The coordination of national security and defence management

The objective of the coordination of national security and defence is to ensure the systematic preparation for the defence of the state and the effective governance of the state during both peace and war-time.

The coordinating role is granted to the Government Office by the State Defence Act. National defence includes all activities carried out by the executive power in various fields and their aim is to prevent and deter attacks against Estonia, and defend the country.

The task of the Government Office is to implement inter-agency cooperation in the various planning processes of national defence and submit proposals for political level decision making, if necessary.

Broad security concept

Estonia’s security policy is based on a broad security concept, which includes all trends influencing security and fields relevant to maintaining security.

The objective of Estonian security policy is to secure the nation’s independence and sovereignty, the survival of the people and the state, territorial integrity, constitutional order, and the safety of the population.

In pursuing its security policy, Estonia respects fundamental rights and freedoms and protects constitutional values.

The objective, principles, and course of action of Estonian security policy are defined by the National Security Concept. The National Security Concept is a framework document prepared by the government and approved by the parliament (Riigikogu).

The current document of National Security Concept was drafted by the Government Office and approved by Riigikogu on 31 May 2017.

Comprehensive national defence concept

National defence is an important part of the Estonian security policy.

Estonia follows a comprehensive national defence concept, pursuant to which, national defence and the corresponding preparations are the tasks of many different institutions and people.

Effective national defence is ensured by both military and non-military capabilities, activities and resources from the public and private sectors and civil society.

The comprehensive national defence concept includes six pillars: military defence, the civilian support for military defence, international action, domestic and internal security, maintenance of the continuous operation of the state and society, and strategic communication.

The task of the Government Office is to coordinate the national planning of defence capabilities, resources, and actions through the National Defence Development Plan and the National Defence Action Plan.

National Defence Development Plan

The National Defence Development Plan is the central capability planning document of national defence. The objective of the plan is to identify on the basis of existing threat scenarios necessary non-military and military capability developments for the next decade.

As a result of the Development Plan, Estonia will be better prepared to prevent security and defence related threats, deter potential aggressor, and defend the country.

National Defence Action Plan

The National Defence Action Plan describes the national defence tasks of the executive authorities and the activities necessary for their fulfilment. The plan is built on the existing capabilities of the agencies performing national defence, which are necessary for the prevention and control of the threat to national security and ensuring the functioning of the state during the crisis. 

The plan takes into account the existing capabilities of the institutions. The plan is prepared for two years and is tested and exercised at least once during this time.

The National Defence Action Plan is prepared under the guidance of the Government Security Committee. The plan is drafted on the basis of strategic documents on development of national security and defence, threat scenarios, and the guidelines of the Security Committee. The drafting of the plan and the cooperation of the participating authorities is coordinated by the Government Office.

The management structure of national defence

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Pursuant to the Constitution, Riigikogu, on the proposal of the President of the Republic, declares a state of war and orders mobilisation and demobilisation and decides on the use of Armed Forces to fulfil the international obligations of the Estonian state.

Pursuant to the Estonian constitution, the President of the Republic is the supreme commander of national defence of Estonia. The president makes proposals to Riigikogu to declare a state of war, to order mobilisation and demobilisation, and to declare state of emergency. In case of aggression against Estonia, the president declares a state of war and orders mobilisation.

The National Defence Council is an advisory body for the president. The National Defence Council discusses matters of significant importance to national defence and provides opinions on such matters. The members of the council include the speaker of the parliament, the chairman of the National Defence Committee and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, the prime minister, the ministers responsible for the areas related to national defence, and the commander of the Defence Forces. The president chairs the Council meetings.

The Government of the Republic exercises executive power pursuant to the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Estonia. The Government of the Republic decides issues within its competence at sessions. The Government of the Republic has a quorum if, in addition to the prime minister, at least one-half of the membership of the government participates in the session. In case of a direct threat to national security, the Government of the Republic has a quorum if, in addition to the prime minister, at least two ministers participate in the session.

The Government Security Committee analyses and assesses national security situation and coordinates the activities of the authorities of executive power with regard to planning, development, and organisation of national defence. The Committee is chaired by the prime minister, and its members include the minister of defence, the minister of economic affairs and infrastructure, the minister of entrepreneurship and IT, the minister of finance, the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of the interior, and the minister of justice. The secretary of the committee is National Security and Defence Coordination Director.

The Government Security Committee

  • Discusses and formulates security and defence policy opinions for the Government of the Republic;
  • Leads preparation of the national security concept, the national defence strategic documents, and the national defence action plan;
  • Coordinates activities of the authorities of the executive power in planning, developing, and managing national defence;
  • Coordinates the activities of security agencies and military intelligence;
  • Analyses and assesses the national security situation;
  • Sets priorities and needs for gathering intelligence information;
  • Performs the tasks assigned to the Committee by State Secrets and Classified Information of Foreign States Act in organising the protection of state secrets;
  • Performs other tasks assigned by the law of the Government of the Republic.
The Government Security Committee

The Security Committee coordinates the activities of agencies of executive power in the planning, development and organisation of national defense.

The Government Office advises the prime minister on national security and defence issues, organises the work of the Government Security Committee, and coordinates interagency cooperation of national security and defence.

Government Office has also organised crisis management exercises for the government since 2014. The objective of the exercises is to practice the government decision-making process in rapidly evolving complicated security situations.

Last updated: 01.10.2020