The current Estonian government wants to amend the law to allow for the expedited expansion of the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) Nursipalu Training Area during the term of the current, XIV Riigikogu, i.e. before the March 5 elections, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said Thursday.
"The prime minister's words were very clear — she sees issues with the current legal space," Pevkur said about Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) in an appearance on Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" on Thursday.
"If the current legal space as it concerns different plan categories and the terms thereof can still be amended during the term of the current [Riigikogu], then it would also be possible to move forward faster as well," he continued.
The defense minister explained that in order to more quickly expand Nursipalu Training Area, it will likely be necessary to amend the terms for implementing national defense-related derogations, or exceptions, to include not just the buildings already stipulated in the law, but land as well.
"Different options were on the table in the government today, and that's also why we at the Ministry of Defense were tasked with very quickly reviewing these together with the Ministry of Finance," he said. "That's why we're trying to get this job done as quickly as possible, to have an answer by today or tomorrow already on whether we can change the law."
According to the minister, "The process will continue as follows: we at the Ministry of Defense will draw up a draft amendment, we'll discuss it with the planning specialists at the Ministry of Finance at the first possible opportunity, and then we'll discuss both within the coalition council and parliament whether it would still be possible for us to pass these amendments during the term of the current [Riigikogu]."
Pevkur said he understands that the approaching Riigikogu elections may delay the process, but the new coalition will be expected to handle this issue as well, and as quickly as possible as the EDF needs improved training conditions.
"Should the new parliament and government decide otherwise, that's impossible for me to provide any answers about right now," he added.
According to the defense minister, the government discussed the planned expansion of the EDF's Nursipalu Training Area on Thursday and is operating based on the understanding that local governments and people will be talked with first, and thereafter the government will undertake steps to find a legal solution.
The current government coalition consists of the Reform Party, Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE).
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 four-year term.
Editor: Aili Vahtla