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Stable support in Estonia for joining NATO

25. апреля 2002 - 15:33

The results of the seventh round of the opinion poll "Public Opinion and National Defence" ordered by the Ministry of Defence were presented on Thursday, April 25.

Guaranteeing Estonia's security and joining NATO are among the priorities of Estonia’s Government. In the framework of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for joining NATO, Estonia has adopted the Annual National Programme (ANP), which also includes the responsibility to inform the population of the process of joining NATO and to conduct regular public opinion polls.

As ordered by the Estonian Defence Ministry, the polling company ES Turu-uuringute AS has carried out seven public opinion polls since January 2000, most recently in March 2002, centring on three main subjects:
attitudes towards joining NATO
attitudes towards Estonian national defence and personal readiness to participate in national defence
attitudes towards the increasing of defence expenditure
In March 2002 the poll indicated that in Estonia the support for joining NATO remained stable: 65 percent of Estonians supported joining NATO. The attitudes in this matter had generally remained the same as last autumn: 53 percent of all those approached supported joining NATO, the figure among Estonian citizens being 60%. Among Estonian citizens of other ethnic background NATO had the support of 33 percent.

The number of those opposed to joining NATO had not changed significantly either -- of the Estonians, 19 percent were against joining. Among non-Estonians, the share of those who had no opinion on the accession to NATO had increased by six percent.

As a positive development, the higher level of awareness among the population is a point of note. The share of well- or rather well-informed increased by four percent in comparison with the poll in October, reaching 35 percent of all those polled. According to this latest poll, 81 percent of those considering themselves well-informed supported joining NATO. The support for joining NATO was also connected with the respondents´ views on the level of tensions in the world and the level of perceived threats to Estonia.

The poll also indicated that the defence willingness of the population was at the same, or at a slightly higher, level. Most of the respondents (65%) were convinced that armed resistance must be put up in case of an attack, even when the hopes for success were minimal. 66 percent of the respondents were ready to personally participate in defence activities -- this was seven percent more than in the poll held last October. Among Estonian men, the readiness to defend the country was expressed by 80 percent.

If raising defence expenditures to 2 percent of the GDP had been a policy principle supported by two consecutive governments, then the views of those polled had also remained relatively stable on the matter. On the basis of the poll results it can be stated that the majority of Estonia's population - 72 percent - had approved of raising defence expenditures or keeping them at the same level -- this figure was 69 percent last October. Lowering the defence expenditures was considered necessary by only 13 percent of those polled, which was two percent less than in the previous poll.

According to the data of the latest poll, the credibility of the Defence Forces remained stable -- they are trusted by 68 percent of the respondents, while among ethnic Estonians the share is 74 percent.

Additional information on the poll results and about NATO is available at the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at http://www.vm.ee, as well as at the website address of the Ministry of Defence at http://www.mod.gov.ee

tel. 6 317 654

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