Opposition MPs: Ruling Party's Conscription Reforms Veiled Bid to End Draft
The Reform Party's draft program plank on expanding and deepening the national defense system is actually the first step toward abolishing compulsory military service, a former defense minister now in the opposition, claimed.
IRL MP Jaak Aaviksoo told Postimees: "It is just one concealed attempt to gradually phase out conscription. This has been something the Reform Party has tried to do all the time and as the idea is not very popular they have come out with it in a disguised form."
"But I think the current model works well and there is no need to review it," he added. "Studying something for an hour a day is something fundamentally different than doing so under a military conditions for a longer time."
Another former and more recent defense minister, IRL leader Urmas Reinsalu, minced words even less, saying it was irresponsible and that the Reform Party did not realize the gravity of the current security situation.
Most European countries have long discontinued military service, with one exception being the majority of the Nordic countries. Latvia and Lithuania have both ditched the draft, although Latvia has played with the idea of returning to conscription in light of recent events in the region.
The Reform Party said in the working version of its 2015 election program that it wanted to make national defense mandatory as a school subject and ease conscription requirements for successful students.
After the news of the party's possible initiative was reported by Eesti Päevaleht daily earlier today, the Reform Party denied that its ultimate goal is to end the current system. A number of powerful members, such as Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi, are considered strong backers of the draft as well.
Observers will also be likely to evaluate the opposition's remarks in the context of the abrupt ejection from the coalition only this spring.