Heads of the Riigikogu National Defense Committee have rebutted criticism from EDF commander Gen. Martin Herem according to which solving certain personnel issues at the Defense Forces is stuck behind the parliament. MPs want to see an initiative from the Defense Ministry first.
Gen. Herem said in an interview to "Esimene stuudio" Wednesday that changes to the status of conscripts and ways for EDF members who have reached the retirement to continue contributing are stuck behind politicians.
"The EDF commander suggested it is somehow an oversight on the part of the National Defense Committee. However, we are very much in favor of the Defense Forces, through the Defense Ministry, taking the initiative for how to solve it. They know best. It does not make sense for ten MPs to try and solve EDF pay or pension matters. We stand ready to discuss [proposals]," committee chair Kalev Stoicescu told ERR Wednesday.
Leo Kunnas (EKRE group), the committee's deputy chairman, backed Stoicescu and said that a bill is needed before something can be treated with in the committee. Kunnas said that they have not received a single initiative concerning the status of conscripts or the EDF retirement age.
Retired general Neeme Väli (Isamaa, formerly Center Party) agreed, suggesting that Herem saddling the committee with the problem of retirement-age EDF personnel is unfair.
Väli and Stoicescu said that the matter has been discussed in the past, most recently on November 7, while the minutes suggest it has not been seen as a problem in the past.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense told ERR Wednesday that the ministry has started preparing relevant amendments. "Amendments to the Defense Forces Service Act are in the works, we have presented them to members of the Riigikogu National Defense Committee and will be filing the legislative intent document soon," said Asko Kivinuk, the Defense Ministry's acting undersecretary for legal and administrative matters.
The EDF and the Defense Resources Agency introduced proposals for involving reservists in EDF activities last December. These include so-called work bites in the EDF, retired EDF members continuing to perform tasks and filling some positions with people from civilian circles. The Defense Forces is also planning to change the role of conscripts at exercises, their hours and remuneration during exercises and to what extent conscripts can perform military tasks.
Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski