Supreme Command and Control of the Armed Forces: the Roles of Presidents, Parliaments, Governments, Ministries of Defence and Chiefs of Defence
“We have a habit in Estonia to have one president at a time.”
“Behind me are 17 thousand armed men, and I find it hard to predict their reaction if I will not become at least the Minister of the Interior.”
Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis
“There is only one captain of a ship.”
“I as a head of the Government am a guarantee of stability in the country.”
The Baltic states have developed their armed forces and defence systems over a very short period of time following the principle of ‘learning by doing’. This chapter examines one aspect of this process: supreme command and control of the armed forces in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It aims to identify the major factors influencing the development of the democratic control of the armed forces of the Baltic states during the last 20 years. To do so, it explores how the chain of command at the strategic level (including the president, parliament, government, minister of defence and chief of defence) was established in the 1990s and how it has developed in the years since.
In the following chapter I will thus consider the origins of and bases for the chains of command in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, i.e. each country’s starting point in the establishment of control over its armed forces. I will then look at the various historic events in each country that were essential for, and served as turning points in, the development of the concept of democratic control of the armed forces, and explain the processes of relationship building in the chain of command at the strategic level. At the end of the chapter, I will outline the similarities and differences in the three Baltic states and identify the major (internal) factors that shaped the development of democratic control of their armed forces. There is a general perception that the processes of developing the three states’ armed forces from scratch and shaping their democratic control ran smoothly. The evidence from the study presented here suggests that the development has, indeed, been largely evolutionary, but has seen at least some revolutionary features.
The statements quoted at the head of this chapter were made by influential officials. The first two date from the early 1990s, when there was not much thought about the concept of democratic control of the armed forces; these snapshots thus reflect the starting point in all three Baltic states as they sought the right formula for supreme command and control of their armed forces. The second two are from a later period, when concepts of democratic control were better established.
The Constitution of Estonia
The Constitution of Estonia, which was passed by referendum on 28 June 1992 and entered into force on 3 July 1992, represents an attempt to find a middle way in Estonia’s governance, avoiding both the weaknesses of the 1920 parliamentary democracy and the authoritarianism of 1934-1938. It envisages a parliamentary and democratic republic in which the President has limited power, and executive power rests with the Government.
Chapter X, on defence, is the exception because it gives significant powers to the President over the armed forces – the eventual amendment of this chapter, in 2011 (discussed below) is perhaps one of the key turning points in the development of democratic control of the armed forces in Estonia. Due to their lack of competence in the areas of the military and civil control, the drafters of the 1992 Constitution simply took many of the defence-related paragraphs directly from the 1938 constitution. Notably, the 1938 Constitution prescribed the establishment of an authoritarian state order in Estonia. Chapter X of the 1992 Constitution thus prescribed that the President has power over the defence sector without giving any say to the Government, showing clearly that the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) are insufficiently subordinated to civil control, and that the Government might be unable to exercise its executive power in the event of a crisis. The Government, and in particular, the Minister of Defence, was left out of the chain of command at the strategic level, although the Minister was made accountable for the armed forces to the Riigikogu (the Parliament of Estonia).
The Constitution further prescribed that the Riigikogu, on the proposal of the President, appoints to office the Commander (peace-time) or Commander-in-Chief (war-time) of the Defence Forces, and can decide upon the use of the defence forces in the fulfilment of international obligations. The Riigikogu declares a state of emergency in the state, on the proposal of the President or the Government; and on the proposal of the President, the Riigikogu declares a state of war, and orders mobilisation and demobilisation. A member of the Riigikogu also has the right to put inquiries to the Commander or Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.
Obviously, the Riigikogu had much less power than the President who is the supreme commander of the national defence of Estonia. It is the President who makes proposals to the Riigikogu to declare a state of war, to order mobilisation and demobilisation and declare a state of emergency. In case of aggression against Estonia, the President declares a state of war, orders mobilisation, and appoints the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. According to the Constitution the President makes proposals to the Riigikogu for appointments to the offices of Commander or Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. And on the proposal of the Government and the Commander of the Defence Forces, the President appoints to and releases from office the leadership of the armed forces; and confers state awards, and military and diplomatic ranks.
The Constitution, however, is rather sparse on the role of the Government in the defence and security area. It merely states that the Government can declare an emergency situation in the case of a natural disaster or a catastrophe, or to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.
The general principle of democratic control of the armed forces is to ensure democracy and the rule of law. Democratic control of the armed forces is a precondition for ensuring that: the political supremacy of the democratically elected civilian authorities is respected; the rule of law and human rights are safeguarded; the armed forces serve the interests of the population and enjoy popular support and legitimacy; the policies and capabilities of the military are in line with the country’s political objectives and commensurate with its resources; and the military is not misused for political purposes. In support of this principle, the chain of command generally runs from the parliament through the government (including the minister of defence) and exercises command and control over the armed forces structures, which are headed by the chief of defence.
Through Chapter X of the Constitution, the Estonian President was given unique powers and direct supervision of the armed forces. This is clearly inconsistent with the intention to establish democratic control of the armed forces. Notably, the Constitution says little on the role of the Government and its relationship with the President and with the Commander of the Defence Forces; this was later to cause problems of interpretation and be a subject for political games.
Towards or Away from Democratic control of the Armed Forces?
The drafting of the Peace-Time Defence Act began in 1993, with the Constitution as its basis. The aim of this Act was to stipulate the organisation of defence and establish the responsibilities of the main institutions within defence. The then Commander of the Defence Forces - Aleksander Einseln - was himself heavily involved in the drafting process and according to Lauri Almann, a former Permanent Undersecretary of the Ministry of Defence, even hired a private law firm to support him during the drafting process. The Government’s clear intention was that the Act would put the Commander of the Defence Forces under the executive branch, and thus subordinate him to the Minister of Defence without an amendment to the Constitution. However, this did not turn out as intended.
The Act, adopted on 6 February 1995, stated that the institutions responsible for state defence are the Riigikogu, the President, the Government and the Commander of the Defence Forces (in the case of war, the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces). The President was named as supreme commander of the defence forces, while the Minister of Defence was left out altogether. The Commander of the Defence Forces was named as the head of the defence forces of Estonia in peace-time and, in case of aggression against Estonia, would be appointed by the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces in war-time.
According to the War-Time National Defence Act adopted in the same year, the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces alone commands and leads military actions using all the assigned military branches, units and means. He is directly subordinated to the President, who is the supreme commander, and reports to the Riigikogu.
The 1995 Act also listed the powers and responsibilities of the President as stipulated by the Constitution, namely: the powers to appoint and dismiss the Commander and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces; promulgation of a state of war, state of emergency, mobilisation and demobilisation; appointment and dismissal of the leadership of the defence forces (Chief of General Staff, Commander of the Kaitseliit (Defence League - Estonia’s voluntary defence organisation) and commanders of the services) on the proposal of the Government and the Commander of the Defence Forces; and awarding officers and conferring ranks upon them, again on the proposal of the Commander of the Defence Forces. Besides issues of democratic control, this is interesting from another point of view: namely that the President has no say over financial means, even though every rank or promotion influences the defence budget.
The Government’s main responsibility according to the War-time National Defence Act is to prepare the state for defence, including by coordinating the work of the ministries and local municipalities that is relevant to national defence, organising the necessary acquisitions, organising evacuation, ensuring search and rescue functions, and developing communications for defence needs. In addition, in accordance with paragraph 14(2) of the Peace-Time National Defence Act, the Government has the right to issue orders to the Commander of the Defence Forces to employ the defence forces in case of a natural disaster or catastrophe, to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, to liquidate an armed terrorist group, or to guarantee national security.
President Lennart Meri, who by nature was confrontational and very eager to retain his powers, was alert to the contents of these acts. On several occasions, he entered into legal proceedings with the Government and the Riigikogu over their interpretation and the institutional competences they specified.
Fight for Power – the President versus the Government
The first - but not the last - constitutional case initiated by President Meri was in 1993, when he declared the unconstitutionality of the National Coats of Arms Act. Meri argued that:
the keeping of the state seal with the State Secretary … subordinates the head of state, through the State Secretary, to the control of the Government of the Republic, and making the head of state dependent on the Government of the Republic violates the principle of balanced activities and separation of powers between the President of the Republic and the Government of the Republic, established in … the Constitution.”
Of course, this case has no relevance to democratic control of the armed forces, but does serve to illustrate President Meri’s personality and his eagerness to clarify issues in great detail.
More closely related to the field of defence and security, in a dispute concerning The President of the Republic Rules of Procedure Act, passed by the Riigikogu on 3 May 1994, the President declared that it was unconstitutional for the Prime Minister to determine whether an issue amounted to a matter of ‘urgent state need’. According to the Constitution, the President has the right, in matters of urgent state need, “to issue decrees which have the force of law and which shall bear the countersignatures of the Chairman of the Riigikogu and the Prime Minister.” In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not indeed give the Prime Minister the right to make a preliminary decision as to whether there is a matter of urgent state need. The President was right and the Act was declared unconstitutional. Another example was the President’s petition to the Supreme Court on the Decorations Act, which allowed the President to bestow decorations only on the basis of propositions made by the Committee on Decorations. The President argued, and the Supreme Court agreed, that this excluded the President’s constitutional right to bestow state awards on his own initiative; this Act was also declared to be unconstitutional.
One of the most significant disputes between the President and the Government, however, took place in 1994 when the President refused to sign the Peace-Time National Defence Act, which he deemed to be unconstitutional. After the Riigikogu had passed the Act on 28 September 1994, Meri claimed that its provision allowing the Government to issue orders to the Commander of the Defence Forces to employ the defence forces in case of a natural disaster or catastrophe, to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, to liquidate an armed terrorist group, or to guarantee national security, was in conflict with Constitution. He argued that only the President, as the supreme commander of national defence, was entitled to issue orders to the Commander of the Defence Forces regarding the use of the defence forces.
The petition of the President was considered by the Supreme Court, who looked at the case from the perspective of fundamental rights and freedoms, analysing the use of force in peace-time and during a state of emergency, and concluding that the Peace-Time National Defence Act did not sufficiently regulate the activities of the state authorities in situations when there is a danger to the state’s security. The judgment of the Supreme Court was “to declare the Peacetime National Defence Act, passed by the Riigikogu on 8 November 1994, unconstitutional.” However, it concluded that,
It is not consistent with the spirit of the Constitution that the President of the Republic gives orders to the Commander of the Defence Forces bypassing the Government of the Republic, who is entitled to execute the domestic and foreign policies of the state. The use of defence forces in peacetime for the protection of national security is a political question, which can not be decided bypassing the Government of the Republic. The principles established by paras 1 and 4 of the Constitution, and the functions and authority vested in the Government and in the President by the Constitution, requires balanced cooperation of these two institutions.
Despite this conclusion, and the fact that the Act was amended accordingly before being finally adopted in 1995, the direct link between the President and the Commander of the Defence Forces was actively used in the following years. When the relationship between the Minister of Defence and the Commander did not work because of mutual hostility the Commander could - and did - turn to the President.
In addition to the disagreements between the President and the Government, Johannes Kert, while Commander of the Defence Forces even claimed that he had the status of another constitutional body, alongside the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Between 1998 and 2007, this issue dominated Estonia’s discussions on civil-military relations and on the roles and responsibilities of the various actors. It is a great risk to democracy when the Commander of the Defence Forces claims to be an independent institution and thus, during this period, Estonia was at risk of moving away from establishing effective democratic control of its armed forces.
These various disputes and the subsequent judgments demonstrated both the weaknesses and strengths of the Estonian system. The main weakness was that the spirit of Chapter X of the Constitution was not in line with the spirit of the rest of the Constitution. This later led to discrepancies in the legislation. The main strength was the sense and justice of the legal system.
On 11 September 1997, during a training manoeuvre in the Kurkse Strait, 14 Estonian soldiers of the Baltic Battalion drowned. The Commander of the Defence Forces, Johannes Kert, submitted his resignation to the President, who refused it. This tragic event shattered the EDF and led many authorities to think not only about the reasons for it, but also about the issue of the chain of command; the roles of the Minister of Defence and the Commander of the Defence Forces were placed under serious consideration.
Within two years another incident occurred, when the Acting Chief of the Special Operations Group of the defence forces carried out an armed robbery, followed by a shooting in which several persons were injured. The highest state authorities concluded that control over the staff of the regular armed forces and the Kaitseliit needed to be strengthened, and that the overall concept of democratic control of the armed forces was not complete. Kert once again handed his resignation to the President, who once again refused it.
Shortly after this incident, Kert was sent on a year-long study trip to the US Army War College, in Pennsylvania. Urmas Roosimägi and later Märt Tiru were appointed as acting Commanders. Interestingly enough, while he was outside the country, Kert remained legally the Commander of the Defence Forces as the legislative acts did not prescribe the appointment of an acting commander as a temporary replacement. This gave a fresh impetus for political games and interpretations.
President Meri dismissed Kert from the position of Commander of the Defence Forces on 30 June 2000, and nominated Tarmo Kõuts, the head of the Border Guard, as his replacement. The nomination apparently reflected the compromise choice of the Riigikogu. A lively debate and vote on Kert`s dismissal took place in the Riigikogu on 28 August 2000. In the discussions, President Meri emphasised that Kert`s behaviour was ‘inconsistent’ with civil control. Kert, in his reply, gave a ‘politician’s speech’, indicating all his achievements; in drafting this he was advised and assisted by the Reform Party, leading some to accuse him of playing politics with the military. The Riigikogu vote was almost even - 47 votes for and 46 votes against Kert`s dismissal - and there was still ambiguity around this outcome. A crossover vote from Tõnu Kauba, a member of the opposition Centre Party, sealed the fate of Kert: instead of voting ‘against’ as was the line of the Centre Party, Mr. Kauba voted ‘for’. For this, Kauba apologised publicly, and on the next morning he was also dismissed from the Centre Party’s parliamentary faction.
President Meri appointed three acting Commanders in a little over a year, and offered demotion to Kert in the hope of solving the problem, before finally dismissing him. Commenting at the time on this sorry affair, Mel Huang concludes that,
the point of having civilian control of the military is to have a professional and non-political military capable of doing the job of national defence at the command of the popularly elected government. It is certainly not to be belittled as an institution that knows nothing about reforming itself, when its very core is being toyed around by civilian ‘controllers’.
‘Toying around’, however, was not on the agenda, as Kert’s eventual successor Tarmo Kõuts and the Minister of Defence Jürgen Ligi (who served from 2005-2007, and was the fifth defence minister since 2000) could not even develop working relations. The two had a publicly hostile relationship, which resulted in a lack of information sharing, and different priorities between the Ministry of Defence and the EDF, damaging morale in both institutions.
The terminology also added to the political games and possibilities for (mis)interpretation. In Estonian Juhtimine defines many aspects of management, such as, commanding, controlling, leading, conducting and directing. President Meri referred to himself and was addressed as the ‘supreme commander of the defence forces’ or of ‘state defence’. When Arnold Rüütel was elected President, this terminology was used more and more rarely due to political resistance from some quarters. Terminologically, the President became instead the ‘supreme head of state defence’.
Rüütel was inaugurated as President on 8 October 2001. Importantly, between 1991 and 1992, he had been a member of the Constitutional Assembly drafting the Constitution of Estonia; and from 1994 to 2000, was chairman of the centre-right Estonian Rural People's Party (called, since 1999, the Estonian People's Union) then one of the largest of Estonia’s political parties. The new President created a position in his Chancellery for a military adviser, who was able to facilitate and strengthen the direct link between the President and the Commander of the Defence Forces.
A Window of Opportunity
In 2001, under the guidance of the Minister of Defence Jüri Luik, another attempt was made to define the armed forces and the Commander of the Defence Forces as part of the executive branch, and to lay down the relationships within the strategic chain of command of Estonia’s national defence system. A new version of the Peace-Time National Defence Act was drafted, specifying in detail the responsibilities of the President, Government, Minister of Defence and the Commander of the Defence Forces in both peace-time and in national defence during a state of war.
The importance of this Act lies in the fact that the balanced cooperation of the President and the Government was legally established. Under the section describing the competence of the President, it is stated that the acts issued by the President as supreme commander of the national defence would be implemented by the Government. The President would, in the event of war appoint the Commander-in-Chief; and, after hearing the opinion of the Defence Council, the President could make a proposal to the Riigikogu on the appointment and dismissal of the Commander or Commander-in-Chief.
In its exercise of executive power in national defence matters the Government is responsible for: security policy and defence strategy documents; carrying out mobilisation; in cooperation with the Ministers of Defence and Internal Affairs deciding on the acquisition of the means necessary for national defence; and establishing the structure of the defence forces. The Act also implies that the Government and the Minister of Defence exercise supervision and control over the Commander of the Defence Forces, as it gives the Minister of Defence the right to “issue regulations and directives on the basis of law for implementation by the Defence Forces and the National Defence League.”
The peace-time Commander of the Defence Forces is the head of the defence forces and: has the right to meet with the President and the Riigikogu and the duty to answer their questions; is accountable to the Government and the Minister of Defence and is their highest military adviser; proposes to the Government to appoint to and release from office the leadership of the defence forces; controls budgetary resources; supervises and controls the national defence system; and oversees the compliance of subordinates with legislation and deals with complaints of subordinates if they are not covered by the legislation. The Act also thus succeeded in regulating the legal position of the armed forces, including by establishing that the Minister of Defence would exercise supervisory control over the Commander of the Defence Forces.
The Minister of Defence Jüri Luik was heavily criticised by Riigikogu’s Defence Committee chairman Tiit Tammsaar for trying to turn the defence forces’ commander into a de facto adviser to the defence minister. Nevertheless, because the Constitution was unchanged and because there were no provisions proscribing, for example, how the Minister might challenge a decision of the Commander of the Defence Forces, the position of the Commander of the Defence Forces itself was not fully resolved.
Closing the Loop?
After the presidential election of 2006, the newly elected President Toomas Hendrik Ilves took a great political risk and put forward changes to the Constitution. The President’s proposed amendment would take away his power to appoint the Commander and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. While he would retain the title of supreme commander, the direct subordination of the Commander of the Defence Forces to the President would be abolished on the grounds that the President has no right to release the Commander of the Defence Forces, or challenge his decisions.
President Ilves also believed that if the Government wanted to use armed forces in a state of emergency, there would be no need for his approval; and if military units are deployed on international operations, it is the Riigikogu that authorises this. NATO Article 5 operations are, in any case, delegated to the Government, which has special procedures to deal with these eventualities. And ultimately, if the Riigikogu is not happy with the work of the Government, it can dissolve it.
In December 2006, the Riigikogu approved a new Commander of the Defence Forces, Ants Laaneots, to replace Tarmo Kõuts. Notably, one of his priorities was to improve relations between the EDF and the Ministry of Defence. He believed that there was a larger problem between the two institutions, in that they were both ‘young’ and inexperienced, and Estonia was still struggling to work out the technical details of civil oversight of the defence forces. Laaneots’ intention was to institutionalise clear and formal procedures within defined parameters in order to avoid situations in which civil-military relationships relied on personal relationships.
After the cyber-attack on Estonia in 2007 the main attention of officials was diverted to the potential for war in cyber-space. During this process the roles and responsibilities of the Government, Ministry of Defence and Commander of the Defence Forces were also revisited.
In 2008, the new Defence Forces Organisation Act stipulated that the Commander of the Defence Forces is subordinated to the Minister of Defence. And in 2011, in line with the President’s proposals, the Riigikogu adopted amendments to the Constitution, which entered into force on 22 July 2011: certain provisions concerning the Commander of the Defence Forces were removed from paragraphs 127 and 128, eliminating the concept of the institution of the ‘Commander of the Defence Forces’ from the Constitution. The power to appoint and release the Commander of the Defence Forces, the Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces, the Commander of the Kaitseliit and the chiefs of services was passed from the President to the Government, lowering the level of decision making. Candidates for these posts would be proposed by the Minister of Defence after hearing the position of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu; the Minister of Defence together with the Commander of the Defence Forces would make a joint proposal to the Government for appointment to and release from office of the Commander of the Kaitseliit, and would be solely responsible for the appointment and release of the Chief of General Staff and commanders of the services. A new Service Act, approved in the Riigikogu in June 2012, further specifies these provisions and appointments.
In 2011, the advisory board of the Minister of Defence went even further by proposing that the Prime Minister, rather than the President, should be the ultimate head of national defence as the Prime Minister is the only senior figure with actual power. In addition, Estonia’s recently updated National Defence Strategy makes clear that there are many more institutions involved in defeating a threat to the state besides the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces, meaning that coordination from the Prime Minister would be necessary, for example to coordinate communication capabilities, the early warning system, and the flow of information both in times of military and non-military crises and in states of emergency or war. If this proposal were implemented, the loop balancing the power of the President, the Riigikogu, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence and the Commander of the Defence Forces could finally be considered to be closed.
Meanwhile, Estonia’s situation remains ambiguous. One very symbolic way of looking at it would be to consider the ceremony of the change of the Commander of the Defence Forces, which took place on 5 December 2011, and during which the outgoing Commander Ants Laaneots handed the banner of the EDF to the incoming Commander Riho Terras. Logically and following the latest Constitutional amendments, the banner should have been passed via the Minister of Defence, thus marking the current superior-subordinate relationship; however, the banner was handed over via the President. It might be argued that this is purely a matter of state protocol or symbolic procedure, and that nothing further should be read into it. However, Estonia’s history of civil-military relations shows that influential factors such as personality and political games have played a surprisingly crucial role in the development of democratic control of the defence forces.
The Constitution of Latvia
Latvia’s Constitution was approved on 15 of February 1922, alongside the birth of the State itself; as such, it reflects the international thinking of the time. The Constitution envisages a parliamentary democracy as Latvia`s state order. Since its adoption, only twelve amendments have been made to the Constitution, none of them influencing the role of either the President or the Saeima (the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia).
Chapter III states that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In time of war, he or she appoints a Supreme Commander. The President declares war on the basis of a decision of the Saeima and has “the right to take steps indispensable to the military defence of the state, if another state has declared war on Latvia, or if an enemy is attacking the borders of Latvia.” At the same time, the President is required to immediately convene the Saeima, which decides upon the declaration of war and the commencement of hostilities. The President does not bear political responsibility for his or her actions and presidential decrees are countersigned by the Prime Minister, or by the minister concerned. The Government has the right to proclaim a state of emergency if the State is threatened by an external enemy, or if an internal insurrection which endangers the existing political system arises or threatens to arise in the State or in any part of the State.
It should be noted here that the Commander of the Armed Forces is not even a subject of the Constitution, meaning that he or she was never meant to be a part of the chain of command at the strategic level. The Constitution concentrates on the powers of the President and the Saeima.
The drafting process of the Constitution and the legal acts of 1932 and 1940 that deal with the armed forces offer insights into and explanations of the Constitution’s intentions for the roles of the President and Supreme Commander (a person the President appoints in war-time) and the organisation of the defence forces.
The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the state’s armed forces. However, this is not a correct translation of the Latvian term, augstākais vadonis, which might be more accurately translated by a literary or even an epic term - the ‘highest leader’. This term was chosen on purpose so that the President of the parliamentary state would have no direct say over the armed forces, nor literally lead military units during war-time. As an additional guarantee in this respect, there is a norm in the Constitution that all decrees of the President should be countersigned by the Prime Minister, or by the minister concerned. Nevertheless, to prevent their politicisation, neither should the Saeima nor the Government have a direct say over the armed forces. A balance would need to be reached in the subordination and leadership of the armed forces.
Today’s legal and normative acts are very poor in defining the rights and obligations of the Supreme Commander. The Law on Supreme Command of Armed Forces, from 1932, is the only place that stipulates this issue. It states that the Supreme Commander will act independently and be directly and only subordinated to the President. However, in terms of management he or she is subordinated to the Government. The obligations of the Supreme Commander include leading war operations, managing the distribution of forces and funds, and even confiscating property in the territory of the armed conflict, concluding cease fires with the enemy and, if necessary, renewing hostilities.
In war-time, the Minister of Defence is responsible for fulfilling logistic and maintenance functions. Interestingly, the Law specifically stipulates the relationship between the Supreme Commander and the Minister of Defence - there are few normative acts that regulate such inter-institutional affairs. Any disputes between the Supreme Commander and the Minister of Defence are to be settled by the President.
The 1940 Law on State Defence stipulates that the President, as the head of the armed forces, will lead the armed forces during war-time through the Supreme Commander and the Minister of Defence.  It clearly states that during time of war, the Commander of the Armed forces will be replaced by a Supreme Commander appointed by the President. This is a crucial stipulation. One might argue that stipulating in the law that the Supreme Commander is Commander of the Armed Forces limits the constitutional right of the President to appoint the Supreme Commander who, according to the Constitution, could be anyone. The Law does not specifically mention the Supreme Commander`s subordination to the Government as was the case in the 1932 Law on Supreme Command of Armed Forces.
The Constitution has thus inherited the notion of a strong tie between the President and the Supreme Commander as concerns the leadership of the armed forces in war-time and as was stipulated in the legislation of 1932 and 1940. This does not leave much room for the Saeima or the Government to have a say over the armed forces and military defence; The Minister of Defence is responsible only for logistic support.
Other Players in Democratic Control of the Armed Forces
The Minister of Defence
The Ministry of Defence was established on 13 November 1991 by the Law on the Ministries of the Republic of Latvia, with Tālavs Jundzis appointed Minister of Defence on 19 November 1991 by the Supreme Council (as the Parliament was called at that time). The Defence Staff was established on 31 January 1992 by Order Nr.15-v of the Minister of Defence, under its first Commander Dainis Turlais, and subordinated to the Ministry of Defence. In the early 1990s, the defence sector focused on the re-establishment of training centres and educational institutions, and on filling the Defence Staff with personnel. The defence structure and associated legal and normative acts developed somewhat spontaneously. Russian troops began to withdraw from Latvia on 19 March 1992. The early 1990s were thus significant years in shaping the concept of democratic control of the armed forces.
Red versus Red-White-Red officers?
The Zemessardze (National Guard of Latvia) - a volunteer armed force much larger (around 17 000) than the regular army - was initially subordinated to the Chairman of Latvia`s Supreme Council, Anatolijs Gorbunovs. In fact, the Zemessardze was led by its Chief of Staff, Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, and consisted of so called (in a reference to the colours of the Latvian flag) ‘red-white-red officers’. Most of the volunteers did not have military backgrounds, but were very patriotic and enthusiastic in national defence matters. The regular army was mostly built around officers with Soviet army backgrounds, usually thus referred to as ‘red officers’. The regular army was subordinated to the Commander, Dainis Turlais, who was also deputy to the Minister of Defence.
The Law on State Defence stipulated that the National Armed Forces (NAF) consisted of the defence forces (the regular army), the Zemessardze (volunteers), the Security Service, and the military formations of the Ministry of the Interior (a convoy troop and prison guard regiment). As all these entities lacked unified command and common strategic planning, any common direction of development was inconceivable. Each entity also established its own security service, thus their competitiveness only increased as they collected compromising materials on the state authorities. The regular army was controlled by the Government, but control over the Zemessardze was rather weak. This was partly because of the attitudes of Zemessardze personnel, who were volunteers representing different social and political classes, and partly because of the inability to put in place any constraints and rules to be obeyed by the Zemessardze; any attempt would most probably be met with accusations of being an enemy of the state.
As a result the Zemessardze relied largely on itself to decide what was right and what should be done for the sake of the nation. An additional factor that encouraged the Zemessardze was the poor situation of the State Police which, due to a lack of resources and motivation, was prevented from fulfilling all of its tasks. One of the remarkable events in which the Zemessardze exceeded its mandate was in the case of Andrejs Ručs. In 1994, when the withdrawal of the Russian troops was on-going and Russian army property was being taken over, Riga municipality Vice President Andrejs Ručs ordered a Zemessardze unit to arrest and deliver to the Latvian border two Russian army generals who were considered an obstacle to the Russian army withdrawal process. Historically this incident has come to be recognised as a Russian provocation. Nevertheless, it is clear that the arrest of the Russian general was a police function, not a task for the Zemessardze or the Defence Forces of which they were part.
Appearance of Unified Leadership of the Armed Forces
If the Constitution did not say much on the role of the Commander of the Defence Forces, neither did the Law on State Defence adopted in 1992. This law named the State Defence Council as the head of the state defence system, and the Minister of Defence was to lead the defence forces, which were subordinated to him. The Commander of the Defence Forces was still excluded from the chain of command at the strategic level.
The role and responsibility of the Commander of the Defence Forces were stipulated – albeit very poorly - in the 1993 Law on Defence Forces. Here, the Commander of the Defence Forces was named the Chief of the Defence Force units, soldiers, military officials and employees. He/she was eligible to request information on matters of national defence from all state and local government authorities, institutions, organisations and businesses. The Commander was subordinated to the head of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia and the Minister of Defence.
It was not until 1993 that training at the level of the Defence Staff (led by the President, Guntis Ulmanis) took place. The aim was to develop principles, structures and functions for the management of the unified armed forces. The main lessons learned at this important and decisive event were that: the leadership of the defence forces and chain of command should not much differ between peace-time and war; during peace-time, all the military units and para-military forces should in principle be subordinated to the Defence Staff or the Ministry of Defence; and the Defence Staff should be subordinated to the Ministry of Defence.
This seemingly ‘innocent’ staff level training exercise was the first and most profound input to the establishment of democratic control of the armed forces in Latvia. The issues of subordination and the legal status of the armed forces were resolved from the very beginning and the various ‘independent’ parts of the NAF were put into one structure under one leadership, so that they could apply one strategy and doctrine. The NAF were thus established at the end of 1994 under the unified Commander of the NAF, Juris Dalbiņš. The Zemessardze was led by its Commander, Juris Eihmanis. Although in practice the Zemessardze continued to function as a separate entity for a while, its arbitrary activities decreased.
The rights and obligations of the Commander of the NAF between 1994 and 1999 (when the Law on National Armed Forces entered into force) were formulated in rather general terms: the Commander was to lead the armed forces and develop operational plans. With this tasking Commander was saved from being dragged in into politics. The main role of the Minister of Defence in this period was to provide logistic support to the NAF. Since the establishment of the post of Commander of the National Armed Forces, there has been a ceaseless debate about the extent to which the Commander is the state’s senior military adviser, and the extent to which he or she is the main administrator of the armed forces.
The National Security Council - a Dubious Player
In the early 1990s, decisions on defence and security matters were taken by the State Defence Council. The task of the Council was to lead the state defence system, and to guarantee state security and the protection of the society. It consisted of the head of the Supreme Council (chairman), the head of the Council of Ministers, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of the Interior, the Commander of the Defence Forces, the head of the Security Service and the Chief of Staff of the Zemessardze. The Council met twice a month and also convened on an extraordinary basis, for example, on the occasion of a demonstration of pensioners throwing empty pots and pans in protest against poverty and the collapse of the pension system in 1993.
In 1993, Latvia appointed its first President after re-independence, Guntis Ulmanis. He was a politician who represented the Latvian Farmer`s Union and became President on 8 July 1993, serving for two terms until 8 July 1999. The National Security Council (NSC) was established as an advisory body in December 1993 and, as a successor to the State Defence Council, took on many of the tasks of its predecessor. However, it turned out to be a rather dubious player in security and defence matters.
The initial idea was for the NSC to be led by the Prime Minister. However, due to the busy daily agenda and heavy work load of this office, it was decided to place it under the President instead. This could be seen as a natural continuation of history, as the State Defence Council was chaired by the head of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia – a position equivalent to that of the President. It was also decided that only the highest political officials would be permanent members of this Council, namely, the chairperson of the Saeima, the chairpersons of the Defence and Internal and Security Commissions of the Saeima, the Prime Minister, and the Ministers of Defence, the Interior and Foreign Affairs. The Attorney General would also have the right to participate in meetings.
The Commander of the National Armed Forces was not included, leading to the inevitable result that without senior military advice, the aim and tasks of the NSC could not be fully and credibly achieved. On the other hand, the Commander of the National Armed Forces was ‘saved’ from political games and turf wars.
Dividing and Sharing Powers and Responsibilities
The first law to stipulate the responsibilities and roles of the strategic chain of command of the NAF, the Saeima, the NSC and the Government was the 1994 Law on State Security Services. According to this law, the Saeima puts forward the priorities for the state security services, develops legislation, assigns budgetary means and controls expenditure, in this way exercising democratic control of the security services. The Government reviews risks to national security, determines and implements methods and means for their prevention and establishes the state security infrastructure. The National Security Council (NSC) has the power to assess the levels of state security and protection of society, and internal and external risks to the state and society. It determines the means and methods to prevent and eliminate potential risks; defines the priorities and tasks of the state security services; controls the work of the state security services; reviews and agrees the size, structure, monthly pay, job descriptions and necessary budgetary resources of the state security services; conducts hearings on the work of the state security services and reviews their audit; and reviews issues related to the reform of the security services.
The law also grants the NSC, as the advisory board under the leadership of the President, exceptional powers consisting of legislative and executive powers, and specifies that its decisions are of a permissive nature. As its origins could be found in the State Defence Council, which was a Government body, the NSC also frequently took on the responsibilities of the Government. Although the Law on Defence Forces no longer applied, the NSC continued to use the powers it allowed to the greatest extent, sometimes even going beyond its mandate.
In 1995, the NSC approved the National Security Concept, which determines the strategic principles for national security, and the priorities and measures for the prevention of danger to the state. Even two years later, the NSC still had the power and responsibility to draft and agree the National Security Concept, and to develop and review the National Security Plan and coordinate its implementation. However, the NSC did not care to do so and as a result, the National Security Concept was no more than a reference document to be waved in front of foreign officials visiting Latvia. The document lacked ownership, follow-up and control over its implementation. The National Security Plan which should follow the Concept, for example, was drafted for the first time only in 2002.
When the Constitutional Protection Bureau (since 2003, the National Security Authority) was established in 1995, it was subordinated to the NSC and its head became one of the NSC’s nine members. The NSC thus grew in power and became the decisive political body in state defence and security matters.
The culmination of this abuse of power and lack of parliamentary control came in October 1997, when Russia submitted an official proposal to Latvia to guarantee Latvia`s security (a proposal that was kept within a small circle and is still not widely known about). The NSC reviewed Russia’s proposal without raising this vital national security issue in the Saeima. The Saeima’s National Security Commission was outraged and raised the issue of the elimination of the NSC. This incident, which arose because national security issues were being considered pro forma, rather than according to their substance, had led to a constitutional crisis. Something had to be done.
Framing the Concept of Democratic Control
It was acknowledged, with the blessing of President Ulmanis, that a more careful stipulation of responsibilities and a review of the tasks of the strategic chain of command in national security and the defence sector were needed. Work thus began on drafting the Law on National Security. The aims were to streamline the chain of command, clearly specify subordination, clearly divide responsibilities and avoid duplication, and remove inter-institutional establishments such as the NSC. There was even a suggestion to revert to the original idea of having the NSC under the Prime Minister’s leadership, partly because it was in any case already exercising executive powers.
The main achievement at this stage was to agree that the purpose of the Law was to determine the national security system and its tasks, the competence of the officials or institutions responsible for the system and the principles and procedures for co-ordinating, implementing and controlling their activities. Taking the previous hierarchical practice into consideration, the Law was to strengthen the Saeima`s say over national security and defence policy formulation, preserve the power of the President as Commander-in-Chief as stipulated by the Constitution, and give the Government full responsibility over executive power without any mediators such as the NSC.
The work on framing the concept of democratic control of the armed forces was continued under the able guidance of Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga who was elected Latvia’s new President on 8 July 1999. She was a professor and was extremely experienced in international politics. During her two presidential terms (until 2007) she was very active in international relations, promoting and leading Latvia’s bid for membership of the EU and NATO. She was independent of any political party and was known for actively exercising the powers granted to her by the Constitution.
The Basis for Democratic Control
The Law on National Security, finally adopted in 2000 under the able guidance of the Minister of Defence, Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, made major progress in defining the roles and interrelations within the chain of command at the strategic level. It foresaw a stronger engagement of the Saeima in defence matters whereby the Saeima: was responsible for adopting the National Security Concept and State Defence Concept; had parliamentary oversight over the armed forces and state security services; determined the basic structure and size of the NAF, and the principles for staffing of their personnel; determined the principles for staffing of the personnel of the state security services; accepted and supervised the budgetary resources granted for national security needs; decided on the employment of units of the NAF outside state territory in accordance with procedures determined by law; appointed to and released from office officials of the defence and state security institutions; decided upon the declaration and commencement of war; and assessed the justification for a declaration of a state of emergency, exceptional state or mobilisation. The Law also stipulates the rights and obligations of the National Security Commission of the Saeima. Through these measures it profoundly reinforced the role of the legislature within the security and defence sector.
The Law names the President as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President: appoints the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces in war-time, leads the NSC; recommends the Commander of the National Armed Forces to the Saeima for approval, and proposes the declaration and commencement of war for decision in the Saeima. Because the President and NSC were thought to be lacking military expertise and advice, the Military Council was established in 2001. The Law on National Security specifies that the Military Council would be led by the President and would advise the President on defence and military issues, and on NAF development and operational plans. This was the first time that a link and working relations between the President and the Commander of the National Armed Forces was legally established.
The Law also stipulated that the Prime Minister would lead the prevention and suppression of any endangerment to the State; report to the Saeima on national security; co-ordinate the activities of ministers in the area of national security; and ensure that concepts and plans for national security, state defence and national economic mobilisation would be developed and implemented. The Minister of Defence is, by law, a civilian and exercises civil control over the NAF. He or she is politically responsible to the Parliament and subordinated to the Prime Minister, while the Ministry of Defence is responsible for developing and implementing defence policy. The practice of Government reporting to the Saeima on state defence policy and the development of the NAF was also introduced in 2000. The defence ‘White Book’ is published on the basis of these reports.
In order to strengthen the link between the executive and the legislature, the position of Parliamentary Secretary was introduced in the Ministry of Defence. This is a political position, approved by the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the Minister of Defence. The responsibilities of the Parliamentary Secretary are to represent the Minister’s political opinions at the Saeima and other institutions when authorised, to introduce laws drafted by the Ministry of Defence at the Saeima, and to advocate these at the Saeima and its commissions. In this way, the Saeima’s competence in defence issues was increased.
Discrepancies in the Law
The new Law on National Security was not fully compatible with the Constitution. There were at least two aspects that deserved more careful attention. First, the Government was given full responsibility for overcoming dangers to the state. This might be seen as unconstitutional vis-à-vis the power of the President. Second, the Law introduced a serious problem of democratic control of the armed forces. For the first time, the functions and rights of the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces, who would be appointed by the President and lead the military defence in time of war, were defined by law. The Supreme Commander was authorised in war-time to unilaterally decide on limitations to fundamental civil rights by granting him or her the right to issue orders that restricted the rights and freedoms of individuals. Obviously, the Law was not developed out of blue. This particular regulation might have been inspired by the 1932 Law on Supreme Command of Armed Forces, or by paragraph 116 of the Constitution, which permits some restrictions to human rights and freedoms. It is well known and generally accepted that during war and in order to preserve state order, or in cases when state order is threatened, fundamental civil rights may be regulated (inter alia restricted) by international regulations. However, although there is a basis for restrictions of human rights and freedoms, unilaterally issued military orders as prescribed by the Law on National Security would not be acceptable.
Another smaller discrepancy was the inappropriate authority given to the Supreme Commander to mobilise the nation’s economic reserves. Although these crucial issues were pointed out not only by the domestic but also by international advisers, both above mentioned regulations have not been amended and remain in the Law.
Another aspect of note is that the Law on National Security disregarded the role and responsibilities of the Commander of the National Armed Forces, who is not even mentioned; once again, this position was not considered to be one of the bodies in the chain of command at the strategic level. The role and responsibilities of the Commander of the National Armed Forces were specified, however, in the 1999 Law on National Armed Forces, under the section describing the command system of the NAF.
According to this law, the Commander of the National Armed Forces exercises direct management of the NAF and is subordinated to the Minister of Defence. He or she is the most senior military official in the state and the highest military adviser to the Minister of Defence. The Law also states that a principle of undivided authority is observed in the NAF. The Commander of the National Armed Forces: is responsible for the preparedness of the NAF, mobilisation and combat readiness; plans and controls the implementation of the tasks given by the Law and is responsible for the development of the armed forces following the guidelines derived from defence policy and concepts.
Democratic control of the armed forces was to be exercised by the Minister of Defence, the State Audit Office, the Government, the President and the Saeima. The Commander of the National Armed Forces was thus clearly separated from any political decision making body and from the strategic level of the chain of command, although direct subordination to the President was still there – through the Constitution and in practice through the Military Council established under the President in 2002. It seemed at this point that the legal system of democratic control of the armed forces was in place, although it might need some adjustment over time as it was tested in practice. The reality, however, turned out to be somewhat different.
Turmoil over Roles and Responsibilities
During the process of preparing for NATO membership, many aspects of defence came under the magnifying glass. The Membership Action Plan and Partnership Goals allowed subjects of concern to be raised to the highest level and discussed. It was a time when defence issues were debated and developed intensively. After the tragic events of 11 September 2001 in the United States of America, the focus of these discussions immediately turned to the chain of command and the management of the various legal states of endangerment (state of war, state of exception and emergency situations) in Latvia. Everything was tested on paper and by using charts. By looking at the various responsibilities and playing out different situations, officials attempted to answer questions such as what was the decision making mechanism during crisis situations in Latvia. How could ‘crises’ be legally defined when the law referred only to endangerment regimes – states of exception and times of war? How would transition from state of exception to state of war be achieved? Who was eligible to end these legal regimes?
Prime Minister Andris Bērziņš established a working group under the leadership of the Crisis Control Centre (CCC) to make an inventory of the decision making mechanisms and chains of command during crises. The CCC, a newly established body subordinated to the Prime Minister, was responsible for ensuring early warning of potential crisis situations and developing proposals for the state’s crisis management system.
Who is the Supreme Commander of the NAF in war-time?
One of the focal questions around which all other issues were examined was the identity of the Supreme Commander during war-time. The Constitution stated that the Supreme Commander would be appointed by the President. But in order to be able to work on state defence and operational plans, the identity of the Supreme Commander needed to be known in advance.
It was concluded that the normative acts prescribed a rather complicated decision making mechanism in war-time, when it should in fact become simpler. During war-time, a number of decision making bodies are assigned responsibilities and tasks – the President, the Saeima, the Prime Minister, the Government, the Commander of the National Armed Forces, and the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces. However, the relationship between the President and the NAF was not formulated and the subordination of the Commander of the National Armed Forces to the President was still unclear. In addition, there is no place in the normative acts that states that the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces should be a military person. Nor is it specified whether he or she should be proposed by the Minister of Defence, by the Saeima, by the Government or chosen unilaterally by the President. If the latter happens, then what would be the relationship and subordination of the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces to the Prime Minister and the Commander of the National Armed Forces? And how could state defence and security plans be made, and the highest commander exercised and prepared if he or she is unknown?
The CCC developed three alternatives, namely, the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces is either Commander of the National Armed Forces, the Prime Minister, or is not appointed at all. All three alternatives were carefully worked through and assessed by, inter alia, the Supreme Court, the Chancery of the President and foreign advisers. Proposals for amending the normative acts were submitted to the Prime Minister, the President and the Saeima.
As the national defence effort was not conceived as being limited to the military sphere, all resources would need to be used in the defence of the state. As a result of the analysis of the CCC’s working group, it was decided that the most favourable alternative would be to amend the Law on National Security to state that the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces in war-time would be the Prime Minister, as he or she has actual political executive and coordinating power in the state, and is responsible for the state’s conduct of measures to prevent and suppress endangerments to the State. It was clear that under no circumstances should the nomination of the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces be allowed to be improvised in the middle of a crisis or a war. The proposal was not perceived as putting limitations on the Constitutional power of the President. The right of the President to choose the Supreme Commander in the time of war would rather be expressed in a specified and concrete manner. It would increase democratic control of the armed forces, would be in accordance with western democratic standards and would solve the problems of mobilising economic reserves during war-time and restricting human rights and freedoms. The Commander would also lead and be responsible for the military operations of the NAF in time of war.
It was also concluded that Latvia was authorised to restrict human rights and freedoms in the case of a state of exception or war. Paragraph 116 of the Constitution determines in which cases human rights and freedoms can be restricted. Although it does not say who has authority to do so it should, in accordance with the State order of Latvia, be the Parliament. However, the legislation anticipates that the Government will have the right to restrict human rights and freedoms in accordance with the Constitution (which refers only to the state of exception and war).
What Power Does the National Security Council Have?
In this ‘inventory’ process, many state institutions used the opportunity to propose amendments to the normative acts in order to clarify, strengthen and even broaden the scope of their responsibilities and powers. One of these institutions was the Chancery of the President regarding the issue of the NSC. After taking into consideration the suggestions from the Chancery of the President, the CCC working group proposed to amend the Constitution by adding a section on the NSC, as this body already represented the highest officials of the state and all state constitutional powers.
At that time, the NSC still lacked the power to take binding decisions and was able only to issue recommendations. The role of the NSC during a state of war or state of exception was also unclear. The suggestion was to include in the Constitution a regulation stating that the NSC is a collegiate body consisting of the highest state officials and institutions that implements common national security policy. In addition, the Constitution should state that the President leads this body. With these proposed changes, the NSC would become a body able to issue binding orders in times of state endangerment. It would also propose the President as a candidate for the Supreme Commander appointed in war-time. The NSC would thus become instrumental for the presidency in ensuring its rights and would significantly increase its power. What in the beginning had seemed an innocent inventory process turned out to be a dangerous exercise with everybody competing to increase their powers, disregarding the lessons of 1997 when the interpretation and abuse of powers had resulted in constitutional crisis.
After the 2002 elections, Einars Repše (New Era Party) became Prime Minister. His Government became known for its determined fight against corruption and tax evasion. The process of amending the normative acts that had been initiated before his election ended with no significant result. Obviously, the Government was not ready to undertake additional powers and responsibilities and the President wished to preserve the right to choose a Supreme Commander in war-time. The main driving force of the development of the crisis management system - the CCC - was dissolved.
With the adoption of the Law on National Security and the Law on National Armed Forces, and despite the turmoil surrounding the various institutions’ roles and responsibilities, democratic control of the armed forces had developed significantly by 2002, and remained an integral part of Latvia`s security policy and national defence system. Although the process of implementing the concept of democratic control would have to be an on-going effort, it was no longer a cause for major concern. By 2002 the concept was in place and seemed to be working well.
Another Constitutional Crisis or a Test of Democratic Control?
Another test of democratic control of the armed forces was the dispute between President Vīķe-Freiberga, the Government under Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis, and the Saeima, which took place in 2006 and early 2007. The dispute concerned the Government’s use of its Constitutional powers during the recess of the Saeima to adopt as a matter of urgency amendments to the law concerning the subordination of the security services. One of the security services in question was subordinated to the Minister of Defence; another was the National Security Authority. The amendments would increase the power of the Prime Minister and decrease the power of the President and the Saeima in matters of national security, and the number of people permitted independent access to the operational information, including counterintelligence, of the security services would increase.
The proposal was not acceptable to the President or the opposition. Foreign experts and NATO also expressed their dissatisfaction and, despite numerous attempts to persuade the Government to withdraw, the Prime Minister refused to do so. The President accused the Government of bowing to the interests of oligarchs, who wished to influence investigations against them. Kalvītis responded that his Government could not be influenced by oligarchs and delivered his historical phrase: “I as a head of the Government am a guarantee of stability in the country.” The President used her Constitutional powers to disapprove of the Law and called for a referendum on this issue. Before the process of holding a referendum was concluded, and after serious pressure on the Saeima from the President and NATO, the Saeima decided to renew the original wording of the laws.
After this dispute, the norm that allowed the Government to proclaim laws during the recess of the Saeima was eliminated from the Constitution and the Government lost the legislative power it had seriously abused. This case was a test of the system of democratic control and further proof that there is a thin line to walk between using and abusing the powers embedded in the Constitution. As one of the security services in question was a part of the defence system, this case also placed democratic control of the armed forces at stake.
The Constitution of Lithuania
After long discussions on the role and power of the President and the Seimas (the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania) the Constitution of Lithuania was adopted by a referendum on 25 October 1992. Unlike the other two Baltic states, Lithuania is a parliamentary republic with some semi-presidential features, and both the President and Government are active in the daily administration of the state.
The Constitution identifies the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He or she is the primary deciding body in the case of an armed attack that endangers the sovereignty of the state or its territorial integrity, while the Seimas has a right to approve or overrule the President’s decisions. The President appoints the Commander of the Armed Forces, with the appointment approved by the Seimas, and confers the highest military ranks.
The Seimas imposes martial law, announces mobilisation or demobilisation, and adopts decisions to use the armed forces when necessary for state security and defence. In the event of armed attack the President is eligible to take the decisions on these matters after submitting them for approval to the Seimas. In matters concerning a state of emergency, the Seimas is the primary decision making body. However, if the Seimas is unable to react, the President will declare a state of emergency to be approved or overruled by the Seimas.
The Government, the Minister of National Defence, and the Commander of the Armed Forces are responsible to the Seimas for the administration and command of the armed forces. The Minister of National Defence is a civilian.
Strengthening the Role of the President
In 2011, a group of members of the Seimas instigated an investigation concerning whether certain paragraphs of the 2002 Law on International Operations, Exercises and Other Events of Military Co-operation were in conflict with the Constitution. The Constitutional Court ruled that the Seimas may adopt a decision on the use of the armed forces only upon a proposal from the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In addition, the Court ruled that the Seimas cannot overrule (but can only endorse) a decision of the President which has been adopted in pursuance of a collective defence (i.e. NATO) treaty. Notably, the same principle would also apply to a declaration of martial law, state of emergency or mobilisation.
Attempt to Broaden the Competence of the State Defence Council
The Constitution prescribes the composition of the State Defence Council, the main body that considers and coordinates issues of state defence. Its members are the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Seimas, the Minister of National Defence, and the Commander of the Armed Forces. As Lithuania’s conception of security had become more comprehensive there was an attempt in 2005 to transform the State Defence Council into a national security council with broader competence and composition. It would be composed of politicians, with the Commander of the Armed Forces acting only as a military adviser. The Constitutional amendments were prepared, but have never been officially registered, or introduced in the Seimas.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Law on the Basics of National Security was adopted in 1996 and describes in detail the provisions for the defence of Lithuania. Further provisions are set out in the 1998 Law on the Organisation of the National Defence System and Military Service. These are very comprehensive in the sense that they stipulate the roles and responsibilities of the strategic chain of command and describe the main principles to be followed in ensuring national security.
According to these laws, the Seimas determines the organisation, development, armament needs and assignations of the armed forces, and carries out parliamentary scrutiny of the armed forces and other institutions of national security. The National Security Strategy is developed by the Government and approved by the State Defence Council. The State Defence Council considers the implementation of the strategy and submits recommendations for its amendment if necessary.
The division between supreme and executive command in the sphere of national security is also clear. The leading institutions are the President and the Government. Executive national security power lies with the State Defence Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defence and other institutions subordinated to it, the armed forces, the Ministry of Interior, the State Security Department (the intelligence and counterintelligence agency), the Special Investigation Service (the anti-corruption agency) and other ministries in accordance with their competences.
The Law on the Basics of National Security also states that the President decides upon the deployment of the armed forces in peace-time, and over the participation of elements of the Lithuanian military forces in collective defence and other international military operations. These decisions are submitted for the approval of the Seimas. Civilian command of defence activities is exercised by the President and the Minister of National Defence, and the Commander of the Armed Forces is subordinated to the Minister of National Defence. However, in the case of aggression against the state, commanders of units of the armed forces may issue orders to defend its freedom, independence and territorial integrity in accordance with previously prepared plans without waiting for a political decision.
The Government administers the affairs of the country, protects the inviolability of the territory of Lithuania and guarantees state security and public order. It coordinates the implementation of measures to strengthen national security and the work of the ministries in this area. The Government is responsible for strategic planning for national security, and for crisis management.
The Minister of National Defence leads the entire system of national defence. He or she is responsible for the implementation of defence policy and the development of the system of national defence. The Minister submits proposals for candidates for the Commander of the Armed Forces to the President. The Commander of the Armed Forces is the highest military official and represents the Lithuanian Army on military issues. In peace-time, he or she is directly subordinated to the Minister of National Defence and is responsible for implementing defence policy. Upon a declaration of martial law, the Commander of the Armed Forces is, by decree of the President, appointed the Commander of all the armed forces of the State, and subordinate to the civilian command for defence actions.
The strategic and operational levels are clearly defined in Lithuania. At the strategic level, the President of the Republic, the State Defence Council, the Minister of National Defence, and the Commander of the Armed Forces take strategic decisions on the military protection of the state, armed defence, and military operations, and assign tasks to the armed forces to carry out defence or other military operations. At the operational level, the Chief of the Joint Headquarters plans and commands military operations.
Although the competences and responsibilities are clearly defined, there have been numerous occasions where inconsistencies have become apparent.
Inconsistencies in the Competences of the Military Command
The basic principles for organising, managing and controlling the national defence system were established with the adoption of the Law on the Organisation of the National Defence System and Military Service in 1998. In 1999, the position of Field Forces Commander/Land Forces Commander was created to provide operational command within the Land Forces and to ensure the possibility to generate joint military capabilities with other services of the armed forces. He or she was to be appointed by the President and would also be the Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces and the Land Forces Commander. The Field Forces Commander would also provide command and control over Lithuanian military units in international operations.
However, the law stipulates that during war-time the Chief of the Operational Headquarters, who during peace-time is the administrator of this headquarters, would become the Commander of all operational units. The Chief of the Operational Headquarters would then command all units assigned to him. Since the Land Forces Commander does not plan combat operations at the operational level, it follows that he would be relegated to the tactical level (in practice, brigade level) or any other role assigned by the Chief of the Operational Headquarters. The Commander of the Armed Forces, with his staff and secretariat, would provide the link and coordination with the Government and NATO, and resources to the Operational Commander. Later, in 2008, the Joint Headquarters was established, and the institution of the Field Forces Commander was abolished.
From time to time, discussions over command and control issues between the Commander of the Armed Forces, Commander of the Land Forces/Field Force Commander and, later, the Chief of the Joint Headquarters have become aggravated. The relationship between the Minister of National Defence and the Commander of the Armed Forces has also been tense at some points. During such periods, the Minister could conduct daily business with the Commander of the Land Forces, thus bypassing the Commander of the Armed Forces. Later, the Chief of the newly established Joint Headquarters could bypass his direct superior, the Commander of the Armed Forces, and turn directly to the Minister of National Defence or even the President. For example, disputes variously occurred between Linas Linkevičius, as Minister of National Defence (1993-1996 and 2000-2004), Jonas Kronkaitis as Deputy Minister (1997-1999) and Commander of the Armed Forces (1999-2004), and Valdas Tutkus as Land Forces Commander (1994-1996) and Deputy Commander/Field Forces Commander of the Armed Forces (1996-1999) and then Commander of the Armed Forces (2004-2009). The major fear driving these disputes was that of being cut out of the loop of decision making and the determination of roles and responsibilities. For example, the Chief of the Joint Headquarters heads the planning process within the armed forces. It is obvious that he or she would not wish to be perceived as a mere ‘master of ceremonies’ and would thus try to remain involved in strategic planning matters. However, the Commander of the Land Forces (previously also the Field Forces Commander responsible for operational issues) and the Commander of the Armed Forces also insisted on a say over the force generation and operational planning processes.
Another inconsistency concerning the Chief of Defence Staff was the main tool for the Commander of the Armed Forces to exercise his authority over the armed forces and fulfil his functions. In 2009, the operational planning functions of the Defence Staff were transferred to the Joint Headquarters, while strategic planning was fully integrated into the departments of the Ministry of National Defence led by the Director-General for Capabilities and Armaments, leaving the Commander of the Armed Forces outside. The Commander of the Armed Forces thus has to rely upon his staff through the Director-general for Capabilities and Armaments to support his duties at the strategic level. He or she is responsible for advising the Minister on strategic planning, force structure, the allocation of defence resources and efficient expenditure. The Director-General for Capabilities and Armaments is the link between the Minister and the Commander of the Armed Forces in building the force necessary for the defence of the country. By being subordinated to the Minister of National Defence and accountable to the Commander of the Armed Forces, the Director-General for Capabilities and Armaments thus serves two masters.
Conclusions. Supreme Command: a Comparison of the Three Baltic States
The common features and shared phases of development in the establishment of democratic control of the armed forces in all three Baltic states offer insights into the building of relationships in the defence sector at the strategic level over the last 20 years. In the early 1990s, historical memories of the overly militarised Soviet defence sector played a crucial role in the development of civil-military relations. The three ministries of defence were established to be entirely civilian, thus their competence in military issues was minimal. Civil servants were young and enthusiastic, but they were inexperienced. They learned by doing. The defence staffs, which consisted only of military personnel, including in administrative positions, were perceived as adversaries with a different mentality. In areas such as military planning, conflict between the military and civilian sides was often inevitable.
By the mid-1990s, most of the former Soviet officers had been dismissed from the defence staffs in Estonia and Latvia and to a lesser extent in Lithuania. Only a few were allowed to stay and continue to serve as military experts in the ministries of defence. As a result of these dismissals, the highest decision making level in the armed forces was in most cases filled by the officers who came from civilian backgrounds and had not served at all levels in the military.
These developments meant that enthusiastic, but young and inexperienced civil servants and ‘self-defence-focused’ military officers with fragmented military backgrounds were the ones developing and drafting the responsibilities of the institutions in the chain of command. This was obviously done with no clear vision and the result was often amenable to conflicting interpretations. This process was thus very much dependent upon personalities and often became politicised. It was often the case that ministers acted as the commanders of the armed forces, putting their noses into operational issues and thus violating the principles of the chain of command, and/or politicised the military by selecting officers for promotion and education based on their political leanings or their supposed institutional independence.
By the end of the 1990s, when the Baltic armed forces started to participate in international operations, the ministries of defence transformed into ‘logistic and support’ agencies and the military began to slowly take over strategy and policy development. At this time, the chiefs of defence could exercise their power and often engaged in political games.
Since regaining their independence in 1991, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had developed close relations with NATO. Initially this was within the framework of the North-Atlantic Co-operation Council and, from 1997, within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In mid-1990s the Baltic states joined the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, which proved to be an effective tool in enhancing co-operation between NATO and its partners for cooperation. In 1995, the three states joined the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP). Participation in the PARP and striving to fulfil Partnership Goals was an important factor in the build-up of the armed forces of the three countries. From 1999, through the Membership Action Plan and the preparation for membership of NATO, the Baltic states began to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the concepts of civil-military cooperation, civil control over the military and democratic control of the armed forces. The implementation of these concepts was included in NATO`s assessment visits and reports: this external factor probably had the greatest impact in shaping the legal regulations for democratic control of the armed forces.
Government commissions dealing with integration into NATO were established in all three states and chaired by the prime ministers. Between 2001 and 2004, these institutions led the preparatory process at the highest political level and co-ordinated the efforts of the various governmental institutions. In most cases the NATO accession process was a positive driving force for the development of democratic command and control over the armed forces. It sped up amendments to legislation, ensured that duplication in the structures of armed forces was avoided, and stressed the need to pursue a single chain of command.
Another essential similarity in the Baltic states is the lack of public discussion of defence issues. Since the Baltic states achieved their goal of becoming full-fledged NATO members, public interest in the defence sector has diminished considerably. In particular, there is little public discussion during the budgeting process or on defence expenditure, which is a crucial civil control instrument.
Estonia’s Constitution, in particular Chapter X, was drafted with a traditional understanding of war and warfighting. Although all essential aspects of democratic control of the armed forces can be found in the Constitution, the unstipulated relationships and discrepancies within it have been differently interpreted and used to appropriate power. Turf wars and political games meant that a direct link, or subordinate relationship between the President and the Commander of the Defence Forces was created at some point putting, endangering the concept of democratic control of the armed forces.
As Latvia’s Constitution dates from 1922, it is no surprise that many of its provisions are cast in the international security and defence context and the traditional thinking of that time: for example, the appointment of a Supreme Commander in war-time or the strictly stipulated legal states of endangerment to the state. In addition, according to the Constitution, the Government plays a minimal role in defence matters and, remarkably, the Commander of the Armed Forces is not even mentioned.
The Constitution of Lithuania is a contemporary document, drafted in the early 1990s and adopted by referendum. It prescribes a semi-presidential parliamentary republic, where the power of the President is generally accepted. It also establishes the Commander of the Armed Forces as a strong institution: he or she is approved by the Seimas and is a member of the State Defence Council, thus participating in strategic discussions on national security (not just military security), defence issues and domestic and foreign policy.
The President of Estonia is the supreme commander of national defence. In case of aggression against the state, the President declares a state of war and mobilisation, without waiting for a resolution to be adopted by the Riigikogu. Until 2011 the President also appointed and recalled the highest appointments of the defence forces (the Chief of the General Staff, chiefs of the services and Commander of the Kaitseliit) following proposals by the Government and the Commander of the Defence Forces, and promoted officers (again following proposals by the Commander of the Defence Forces); however, this responsibility now lies at a lower strategic level.
According to their constitutions, in times of war the Presidents of Estonia and Latvia appoint a Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces (in Estonia) and a Supreme Commander (in Latvia). In the case of Latvia it is unclear who this key person at this most critical time would be and his or her role and responsibility is poorly stipulated. In Lithuania, the Constitution does not prescribe the appointment of a (possibly) new person during war-time; it is clearly stated that the Commander of the Armed Forces will remain in command. In both Latvia and Estonia, however, the Presidents bear no political responsibility: their decisions are co-signed by the respective minister.
The Lithuanian strategic level of command involves the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Minister of National Defence, the State Defence Council, and the Commander of the Armed Forces. The Chief of Joint Headquarters sits at the operational level, although there had been some attempts to elevate this position to the strategic level. The President and the Minister of National Defence constitute the National Command Authority. They exercise control over the armed forces through a single chain of command, which runs from the President via the Minister of National Defence to the Commander of the Armed Forces.
The Estonian Riigikogu, Latvian Saeima and Lithuanian Seimas all determine the defence budget, establish the legal basis for national defence, approve policy guidelines and priorities, and agree appointments at the highest level of military leadership. Until 2011, the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces was appointed and recalled by the Riigikogu, acting upon a proposal from the President, but following amendments to the Constitution, this is now the responsibility of the Government. Acting on proposals made by the respective president, the Riigikogu, the Saeima, and the Seimas also declare states of war, and issue mobilisation and demobilisation orders.
The Saeima and the Riigikogu determine the availability of the defence forces for fulfilling international obligations. Until recently this was also the case in Lithuania, but in 2011 it was decided that the armed forces could only be used upon a proposal from the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In addition, the Seimas cannot overrule (but can only endorse) a decision of the President which has been made in pursuance of a collective defence (NATO) treaty. Thus the role of the Seimas has been considerably weakened at the expense of the President. The Riigikogu is also perceived to be weak in defence matters because the defence committee is not prestigious and its members are mostly inexperienced in military and security matters. Many Riigikogu members have a legal background and focus on legislative work without involving themselves deeply in discussions on defence matters. This is probably a side effect of a generally agreed defence policy line since the country became a member of NATO in 2004. The Latvian Saeima, however, has a stronger role in defence and security matters. Its commissions include retired military officers, former civil servants and professionals. The Parliamentary Secretary acts as the ‘long arm’ of the Saeima in the ministry, both facilitating the link and ensuring defence competence in the Saeima.
The National/State Defence Council
In all three states, the National/State Defence Council advises the president on defence and security matters and coordinates state defence issues at the strategic level. In Lithuania, the State Defence Council consists of the President, the Prime Minister, the speaker of the Seimas, the Minister of National Defence, and the Commander of the Armed Forces. In 2005, there was an (unsuccessful) attempt to transform the State Defence Council into a National Security Council with broader competence and composition. It would be then composed of politicians with the Commander of the Armed Forces acting only as a military adviser.
In Estonia, the State Defence Council consists of the President, the Prime Minister, the speaker of Riigikogu, the chairpersons of the Riigikogu commissions for state defence and foreign affairs, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Finance, the Interior, and Justice, and the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces. In Latvia, the Commander of the National Armed Forces is not a member of the Council, and is thus not part of the advisory body on defence and security matters. The National Security Council consists of the Chairperson of the Saeima, the Chairperson of the National Security Commission of the Saeima, the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Defence, the Interior, and Foreign Affairs. The President of Latvia also has a right to establish the Military Advisory Body.
In all three states, the Councils are led by the presidents, although, in Latvia it was initially considered to be under the Prime Minister. Latvia has seen several instances in which the National Security Council sought to increase its power.
The governments implement national defence policy and co-ordinate the ministries, agencies and municipalities with responsibilities in the defence and security area. They also initiate work on legislation related to national defence, approve the organisation and decide on organisational and structural changes within the armed forces, manage the acquisition and storage of the required mobilisation reserves, and prepare any international agreements necessary for national defence.
In Estonia, until 2011, the Government, advised by the Commander of the Defence Forces, presented proposals on the appointment of the highest command appointments of the defence forces to the President. The 2011 amendments to the Constitution of Estonia delegated these powers to the Government. It might be argued that the Commander of the Defence Forces and the President were thus weakened, but this change brought Estonia more closely into line with the concept of democratic control of the armed forces.
In the early 1990s, the Baltic governments lacked ambition in security and defence issues. However, accession to the EU and NATO, prevailing ideas about the comprehensive security approach and defence’s interaction with economic, communication, and transportation issues, have made the governments more willing to take more responsibilities, and to attend more closely to the security and defence sectors.
The Minister / Ministry of Defence
The three ministries are responsible for the formulation of defence policy and the co-ordination of its implementation. Decisions on state defence are made at the level of the minister, by the government or by the respective parliament. When a policy has been approved, the minister issues political guidelines to the defence forces, including priorities and an estimate of resources. The ministries of defence draft certain policy, conceptual and planning documents, and prepare legislation and the defence budget. The ministers account for national defence issues to the respective parliament, prime minister and government. They also exercise control over the implementation of defence policy, manage financial resources and are responsible for the development of the national defence system and it readiness for the defence of the State.
All three Baltic states have experienced occasional, but influential disagreements between the minister and the commander of the armed/defence forces, concerning competences, distributions of power, structure, subordination and finances. The personalities of the individuals involved and political party adherence do seem to matter in these instances.
The Commander of the Armed / Defence Forces
The commanders of the armed/defence forces are responsible for force planning, budgeting and management. They are accountable on defence forces issues to their parliament, government and minister of defence. In all three states, defence planning and resource management are a shared responsibility between the minister of defence and the commander of the armed/defence forces.
Disagreements at this level are common for several reasons. First, the Commanders in all three states have had to be on constant alert and even, on occasion, to fight in order to remain at the strategic level and be part of strategic decision making on security and defence issues. In Estonia at one point, the Commander insisted that he was one of the constitutional powers alongside the legislative, executive and judicial powers. In both Estonia and Lithuania, Commanders have made use of their links to the President when it suited them to do so. The Commander of the National Armed Force in Latvia, however, is not a subject of the Constitution and tends to have been kept out of political games and power plays. The reason might stem from the decentralised armed forces of the early 1990s when some units were under only weak control. In correcting this problem, the most prominent issue in Latvia was to determine the role of the Commander vis-à-vis the Minister and the Chief of Staff and to find the right balance between the roles of administrator and military adviser.
Second, the highest level of military command can easily become politicised and drawn into turf wars where democratic control of the armed forces is at stake. This was the case in Latvia in the early 1990s, when the Zemessardze was not under control; in Estonia in the mid-2000s, when relations between the President, the Minister of Defence and the Commander of the Defence Forces were politicised; and in Lithuania during the same time period, when decisions on the structure of the armed forces were being made.
Third, an external factor was that advisers from NATO, who guided the three states through the accession process, sought the best formula to resolve a wide range of issues, such as democratic control of the armed forces, defence structures, and even where the security services should be located. The advice could, however, differ from adviser to adviser and even from visit to visit. Different formulae were, in many cases, behind the disagreements between the Commander and the Minister.
The Main Factors Influencing the Development of Democratic control of the Armed Forces
The Baltic states offer interesting case studies of the development and establishment of democratic control of the armed forces. The major factors that have influenced the development of democratic control during last 20 years have been both external and internal. The external factors included: first and foremost, the accession process to NATO and the associated consultations with the advisory teams which regularly screened the chains of command, force structures, defence expenditures, and security and legal issues of the three states; and second, the tragic events of 11 September, 2001 in the United States of America, and the cyber-attack in Estonia in 2007 that initiated inventories of roles and responsibilities of the chain of command.
This chapter, however, has focused mainly on the internal factors. In Estonia, it took almost 20 years to achieve something that, looking from a distance, seemed to have been achieved a long time ago. Key historical points for Estonia, which highlighted the lack of democratic control of the armed forces included the tragic events in Kurkse Strait in 1997, where 14 soldiers lost their lives, and the armed robbery followed by a shooting by a military commanding officer in 1999. These events put the issue of roles and responsibilities, in particular those of the President and the Chief of Defence, under the magnifying glass. Despite this however, all attempts during the last 10 years to stipulate roles and responsibilities so as to achieve a well-functioning chain of command were without far-reaching success. It became clear that without amendments to the Constitution the issue of the status of the Commander of the Defence Forces would not be solved. The 2011 Constitutional amendments thus marked a significant achievement in the history of the establishment of democratic control of the armed forces, and may be considered to have finally brought to an end the political games and turf wars surrounding the issue of the strategic chain of command. The status of both the armed forces and the Commander of the Defence Forces was defined by removing certain provisions concerning the Commander of the Defence Forces from the Constitution. The Government’s role in the defence and security area was also increased significantly by assigning it the right to appoint the Commander of the Defence Forces, a responsibility that had earlier rested with the President and the Riigikogu. In Estonia, it was mainly the Ministers of Defence (and later also the President) who insisted on the clarification of the role and status of the Commander of the Defence Forces.
For Latvia, the early 1990s were decisive and laid the ground for the future evolution of the command and control system. The historical turning points were the first defence staff level training, which aimed to develop the management principles, structure and functions for a unified armed force. It was thus a crucial starting point for the development of the structure of the armed forces. Another key point was the strengthening of control over the Zemessardze and the development of unified command over the NAF in 1994, with a clear status for the Commander of the National Armed Forces. In Latvia, like Estonia, it was the Presidents and the Ministers of Defence who strove to develop democratic control of the armed forces.
Lithuania could be perceived as an example to follow, but it too has faced some stumbling blocks on its way, namely, the roles and responsibilities of the commanding officers in the armed forces. While the roles and responsibilities of the highest level of the chain of command have always been clear, Lithuania has experienced inconsistencies in its commanding military level.
Some factors have, however, been common to all three states, albeit not to the same extent. First, all three states have witnessed political games and turf wars. This is especially true of Estonia, where the President, the Commander of the Defence Forces and the Minister of Defence had longstanding disagreements on their rights and areas of responsibilities, in some cases even resulting in litigation. There were also deep rooted disagreements on whether the Commander of the Defence Forces was himself a constitutional body, alongside the legislative, executive and judicial powers referenced in the Constitution. Estonia’s experience in this regard has been that the justice of the legal system eventually took precedence over the turf wars and political games.
Second, the three states have also witnessed struggles for power and for the subordination of the security agencies and services. This has been notable in Latvia, where the National Security Council sought to acquire power in the mid-1990s by taking on government functions. This process culminated in October 1997, when Russia submitted an official proposal to Latvia to guarantee Latvia’s security, a vital national security issue which the NSC reviewed without raising it in the Saeima. Another important test of democratic control was the subordination and control of the security services where the Government abused its powers to proclaim laws.
Third, it has been clear in all three states that personalities matter, in particular those of the presidents, ministers and commanders. Once again, Estonia is the most obvious example of how the power of personality can lead to constitutional court cases, amendments to legislation, and interference in military and political matters. In Latvia, by contrast, the twists and turns around the Commander were avoided by leaving this position out of the political turmoil, strengthening control over the voluntary force, and putting the armed forces under unified leadership in the early 1990s.
In conclusion, the development of democratic control of the armed forces in the three Baltic states has followed an evolutionary path in the last twenty years, but there have been occasional revolutionary events. The answer to the question of the factors that have influenced the development of democratic control of the armed forces in the Baltic states is still somewhat incomplete. This chapter has covered many of the (mostly internal aspects), but others have not been explicitly touched upon. Let this serve as an inspiration for further work.
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 I am grateful to the following for their guidance and advice: Lauri Almann, Colonel (ret.) Juris Arness, Brigadier General Andis Dilāns, Tomas Jermalavičius, Major General (ret.) Jonas Kronkaitis, Major General (ret.) Vello Loemaa, Colonel (ret.) Guntis Porietis, Henrik Praks, Colonel (ret.) Lars Ramström, Dr.Hain Rebas, Edgars Rinkēvičs, Dr. Vaidotas Urbelis, and Dr. Dainius Žalimas.
 In Estonian, “Eestile on kombeks üks president korraga.” Estonian President Lennart Meri, in 1993, when democratic control was at its very beginnings in Estonia, and when the President was ready to fight for his rights and devote his energy to turning a newly independent Estonia into a democratic and just republic. There is even a song composed with this sentence as a refrain. Toomas Sildam. “Ta ei jätnud kahtlust: Eestile on kombeks üks president korraga” (He left no doubt: we have a habit in Estonia to have one president at a time) Postimees, 15 March, 2006.
 In Latvian, “Man aiz muguras ir 17 tūkstoši bruņotu vīru, un man grūti prognozēt viņu reakciju, ja es nekļūšu vismaz par iekšlietu ministru.” Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, Chief of Staff of the Zemessardze (Latvia’s voluntary reserve) to a meeting of the Latvian Parliament in 1993.
 Attributed to Alar Laneman, then Chief of General Staff who, while disappointed that he was not selected as Commander of the Defence Forces in 2006, expressed his acceptance of the new chain of command in Estonia. United States State Department (US Embassy Tallinn), Estonia: Lanneots (sic) Appointed as New ChoD, Cable 06TALLINN1091, 11 December 2006.
 In Latvian, “Es kā valdības vadītājs esmu garants stabilitātei valstī”. Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis, interviewed on Latvian National Television on 11 March 2007.
 Merle Maigre, “Civil-Military Relations in Estonia,” Diplomaatia 39 (2006).
 Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (1992), paragraph 65(7) and paragraph 128.
 Ibid., paragraph 65(14 ), 65(15) and paragraph 129.
 Ibid., paragraph 74.
 Ibid., paragraph 72(16) and paragraph 127.
 Ibid., paragraph 72(17).
 Ibid., paragraph 72(18) and paragraph 128.
 Ibid., paragraph 72(11) and paragraph 127.
 Ibid., paragraph 72(14).
 Ibid., paragraph 72(15)
 Ibid., paragraph 87(8).
 Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Democratic Control of Armed Forces, DCAF Backgrounder (Geneva: DCAF, 2008), 3.
 Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), Rahuaja riigikaitse seadus (Peace-Time National Defence Act) (1995), paragraphs 6(1) and 6(2).
 Ibid., paragraphs 8(1) and 8(5).
 Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), Sõjaaja riigikaitse seadus (War-Time National Defence Act) (1995), paragraph 12.
 Ibid., paragraph 14(9)-14(21).
 Supreme Court of Estonia, Constitutional Judgment III-4/A/1/93, 22 June 1993. The Court dismissed the President’s petition.
 Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (1992), paragraph 109.
 Supreme Court of Estonia, Constitutional Judgment III-4/A-4/94, 13 June 1994.
 Supreme Court of Estonia, Constitutional Judgment III-4/A/3/94, 18 February 1994.
 Supreme Court of Estonia, Constitutional Judgment III-4/A-11/94, 21 December 1994.
 Ibid., 6.
 See, for example: Eesti Vabariigi põhiseaduse ekspertiisikomisjoni (Estonian Constitution Expert Commission), Lõpparuanne (Final Report) (Tallinn: Ministry of Justice, 1998) (analyses the constitutional institutions and their competences and identifies legal gaps, inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the Constitution); Office of the President of the Republic (Estonia), “Interview of the President of the Republic to Eesti Päevaleht July 7, 2000,” in Speeches of the President of the Republic, 1992-2001 (Lennart Meri on the dismissal of Johannes Kert); Presidency of Estonia, “President of the Republic at the Session of the Riigikogu 15 May 2007” (Toomas Hendrik Ilves’ explanatory statement on the amendments to the Constitution).
 Joan Lofgren, “Estonia. Back to Europe,” in The Challenge of Integration. East West Institute Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union 1997 (Armonk NY: M E Sharpe, 1998), 142.
 Mel Huang, “Estonia`s Year in Defence: 2000,” in Baltic Security in 2000, ed. Graeme P. Herd and Mel Huang (Camberley: Conflict Studies Research Centre, 2001), 35.
 Mel Huang, “Estonia`s Military Musical Chairs Continue,” Central Europe Review 2, no.29 (4 September 2000).
 Riigikogu, VIII Riigikogu Stenogramm, Erakorraline Istungjärk, Esmaspäev, 28. august 2000, kell 12:00 (Verbatim record of the VIII Riigikogu extraordinary session, Monday, 28 August 2000, 1200).
 Huang, “Estonia`s Military Musical Chairs Continue”.
 Urmas Roosimägi for 6 months, Märt Tiru also for 6 months, and Aarne Ermus.
 Mel Huang, “The Ups and Downs of Musical Chairs,” Central Europe Review 2, no.27 (10 July 2000).
 US State Department (US Embassy Tallinn), Estonia: Lanneots (sic) Appointed as New ChoD.
 Presidency of Estonia, “Arnold Rüütel.”
 Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), Peace-Time National Defence Act (2002).
 Ibid., paragraphs 3(2) and 3(3).
 Ibid., paragraph 5.
 Ibid., paragraph 4(2).
 Ibid., paragraph 14(3).
 Ibid., paragraph 9.
 Mel Huang, Estonia`s Year in Defence: 2000, 36.
 US State Department, Estonia: Lanneots (sic) Appointed as New ChoD.
 John Leyden, “Cyberwarriors on the Eastern Front: In the line of fire packet floods,” The Register, 25 April 2011.
 Wyatt Kash, “Lessons from the cyberattacks on Estonia. Interview with Lauri Almann, Estonia's permanent undersecretary of Defence,” Government Computer News, 13 June 2008.
 Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), Defence Forces Organisation Act (2008), paragraph 23(1).
 Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), Peace-Time National Defence Act (2002), paragraph 14(4).
 Kristopher Rikken, “Head of Government Proposed as Supreme Commander,” ERR News, 3 November 2011.
 Ministry of Defence (Estonia), National Defence Strategy (Tallinn: Ministry of Defence, 2010), 25.
 Ajalooline tseremoonia Kaitseväes (Historic Ceremony in the Defence Forces), video (Tallinn: Estonian Defence Forces, 2011) and Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces, Kaitseväe juhtimise üleandmine 05.12.2011 (Handover of Command of the Defence Forces 05.12.2011).
 Constitution of the Republic of Latvia (1922), paragraph 42
 Ibid., paragraphs 43 and 44.
 Ibid., paragraph 53.
 Ibid., paragraph 62.
 Saeima (Latvian Parliament), Likums par Bruņoto spēku virsvadību (Law on Supreme Command of Armed Forces) (1932), section 3.
 Ibid., sections 4 and 5.
 Saeima (Latvian Parliament), Likums par Valsts aizsardzību (Law on State Defence) (1940), paragraph 54
 Ibid., paragraph 55
 Chairman of the Supreme Council to 6 July 1993. This office was renamed Head of State on 15 September 1992, and later Acting President.
 Saeima (Latvian Parliament), Likums par Valsts aizsardzību (Law on State Defence) (1992), paragraph 17. The law has not been in force since 13 December 1994.
 Prior to 1994, Latvia`s armed forces were known as the ‘Defence Forces’. On November 24 1994, the Zemessardze and Defence Forces were united under the name the ‘National Armed Forces of the Republic of Latvia’.
 Saeima, Law on State Defence (1992), paragraph 23 (1).
 Saeima (Latvian Parliament), Likums par Aizsardzības spēkiem (Law on Defence Forces) (1993), paragraph 13. The law has not been in force since 1 January 2002.
 Ministry of Defence (Latvia), “Latvijas armija no 1991.gada līdz mūsdienām” (The Latvian Army from 1991 until today).
 Saeima, Law on State Defence (1992), paragraph 17.
 L Lapsa and S. Metuzāls, “Demokrātijas paātrinātais kurss: pareizie un nepareizie piketi un mītiņi” (Accelerated course of democracy: the right and wrong pickets and rallies), Pietiek, 25 March 2011.
 Today, the chairperson of the National Security Commission of the Saeima and the chairpersons of the Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Commissions of the Saeima.
 Saeima (Latvian Parliament), Valsts drošības iestāžu likums (Law on State Security Services) (1994), paragraphs 7-9.
Nacionālās drošības koncepcija (National Security Concept (Latvia)), 1995.
 Saeima (Latvian Parliament), Nacionālās drošības likums (Law on National Security) (2000), section 6.
 Ibid., paragraph 7.
 Ibid., section 8.
 Ibid., section 9.
 Ibid., section 11.
 Ibid., section 12(3).
 United Nations General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), article 29 and United Nations General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), article 4.
 Saeima, Law on National Security (2000), sections 12(2) and 12(3).
 Saeima (Latvian Parliament), Nacionālo bruņoto spēku likums (Law on National Armed Forces) (1999), sections 13 and 14.
 Ibid., section 19.
 Saeima, Law on National Security (2000), section 9(1).
 Saeima (Latvian Parliament), Likums par izņēmuma stāvokli (Law on State of Exception) (1992), Chapter III, paragraph 13.
 Constitution of Latvia, paragraph 81. The Government had exercised its power under paragraph 81 of the Constitution before: in 1997 it proclaimed 12 laws during the recess of the Saeima.
 Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (1992), paragraph 140.
 Ibid., paragraph 142.
 Ibid., paragraph 84(14) and 84(15).
 Ibid., paragraphs 67(20) and 142.
 Ibid., paragraph 144.
 Ibid., paragraph 140.
 Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament), Republic of Lithuania Law on the Amendment of the Law on International Operations, Military Exercises and Other Military Co-operation Events (2002), Article 5 (paragraphs 1-4), Article 6 (paragraphs 2-4), Article 10 (paragraphs 1-3) wording of 2005, Article 14 (paragraphs 2,3,5) wording of 2002.
 Constitutional Court (Lithuania), ruling, 15 March 2011.
 Constitution of Lithuania, paragraph 140.
 Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament), Law on the Basics of National Security (1996), appendix, chapter 8.
 Ibid., paragraph 3(2).
 Ibid., appendix, chapter 12.
 Ibid., appendix, chapter 13.
 Ibid., appendix, chapter 8.
 Ibid., appendix, chapter 7, Section II.
 Constitution of Lithuania, paragraph 94(1).
 Seimas, Law on the Basics of National Security, appendix, chapter 14.
 Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament), Law on the Organisation of the National Defence System and Military Service (1998), paragraph 10(2.14).
 Seimas, Law on the Basics of National Security, appendix, chapter 18.
 Seimas, Law on the Organisation of the National Defence System, paragraph 13 (9).
 Ibid., paragraphs 14 (2) and 14(3).
 Ibid., paragraph 14(8) – 14(13).
 Ibid., paragraph 14 (3) and 14(8).
 Ibid, paragraph 14.
 Ibid., paragraph 9(7).