The Riigikogu's defense committee has unanimously decided to extend the term of Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) commander Lieutenant General Martin Herem for an additional two years. While Herem was to stay in the position to December 2023 in any case, the changed security situation has prompted the extension, in the interests of stability.
Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform) had proposed prolonging Lt Gen. Herem's period of office.
The committee's chair, Raimond Kaljulaid (SDE), said of the situation that: "Very extensive investment decisions have been made for the development of the EDF, which must be implemented in the coming years, and work continues towards boosting the presence of allies."
"In order to strengthen security on NATO's eastern flank, the decisions of the Madrid Summit must be implemented as soon as possible. Considering these challenges, we consider it necessary that Lt Gen. Herem continue to fulfill his duties until December 2025, at the defense minister's proposal," he said.
Committee vice-chair and EDF reservist officer Leo Kunnas (EKRE) noted that although he would have liked to receive more comprehensive assessments from the Minister of Defense and to hear the head of the EDF, the committee's position was nontheless unanimous.
"[Fellow EKRE committee member] Alar Laneman and I did not demand a vote on this issue, though we did have some critical observations and questions that we forwarded to the Minister of Defense," Kunnas said.
The next step is for the committee to submit its corresponding opinion to the government
Herem became EDF chief in December 2018, replacing current MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa) on a five-year term, but the government has the right to extend it by two years at the proposal of the Minister of Defense and taking into account the position of the Riigikogu's defense committee.
In addition to Kaljulaid, Kunnas and Laneman, the defense committee comprises Heiki Hepner (Isamaa), another former EDF chief, Ants Laaneots (Reform), former defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform Party), Anneli Ott (Center), Mati Raidma (Reform) and Erki Savisaar (Center).
Lt Gen. Herem, 48, served as a staff officer in a US brigade in Iraq in 2006, later becoming EDF Chief of General Staff, and its commander, in December 2018.
Editor: Andrew Whyte