At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu discussed the motion of no confidence in Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet, initiated by 31 members of the Riigikogu.
The motion of no confidence was not supported. 42 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour and 57 voted against. The support of at least 51 members of the Riigikogu was needed to express no confidence.
Member of the Faction Isamaa Helir-Valdor Seederi who submitted the motion of no confidence said that Laanet did not understand his role as Minister of Defence in ensuring Estonia’ security and was not aware of Estonia’s complicated geopolitical situation. He expressed hope that the discussion of the motion of no confidence would lead the coalition politicians to an understanding that, in view of the feedback from society and the complicated geopolitical and security situation, the earlier decisions should be reviewed.
“Before the national budget strategy was approved by the Government, Kalle Laanet confirmed that defence spending would not be reduced. By today it has become apparent that, over the next four years, the defence spending will be reduced by 114 million euro compared to the current national defence development plan and the defence investments programme,” the motion of no confidence notes.
“In the current complicated security situation, it is necessary to contribute additionally to Estonia’s defence capability, but the number of employees in the area of government of the Ministry of Defence will be reduced by nearly 270 people instead. Long-term investments, active servicemen, Defence Forces employees as well as foreign missions will also be on the line,” the signatories added. “The decision to make cuts and thereby to begin undermine the activities of the Defence League the aim of which is to increase the readiness of the Estonian people to defend Estonia’s independence and constitutional order will weaken the people’s defence attitude to a significant degree. At the same time, the decision to eliminate the Defence Forces orchestra and chaplain service due to the proposed cuts shows that the minister does not understand the role of important national symbols and the comprehensive national defence in ensuring Estonia’s security,” they noted.
Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet denied the allegations that he had lied and confirmed that the defence and security of the Estonian state was a priority for him, the Reform Party as well as the coalition. He stated that everyday expenses were being economised on but that was being done in order to invest in the national military defence capability. When speaking of the orchestra, Laanet confirmed that it would not disappear anywhere but it would continue its activities in the area of government of the Ministry of Defence, at the Estonian War Museum.
Laanet also underlined that the national budget strategy was a political document of the Government that was reviewed every year. “Therefore it is wrong to speak of the world collapsing and us not upholding national defence,” the minster emphasised. “I am making every effort to ensure that our budget funds towards Estonian national defence would increase,” he added.
Thereafter Laanet responded to questions from members of the Riigikogu asking for more detailed information about his activities as Minister of Defence.
During the debate, Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), Leo Kunnas (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Indrek Saar (Social Democratic Party), Mati Raidma (Reform Party) and Oudekki Loone (Centre Party) took the floor on behalf of their factions.
At the beginning of the sitting, the discussion of the interpellation concerning the action plan for Estonian-language education and the movement towards a uniform Russian-Estonian school system (No. 78), submitted to Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna by members of the Riigikogu Peeter Ernits, Helle-Moonika Helme, Kalle Grünthal, Henn Põlluaas, Paul Puustusmaa and Jaak Valge, was continued. It had been adjourned due to the end of the working hours of Monday’s sitting.
Due to the end of the working hours of today’s sitting, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Atmospheric Air Protection Act and the State Fees Act (345 SE), the Bill on Amendments to the Financial Supervision Authority of Act (380 SE), the Bill on Amendments to the European Parliament Election Act and the Local Government Organisation Act (participation of Members of the European Parliament in the work of municipal councils) (389 SE) and the Bill on Amendments to the Local Government Organisation Act (212 SE) was postponed to tomorrow’s sitting.
The first reading of the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Amendment of the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe”” (398 OE), the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Amendment of the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania Interparliamentary Assembly”” (399 OE), the Bill on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act and the Taxation Act (403 SE) and the Bill on Amendments to the Local Government Organisation Act (397 SE) was also postponed to Wednesday’s sitting.
Photos of the sitting (Author: Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu)
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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