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Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Marko Mihkelson expressed his pleasure that the political consensus to keep the national defence expenses at the level of at least two percent of GDP has been confirmed during the discussion of the draft state budget for 2016.

“During the debates on the national defence budget, it has found confirmation that all political parties support keeping the level of defence expenses at not less than two percent of GDP,” Mihkelson said. “In that aspect, there is a consensus among our political parties.”

In Mihkelson’s opinion, the increasing of the presence of allies in the Baltic States is a great step forward, but there is still much more to do. “Creating a reliable and visible deterrence against Russia, that would reduce the threat of strategic miscalculation from Moscow’s side, is of critical importance,” he said. Therefore the investments into national defence are very important in his opinion.

Today the National Defence Committee studied in detail the plan of national defence investments for the next year. The plan involves increasing the capabilities of the Estonian Defence Forces and reinforcing the 1st Infantry Brigade with infantry combat vehicles CV 90. Mihkelson also considers it very important to procure the Javelin anti-tank weapon system: The USA will also contribute to this investment.

In Mihkelson’s opinion, it is a positive development that in addition to the investments into technology, equipment and infrastructure, the salary of the members of the Estonian Defence Forces will also increase by on the average 6.4 percent next year.

On the whole, the defence expenses will increase by nine percent or 37 million euro next year. Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso, who gave an overview of the defence budget to the National Defence Committee, said that next year defence expenses will form 2.07 percent of GDP.

Besides that, the draft state budget for 2016 also provides the allocation of 14.5 million euro for the presence of allies and for investments. 10.1 million euro of investments will mainly be spent on the development of the military district of Tapa and improving the training possibilities at the central training area of the Estonian Defence Forces.

Photos of the sitting: https://fotoalbum.riigikogu.ee/v/Komisjonid/XIII+Riigikogu/Riigikaitsekomisjon/20102015/

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