Ministry: National defense obligation register to be made more flexible

Defense ministry (Kaitseministeerium) logo.
Defense ministry (Kaitseministeerium) logo. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Streamlined defense rosters from next year will also give Estonian citizens who have national defense obligations will be able to volunteer with, for instance, the Defense League (Kaitseliit), the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) or the Rescue Board (Päästeamet), along with other agencies.

This also pertains to those who have more than one obligation, or who wish to provide more information on preferences, training etc., in order for the state to get a clearer picture on the civil defense situation in the country.

Defense obligations are imposed on Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) conscripts, who remain on reserve lists following conclusion of their service and are liable for annual training sessions, with the reforms meaning such individuals can volunteer for other duties as well.

Defense minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said: "Active members of the Defense League, assistant police officers, and voluntary rescuers have their own definite role and contribution to resolving a crisis or emergency. Often an active citizen is an active member of the Defense League, while also being active as an assistant police officer or volunteer rescuer."

"This means they have a choice when it comes to which organization they would like to contribute to in resolving a situation. At the same time, the state or organization does not have a comprehensive overview of the different roles and activities of a person, so there is also no overview of the real resources needed in a crisis," Pevkur added, noting this applied to national defense and internal security alike.

In the future, persons with a national defense obligation can also add information about their additional skills acquired through in-service training, participation in recreational activities and self-education.

"In the future, individuals who have national defense obligations will be able to let the state know their status in completing in-service training, acquiring additional skills, and also state to which organization they wish to contribute as a volunteer," the minister continued.

The national defense obligation register is to be overhauled next year, leading to a reduction of paperwork and better data management, the ministry says.

The register already includes information such as vehicle driving proficiency and permission, and even religious affiliation, all of which is voluntary, though will be taken into account when directing them to their conscript service unit and training.

The individual can also indicate whether he or she is already an active member of the Defense League, or an assistant police officer, or a voluntary rescuer.

Not only the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) but also other state agencies involved in national defense, internal security and maintaining public order and safety see the information as significant, while an individual who has also consented to sharing their information can be contacted with offers of work or volunteer activities.

Consent may be given separately for each institution and for each potential offer, the ministry says. For example, if a person consents to receiving proposals from the Defense League, they can receive an invitation to join same, while the same would apply to the PPA or Rescue Board.

Those on the register can also withdraw their consent to processing the data that they have shared on a voluntary basis, including the forwarding of that data, at any time. 

From October 1 2022, those who have national defense obligation will be asked to provide information on their volunteering activities relating to internal security or preparations for military defense. The Regulation is to enter into force on January 1 2023, the ministry says.

The register primarily applies to Estonian citizens, though foreign nationals who are resident in Estonia can be eligible to join their local Defense League district (Malev).

The PPA and Rescue Board fall under the Ministry of the Interior's remit, though the changed security situation has meant agencies from both ministries working even more closely together.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Ministry of Defense

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