Friday, June 26, 2009

Poll: 2/3 of Estonians consider NATO as the main security guarantee

According to the open poll organised by Turu-uuringute AS in the second half of May, the residents of Estonia regard NATO and the European Union as the main security safeguards of the state. The actions of the state in the field of national defence and the Defence Forces are regarded as reliable.
The residents of Estonia trust the Defence Forces significantly more than an average institution. The Defence Forces are trusted by a total of 81% of Estonians and 62% of non-Estonians. The assessment of the reliability of the National Defence League amounts to an average of 64 per cent of the people. The main task of the National Defence League is deemed to be participation in the elimination of the consequences of the accidents and disasters that take place in Estonia and the solving of domestic security crises.
The participation of the members of the Defence Forces in international peace operations is supported by 58% of the respondents, who mainly justify it with support by NATO to Estonia in case of potential threats. The respondents also deemed it important that soldiers get necessary real combat experience and that peace is guaranteed in crisis areas.
45 per cent of the people of Estonia believed in the occurrence of military conflicts in the coming decade, which is one fifth less than a year ago, when the feeling of danger sharpened in relation to the Russia-Georgia conflict. Although 30 per cent of the respondents regard the actions of Russia towards increasing its power in the world as another factor that endangers the security of the world, a military attack against Estonia is not deemed likely. Within Estonia, the main security risks are deemed to be cyber attacks and sea pollution, with which Estonia has had real contact over the past few years.
The main security safeguards for Estonia are deemed to be membership in NATO and the European Union, and cooperation and good neighbourly relations with Russia. Estonians regard membership in NATO as the most significant security safeguard, whereas non-Estonian respondents deem it to be good relations with Russia.
Almost two-thirds of the residents of Estonia favour keeping national defence expenses at the current level; 18% of the residents deem it important to increase the defence budget. The results of the poll indicate that the defensive will of the people remains high – 77 per cent of the residents of Estonia favour the initiation of armed resistance in case of military aggression. The poll also showed that people have not been informed well enough about how to behave and what to do in defence of Estonia, should an attack by a foreign enemy threaten the country. Following Estonia’s accession to NATO, support for the Alliance has remained at a stable high of 71-78%. Estonians continue to be more positively disposed towards NATO than non-Estonians.
The present poll also investigated the importance of various information channels among the residents. The information sources that shape the comprehension of the Russian-speaking public of Estonian politics and national defence are opposed to those that are used and trusted by Estonians. In the ranking of the reliability of media channels among non-Estonian respondents, Pervyi Baltiiski Kanal ranks first. Though ETV and Raadio 4 are reliable for two-thirds of the Russian-speaking respondents, they still rank lower than the information sources from Russia. This fact affects the attitudes and positions related to NATO and other national defence in the Russian-speaking community.
The support for compulsory military service remains very high (93%). The goals that compulsory military service for young men and the reserve army should fulfil were most often perceived to be the teaching of military skills and the provision of skills for operating in civil emergencies.
82% of residents favour the inclusion of the National Defence Course in school curricula.
The regular public polls mapping the national defence related positions of the residents of Estonia are being organised by order of the Ministry of Defence for the tenth year in a row already. The polls demonstrate the assessment of the people regarding the security of the world and Estonia, the comprehension of primary security risks, the attitude towards the organisation of Estonian national defence and the institutions engaged in national defence and the safeguarding of the security of the residents, the defensive will of the residents and other important positions related to national defence.
The poll is available on the homepage of the Ministry of Defence, at:

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