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Lauri Läänemets: Internal security success reflected in results not reports

Lauri Läänemets.
Lauri Läänemets. Source: Renee Altrov

When it comes to public shelters and civil defense, the goal goes beyond ticking boxes, cutting ribbons and filing reports. The same goes for domestic violence prevention, narcotics policy, border construction and counter-intelligence, Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets writes.

The ERR article "Estonian government completes 60 percent of its action plan to date" also called into question the effectiveness of the Interior Ministry's work. But I would ask instead which is more important, a slideshow sent to the cabinet or 40 kilometers of tangible border infrastructure completed more than a year ahead of schedule?

The domestic violence prevention activity plan is ready, and I will join the justice, social protection and education ministers in signing it Thursday. The only reason it will take this long is that ministers were unable to come together sooner because of their busy schedules.

In addition to everyday activities and foreign trips, the teachers' salary dispute demanded urgent attention. The [domestic violence] activity plan was presented to the working group in charge back in November where it was unanimously approved. Besides, the aim of the activity plan was not getting to a signing ceremony but rather more effective prevention and help for victims of domestic abuse.

The same largely goes for the white book of narcotics policy. The relevant policy document was passed by the government in 2021 and laid down a set of goals until 2030. Work to achieve the aims outlined in the document continues.

A spike in narcotics-related deaths this year is worrying. There is no quick fix for this rather widely discussed problem. Efforts to achieve the goals outlined in the white book need to become even more ambitious as people's lives depend on it. We will be introducing several new activities, including equipping patrol officers with naloxone to help prevent overdose deaths.

Draft legislation to expand the powers of local law enforcement has been widely discussed already, and with good reason. The bill was sent out for a round of coordination back in November, and I hope I will soon be able to take it to the cabinet. The proposal also requires readiness from local governments, which is why we cannot prioritize "ticking the box" by year's end at all costs. Half-baked solutions may end up costing us dearly if the goal is real and long-term change.

Ways to pay for civil defense activities for the next four years have been found, meaning that the document was stuck behind the approval of the state budget and the broad-based national defense plan. The civil defense activity plan was completed in November and is waiting to be presented to the cabinet. The civil defense training plan memorandum was also prepared in November and is awaiting presentation in the cabinet, while the Civil Defense 2.0 and the related activity plan need to be presented first.

The government was given an overview of progress made at developing the eastern border in early December as there was no government sitting at the end of November. But more important that briefing the government is the fact that the project is not just on schedule but a 40-kilometer stretch of border infrastructure was completed more than a year early. Once more, what should really be our goal – keeping the government up to speed or finished border infrastructure in Southeast Estonia.

An analysis and proposals for boosting counter-intelligence capacity are completed and the plan is to present them to the cabinet before the year's end. An analysis and proposals concerning limitations on purchase and rent of agricultural and forest land to citizens of third countries and legal persons the owners of which include citizens of third persons are also awaiting presentation in the cabinet, probably in January.

But we must also admit that draft legislation to amend the Emergency Situation Act and the Building Code in the part where it regulates shelters has been dragging on because of a fundamental difference in terms of whether requirements for public shelters should also apply to existing buildings.

The bill has passed through the first round of ministerial approval now. The Ministry of the Interior has complemented the bill based on feedback and will send it to the Ministry of Justice early next year. The amendment aims to obligate equipping all new buildings with a floor area of over 1,200 square meters with a public shelter.

When it comes to public shelters and civil defense, the goal goes beyond ticking boxes, cutting ribbons and filing reports. The same goes for domestic violence prevention, narcotics policy, border construction and counter-intelligence. The goals and the change needed to achieve them are large-scale and fundamental. It hardly makes sense to gauge the effectiveness and results in a complex administrative area by ticked boxes in the calendar, less so looking at the situation as of November.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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