Defense chiefs: xenophobia a threat to national security (19)
In light of some xenophobic comments made by high-ranking or well-known security officers, the heads of the Estonian Defense Force and the Defense League have called for calm and rationality, saying that encouraging ethnic hatred undermines national security and defense capability.
"The security situation in Estonia and Europe has changed considerably over the last year and a half," Estonian defense chief Riho Terras said, adding that the refugee crisis is one of the areas creating tensions in the society.
"Two hundred refugees are not a threat to Estonia. But our allies thinking that Estonia does not want to contribute to common commitment to accommodate refugees, at the same time counting on their understanding of Russia's imperialist behavior, is a real danger," Terras said even before the incident in Vao. "We cannot afford any cracks in the alliance," he emphasized.
Head of the Estonian Defense League, Meelis Kiili, also more recently called the hate speech problem a security risk, urging his men to think twice before posting xenophobic messages on social media sites.
"It's not a secret that the political elite of the Russian Federation is out to damage the reputation and virtue of the Defense League," he said, adding: "Let's not provide them with the opportunity."
Although everyone has the right to have and express one's opinion, it must be done with dignity and respect, Kiili said.
"Expressing and spreading xenophobia is neither acceptable nor fitting; it won't help to address society's pain points nor find solutions to them," he explained.