Kaljulaid: Financing of broad national defense requires public consensus

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Arno Mikkor/ICDS

President Kersti Kaljulaid said the bottleneck in Estonian national defense is the poor financing of broad national defense, which would require the same kind of public awareness and consensus as has been enjoyed by the traditional fields of security so far.

Kaljulaid was speaking at the conference of the Estonian National Defense Course (ENDC) on Tuesday.

Estonia's main security policy choices so far, joining NATO and the European Union, military defense spending at the level of two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and a reserve army based on conscript service, have served Estonia very well, spokespeople for the office of the president said.

"We have reached these sensible and consensual solutions thanks to our close contact with the whole of society, including compulsory conscript service, broad-based Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps and an active reserve officer movement, and, of course, 20 years of advanced national defense courses," the head of state said.

At the same time, Kaljulaid said that there are a number of things the country could still do, or do better, in national defense.

"There have been quite a few positive developments in broad national defense over the last 10 years, but we cannot be fully satisfied with it because we are constantly postponing our contribution of resources year after year. This is, in fact, strange in a situation where we are constantly contributing 5 percent of the state budget to the development of the kind of defense forces that are ready to go to war never in the future, but if necessary, this evening.

"Is it logical to assume that, when the defense forces must be prepared to go to war today, figuratively speaking, then for the rest of the country and society, the same crisis could only arrive in years' time, in some future period of the state budget strategy?" the president said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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