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The Riigikogu passed the National Defence Act (772 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 67 votes in favour. It consolidates in renewed form the Peacetime National Defence Act, the War-Time National Defence Act and the International Military Co-operation Act which are currently in force as separate Acts.

The Chairman of the National Defence Committee Jürgen Ligi stressed: “The main aim of the Act is to ensure quicker and better readiness of Estonia to respond to changed security threats.” He explained that, in the legislative proceeding of the Act, representatives of the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Forces had participated in the Committee sittings, and the positions of the Estonian Reserve Officers’ Association had been heard.

The Act establishes a legal framework for efficient responding to the threats endangering the country as the need arises. The Act serves as the basis for the implementation of the national defence system arising from “The National Defence Strategy” according to which peacetime and wartime management systems are similar, as well as the implementation of the principle of the “broad understanding” of national defence. According to it, national military defence, the areas of government of all ministries, the participation of the society in national defence as well as the protection of the population of the state are integrated in national defence.

The Act updates the management of national defence and strengthens the role of the Prime Minister, the Government and the Government Office. The Act increases the flexibility of the procedure for the substitution of the heads of state in order to ensure efficient management in the event of an attack against the country. In the future, mobilisation will concern only the Defence Forces. A state of heightened readiness will be established for the rest of the country in a time of crisis as necessary which will allow for quick reorganisation of the activities and resources of the executive power.

The rights and obligations of the armed forces of foreign states supporting Estonia in military operations carried out in the territory of Estonia are also specified. At the same time, the use of the Defence Forces in international military operations will become more flexible which will allow Estonia to contribute more quickly to the resolution of international crises.

The National Defence Act consolidates the current regulations of national defence facilities, facilities with a high risk of attack and vital facilities. This ensures the protection of all facilities of national defence significance on uniform bases.

The representatives of factions Aivar Riisalu, Lauri Laasi, Marianne Mikko and Jürgen Ligi who took the floor during the debate presented their positions on the new National Defence Act.