Estonia’s security in the debate of the Foreign Affairs Committee *
At the time when European security is being threatened by Russia’s aggressiveness, the expansion of Islamic extremism, cyber terrorism, the shortage of resources, and poverty migration, Estonia’s security can be secured above all by a more coherent society and an internationally competitive economy.
The speech by the Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in February 2007 can be regarded as a pivotal moment in the recent history of the European security system.
Russia’s withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, aggression against Georgia, and many other changes in the wider security environment prompted the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu to launch extended hearings on the security of the Nordic and Baltic region in 2012. The time limit was set as until 2020. Regrettably, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and occupation and annexation of Crimea have followed. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu has commissioned the study “Developments in the Security Environment of the Nordic and Baltic Sea Region up to 2020” from the International Centre for Defence Studies by intermediation of the Chancellery of the Riigikogu. The recommendations of the report stress the achievement of the political and defence presence of NATO and first of all the USA as the main security guarantor of this region. The report stresses that it is in Estonia’s interests to maintain a balance between the conventional weapons, ballistic missile defence and tactical nuclear weapons. In order to retain our deterrence ability, we must improve the preparedness, the positioning and the capability of the Northern European military forces.
In addition to the abovementioned study, in more than two years, the Foreign Affairs Committee has organised 44 hearings concerning the field of security. Besides that, sittings have been held at the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, the Information Board and Tallinn maritime rescue centre, regular sittings together with the National Defence Committee have been held at the General Staff of the Defence Forces, and a visit to international exercises has taken place.
The National Security Concept prepared by the Government of the Republic is a central framework document of Estonian foreign and security policy. The last updated version of this document dates from 2010.
Especially in recent years, changes that require the reviewing and amending of the National Security Concept of Estonia have taken place directly in our security environment and in the security environment of the whole Europe on a wider scale. Sharpness of strategic thinking together with a continuously improving actual implementing plan of policies form the foundation for strengthening Estonia’s broad-based national defence.
Estonia should direct the European Union to concentrate more on strategic thinking. We must develop a strategic culture in the European Union that would allow for early, rapid and, if necessary, powerful intervention. It cannot be excluded that Russia’s aggressive and opposing stance to Western countries will last for some time. Therefore, it is very important for Estonia to ensure the permanent presence of allied forces and at the same time to secure political consensus of the allies.
*The article is based on Marko Mihkelson’s speech at the security debate in the Riigikogu on 16 October 2014.