Increasing Estonia's defense capacity will also require being able to train at Nursipalu Training Area as well, but the right solutions need to be found for the local residents at the expense of whose homes the military grounds are slated to be expanded, said Liina Kersna, the Reform Party's top candidate for Southeastern Estonia in the 2023 Riigikogu elections.
Kersna said that the state must certainly talk things through with the affected people, and do so as personally as possible.
"The right solution for them needs to be found for every family," she told ERR, adding that she is aware that efforts to this end are currently in progress.
"The fact that things got off to a rocky start [in terms of communication with local residents] is really unfortunate," Kersna acknowledged. "They actually should have started precisely with those people in that area, not municipal council members. These people are being talked to right now in order to figure out solutions that suit them."
The Reform Party, the senior member of the current ruling Reform-Isamaa-SDE coalition, doesn't touch on the Nursipalu matter at all in its 2023 election platform.
"What is part of our election platform, however, is that the Estonian state's defense capacity must be increased," Kersna noted. "The Nursipalu Training Area must be expanded, as we've made major investments in defense capabilities and that requires training as well. That defense capacity must be increased is definitely included in our platform, and that we will certainly do."
A total of 21 homes fall within the territory of the planned expansion of the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) Nursipalu Training Area in Southeastern Estonia. The region is largely agricultural, and the majority of affected farms are native. Homeowners have previously told ERR that they are more interested in replacement land than money.
Liina Kersna, the former minister of education and research under Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' (Reform) first government, has been confirmed as Reform's top candidate in Võru, Valga and Põlva counties (Electoral District 11).
The 2023 Riigikogu elections, in which all of the Estonian parliament's 101 seats are up for election, will be held on Sunday, March 5.
MPs are elected to the Riigikogu for a five-year term.
Editor: Aili Vahtla