Tsahkna: the poor health of young men is a myth that must be shattered
At the cabinet session, the Government of the Republic approved the proposals submitted by Minister of Defence Margus Tshakna regarding reforms to the system for calling up conscripts to service, the purpose of which is to ensure an increase in the number of reservists having completed conscript service, thereby raising Estonian independent defence capability.
According to Tsahkna, the current system for calling up conscripts to service has become outdated and no longer ensures the required number of properly trained individuals necessary to ensure Estonian national defence in the long-term perspective.
“The idea that only 30% of our young men are, due to health concerns, fit to complete conscript service is not accurate. In Finland it is 70%, and I am convinced that our young people are not weaker than the young people of Finland. The problem is in the system, and it must be changed,” said Tshakna.
The contents of the proposals submitted by Minister of Defence Tshakna are to make the delivery of state notices electronic, to create additional measures for those avoiding military service and to clean up the organisation of work and health requirements of medical committees.
According to Tsahkna, as a whole, the reserve army model based on conscript service is functioning quite well in Estonia.
“At the same time, we need to ensure that communications between the state and its citizens is contemporary and electronic, not based on paper invitations, as it was during the Czarist Period,” said Tsahkna.
The minister added that the share of those young people entering conscript service must rise from the current 30% to at least 50-60%, in order to ensure the actual functioning of mandatory conscript service.
“To do so, we must deal more seriously than we currently are with those who are avoiding military service. One possibility is to restrict the opportunities available to those avoiding service to automatically consume state compensation on the same basis as law-abiding persons liable to the national defence obligation,” explained the Defence Minister.
“Everyone is subject to conscription, although the penalties imposed on those intentionally avoiding conscript service are mild. This is why I proposed that the state should have the right to suspend the drivers, hunting and other licenses of those avoiding conscript service as is done in the case of maintenance allowance debtors,” said Tsahkna.
According to Tsahkna, the current medical examination system for call-up selectees also requires updating, with the present work practice of medical committees needing to be cleaned up and simpler and more transparent health requirements developed.
The principle direction of henceforth sending and delivering notices from the state to call-up selectees and reservists primarily through electronic channels was approved in the government cabinet, including in cases where the citizen uses other e-services.
Also approved were the proposals from the Minister of Defence according to which those avoiding medical committees, conscript service or meeting for training will be subject to fines and the suspension of drivers licenses, weapons permits, hunting licenses, fishing cards or the right to skipper recreational craft.
Regarding additional access to the E-Health information system, the decision was made to discuss the question again in the New Year, after the Ministry of Defence submits an overview to the Government on the use of partial access, which entered into force in 2017.