Although Estonia’s military defense capability is better than ever before, we need the same readiness and response speed elsewhere, President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid said today at the Victory Day parade and called for a debate before the Parliament elections on comprehensive security and size of the defence budget.
President Kaljulaid acknowledged the exemplary development of the Estonian Defense Forces but noted that military defense is only one of six areas of broad-based defense. “Military defense does not have to answer the question of how any hospital can cope with our hospital network when the number of patients explodingly increases. Or how can we avoid chaos if vital services are disturbed, “said the President.
The supreme commander of national defence noted that there have been positive developments in the broad-based defense, but we will not get far with merely smart documents, volunteer initiatives, and crisis-time improvisations. “So in this light, can we really be satisfied with a situation where for every 73 euros invested into the Defence Forces, the investment planned for all other fields of national defence averages only one euro? Perhaps we could add to that one euro, and not by reducing the 73 euros?” asked the Head of State.
President Kersti Kaljulaid added that is expecting substantive discussions on those on these topics before the next Parliament elections. “When there is again talk about the importance of comprehensive national defence, let us ask what this specifically means and how much funding is planned for a given national defence programme? If we notice that election platforms contain keywords about new military capabilities or weapons systems, then let’s think about whether defence spending should be raised to 2.5%, 3% or even 4% of the GDP? Another option is to be content with the current size and capabilities of the Defence Forces and accept that comprehensive national defence mainly exists on paper. This, too, is a choice,” said President Kaljlaid adding that if we choose the latter, it must be a conscious decision that is negotiated with the electorate.
Estonian Head of State also talked about living in the world of paradoxes – Estonia is defended better than ever, yet the world around us is restless, creating a feeling that security has become more fragile.
“In a complicated world, we have only one compass. The needle of this compass orients itself according to a magnetic field of universal values: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. As a small nation, we must not deviate from these values, not even once. We must not choose sides in particular disputes, but rather remain true to our compass. That will ensure that our decisions are always comprehensible for our friends, even in conditions where their own compass may be tilted for some reason due to their own interests,” the Head of State added.
President Kaljulaid stressed that Estonia’s power lies in the readiness of the entire people to stand up for themselves and support each other in hardship. “Our response to crises related to public safety – such as this dry spring’s forest fires – involves the entire people. The people turned out alongside professional rescue workers, and professional rescuers know how to interact with volunteers,” said President Kaljulaid and added that our own power and will is the greatest guarantee of our security.
Photos: Raigo Pajula, Office of the President