Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 154

The Estonian parliament has decided to suspend consideration of President Lennart Meri’s December 3 dismissal of the army commander, Lt. General Alexander Einseln, and nomination of a successor. In trying to dismiss Einseln, Meri had sided with civilian defense minister Andrus Oovel in his public row with the military chief, although the president exonerated Einseln of Oovel’s blanket charges of incompetence. But Meri’s two decisions require legislative confirmation, and many deputies including key leaders questioned the president’s decisions almost from the outset. Einseln, a retired US Army Colonel who returned to his native Estonia to command its nascent army, picked up fresh parliamentary support at hearings December 12 when he described his removal as groundless, damaging to the military, and welcomed by Russia. The nomination of Johannes Kert as army commander is also being questioned by deputies and military officers. (12)

The controversy is the more debilitating as the formation of an Estonian army has barely begun. It is also having adverse repercussions on regional cooperation. Yesterday the Lithuanian parliament’s foreign affairs committee chairman Kazys Bobelis termed Estonia’s defenses "shaky" and an obstacle to a Baltic military alliance. He issued a strong statement supporting Einseln in the interest of developing Estonia’s defenses, and criticizing the nomination of Kert.

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