Estonia's new coalition wants NATO allies to spend 2.5% GDP on defense
Estonia's next government plans to call on NATO members to increase their defense spending to at least 2.5 percent, rising from the current 2 percent, it was agreed during coalition negotiations on Friday.
Representatives from Reform, Eesti 200 and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) discussed domestic and international defense issues on Friday.
All of Estonia's political parties have agreed to increase the country's defense spending to 3 percent for at least the next five years.
But the three parties trying to form the next government want NATO allies to increase their commitments.
Currently around a third of NATO allies meet the 2 percent spending goal.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) also said it is important that military capabilities can be used interchangeably between Estonia's national defense and NATO's regional defense.
Estonia focuses on air defense, long-range fire and ammunition
The government will base Estonia's defense investments and capabilities on advice from the head of the defense forces, Kallas said.
The focus will be on acquiring more ammunition, developing air defenses, and increasing long-range firing capabilities.
The parties also agreed to make plans to revive the domestic defense industry, she said. More police officers will also be trained to strengthen internal security.
Additionally, permanent funding will be assigned to the territorial defenses and Estonian Defense League, and the broader role of women in national defense is being discussed. However, this will not mean compulsory military service.
The government wants to make plans for a military and disaster medicine center and a civil defense reserve.
Quick expansion of Nursipalu training ground planned
The parties plan to move forward quickly with expanding the Nursipalu training ground in south Estonia, Kallas said.
"We decided to go ahead with amending the law to clarify the scope of the national defense derogation so that we can move faster," the prime minister said.
Estonia 200's Margus Tsahkna said the changes should provide greater flexibility to deal with the issue.
SDE's Raimond Kaljulaid said the residents in surrounding areas and municipalities will be taken into consideration.
Kallas said residents forced to leave their homes must be given fair compensation.
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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright