TALLINN - The opposition Social Democratic Party disagree with a solution in the new national defense bill seeking to grant the government exclusive rights for declaring a defense situation in Estonia, and have proposed an option they deem more suitable for a parliamentary state.
"The government has submitted to the Riigikogu a bill that would grant the government exclusive rights in making a major decision, that is declaring a defense situation. Essentially, the government could declare it whenever they feel like it. Sadly, there is an example in Estonia' history from 1930 when the defense situation was used to stifle the democratic opposition. To prevent history repeating itself, this possibility must be eliminated, even if it is purely theoretical," member of the national defense committee and Social Democratic Party MP Jaak Juske said.
Pursuant to the draft legislation that has passed first reading in the parliament, a defense situation can be declared if according to the government, events occur that jeopardize the organization of the Estonian society. The bill does not specify which crises may jeopardize the organization of the society, however. The Social Democratic Party has submitted a motion to amend the bill so that the defense situation could be declared and revoked by the National Defense Council at the government's proposal.
Juske noted that a larger number of people should be involved in the process of declaring a defense situation.
"The president as the highest leader of national defense must definitely be included, and also involved must be representatives of the Riigikogu," he said.
The national defense bill proposing a framework for preparing and resolving crisis situations was first discussed by the parliament in January.