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Today the Riigikogu focused on the report on the implementation of “The Main Objectives of Security Policy of Estonia until 2015”.

The Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur noted that today we are drawing conclusions and moving forward in accordance with the new internal security development plan covering the period to 2020.

“The main guidelines of the security policy were devised with a view to seeing Estonia in 2015 as a more secure society, which would be manifested by a safer living environment, an increase in everyone’s sense of security, and a decrease in the number deaths and people having suffered health damage,” Pevkur said. In his opinion, the objectives set many years ago have been achieved.

The Minister of the Interior explained that, today, the Ministry of the Interior and its agencies employ slightly over 8,000 people, which means that the number of our personnel has dropped by approximately 1,600 within the last seven years. The Police and Border Guard Board has seen the largest decrease in the number of employees, which has shrunk by 25% compared to 2008.

The Minister of the Interior gave an overview of financial resources. “It is certainly positive that the amount of money at the disposal of the interior security sector in 2008–2015 increased from 282 million to 338 million euros, the growth constituting 20%. Still, real budget growth shows that the picture is not that rosy,” Pevkur stated.

The Minister analysed the changes in important aspects related to internal security. While on the subject of rescue, he highlighted important key words, namely the decreased number of accident-related deaths and shorter response time to incidents. “The number of fire deaths and drowning deaths has been displaying a downward trend since the beginning of the period of the main guidelines of security policy,” Pevkur said.

In Pevkur’s words, it can be said that today we are far more ready for the unexpected than seven years ago. “The Emergency Act passed in 2009 created a system in which crises are to be handled at the inter-agency level, that is, broader level,” the Minister explained. He pointed out as an example that, while earlier separate plans for handling marine pollution were made by the Rescue Board, environmental organizations, the border guard service and local governments, now these plans are made jointly. In cooperation with its partners, last year the Ministry of the Interior also determined the 14 most important vital services whose uninterrupted functioning is essential for the state. These services include, for example, electricity and heating supply, telephone services and data transmission, emergency medical care and cash circulation. At the end of the year a population protection task force started operating within the Government Office with a view to creating an inter-agency concept of population protection mainly in case of a military threat or armed conflict.

In conclusion of his report, Pevkur said that, working to ensure security day after day, we have reached a point where 91% of residents believe that Estonia is a safe place to live. It is also interior security agencies that Estonian people trust the most of all government institutions: a survey conducted last year shows that 95% of respondents trust the Rescue Board, 90% trust the Emergency Response Centre, and 87% trust the Police and Border Guard Board. “Still, our common and individual security rests on little things, and trust is easy to lose, which is why I call on everyone to trust in the institutions responsible for the protection of public order and the work they do,” Pevkur emphasised.

Representatives of factions Toomas Vitsut, Raivo Aeg, Kalle Laanet, Martin Helme, Heljo Pikhof and Artur Talvik, who took the floor during the debate, discussed topical problems related to internal security.

Representative of the Centre Party Faction Toomas Vitsut drew attention to problems with ensuring security of rural regions. It has diminished in connection with focusing on ensuring the security of cities. He positively acknowledged the creation of the system relating to emergency calls that had improved the situation significantly.

Member of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction Raivo Aeg analysed the statistical indicators relating to internal security. He referred to the upward tendency of traffic offences. Aeg highlighted the steps taken to combat crimes of corruption. He considered it important to support the law enforcement units in every way.

Member of the Reform Party Faction Kalle Laanet noted that the rescue system had turned from a responding system into a preventing system. He spoke highly of the cooperation with volunteer rescue units. Laanet highlighted the steps taken to develop the technical and technological capability of police work.

Member of the Social Democratic Party Faction Heljo Pikhof stressed that we must take the ensuring of security with utmost seriousness. She considered it important to motivate the people who do police work. In Pikhof’s opinion, we must make efforts towards a more powerful demonstration of the presence of regional police officers.

Member of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction Martin Helme discussed the current political issues of ensuring security. He emphasised the importance of the resolution of the problems relating to the guarding of the eastern border of Estonia. Helme found that the border is not under full control. In his opinion, a categorical “no” must also be said to dual citizenship.

Member of the Estonian Free Party Faction Artur Talvik highlighted the positive aspects of the report. He highly appreciated the cooperation with communities, and stressed the need to improve the financing of the volunteer units. At the same time, he said that internal security is also underfinanced, besides external security. Talvik said that the supervision of force structures needs improvement through civilian control. He considered it important to organise an audit of the National Audit Office. Talvik found that people need better instruction on how to behave in crisis situations.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/et/201602181000

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

(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Gunnar Paal, 6316351, 51902837