TALLINN - Estonian President Alar Karis stressed the importance of cross-party cooperation in security matters in a speech made at the opening sitting of the fall session of the Riigikogu on Monday.
"The rule of law, increasing the political role of the parliament and society is not obstruction of government, but a way to make policy more targeted and effective. It is only through trial and error, comparing different solutions, that we will see whether the government’s proposed draft is actually the best way to achieve its goal," Karis said.
According to him, this question is particularly relevant to security as our priority.
"I am glad to see that we are serious about defending our country. In early spring, you approved a new document on the fundamentals of our security policy, which sets out our defense priorities for the coming years, including setting the level of defense spending at three per cent of GDP. A consensus between parties on setting these directions is important, because it gives society as a whole a sense of security and reassurance that there is a long-term vision for developing national defense," the president added.
According to him, national defense is not only about modern weapons, barracks and a high fence at the border, but also about people: regular and conscript soldiers, volunteers and reservists of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps; police and rescue workers; border guards and all the others on whose conscientiousness and team spirit the defense and security of our country depends.
"Transnational defense action plans, population protection infrastructures or civilian crisis exercises are important practical steps that show that the broad scope of national defense and the broad approach to security do not remain mere slogans," the head of state said. "However, preserving the fundamental rules of statehood is part of national defense and it worries me when a ministry finds it necessary to classify a legal assessment that calls into question the constitutionality of a proposed draft law."
According to Karis, he does not want to dwell on the dispute over whether the Constitution allows for the deprivation of Russian and Belarusian citizens of the right to vote at local elections.
"Instead, my question today is whether we could guarantee our security better by treating each person individually, focusing on the real, perceived threat -- rather than casting suspicion on a general group whose members do not seem to deserve to be treated as individuals making personal choices," the president said.