Regular Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) personnel who form the permanent guard of honor outside Kadriorg, seat of the president, are to have full dress uniforms restored, following a decision by newly-installed President Alar Karis. For much of this year, the honor guard had worn ordinary DPM kit, a move which had not proven very popular.
Commander of the guard battalion Lt. Col Margot Künnapuu told ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Wednesday that: "This is the decision of the President and, for us, it is an order from the Supreme Commander of the Defense Forces, to change the uniforms from the earlier camouflage to those of the Guard of Honor," while EDF personnel thus dressed were in-studio for a demonstration.
"All those soldiers who can be seen on parade in front of Kadriorg as a guard of honor are ordinary soldiers from the EDF's military police (Sõjaväepolitsei) guards battalion, part of whose service requirements are to provide this service," she continued.
"It is based on the principle of honesty, i.e. everyone carries the same burden," she added.
In addition to the permanent guard outside Kadriorg, the guard of honor appears at major national ceremonial events, such as on independence day, February 24, and also smaller ceremonies such as foreign ambassadors presenting their credentials.
Künnapuu said: "We usually have at least one a month, when the president receives credentials from ambassadors, and as a national ceremony we have an entire honorary company, i.e. 69 soldiers, together with the commander," adding that the honor guard outside Kadriorg was in place 24/7.
Taking part in the guard of honor is neither privilege nor punishment, he added, but a normal part of service.
The switch to DPM-style dress took place without fanfare earlier this year, with speculation once it was noticed including whether it had been a cost-cutting measure following budget cuts the government had announced. While former EDF commander and current Reform MP Ants Laaneots said that the changeover was no cause for alarm, there were also plenty of calls for the return of the dress uniform.
Alar Karis was sworn in on Monday, and he and his wife are to be residing full-time in the house, erected in the 1930s adjacent to the Kadriorg Palace, a much older building.
Future planned developments at the president's residence include beefed-up security infrastructure – the parade ground is currently wide open to the public street which runs past it – and developments in the Rose Garden to the house's rear.
Editor: Andrew Whyte