Several parties call for mandatory school defense education
Political parties hoping to be elected to the Riigikogu have made raising defense spending, strengthening the Estonian Defence League (EDL), and introducing mandatory defense education in schools key pledges in their manifestos.
Tuesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) studied parties' defense policies in the run-up to the March 5 election.
Security expert Rainer Saks told AK more attention is being paid to national defense than in previous years. All the big parties plan to raise spending and there are no plans to change the defense system.
"Everybody pretty much has the same vision for how to develop the defense forces. People talk about air defense, very often they talk about broad-based national defense, i.e. protection of the population," he said.
Some parties highlight developing a domestic defense industry, Saks said, but there are no concrete plans.
"We can see how Ukraine is struggling to provide itself with the basic necessities of war. These things need to be prepared in peacetime. We have plenty of time and this could be a very big focus for the future," he said.
Reform's Kalle Laanet, a former defense minister, said the party believes there should be a strong reservist force and that schools should teach national defense.
"This means that in the future we will have medium-range air defenses, multiple-missile systems and young people who will do military service, whose numbers we will increase in order to grow our reservist force," he explained.
Eesti 200 wants Estonia to develop ammunition, weapons and drone production capabilities. Additionally, the party is floating the idea of a "Kalevipoeg dome" covering the whole country.
"The Kalevipoeg dome is a three-layer air defense system put together by experts to protect Estonia from the very first moment," said Margus Tsahkna, party board member.
Isamaa's MEP Riho Terras, a former chief of the armed forces, said that as much money as necessary must be invested in national defense.
"Three percent or more must be put aside for investment and, if necessary, taking loans for national defense. Depending on the chief of defense force's proposals for which weapons systems and new units are needed," said Terras.
Center matches the 3 percent of GDP defense spending pledge, calls good salaries for those who contribute to national defense and additional funding for the EDL.
The Social Democratic Party (SDE) promises to raise spending to 3.5 percent of GDP and the development of a domestic national defense industry. The party also suggests introducing a new tax especially linked to defense spending.
EKRE agrees with the 3 percent GPD spending target and bringing back a militarized border guard.
Parempoolsed wants a long-term agreement between political parties and society for national defense.
The Greens call for new navy ships, gender-neutral conscription and strengthening of the EDL.
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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera