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National Defense Committee chair: Civilian service a sound idea

Kalev Stoicescu.
Kalev Stoicescu. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Kalev Stoicescu (Eesti 200), chairman of the Riigikogu National Defense Committee, supports the initiative to introduce civilian military service in Estonia and expects a thorough public debate.

"I tend to agree in that it is a sensible, necessary and timely idea, which deserves thorough discussion in society and among experts," Stoicescu told ERR.

He said that Eesti 200's program prioritizes civil defense, making relevant training available to everyone and crisis preparedness. "Every adult citizen has a clear role, motivation and responsibility, and everyone must know what they can do in a major crisis."

Stoicescu added that while the idea was discussed during coalition talks, it did not make the final agreement as broad-based consensus is needed first. "Civilian service for everyone (aged 18-27) requires human, material and financial resources that have not been allocated," the MP remarked.

"Young people especially need to be given a say in the matter as it concerns them the closest," Stoicescu said, adding that preparations for both military and civilian service must start in national defense classes at school.

He said that introducing civilian service would benefit both Estonia's crisis readiness and give young people the chance to make themselves useful to their country and community, learn valuable skills and consider relevant career opportunities.

Stoicescu pointed out that around 50 percent of young men and a few dozen women are forecast to complete military service annually in the coming years. "Military service is not for everyone, while civilian service could serve as a brilliant alternative for many."

Brig. Gen. Vahur Karus and security expert Erkki Koort recently proposed creating a civil defense alternative to Estonia's compulsory military service, which would function as a crisis readiness reserve and where women should also be included.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov; Marcus Turovski

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