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Survey reveals that more than 60% of the Estonian population would be prepared to defend the country

4. July 2024 - 15:36
Shooting practice
Shooting practice

The annual public opinion survey commissioned by the Ministry of Defence shows that the level of support among the Estonian population for armed resistance remains at over 80%, with more than 60% of people prepared to defend the country.

“Willingness and motivation are vital to ensuring national security, so I’m delighted to see those figures so high, especially among the reservists, who make up the bulk of our defensive force,” said Undersecretary for Defence Readiness Susan Lilleväli, presenting the results of the survey.

More than 60% of the population would be prepared to defend the nation: 12% in active military defence, 22% in auxiliary defence roles (such as rearguard support and logistics) and 26% in non-military defence (such as in the field of medicine and organising evacuations). Moreover, 81% of respondents support armed resistance in the event of an attack. “These are very promising figures, considering that in wartime our Defence Forces would comprise 44,000 people or just 6% of the working population,” Lilleväli remarked.

The need for military service has the support of 87% of respondents, marking a 1% rise since the 2023 survey. There is also a high level of support (86%) for reserve forces, and calling on reserve forces to take part in training has the support of 79% of the population. “That level of support and appreciation for our reservists shows that people in Estonia recognise the importance of national defence and defence readiness,” Lilleväli said.

There is also widespread support among the population for other aspects of defence: 76% for allied air exercises; 74% for wearing military uniforms in public; 72% for the movement of Defence Forces equipment; 70% for the establishment of a Baltic defence line; 69% for military exercises in the respondent’s area; and 56% for the expansion of training grounds.

The spread of misinformation and cyberattacks continue to be seen as the main security threats by 86% and 84% of respondents, respectively. Whereas in 2023 a total of 29% of respondents considered a large-scale military attack against Estonia likely, that figure has since risen to 39%.

“People have a heightened sense of risk, but it’s worth noting that they still have as much trust in defence and security institutions, which is necessary to ensure both a sense of security and the country’s ability to defend itself,” Lilleväli said. The most trusted institutions are the Rescue Board (97%), the Police and Border Guard Board (86%), the Defence Forces (80%) and the Defence League (76%).

“It’s also reassuring to know that the vast majority of people in Estonia – which is to say four out of every five – not only value our own national defence organisations but also the relationships we have with our allies, which form one of the pillars of our defence capabilities,” Lilleväli added. Estonia’s membership in NATO and the presence of allied forces in the country are supported by 80% and 79% of the population, respectively. Moreover, 94% of respondents aged 15-19 support Estonia’s status as a NATO member state, and this was the first survey to record no opposition at all to the country’s membership in the alliance among this age group.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Defence by Eesti Uuringukeskus OÜ in March and early April 2024. Permanent residents of Estonia between the ages of 15 and 74 were included in the sample, with 1200 people surveyed in total.

Similar surveys have been regularly commissioned by the ministry since 2000.

The full report on the results can be found here (PDF).