National Defence Committee: Authorities need to cooperate more in maritime surveillance
In the assessment of the Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee, the authorities needed to cooperate a lot more closely to monitor Estonian waters and forward data to NATO, the committee’s chairman, Marko Mihkelson (IRL), said to ERR’s radio news on Tuesday.
While air policing and bringing new allied units to Estonia were discussed a lot, the defense of the country’s maritime territorial borders has fallen behind. Among other things, a coherent way of monitoring Estonian waters and coming up with a coordinated way of reporting data to NATO were needed, the National Defence Committee found.
“An integrated image of maritime monitoring is comparable to the integrated image of airspace monitoring. Everything that moves at sea, different vessels, their identification codes, who is moving in our waters and for what reason, all of this needs to be as visible as possible,” Mihkelson said.
Different authorities were currently collecting data, but there was a lack of cooperation between them.
“The Police and Border Guard Board, the Defence Forces, and also for instance the Maritime Administration would have to work together where possible, because today we still see that a lot of work is done twice. The experience our Latvian neighbors have, also the Finns, the Danes, who a few years ago reduced redundancies, here Estonia has a lot of room for development,” Mihkelson added. Once Estonia had a single radar image, this could also be forwarded to NATO.
Procuring new systems, in the future the interests and tasks of all the authorities connected to maritime surveillance needed to be taken into account, Mihkelson stressed. “There is a whole number of capabilities that are still being developed in Estonia today, and which require a lot more resources,” he pointed out.
Where Estonia’s development of its military concentrated on the army and its powers, NATO allies had been investing in their navies, Mihkelson said. “We know that today our navy’s strength is mainly in minehunting. All of this is of course extraordinarily expensive, which is why it is also important for us that our allies have a much more active presence in the Baltic Sea area, also in the Gulf of Finland. Germany and Poland have undertaken a very serious modernization of their fleets, just for the purpose to increase their forces in the area,” Mihkelson said.