According to the results of a fresh opinion survey, 93% of ethnic Estonians support Estonia’s current NATO membership and 88% are in favour of the presence of allied forces in the country.
The Estonian public has increasing confidence that NATO would provide military assistance if Estonia faced a threat. More than half of the respondents indicated this opinion, which is 8% more than the last survey. 63% of Estonians say NATO would provide military assistance.
The Estonian public also supports the current model of national defence, where a professional force is combined with a reserve army drawn from those who have completed compulsory military service; 84% of the population prefers such a model.
Attitudes toward compulsory military service also continue to be very favourable in Estonia with 94% of those surveyed saying it was necessary for young men to undergo service, including 70% who said it was “definitely” necessary. Also, 87% of respondents say it is important for all secondary education institutions to teach national defence as a separate course.
Two-thirds of the respondents said that global instability and the probability of military conflict in the world would increase in the decade ahead. The respondents identified Russia’s actions to restore its influence, the Islamic State and terrorist networks as the main threats to global security.
A total of 83% of Estonians and 70% of Russian-speaking respondents said it would be definitely or likely necessary to put up armed resistance to a foreign invasion.
“The study results show that the Estonian population continues to be highly committed to its defence,” an Estonian sociologist Juhan Kivirähk said. “The study also shows confidence with regard to support from NATO.”
Kivirähk said the real actions taken by NATO members to guarantee Estonia’s security have contributed to the sense of assurance. He gave the example of deployment of allied units in Estonia, which the population predominantly supports.
The public opinion survey on national defence was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence and conducted by Turu-uuringute AS last November, eliciting the opinions of 1,219 Estonian inhabitants.
Cover: Female conscripts in the Estonian Army.