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National Security Concept of Estonia (2010)


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2.1.    Developments in the global security environment
2.2.    Developments in the Euro-Atlantic security environment
2.3.    Developments in the Estonian security environment
3.1.    Foreign Policy
3.2.    Defence Policy
3.3     Policy of Internal Security
3.4.    Resilience and Cohesion of the Society



The National Security Concept of Estonia establishes the objective, principles and directions of security policy. Submitted by the Government, the National Security Concept is subject to approval of the Riigikogu. The National Security Concept will be revised or amended depending on changes in the security environment and development of measures for ensuring Estonia’s security. The National Security Concept constitutes a framework document, forming the basis for the preparation of specific development and action plans. This document shall replace the National Security Concept of the Republic of Estonia, adopted by the Riigikogu in 2004.

Estonia views its national security as an integral part of international security. Estonia seeks and supports solutions that have a favourable effect both on Estonia and other countries. Estonia’s approach is based on the conviction that security serves to enforce human rights, fundamental freedoms and core human values. These are the values that govern our way of life, and that are pursued in Estonia and beyond. Adherence to democratic principles enables the persistent development of the society. This strengthens a viable civil society and the will to defend Estonia, and advances Estonia’s international standing and reputation.

The trends accompanying globalisation confirm the understanding that security is the objective and outcome of international co-operation. International crises and conflicts, as well as the need to solve them, are having an increasingly immediate effect on Estonia. External security threats interlock with internal security threats. A broad security concept entails the involvement of all sectors of the society, as well as an integrated approach, where the foreign policy, defence policy and internal security policy, as well as cohesion and resilience of the society, are employed for the purpose of achieving the security policy goals for the country as a whole. The security policy thus entails the development of all areas of national security, as well as extensive co-operation in strengthening international security.


The goal of the Estonian security policy is to safeguard Estonia’s independence and sovereignty, territorial integrity, constitutional order and public safety. Security policy provides the basis for sustainable development and welfare.

Security policy entails areas, which safeguard the existence of the state and its people. Estonia implements security policy by adhering to the fundamental rights and freedoms, and protecting constitutional values.


Estonia’s security policy is guided by the principles stipulated in the United Nations Charter, including the right and freedom of every country to choose their own solutions for security needs. Estonia’s security policy is not directed against any other country.

Estonia’s security policy is based on a broad concept of security, entailing all trends affecting security and essential areas required for ensuring security.

Estonia’s security policy is aimed at preventing threats as well as responding to them in a swift and flexible manner. Estonia’s security is ensured through co-ordinated foreign and domestic policy measures.

Estonia conducts the ensuring of its security through membership in NATO and the European Union, as well as close co-operation with its allies and other international partners. NATO, with its transatlantic nature and the principle of collective defence serves as the cornerstone of European security and defence.

Estonia regards its security and the security of its allies as indivisible ― the factors affecting the security of its allies also affect Estonia, and vice versa.

Estonia ensures credible deterrence and military defence through NATO’s collective defence. Estonia develops national military defence capabilities, which form a part of NATO’s collective defence.

Estonia’s security is strengthened by its civil society where civic initiative plays an important role in the enhancement of national security and advancement of the sense of security.


Estonia forms a part of the international security environment, and is inseparably bound to its developments. Membership in NATO and the European Union has reinforced Estonia’s security. At the same time, developments in the security environment are becoming increasingly difficult to predict, and are more versatile than ever before. Security policy interests and competition have extended into new areas. Changes in political, military, economic, technical, social and environmental development have become entwined, affecting the security environment. Along with the emergence of new threats, conventional military threats and the policy of spheres of influence has remained.

2.1. Developments in the global security environment

Globalisation is intensifying relations between states and people, facilitating the spread of knowledge, technology and information. Mutual interconnectedness and interdependence is increasing. As a result, new opportunities and needs for enhancing economic welfare and ensuring security have emerged. At the same time, the impact of the factors generating instability and unpredictability is increasing. The impact of political confrontation, economic disputes, competition for resources, religious and ethnic tensions, failed states and non-state actors is often global. Globalisation brings along the entwinement and rapid proliferation of security threats.

Change in forms of co-operation may pose a threat to the standing principles and values, according to which security solutions are provided in international co-operation, and add to unpredictability. The United States of America remains the world’s leading political, military and economic power. However, in addition to developed industrial countries, other countries that have enhanced their political, economic and military capabilities are increasingly involved in addressing global issues. The relative impact of Western countries in shaping global political and economic agenda is decreasing.

The development of information and communication technology and the media allows to influence more efficiently the information field of various parts of the public. Both states and non-state actors compete more actively in influencing the international media, public opinion and political decisions. The scope of the measures used, including the number and extent of information operations, is expanding. The impact of distorted information may cause tensions in international relations, radicalisation of certain groups of people and harm social cohesion, adding to instability.

The security environment is also influenced by the amplification and rapid proliferation of local or regional crises. Majority of the crises and armed conflicts remain internal, but tensions and unsolved disputes also cause cross-border military conflicts and crises. Many conflicts that threaten security are caused by authoritarian countries that disregard human rights, fundamental freedoms and principles of the rule of law.

With the growth in global population, demand for food, energy and other resources is increasing. Tensions over natural resources are thus more probable. Conflicts, tensions and instability may also be caused by the reduction or unequal division of arable land, fresh water and other natural resources. Deterioration of the environment, especially climate change, may add to instability, as it is the poorest and most vulnerable areas that are often affected, and the probability of natural disasters is increasing.

In addition to the security of their own population, failed states threaten regional and wider international security. Terrorist organisations and organised crime gain a foothold in states with a weak or non-existent government. Mass emigration often follows.

Fluctuations in the global economic environment complicate the international security environment, and hamper the countries’ ability to counter threats. Global deterioration of the economic outlook may result in political instability, protectionism and isolation. Measures for combating climate change have a diverse effect on developed and developing countries, creating the need for economic balancing.

In order to gain political and economic power, competition for the control of energy resources is tightening. States and international organisations endeavour to enhance the security of energy supply. Countries with extensive energy resources are trying to maximise their international influence.

Efforts in the field of arms control and disarmament have not sufficiently enhanced international security. International control mechanisms have not been able to thwart dangerous developments. The excessive stock of conventional arms and difficulties in controlling proliferation of conventional arms damage mutual trust and may lead to high-casualty conflicts. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery increases the threat of armed conflicts and the danger of weapons of mass destruction becoming available to terrorists.

Terrorism is a global problem, threatening human lives, the system of international relations, security of states and democratic values. Radicalisation affects security even in those countries which so far have served neither as the breeding ground for terrorists nor as a target for terrorist acts.

Terrorist organisations may be interlinked with organised crime. Even though the primary objective of crime is to generate economic gain, national security is affected by the efforts of criminal groups to increase their influence in the decision making of states.

The dependence of countries’ resilience on the use of cyberspace is growing. Co-ordinated cyber attacks, the sources of which are difficult to identify, may cause significant damage to society. Abuse of cyberspace, including by terrorist groups and organised crime, is growing.

2.2. Developments in the Euro-Atlantic security environment

Pursuing common democratic principles, NATO and the European Union have ensured peace, stability of the societies and economies and well-being in Europe. Membership in these organisations has integrated Estonia into the single Euro-Atlantic security area.

NATO forms the basis for Euro-Atlantic security and defence co-operation, and serves as the main security policy forum for the Allies. The enduring presence of the United States in Europe, ensured through NATO, serves to guarantee peace, security and stability both within the region and on a wider scale. NATO reinforces the credible deterrence and collective defence for successfully repelling any armed aggression. NATO has adapted to the diversified security environment, actively addressing security risks outside its territory, thus preventing the realisation of these risks in the Euro-Atlantic area. NATO’s new Strategic Concept specifies the role of the organisation in the changed security environment.

Co-operation and solidarity of the EU member states, development of the internal market and adherence to the principle of free movement deepen the integration, cohesion and security of the European Union. The Treaty of Lisbon stipulates the principle of solidarity and the obligation of mutual assistance of the member states, which foresee comprehensive support in case of serious security threats. The European Union increasingly pursues the security of its member states and the safety of its people. The deepening of integration is increasing the Union’s attention to issues accompanying globalisation, such as the influx of refugees, illegal migration and terrorism, as well as to internal co-operation within the Schengen area.

The international political and economic influence of the European Union enhances the weight and reach of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Acting as one, the union is able to respond to complex crises much more effectively than most of other international actors. Institutional development enhances the coherence of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, and contributes to the improvement of the security of the Union as a whole, as well as its member states. The Common Security and Defence Policy has been strengthened, and the number of civilian and military crisis management operations has grown.

The stability of the neighbouring countries of the European Union and NATO, and the success of their reforms, is essential to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. The enlargement of the European Union and NATO has widened the area based on common democratic values, thus reinforcing European security. The prospect of accession has provided applicant countries with the determination to pursue the reforms required for democratic development. In addition to enlargement, the European Union develops the Neighbourhood Policy, implementing various co-operation mechanisms with its eastern and southern neighbours.

The security situation in the Baltic Sea area remains stable. The strategic importance of the region is growing. The foreign and security policy co-operation between the Baltic States and Nordic countries is deepening. Co-operation between the Baltic States is based on the countries’ similar goals and membership in the European Union and NATO. The European Union is contributing to the development of the region also with its Baltic Sea Strategy.

The European Union and NATO have made consistent efforts to co-operate with Russia in order to ensure European security and well-being. Relations between the European Union and Russia are inconsistent, depending on the particular area, yet, mutual interdependence has grown. Russia has considered NATO’s growing role in security co-operation and NATO’s enlargement as directed against its interests.

Russia defines its interests departing from restoration of its status as a major global power, and occasionally does not refrain from contesting other countries. In addition to political and economic means, Russia is also prepared to use military force to achieve its goals. Russia also uses its energy resources as political and economic means in different areas of international relations.

2.3. Developments in the Estonian security environment

The Estonian security environment is affected by both the international security situation and domestic developments. Immediate threats to Estonia’s national security depend above all on the security situation in the Euro-Atlantic area and the relations of the countries in the immediate vicinity. The gravest threats involve the combined effect of external and internal factors.

Acts against the unity of NATO and solidarity of the allies threaten both Estonia’s and wider transatlantic security. A military attack against Estonia is unlikely in the present and near future. Nevertheless one cannot exclude this possibility in the longer perspective.

External coercion threatening Estonian security may reveal itself in the damaging of Estonia’s international reputation, creation of internal instability, military pressure, or coercing Estonia or its allies into adopting political decisions that prejudice Estonia’s independence and sovereignty. Estonia’s security may be threatened by the activities of the secret services of foreign states directed against Estonia. Membership in NATO and the European Union, and close bilateral relations with allies enhance the ability to tackle external pressure.

The Estonian economy is tightly interlinked with the global economy. Global developments, including economic crises and the instability of essential external markets, have significant effect on Estonia. Changes in the structure of energy supply established between the European Union and Russia may also affect the functioning of the Estonian economy. The isolation of electricity and gas supply from the European interconnected energy networks adds to the risks related to the resilience of critical services. Estonia’s potential of pursuing economic activities in the field of the transport of hydrocarbons, based on by the geographic location, is sensitive to economic and political pressure. Crisis in the economic and financial sector may create a favourable environment for social tensions and spread organised crime.

The importance of information and communication systems within society is ever-increasing, with the resilience of several other critical services depending on them. As a result of the interconnectedness of the majority of communication and information systems, suspension of a critical service may affect the availability of other services critical for the society. Insufficient protection of information and communication systems or inadequate response capabilities increases the effect of threats stemming from malfunction or attack. In addition, cyberspace may be used for inciting tension and conflicts within the society.

Estonia as a democratic, open society may also be affected by the spread of extremist, hostile or hate-based ideologies. This may weaken social cohesion, reduce tolerance and cause social tension. In the environment of open and free media, attacks against cohesion of Estonian society necessitate greater attention to the sense of cohesion and psychological defence.

The strengthening of civil society and the continuity in integration process reinforces Estonia’s security. Uneven regional development and poorly adapting social groups may, however, affect internal stability.

As Estonia guards a part of the external border of the European Union, it plays an important role in securing the reliability of the Schengen area. Absence of border control within the Schengen area of the European Union may be used for expanding the reach of international organised crime, establishing and strengthening connections between terrorist groups, as well as illegal migration or smuggling.

Organised crime damages the country’s reputation, economy and finance, and may create an unfavourable social and economic environment, reducing the people’s sense of security. With the free movement within the European Union, organised crime has become transboundary and widened its scope, and is often associated with terrorists.

A terrorist act on Estonian territory or against Estonian citizens beyond the country’s borders would weaken the sense of security and affect national security and economy. A massive terrorist act against an ally would also affect Estonia’s security. The Estonian territory could be used for illicit trafficking of components of weapons of mass destruction and other strategic goods.

Corruption reduces political, social and economic stability, undermines trust in the state and democratic values, and may threaten the country’s security. Crimes of corruption have become more complex, entwining with other types of criminal acts.

Estonia’s security may be threatened by emergencies brought about by natural disasters, catastrophes or infectious diseases both within the country and its immediate vicinity. The threat of radiation accidents is increased by the dangerous older type nuclear power plants still in operation in the Baltic Sea area. Intensified ship traffic and the increase in the transport of oil and oil products in the Baltic Sea area adds to the threat of major marine disasters or extensive environmental pollution. The spread of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances endangers human health as well as a safe living environment.


In four chapters – foreign policy, defence policy, internal security policy, cohesion and resilience of society – the main directions are elaborated for ensuring the security of the state as a whole. The broad concept of security entails enhancement of the mutual co-operation of state authorities as well as international co-operation, and the involvement of other members of society in reinforcing security. Civilian-military co-operation and using its added value are necessary in ensuring security.

In order to better draw on the resources of the state and the society, it is necessary to improve joint planning for situations which require efficient co-operation between state authorities and other parties. This requires clarity in management and planning, prompt decision-making, specified competencies of state authorities as well as their readiness to draw on the capabilities and resources regardless of their affiliation.

The precondition for reinforcing security is the functioning of democratic institutions and the principle of the rule of law, as well as the strength of civil society. For this purpose, the state supports citizen initiatives and the involvement of people in shaping public policy.

3.1. Foreign Policy

In foreign policy, Estonia strives for an international environment necessary for ensuring its security and pursues the most favourable possible position within that environment. Estonia’s foreign policy objective in reinforcing security is the stability of the security environment, the functioning and unity of the European Union and NATO, strong transatlantic co-operation, the promotion of human rights and democratic values as well as extensive bilateral and multilateral relations.


Membership in NATO reinforces Estonia’s security and allows effective participation in international security co-operation. Active involvement in NATO remains a priority of Estonia’s security policy. NATO’s credible deterrence and its wider political authority are determined to a large extent by the unity of the Alliance and its success in solving security issues.

As a member of NATO, Estonia stands for NATO’s internal cohesion and solidarity in ensuring deterrence and collective defence. Estonia deems essential that the Alliance has necessary military resources and is able to draw on these resources.

Estonia’s activities are directed at ascertaining that NATO continues to serve as the primary transatlantic security forum for the Allies in solving the main security issues. The political and military presence of the United States of America in Europe and the political and military integration of the Allies within NATO are crucial for Estonia.

If needed, NATO must be able to operate outside its territory so as to prevent and manage any crisis that may directly threaten the security of the Alliance and its members.

Estonia supports the enlargement of NATO which has enhanced security and stability in Europe as a whole. New members will be invited on the basis of the unanimous decision of the Allies, taking into account the candidate’s ability to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, and to contribute to security of the Alliance. Estonia supports NATO candidate countries in carrying out the reforms required for accession.

Estonia values efficient dialogue and co-operation with NATO’s partners, and favours a flexible approach to partnerships which allows co-operation with all countries in reinforcing security.

European Union

Estonia strives for a strong and unified European Union. Deepening integration within the European Union strengthens the sense of cohesion and provides better protection against security threats. An internally integrated European Union is also more capable and influential in foreign relations. With active performance on the international arena, the European Union has great potential to strengthen, in co-operation with its global partners, a rules-and-values-based world order.

The Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union broadens Estonia’s prospects of achieving its foreign policy goals. Estonia contributes to the enhancement of the international authority of the European Union by actively participating in shaping and implementing the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In the interests of the role and influence of the European Union, Estonia stands for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and greater coherence in the external activities of the European Union. To best protect the European and transatlantic interests, it is crucial to uphold political dialogue between the European Union and NATO, and intensified co-operation and co-ordination in the field of crisis management.

As a member of the European Union, Estonia contributes to advancing security and welfare both in the neighbourhood of the European Union and on a global scale. Estonia supports the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy as part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, as well as efforts to enhance the capabilities of the European Union to prevent and manage crises.

Estonia supports the further enlargement of the European Union, as this would contribute to the stability and security of the whole of Europe. The prospect of the European Union membership depends, above all, on the readiness and capability of the candidate countries to fulfil the membership criteria. Estonia uses its own experience to support the integration of candidate countries.

With the aim of supporting democratic and economic development Estonia seeks to further strengthen the European Neighbourhood Policy. Estonia prefers the Eastern Partnership of the Neighbourhood Policy to be developed into an efficient policy, which would provide the partner countries with a reliable and comprehensive tool in integration and co-operation with the European Union.

Bilateral and multilateral relations

Estonia advances, especially with member states of EU and NATO, bilateral relations that contribute to Estonia’s international standing and promote common activities, thus enhancing Estonia’s security. Comprehensive co-operation with all the allies forms an integral part in ensuring Estonia’s security. Estonia strives towards mutually beneficial relations with all neighbouring countries.

The involvement of the United States in the European security co-operation is a central element for the security of Estonia, as well as that of Europe. The strong transatlantic commitment is manifested in the presence of the United States in Europe, co-operation within NATO, and the relations between the European Union and the United States.

Estonia supports close relations between the European Union and the United States as the prerequisite for solving global political, economic and environmental problems. Estonia deems it important to enhance European Union and United States co-operation in international organisations, to advance economic and trade relations, efficient co-operation in justice and home affairs as well as in the field of energy security.

Good relations between Estonia and the United States strengthen transatlantic co-operation, reinforcing the stability and development of the Euro-Atlantic area that is based on common values. Estonia seeks to to advance extensive bilateral co-operation with the United States in all areas of importance, enhancing dialogue on different levels.

Estonia prefers comprehensive multilateral co-operation for solving security-related issues. Estonia deems it important to strengthen rules-based and institution-oriented security solutions. Solutions provided within the framework of international organisations allow involving further resources for ensuring security, and add to their legitimacy. Estonia aspires towards the European Union and NATO conveying their common positions in international organisations.

Estonia deems it important to enhance the efficiency of the activities of organisations that serve to ensure global and regional security and stability, emphasising the United Nations’ capability to solve global problems and prevent conflicts. Estonia supports the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as a forum for a wider political dialogue and confidence-building measures in Europe.

In solving security problems according to the rule of law Estonia contributes to the work of international organisations – particularly the United Nations and the Council of Europe – for further development and efficient implementation of international law. Estonia fully supports the work of international courts in the enforcement of international law.

Estonia’s objective is the stable development of the Baltic Sea area. Estonia seeks the continuous deepening of the co-operation between the Nordic and Baltic States, allowing the advancement of both political dialogue and security in the wider Baltic Sea area, including in matters of national defence, energy, transport infrastructure and environment protection. To best make use of the region’s potential, Estonia actively participates in the implementation of the Baltic Sea strategy of the Euorpean Union, focusing on activities contributing to the development of the region as a whole.

The development of democracy, the principles of the rule of law, and welfare in Russia are in the interests of Estonia. Estonian-Russian bilateral relations work in parallel with the efforts made by the EU and NATO to establish mutually beneficial relations with Russia. Estonia pursues an open dialogue with Russia in all matters and looks for opportunities to advance practical co-operation, both in bilateral relations and within the framework of the European Union and NATO. Co-operation based on democratic values is more durable, sustainable and productive.

Prevention of international armed conflicts and crisis management

Estonia deems it important to focus on preventing international conflicts and crises. Addressing crises where they emerge facilitates the prevention of their negative impact on Estonia, the allies and the whole world. It is therefore vital that international organisations and countries have the readiness for preventing conflicts and for crisis management, and have a common understanding of the division of tasks.

Estonia emphasises the importance of preventive diplomacy, and supports the efforts of international actors in the prevention of conflicts, by contributing to dialogue between partners and the exchange of information. Estonia strives for a greater resolve in the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms on all international levels in order to reinforce international security.

Participation in international military operations and civil missions forms an integral part of Estonian security policy. It is an opportunity, as well as an obligation to contribute to the security and stability within the Euro-Atlantic area and globally. In addition to the capability to participate in military crisis management, Estonia must have the readiness to contribute to civil crisis management and development aid. Participation in the crisis management operations of NATO and the European Union as well as in NATO Response Force and EU battlegroups will remain a priority for Estonia.

Development Co-operation

To ensure security and stability, Estonia pursues development co-operation in support of political, economic and social development of partner countries. Development co-operation serves to advance also Estonia’s bilateral relations and international standing.

Within the framework of development co-operation, Estonia supports in particular countries to whose development Estonia can provide added value through its knowledge and resources, and who are willing to advance a society based on democratic values and adherence to human rights.

Estonia aspires to greater coherence between various policies related to development co-operation in the European Union, especially between development co-operation and the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Estonia emphasises the need to increase resources for development policy and their efficiency, and strives towards the fulfilment of the financing obligations assumed within the European Union.

The objective of Estonia’s defence outreach policy is to advance the security sector reform in partner countries. The defence outreach policy contributes to security and stability in regions significant for NATO and the European Union, promotes democratic values and strengthens bilateral relations between Estonia and the partner countries.

Arms Control

Estonia underscores the importance of arms control in ensuring international security and building confidence.

Estonia deems it important to limit conventional arms in Europe, and desires to be party to international agreements which serve to enhance security in Estonia as well as the international community. We expect other countries to adhere to the same principles.

Estonia makes every effort to prevent illicit trafficking or transit of weapons of mass destruction, or their components through its territory. In pursuit of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional arms, Estonia continues its active participation in the control regimes of strategic goods.

3.2. Defence Policy

Estonian defence policy is directed at preventing and, if necessary, repelling military threats. Estonia’s defence policy entails planning, co-ordination and implementation of the whole national defence system, including preparation for the national military defence as well as NATO’s collective defence, international defence co-operation, participation in international military operations (NATO and EU missions in particular), the implementation of the defence outreach policy, the provision of assistance to civil structures in case of emergencies and the performance of other peacetime duties.

Estonia’s objective is to reach and maintain defence expenditure at the level of 2% of GDP. Defence expenditure is defined on the basis of the method established in NATO.

National defence

To prevent and repel military action against Estonia all capabilities will be used pursuant to the principle of total defence, including the efforts of state structures and the population. In case of military action against Estonia, the national defence system will be implemented comprehensively, consisting of military defence, civil contribution to military defence, international activity, ensuring of internal security, securing the resilience of critical services, and psychological defence.

Estonia is continuously preparing for national defence, and will defend itself in any circumstance and against an enemy of any superiority. National defence is organised following the principles of civilian control.

The comprehensive development of national defence ensures the efficiency of Estonia’s military defence, the confidence of its people and the will to defend Estonia and, in the state of emergency or war, the availability of elements of civilian support required for military defence, the functioning of foreign relations, activities of emergency services in ensuring internal security, and resilience of critical services.

The successful organisation of national defence requires efficient management according to common national objectives, as well as swift decision-making and internal co-operation. The reliability and synthesis of information, and similarity of management and areas of responsibility both during peacetime and war will be ensured. Common threat scenarios are prepared and integrated planning implemented in order to ensure a purposeful and co-ordinated development of national defence.

The Defence League (Kaitseliit) – the voluntary national defence organisation – and its sub-organisations play an important role in stregthening national security, enhancing the will to defend the country, and expanding the support of the society to military defence. The Government promotes voluntary national defence activities.

Military Defence

Estonia’s military defence is based on the capability of initial independent defence and NATO’s collective defence. Estonia’s military defence is planned as a North Atlantic Treaty Article 5 collective defence operation.

Through a swift response, the initial independent defence capability must ensure Estonia’s military defence as well as the basic prerequisites for the implementation of collective defence also in case of an unexpected attack.

The main objectives of Estonia’s defence capability:

  • to ensure control over Estonia’s territory, territorial waters and airspace, and to demonstrate sovereignty of the state;
  • to develop the capability to provide an early warning;
  • to develop the mobilisation system required for ensuring military defence, as well as to prepare and set up reserve forces for organised military defence;
  • to develop modern, deployable, mobile, sustainable rapid response units with the capability to ensure military defence of the whole territory as well as to participate in operations outside Estonia;
  • to ensure readiness for the launch and execution of collective defence operations, and host nation support to the allied forces.

The Defence Forces of Estonia are made up of professional members of the armed forces and members of reserve forces, compulsory military service will remain the main source for formation of reserve units and recruitment of professionals of the Defence Forces. The motivation of members of the Defence Forces of Estonia and the Defence League is an important foundation of national defence. The state creates conditions for adequate training of the members of the Defence Forces as well as for the successful return of professional military to civilian life at retirement.

Capabilities which are required for military defence and deterrence but which cannot be achieved by Estonia on its own will be ensured in co-operation with Allies in NATO.

NATO’s core task is collective defence. Estonia participates actively in its strengthening. In order to prevent, avert and, if necessary, repel any attack against a NATO Ally, NATO’s collective defence must be visible, capable and credible. NATO must be able to respond forcefully and flexibly to attacks of any scale and nature. This requires relevant planning and training, as well as an efficient early warning system. Estonia deems it important that capabilities required for collective defence and those required for performing other functions of NATO complement each other. Estonia participates in NATO’s defence planning process through the fulfilment of NATO’s force goals.

NATO’s crisis management operations must be efficient to ensure security in the Euro-Atlantic area and to prevent threats. Estonia contributes to NATO operations and fulfils deployability criteria.

Estonia supports NATO’s transformation process, which aims at ensuring adequate military capabilities for fulfilment of NATO’s tasks so as to respond also to rapidly developing and new threats. Estonia participates in the NATO Response Force, and supports its further development into a force which provides credible deterrence and defence.

Estonia participates in the development of NATO’s multinational capabilities, which add to the interoperability of the armed forces of the Alliance and the ability to carry out joint operations, and enhance NATO’s cohesion, ensuring extensive military capabilities.

3.3. Policy of Internal Security

The policy of of internal security is aimed to achieve a condition of the society in which the people are guaranteed a safe living environment, and that is resilient to respond to threats and mitigate the damage caused by the realisation of potential danger. The state guarantees comprehensive development of the security of the people and internal security as a whole, using, where appropriate, new technological solutions. Enhancement of security presumes common purposeful activities of the civil society, and the involvement of citizens’ associations. Accession to the Schengen Area has increased the importance of co-operation both within Estonia and in the European Union.

Protection of Constitutional Order

The state prevents and impedes any activity that is threatening the constitutional order. This requires collection and processing of relevant information, prevention of hostile foreign intelligence and influence activities, including obstruction of information operations, as well as collaboration at national and international level. The state guarantees continuous development of security authorities and directs attention to the protection of constitutional order, including preventive action and increase of social awareness, as well as harmonized regional development and integration.

Guarding the External Border

Efficient protection of the external border helps to restrain illegal migration and cross-border crime, ensuring the security of Estonia as well as other EU member states. Enhancement of the efficiency of the external border of the European Union requires improvement of technical surveillance capacities, implementation of new electronic control measures and enhancement of the efficiency of co-operation between authorities. Identification of hazardous substances and dangerous individuals already at the border increases the security of the entire Schengen area.

Estonia contributes to the exchange of information within the EU, as well as co-operation with third countries. The surveillance of maritime areas is to be strengthened by the development of national civilian-military co-operation.

In the absence of permanent border control within the Schengen area, compensation measures are applied to impede illegal migration and cross-border crime. The efficient functioning of the common compensation measures averts threats to countries that have joined the Schengen area. Estonia maintains the ability to restore temporary internal border control, if necessary.

Prevention of Emergencies and Managing the Consequences

The state provides the protection of the population in case of emergencies. Emergencies can be prevented and their consequences managed with the co-operation of all members of society – the people, local governments, state authorities and the business and non-profit sector.

The state enhances the early warning system regarding potential threats and communicates guidelines through means of public communication in case of emergencies.

In preparation for emergencies, the state organises more training exercises involving all parties, establishes an up-to-date overview of the capabilities for managing the consequences of emergencies, and enhances readiness for utilizing national defence resources. The state endorses voluntary efforts targeted to prevent threats and solve emergency situations.

Estonia’s goal is, in co-operation with other countries, to pursue safety of navigation at the Baltic Sea, primarily in the Gulf of Finland. Special attention is paid to search and rescue at sea and the development of capabilities of detecting and response to marine pollution.

In responding to major emergencies, rescue and crisis management co-operation with the European Union and NATO in the field of civil protection, as well as among the Baltic Sea countries, is of critical importance. The rescue and crisis management capabilities are also used in the UN rescue and assistance missions.

Combating Terrorism

The threat of terrorism is an acute problem, and acts of terror, regardless of where they are committed, have significant effect on the sense of security. Estonia contributes to countering terrorism on national and regional, as well as global level. The basis for efficient counter-terrorism action lies in co-operation with domestic and international partners.

The goal is to prevent and suppress terrorism in all its forms. Special attention is paid to avoid radicalisation, to prevent terrorist financing, to combat terrorism involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive materials, and to protect high attack risk individuals and sites.

Combating International Organised Crime

Due to internationalisation and free movement within the European Union, greater attention must be paid to combating organised crime. Estonia endeavours to prevent the influence of international organised crime, and to impede generation and legalising of illegal income. In collaboration with other EU member states, Estonia continues to develop new technical solutions and diversifies international co-operation in combating various forms of organised crime.

Combating Cyber Crime

The dependence of critical information and communication systems and a large part of everyday services on Information Technology (IT) necessitates special attention to combating crimes conducted using means of IT. At the same time, preventing cyber crime is also important for combating terrorism and international organised crime, as well as for ensuring functioning of information and communication systems and financial security.

In preventing and combating cyber crime, enhanced co-operation between agencies on both national and international level is sought, as are the development of legislation and endorsement of public awareness. The state guarantees sustainability in fighting cyber crime, along with the required technical means and availability of know-how.

Tackling Corruption

Tacckling corruption contributes to preventing and averting damage to the state’s reputation, the spread of organised crime, shadow economy and money laundering. Preventing corruption involves both public and private sector, paying special attention to raising public awareness and the development of crime detection and the investigative capacity of law enforcement authorities.

3.4. Resilience and Cohesion of the Society

The capability of the state to prevent and avert security threats depends on the readiness to maintain functions that are vital to the existence of the state and the people. Social cohesion and the resilience of the critical services that are promoted in the interests of national development also strengthen national security when threats emerge.

In promoting the resilience and cohesion of the society, the state co-operates with other members of civil society. Social cohesion is enhanced and social risks prevented through higher employment rate and greater involvement in social life. The prevention of social risks is addressed in the national economic and social policy.

Resilience of Critical Services

Services that are essential in ensuring the functioning of society and the state are considered as critical services. In order to ensure the resilience of critical services, the development of operational capability and the ability to recover interrupted services are conducted, sufficient reserves are provided and action plans devised.

Risks that may disrupt or cause malfunction in critical services are under continuous evaluation. In order to ensure the functioning of critical services, the state cooperates with all members of society by organising the implementation of the required preventive and alleviating measures.

Electronic Communication

A bulk of electronic communication networks, services and critical information systems are owned by the private sector. Thus, the strengthening of co-operation between the state and the private sector is vital for ensuring resilience of critical services.

Information systems that support electronical communication and critical services are protected by organisational, technological and physical safety and security measures. A regular status review is needed of technical condition of the state’s communication means and systems, as well as of the options for duplicating and secure functioning in case of crisis.

Ensuring cross-border communication requires enhanced international co-operation in order to guarantee interoperability of the electronic communications networks and to co-ordinate the use of resources.

Cyber Security

For ensuring cyber security it is essential to reduce the vulnerability of critical information systems and data communication connections and to contain possible damage from cyber attacks. Critical service information systems must be held operational throughout the entire territory and on the basis of domestic resources, including in situations where connections with foreign countries are temporarily malfunctioning or have failed.

Cyber security requires an effective legal framework, high awareness of information security and close international co-operation. Cyber security is reinforced through the implementation of national action plans and the renewal of legal regulation.

Transport Infrastructure

The planning and implementation of transport infrastructure development takes into account the needs of economic and social development, as well as the requirements of national defence. The priority is to reconstruct or construct the ports, airports, railways and roads which form part of the Trans-European Transport Networks.

Cooperation between the public and private sector is essential in ensuring a resilient transport infrastructure. The security and safety requirements set forth in international standards are followed in ensuring the resilience and protection of the transport system.

Energy Security

Energy security is ensured through the security of supply, the security of infrastructure, interconnection with energy networks of other EU member states, and diversity of sources of energy. To reduce dependence on the energy imports it is vital for Estonia to enhance energy efficiency. Estonia’s efforts are supported by strengthening of the EU energy policy.

The EU trend towards maximum use of domestic energy resources add to security of supply. In case of Estonia this means the rational use of oil shale and the extensive introduction of renewable energy technologies. Development of the production of liquid fuels from oil shale, and the measures implemented by the European Union for preserving liquid fuel stocks ensure sufficient operation of the liquid fuel market.

The state supports production of heat and electricity from renewable sources of energy. In 2015, the share of electricity produced from renewables will amount to at least 15% of the gross consumption of electrical energy. The construction of additional connections with the Baltic States, Nordic countries and Poland will diversify the sources of energy for Estonia and plays crucial role in the maximum utilization of renewable energy options and enhancement of security of supply. Estonia’s interconnection with the EU electricity and gas system will reduce dependence on a single supplier or a limited number of suppliers.

As a source of base load electrical energy, nuclear power is an important option to enhance security of supply without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Estonia will develop the necessary know-how and legal framework for introducing nuclear energy.

Heat production will be ensured by a more balanced proportion of the energy sources used. By 2020, the share of a single source of energy must not exceed 30%. Options must be introduced for switching major heat producers from natural gas to other fuels.

Mandatory security and safety measures are applied to ensure resilience and protection of energy systems.

Environmental Security

Estonia’s goal is to apply, through international co-operation, the measures required for tackling climate change and mitigating the risks stemming from it. The business sector and the non-profit sector will be involved in the development of measures for adapting to climate change.

The state promotes environment-friendly values and attitude among the public, and directs the development and implementation of pollution prevention measures and the resuscitation of the environment through the reduction of generation of waste and pollution. Estonia applies measures for preventing the spread of environmentally hazardous substances, and the neutralization of sources of pollution on land and sea.

In order to prevent marine pollution, Estonia is developing in co-operation with other countries, the vessel traffic regulation and surveillance systems in the Baltic Sea, primarily in the Gulf of Finland. Remote surveillance of marine pollution is being developed, including air surveillance aimed at the early detection of pollution and the identification of the causer of the pollution.

In order to prevent disasters in enterprises prone to be affected by major accident and to alleviate potential consequences, co-operation between authorities with respect to planning and inspecting such companies is enhanced.

Estonia has an early radiation warning system aimed to identify and notify of any cross-border radiation accidents at nuclear power plants in the neighbouring countries. Estonia is engaged in international efforts to enhance radiation protection and radiation safety, as well as to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants and reduce radioactivity within the Baltic Sea region.

Security of the Financial System

The state ensures the stability, transparency and credibility of its financial system. In order to prevent and resolve an international or domestic financial crisis and mitigate their economic consequences, the state ensures the implementation of respective legal and supervisory measures, as well as necessary financial means appropriate for the normal functioning and of the stability of the financial system.

The stability of the financial system is ensured by an efficient regulatory and supervision framework as well as international co-operation in financial crisis prevention, management and resolution. The stability of the financial system requires the prevention of the solvency problems of Estonian-based credit and other financial institutions, disturbances in the payment and settlement systems, as well as the ability to promptly solve any difficulties or failures.

The availability of sufficient reserves must be ensured in order to solve financial crises. The implementation of the security policy requires, above all, the availability of liquid financial resources and their usability for both preventive action and for the alleviation of consequences.

Psychological Defence

Psychological defence, emanating from constitutional values, serves to enforce Estonia’s security. Psychological defence is the development, preservation and protection of common values associated with social cohesion and the sense of security. The aim of psychological defence is to safeguard the security of state and society, to enhance the sense of security, to avert crisis and to increase trust amongst society and towards the actions taken by the state.

Psychological defence facilitates the strengthening of nation’s self-confidence and the will to defend Estonia. Psychological defence and the recognition of constitutional values strengthen the resilience to avert anti-Estonian subversive activity.

Psychological defence is developed in co-operation with all members of civil society.

Harmonised Regional Development

National security is influenced by economic, social and environmental security on the entire territory of Estonia. The Estonian territory as a whole must be inhabitable and safe. Unfavourable population processes need to be avoided, as well as excessive concentration of socio-economic, security and safety risks into some regions.

In order to ensure harmonized regional development and habitation, the state provides for the development of the required infrastructure, supports the enhancement of local government capacities, and provides for the quality and availability of public safety, education, healthcare and other public services, as well as a comprehensive management of regional policy. Regional characteristics will be taken into account in location of state institutions.


The aim of integration is to shape a culturally versatile Estonian society based on a strong identity and shared values. The state continues to support activities aimed at fostering the integration of different social groups in order to expand possibilities for active participation in social life.

The efficiency of integration is supported by harmonized regional development, the availability of education, the endorsement of official language studies, and the consistent implementation of the integration process. Integration policy will be supported by the activities of civil society organizations, local governments and state authorities in pursuit of a favourable environment.

Public Health Protection

Public health protection advances the ability of people to cope with everyday life and enhances their social and economic contribution, thereby adding to the cohesion of society and the state’s ability to manage security threats.

Surveillance for the detection of the spread of communicable diseases is conducted at national level. The immunization plan is applied for limiting the spread of vaccine-preventable communicable diseases, outbreaks and epidemics. State-funded public health programmes are implemented for impeding the epidemic spread of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Estonia is actively participating in the activities of the European Union and the World Health Organization which are aimed at the international prevention and control of the spread of communicable diseases.

The purpose of drug abuse prevention is to reduce the illicit supply and demand of narcotic drugs, a phenomenon that weakens the society, as well as to deal with the medical treatment and rehabilitation of addicts. The efficiency of the Estonian drug policy is supported by reliable statistics, epidemiological surveys, and continuous drug monitoring and information exchange with other countries.

Estonia is enhancing national readiness and response to public health emergencies where a large number of people would require medical care as a result of natural disasters, catastrophes or outbreaks of communicable diseases.

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The Government shall exercise co-ordinated security policy in line with the above National Security Concept of Estonia. The implementation of the security policy and the preparation of relevant plans shall be governed by the principles and directions stipulated in the National Security Concept. The National Security Concept will be renewed upon significant changes in the security environment, conditioning the need to update the security policy.


Last updated: 7 September 2015

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