Accidental or Deliberate Failure? The Story of Estonia’s Defence Concept of 1993

Hain Rebas


One of my more important duties as the first post-war constitutional defence minister of Estonia, was to develop a national defence concept. We prepared this together with Colonel Ants Laaneots, who was then Chief of Staff of Estonian Defence Forces. Once the initial framework was established, a couple of officials of the Ministry of Defence became involved; ultimately a large number of external experts from the Academy of Sciences to the Estonian Maritime Administration contributed to the concept. The result of this broad and creative co-operation, the first defence concept, was strongly influenced by Finnish and Swedish total defence thinking. It was proposed to the Riigikogu and debated in pleno in March 1993. Surprisingly, given a strong government coalition majority,the concept was rejected. The reasons for this most unusual parliamentary outcome may be found in domestic politics. Was the failure accidental? Or may it have been deliberate? As we know, three years later, in 1996, the next Riigikogu approved a concept for the defence policy of Estonia, a document little more than a more verbose development of our concept from 1993.

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Kirjastaja / Published by:

ISSN 2228-0669 (trükis / print)