Estonia has no alternative but to invest more in those people who uphold the law and order in the country, namely police officers and border guards.
Speaking at an event marking the anniversary of the foundation of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), President Karis said: "If we want Estonia to be a peaceful and, in a positive sense, boring place, on where a sense of security is not at the top of the list of people's concerns, then we cannot purchase all of that on the cheap."
"It seems to me that PPA personnel are currently spread too thinly. PPA officers work the overtime equivalent to around 135 [extra] personnel per year. The absence of another 150 employees is compensated for by auxiliary policemen, who are strong and able in every way. However, internal security cannot be built on voluntarism," the president continued in the speech delivered at the Estonian National Museum (ERM) in Tartu, the president's hometown.
"You cannot perform more and more tasks with fewer and fewer employees, no matter how digitized and innovative you are," the head of state continued, according to a press release.
Also important is that for most Estonian residents, PPA personnel represent the state, for the most part. "For many people, the PPA is the face of the Estonian state, and whether that face is a smiling and self-confident one, or instead sullen and mean, shapes the attitude towards the Estonian state," the president went on, adding that through the PPA the state must provide effective, impartial and supportive protection and assistance to everyone.
That PPA officers are often in the frontline of internal security is often overlooked or taken for granted, something which must not happen so as to avoid burnout and other undesirable outcomes, especially given the crises which have followed one after another – the refugee crises, hostility to the Estonian state relating to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Covid crisis and soaring energy and other prices
"In addition, the cost of living and high energy prices can make winter difficult for many people, which means that once again there will be a great temptation to find political culprits´," he added, given that a general election follows in spring.
Acting as a guarantor of the rule of law in democratic Estonia is also a key PPA task, referencing directly the unhindered functioning of entrepreneurship, the safety of schoolchildren while traveling to and from home, cyber security, the inviolability of private property and who crosses Estonia's orders.
Estonian society will remain healthy in the current cluster of crises only if citizens and residents maintain trust not only in each other, but also in the state and its institutions, a role which the PPA is indispensable in.
The PPA was formed in 2010 after a merger of the formerly separate border guard and police service, which in turn themselves had been reestablished after Estonian regained its independence in 1991.
Estonia's physical border infrastructure in the southeast, the only part of Estonia's eastern border which traverses land rather than following watercourses, is being bolstered with fencing and other installations, work which had been ongoing in any case but was brought into focus starting with the migration crisis fomented by Belarus (which does not border with Estonia) on its border with the EU last year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia