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Prime Minister Jüri Ratas introduced to the Riigikogu the updated National Security Concept of Estonia which was approved by the Government on 16 February this year.

“Security is not merely armoured fighting vehicles, uniform or boots. It is a much wider concept that guarantees our security,” Ratas said when introducing the national security concept to the Riigikogu.

The Prime Minister noted that the document discussed that day was the fourth since the restoration of Estonia’s independence. It was adopted for the first time in 2001, and the national security concept which is in force until today was adopted in 2010.

Although the national security concept is not a resource-planning document, it still confirms Estonia’s readiness to allocate at least two per cent of GDP for military defence, to which the expenses of the country hosting allied forces and the expenses of the national defence investments programme are added.

The Prime Minister said that Estonia would continue on the established course in its security policy choices also in the future. “In view of the specificities of the security situation we must make steps into both the physical and the cyber world. They must become more extensive and professional. Young and old people, and in fact the whole society will have to participate,” Ratas said.

“The anxiety of the global security situation extends to Estonia, too,” Ratas said. “Estonia’s security is influenced in particular by the vitality of the trans-Atlantic security system, the mutual relations of the countries in our neighbouring region, and the increased military activity and aggressiveness of Russia who directly influences it.”

Ratas said that, keeping in mind those circumstances, the probability that military pressure and military means would be used in our region was considered to be higher than before. “According to analysis, this risk will increase should NATO’s collective deterrence fail to be credible for some reason,” Ratas said. He drew attention to the assessment of Estonian foreign intelligence according to which the threat of a direct military attack on NATO countries by Russia was low in 2017.

Ratas explained that the national security concept had abandoned agency-centered division and had tried to focus more on sectoral needs that may also require synchronised efforts from different agencies.

The head of Government gave an overview of nine spheres that constitute the national security concept. He pointed out that the sub-chapters on diplomacy discussed Estonia’s activities in the international arena, and Estonia’s belief in international organisations and interest in NATO and the European Union being united and viable in their activities. They also emphasise the importance of bilateral relations with the United States of America and the desire to cooperate with Nordic and Baltic countries.

The national security concept pays attention to the relations with Russia and the prospects of developing them. “As a neighbouring country we are no doubt interested in the development of democracy and rule of law in Russia, and we maintain the possibility of dialogue,” Ratas said. “However, the increasingly aggressive behaviour of our eastern neighbour in the last decade makes it ever more necessary to be united in the European Union and NATO, including on the issue of sanctions until the original causes for establishing them have disappeared.”

The head of Government said that the section on military defence highlighted the factors on the basis of which Estonia organised its defence and on the basis of which the country built its national defence system and defence forces. As regards secure and constitutional law enforcement, it is stated that safe environment is the guarantee of security, and increasingly diverse and cross-border threats are the greatest touchstone of it.

In ensuring constitutional order, it is extremely important that national institutions are risk-resilient and consistent in the resolution of issues concerning security. The sub-chapter on conflict prevention and crisis management expresses the readiness of the country to contribute to the security of Estonia and Europe and the world through participation in international crisis operations both with military and civil capabilities. It also emphasises the importance of humanitarian operations for development assistance and the helping-hand policy.

The sub-chapter on economic security looks at risks arising from the economic environment, among which more specific attention is paid to energy security, the planning of transport infrastructure, and various aspects of security.

The sub-chapter on cyber security brings out the principle that cyber security is organised uniformly and with the same structural solutions both in peace-time and in a situation of war.

The sub-chapter on the security of the living environment looks at the living environment as a component of the sense of security of the people, and describes measures to improve and secure it while reducing at the same time the vulnerability of individuals in society and increasing their readiness to contribute to the development of the country.

Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso gave a brief overview of the work of the National Defence Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee relating to the national security concept. Both committees had been involved in the drafting of the text of the concept before it had been approved in the Government.

Ants Laaneots, who spoke on behalf of the Reform Party Faction, pointed out the shortcomings of the draft and considered it necessary to eliminate them in the course of the proceedings. Tiit Terik spoke on behalf of the Centre Party Faction and acknowledged the people who had drafted the document and said that the faction supported the draft.

Artur Talvik spoke on behalf of the Free Party Faction. He said that the national security concept must also indicate if there is much corruption in the governance of the state. In his words, corruption is a very serious threat in terms of security policy and it should be combated.

Marianne Mikko took the floor on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction. She stressed that it was important to keep defence expenditure at two per cent of GDP because with that Estonia was an example for other NATO and European Union member states.

The discussion of the issue was adjourned due to the end of the working hours of the sitting. The deliberation will be resumed at tomorrow’s sitting.

Photos of the sitting.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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