Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Tuesday introduced the updated version of Estonia's security policy principles in the Riigikogu, stressing that security is stronger in a cohesive society.
Ratas said that the bill emphasizes more than before everyone's role in guaranteeing Estonia's security and pays attention to the connections between regional and global events and Estonia's well-being, spokespeople for the government said.
According to Ratas, a consensus among parties has prevailed on the primary issues concerning Estonia's security and defense. "I thank and acknowledge members of the previous government as well as Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas," he said. "Their personal dedication and attention enabled my government to accept the work previously done as a symbolic baton."
The prime minister noted that Estonia's security is affected primarily by the vitality of the transatlantic security system, relations between countries in neighboring regions as well as Russia's growing military activity and aggressiveness which directly affects them.
"Estonia's membership in the EU and NATO have strengthened our security," Ratas said, adding that Estonia has received practical as well as political support through both organizations in reaching its security policy goals and increasing well-being.
"The security environment is not only influenced by tanks and planes, but also dependence on cyberspace as well as famine and water shortages in different areas of the world," he continued. "Standing against such factors requires a contribution from all of us — the cooperation of all of society."
According to Ratas, the new security policy principles are based on strong civil activity and civil society.
An important update in the new version of the principles are the government-as-a-whole and society-as-a-whole approaches, as following these principles better ties together the cooperation and coordinated activities of different parts of government and society by reducing the focus on administration in the management and realization of processes, it is written in the bill's cover letter. In addition, cyberspace is to be included as a new dimension of the security environment.
According to the bill, Estonia's main security risks are the deepening of global security issues, the declining of the impact of the Euro-Atlantic region and of a value space based on democracy, a market economy and law-governed state, the weakening of integration based on EU principles as well as Russia's provocatively aggressive behavior, including exercising force near its borders as well as elsewhere in the world. These risks are connected with each other and if the first three trends continue, it might result in an amplification of the fourth trend — Russia's aggressive behavior.
A new element being used against Estonia is the so-called hybrid method, in which military and non-military means are functioning in symbiosis, it is written in the bill.
Possible domestic risks are inconsistent regional development, societal groups that have not integrated well, manifestations of intolerance as well as the polarization of society based on values and notions, it is noted in the bill. Risks with a long-term perspective are Estonia's aging and declining population.
Estonia's security policy principles were most recently updated in May 2010; the present bill is the fourth version of the document.
The government approved the security policy principles on Feb. 16.
Editor: Aili Vahtla