Defense Minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) says that the border town of Narva is key to the entire country's defense and security.
Laanet, who was appointed minister last month after the Reform/Center coalition entered office, said: "Estonia starts at Narva. It is evident that we need to find opportunities to highlight the importance of national defense to the people of the town."
The large majority of Narva's population speaks Russian as their native tongue. The town lies on the river of the same name, with the bridge spanning it constituting a major border crossing in both directions.
Highlighting defense would need to: "Start with encouraging the youth to take part in the national defense curriculum in school, through to presenting them with career opportunities in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF)," Laanet continued, according to a ministry press release.
Laanet also met with the town's mayor, Katri Raik (SDE), who herself entered office only recently, as well as leader of the local volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) unit, Sergei Goratš.
´"The Defense League plays a central role in strengthening our national defense capability. Today, in visiting our armed forces, I can see how dedicated members of both our Defence League and the EDF are," Laanet said.
Laanet was given an overview of the unit's activities, at their headquarters, which have included assisting the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) in patrolling activities, with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Defense League is an all-volunteer organization recruited locally and bolsters the regular EDF. The latter also has reserve lists, while its composition is made up both of volunteers and conscripts. The Estonian Navy (Merevägi) and Air Force (Õhuvägi) are organizationally part of the EDF rather than beign separate arms, and Estonia's defense is further boosted by the U.K.-led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup based in Tapa, NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission based at Ämari, and regular cooperation with and visits from U.S. forces based in Europe.
Editor: Andrew Whyte