Riigikogu rejects bill allowing rearmament of anti-personnel mines

Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Thursday, the Riigikogu rejected a bill proposed by the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) and Reform Party member Ants Laaneots that would have led to Estonia's withdrawal from the convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines (Ottawa Convention or the Mine Ban Treaty).

The bill to denounce The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, Transfer, and Destruction of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction failed to pass its first reading. It was aimed at Estonia's withdrawal from the so-called Ottawa Convention, which is a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines. It prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, development, acquisition and transfer of anti-personnel mines and requires their destruction, whether they are in stockpiles or in the ground.

The explanatory memorandum to the draft bill states that it is no longer in Estonia's national interest to comply with the Ottawa Convention's obligations, which weakens our defense capabilities. In light of the changing circumstances, Estonia is bound to make every effort to improve its military defense. Estonia cannot let the countries that have not ratified the Ottawa Convention use anti-personnel mines on Estonian soil in the event of a war, while we ourselves ourselves cannot.

At the same time, the Ministry of Defense has stated in its assessment that the use of anti-personnel mines would not give Estonia a military advantage in deterring the enemy, but would make it more difficult to involve allies in our defense. The analysis, prepared in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added that the use of anti-personnel landmines is not militarily necessary, even in the light of the first lessons of the Ukrainian war, would not be understood by the allies and would lead to negative international attention and pressure. In addition, the use of anti-personnel landmines would make it difficult to comply with the principle of distinction, which stipulates that all involved in the armed conflict must distinguish between the combatants and civilians.

The draft's explanatory memorandum, however, also states that following the renunciation of the Ottawa Convention, Estonia would unilaterally pledge to refrain from selling or otherwise transferring anti-personnel landmines to other states and to declare that it will not use anti-personnel landmines outside of its territory.

The Riigikogu adopted the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction in March 2004, a few weeks before Estonia became a full member of NATO.

On November 1, 2004, the Ottawa Convention come into force for Estonia.

The Reform Party proposed that the draft be rejected, with 30 Riigikogu members voting in favor of rejecting it and 21 voting against.

Members of the EKRE faction and four Isamaa legislators, Priit Sibul, Raivo Tamm, Tarmo Kruusimäe ja Heiki Hepner, voted against excluding the motion from the Riigikogu procedure.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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