadron (BALTSQN) rotation serving under the
Danish Battalion for six-month rotations. In 2007, Estonia began a
continuous rotation of an infantry reconnaissance unit, ESTRIF-1,
from the Defense League (Estonia's National Guard equivalent),
under the command of the Danish Battalion. ESTRIF-6, comprised of
26 personnel, is currently deployed to Kosovo. There are also five
officers and non-commissioned officers serving in Kosovo in HQ and
medical billets.

PARLIAMENT TO DECIDE ON EXTENDING KFOR COMMITMENTS INTO 2010

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------------------------------

3. ESTRIF-6 deployed to Kosovo in August 2009 for a six-month
rotation. The legal authorization for their deployment expires in
December 2009. A decision is pending in parliament that would
authorize Estrif-6, with a maximum of 40 personnel, to remain in
Kosovo into 2010. The mandate would last until June, although it
is understood that the unit will return to Estonia in February. In
consultations with NATO, this is likely to be Estonia's last full
unit deployment with KFOR. This same decision will also extend the
assignments of the other five personnel through December 2010.
National Defense Committee Staff Director Aivar Engel does not
foresee any problems with the extension process.

KOSOVO WILL NOT BECOME ONE OF ESTONIA'S DEFENSE COOPERATION
PRIORITIES

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--------------------------------------------

4. After a thorough review of defense cooperation in Kosovo in
consultation with NATO, Estonia decided it could add little value
to ongoing Kosovo Security Forces training and defense sector
reform. . The GOE also decided not to contribute to the NATO Trust
Fund. Estonia has instead identified Montenegro as a priority for
defense cooperation in the Balkans, as GOE efforts can have more of
an impact there. According to Kadri Peeters, the Defense
Ministry's USA Desk Officer, should the security situation in
Kosovo change, Estonia may alter this approach, but in the
meantime, it will probably only engage in defense cooperation and
reform through activities such as the Nordic-Baltic Initiative.

BUT DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION BROADENS AND DEEPENS OVER THE COURSE OF

TALLINN 00000353 002 OF 003


10 YEARS

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
--------------------------------------------- -------

5. During the first nine years of its involvement in Kosovo,
Estonia donated approximately USD 715,000 in support of a variety
of peacekeeping, humanitarian and refugee relief projects. Even
though Kosovo is not designated as one of the four priority
partners for development cooperation, Estonia committed to USD one
million in assistance over a three year period in July 2008 within
the framework of the Kosovo Donors' Conference. These funds will
be used to support a more clearly defined approach to capacity
building at all levels of government. Estonia will focus this
assistance specifically on EU integration and the development of
e-governance know-how. Since 2008, three large Kosovar delegations
have visited Estonia for training: two delegations of ministry and
PM office staff, and one delegation of municipal leaders and
officials. In total 57 Kosovars participated in these three
visits. There are also six fulltime Kosovar students engaged in
Master's studies at the Estonian University of Life Sciences.
According to BjC6rn Piibur, the MFA's Western Balkans Desk Officer,
consulting provided by Estonia's e-Governance Academy Program
Director Liia HC$nni to the Kosovo Assembly in 2007 created the
connections for this support.

ESTONIA COMMITS TO MULTI-YEAR SUPPORT OF EULEX

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
-------

6. Estonia has made a long-term commitment to the European Union
Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo) which became fully
operational in April 2009. Currently there are eight Estonian
experts monitoring, consulting and mentoring Kosovo officials, who
specialize in policing, customs and the judiciary. The recommended
length for each expert's tour is three years. While it is
necessary to renew participation in the mission each year, the
Estonian government has no intention of ending its support in the
near-term.

SOME CHALLENGES AND A BRIGHT SPOT

--------------------------------------------- --------

7. In Piibur's opinion, the greatest challenge for Estonia's
development cooperation projects has been a lack of capacity in
terms of personnel, resources and legal mechanisms. As it is still
a relatively young government, many of the officials with which
Piibur deals are spread too thin, and quite often projects lag
because of the need to put legal as well as physical infrastructure
in place. Piibur is impressed, however, by the desire to learn
and develop on the part of Kosovo officials. Estonians are
delighted by the interest shown in e-governance across the western
Balkans (most notably Montenegro, but also Kosovo).

THE BENEFITS FROM KOSOVO INVOLVEMENT

--------------------------------------------- ---------------

8. Engel believes that Estonia's support to KFOR was definitely a
factor that helped Estonia on its accession track to NATO. While
perhaps not the dominant factor in accession, it was nonetheless
an integral part of Estonia's strategy to show itself as a
security provider. These deployments also helped build Estonia's
capacity to cooperate with NATO allies. The Estonian Defense
Forces currently numbers about 8,700 personnel (17,400 including
affiliated defense league organizations) and provides an important
complement to the 3,800 personnel that comprise the Estonian
Regular Armed Forces. At a more strategic level, Balkan
instability was and still is of concern to Estonia. Engel
explained that instability could give Russia a pretext for
intervention in the Balkans, which could further spark instability
among Russian-speaking populations in the Baltics and Russia's
other neighbors.

TALLINN 00000353 003 OF 003


9. COMMENT. In the near term, Estonia's bilateral engagement with
Kosovo in the area of development cooperation will remain quite
strong. Of particular interest to Post is Estonia's e-governance
training with Kosovo and other development cooperation partners.
We believe this presents an excellent opportunity for trilateral
engagement and will be looking for ways to help promote Estonia's
e-Governance Academy and other forms of e-governance training as a
means to promote anti-corruption, more efficient governance and
civil society development.
DECKER

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