A total of EUR 585 million has been set aside for next year’s defence budget, representing more than 2.1 per cent of the forecast GDP.
According to Minister of Defence Jüri Luik, the 2019 defence budget values servicemembers, raising the average salary level of active servicemembers to 30 per cent above the average Estonian salary.
‘National defence begins with willingness. Individuals who earn a motivating income feel that they and their actions are valued and needed by the state,' said Luik. 'We must offer active servicemembers an honourable income, which is why we also plan to maintain the average salary of active servicemembers at 30 per cent above the average salary next year’.
‘A consensus continues to dominate Estonia’s political landscape, that in order to ensure a credible defence capability at least 2 per cent of the forecast gross domestic product must be directed to national defence. At the same time, the government remains committed to the principle that the means used in association with the hosting of Allied Forces in Estonia must be added to that sum and not taken from the 2 per cent itself,' said the minister of defence. ‘The sustainable development of national defence is ensured when we ensure the stable financing of government approved long-term development plans through the years’.
Next year, nearly 40% of the defence budget, i.e. EUR 232 million, has been set aside for various defence related procurements.
‘Large-scale procurements made under long-term national defence development plans strengthen Estonia’s military capability,' said Minister of Defence Luik. ‘With this year’s volume of procurements we are fulfilling and exceeding the NATO established goal of using at least 20 per cent of the defence budget on main procurements'.
With its procurements in 2019, the Defence Forces and the Defence League will be complementing their equipment and armaments. New firearms, communications and IT equipment, clothing, flak jackets and bulletproof vests, are being procured for the Defence Forces. The supplying of Defence League units will continue.
Within the framework of largescale procurements, Estonia will be making the last contractual payment for CV90 infantry fighting vehicles and the modernisation of Navy minehunters.
Large volume purchases of ammunition will continue, with financing in the amount of EUR 30 million coming from the Defence Investments Programme formed by the Government of the Republic.
In order to ensure the necessary training environment for servicemembers and our allies, as well as modern living conditions, investments of approximately EUR 120 million into the development of national defence infrastructure and armed forces campuses and training grounds will continue.
In addition to Estonia’s contribution, investments with the help of external aid are also being made in the development of the Tapa armed forces campus and the Defence Forces central training area, which next year will total more than EUR 29 million, with the lion's share coming from the NATO Security Investment Programme.
„Hiding away from the problems of the world makes no one stronger or happier, because behind closed doors, only fears grow, never a creative and secure future. It is the shared responsibility of us all to find solutions to the world's problems, be they the sufferings of people fleeing atrocities and war, climate change and migration problems, or poverty.," President Kersti Kaljulaid said today on the occasion of the apostolic visit of Pope Franciscus.
His Holiness Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church and Head of State of Vatican City, today became an e-resident of Estonia when he was presented with his own digital ID card by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid.
Pope Francis is the 37 647th e-resident and Estonia now has e-residents from 157 countries around the world. Estonia is regarded as the world's most advanced digital nation and began offering e-Residency in 2014 to provide people around the world with a secure digital identity and online access to Estonia's public and private services.
President Kaljulaid will tomorrow embark on a work visit to the United States of America where she will speak at the UN General Assembly and have bilateral meetings with some twenty heads of state to discuss Estonia's candidacy for the position of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The Head of State will also speak at Stanford University and the Fortune Most Powerful Women forum and meet with businesspeople who have supported Estonian start-up companies.
Minister of Defence Jüri Luik met today, in Tokyo, with Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera, in order to discuss bilateral defence cooperation and questions related to international security. This was the first trip to Japan by Estonia’s Minister of Defence.
‘Estonia shares common values with Japan and a similar understanding of the security threats facing today’s world. Military developments in Russia concern Estonia as well as Japan – we may be located in different parts of the world geographically; however, the security threats presented by Russia are, in many ways, similar,' said Minister of Defence Luik. ‘Our countries are watching with deep concern as Russia continues to boldly develop its military capability and conduct massive training exercises, such as the recently held large-scale training exercise Vostok. In addition, Japanese experts are helping us to better understand developments on the Korean peninsula’.
Within the framework of the meeting Luik met yesterday with Counter Admiral Akira Ichida, Director of Communications and Information Systems for the Japanese Defence Forces. Minister Luik was also introduced to the Japanese Defence Forces cyber range and provided with a demonstration of its capabilities.
‘Japan’s competency in the field of information technology and cyber defence is quite impressive. Estonia and Japan decided to strengthen their cyber defence related cooperation, for example, through the use of training exercises and infrastructure,’ said Luik after the meeting.
Minister of Defence Luik also met with Minoru Terada, Chairman on the Committee of Security, and participated in the roundtable organised by the Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies, where discussions with experts focused mainly on cyber defence and the threats posed by Russia.
Estonia enjoys a close cyber defence related dialogue with Japan, and Japan is preparing to join NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, in Tallinn. Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera visited Estonia in May of this year. During his visit, he received an overview of the large-scale training exercise Siil and visited Ämari Air Base.
Japan is one of the most important NATO partner countries. This summer, Japanese Navy ships participated together with NATO ships in the training exercise carried out on the Baltic Sea.
President Kersti Kaljulaid met with Prime Minister Li Keqiang of the People's Republic of China in Tianjin today to discuss cooperation between their two countries on economic matters.
"Estonian and Chinese companies are already working closely together, in the field of e-trading, the start-up sector, the food industry and for example in the construction of timber houses, where an Estonian firm has opened a factory in China, increasing its production capacity significantly," President Kaljulaid explained after the meeting.
President Kersti Kaljulaid met today in Beijing with the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping. The main issues discussed at the meeting included co-operation between the two countries, trade relations and the development of e-commerce. Estonia's running for the position of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council was also discussed.
President Kersti Kaljulaid, who is in Ukraine on a work visit, met today with her Ukrainian colleague, Petro Poroshenko. The situation in East Ukraine and reforms implemented by Ukraine, particularly in fighting corruption and improving the business environment, were the main issues discussed by the heads of state.