Reform Party MP and former Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) chief Johannes Kert has died. He was 61.
Kert was first elected to parliament for the XIII (last) Riigikogu composition and was returned to the current, XIV Riigikogu, the Riigikogu's official site reports.
Kert commanded the EDF for four years, 1996-2001, attaining the rank of Lieutenant General, and was also commander of land forces 2001-2002 (the EDF comprises land, sea and air forces – ed.) and was Estonian's military representative to both NATO and the EU 2002-2008.
A book of condolences is open in the public lobby at Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu.
Minister of Defense: Kert's contribution to natl defense 'all-embracing'
The contribution of Lt. Gen. Johannes Kert to Estonia's national defense was all-embracing, Defense Minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) said in his remarks in remembrance of the former Kaitseliit (Defense League) chief and commander of the defense forces who passed on Thursday.
The minister said that he and the ministry remember Kert as a genuine Estonian military officer who saw national defense in the most comprehensive manner, starting with Estonian-language education and ending with military defense.
"The contribution of Lieutenant-General Johannes Kert to the development of national defense was all-embracing, from his career in the defense forces up to developing national defense related policies at the Ministry of Defense and the Riigikogu," Laanet said. "We met only yesterday, and as we departed I said to him, 'See you soon, Mr. General.' Now this meeting has to wait," Laanet said.
In his capacity as adviser to the Ministry of Defense, Kert advised the ministry on cyber defense, manning of the defense forces, development of Kaitseliit, human resources policy and staffing of the area of administration of the Ministry of Defense. Kert also analyzed matters related to the Estonian National Defense College and conscript service, took part in the process of strategic developing of Kaitseliit and coordination of national defense related development and research activity.
Laanet pointed out that Kert was the initiator of the idea and a champion of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, who represented it in the international steering committee and NATO committees. Kert played an important role in developing and maintaining the national defense relationship between Estonia and the United States and was a valued adviser in the development of that cooperation until present. The cooperation with the state of Maryland also is the basis for extensive and trustful cooperation between Estonia and the United States in the field of cyber defense, the minister said.
Kert was the commander of the Estonian defense forces from 1996-2000, the commander of Kaitseliit from 1993-1996 and the commander of the Army from 2001-2002. He then went on to serve as the military representative of Estonia to NATO. Kert later on served as adviser at the Ministry of Defense and sat on the 13th and 14th Riigikogu, where he was a member of the national defense committee.
Kert has been decorated with numerous Estonian and foreign awards.
The Ministry of Defense has lowered flags to half-staff in remembrance of Kert, while the defense forces have opened a book of condolences.
Editor's note: Comments from the Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet have been added to this article.
Editor: Andrew Whyte