CHAIN OF COMMAND: Taavi Roivas says events in Ukraine are forcing Estonia to improve military reaction time.
TALLINN - The new state defense law that was sent for a round of approvals to different state institutions will make the prime minister the highest military head in Estonia, reports Postimees.
The aim of the bill is to modernize Estonia’s defense and guarantee leadership of the state with clear command lines. The current state defense basics are considered outdated and comparable to the pre-WWII era.
According to current laws, the president is the head of Estonian state defense. But in case of aggression, he has to make a proposal to the parliament to declare war, mobilization and demobilization.
Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said, when speaking about the bill, that Russia’s activities in 2008 against Georgia, and now against Ukraine, show that fast reaction is important. Roivas said that currently valid laws enable the carrying out of mobilization, but the legal situation needs supplementing.
Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser said that the new draft law is one of making sure Estonia keeps together. The current state defense system dates back to the beginning of the 90s and was created at a time when Estonia was not yet a NATO member.
The aim of the new law is to guarantee leadership of the state with clear command lines in both peace and war time. During war, the state would be headed by the government, which is advised by a security committee; the security committee is headed by the prime minister, meaning that the role of the prime minister considerably increases.
Previous Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu, on whose initiative the new law is based, said that the new law should reduce bureaucracy in a crisis or war situation - the peacetime and war time state defense systems should be organized in a similar way to make the transition as fast and smooth as possible, without unnecessary bureaucracy. Thus the main change is to change the existing peacetime and war time state defense laws, by merging them.