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Government approves change to draft system

US troops, Estonian conscripts and the Scouts Battalion participating in a battle at Winter Camp. March 1, 2017.
US troops, Estonian conscripts and the Scouts Battalion participating in a battle at Winter Camp. March 1, 2017. Source: (Karl Johanson, Marina Loštšina/

The government approved a proposal in its Thursday cabinet meeting to reform the draft system of the military. The aim of the measure is to ensure an increase in reservists who have completed conscript service.

According to the changes proposed by Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna (IRL), the delivery of draft notices will be electronic in the future. The ministry also wants to take additional measures against draft evaders in addition to the already existing fine, such as suspending their driver’s license, gun or hunting license, fishing card, and license for a recreational craft.

Tsahkna said that the Estonian reserve army model based on conscript service on the whole was working well. “At the same time, we need to make sure that the communication between the state and the citizen is modern and electronic, not based on paper draft notices like in tsarist times,” the minister added.

Tsahkna said that the percentage of young people entering conscript service needed to increase from currently 30 percent to at least 50 to 60 percent to ensure the actual functioning of mandatory conscript service.

“For this we need to deal with draft evaders more seriously. One option is to limit evaders’ opportunities to automatically access all state benefits on the same basis as law-abiding conscripts,” he said.

Tsahkna described the current draft system as outdated and not providing the number of trained people necessary for Estonia’s national defense. “That only 30 percent of our boys are able to complete conscript service because of their health is not consistent with reality. In Finland, the same indicator is 70 percent, and I’m certain that our youth are not weaker than their peers in Finland. The fault lies in the system, and that is what needs to be changed,” Tsahkna said.

“Conscript service is mandatory for all, but the sanctions applied against intentional draft dodgers are weak. This is why I proposed that the state should be able to suspend draft evaders’ driver’s licenses, hunting licenses, or other licenses,” Tsahkna said.

The minister added that the system of medical control of conscripts also needed updating, including working out simpler and more transparent medical requirements.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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