Gov. reaches compromise for security academy

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Photo: Sisekaitseakadeemia

Just as it happened in 2014, the government decided, after months of debates, not to move the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences to the border town of Narva yesterday. The town will host a training center that will be known as an academy college instead.

The compromise will see the academy retain its current study complexes in Väike-Maarja, Paikuse, and Tallinn. Renovation of the school's campus in Pirita will continue.

Narva should become the home of an academy training college and student home for 160 people in approximately two years' time. The Ida-Viru County town will be the permanent location for around 150 people: 70-80 border guard and customs cadets, 50 Police and Border Guard Board strike team members, and about 20 academy professors and other employees.

While the exact location of the new college remains open, it has been decided it will be constructed in downtown Narva. The state will no longer be looking for plots that could have accommodated the entire academy – the college will make do on around 5,000 square meters. One of the more probable locations is the property at Kerese 14, currently under University of Tartu Narva College's student home.

Minister of Internal Affairs Andres Anvelt (Social Democrat Party – SDE) told Postimees that the main argument against moving the entire academy to Narva was the state's financial position as the ministry would have been hard-pressed to find the necessary €60 million. „Another argument is that internal security education must be sustainable,“ Anvelt said, pointing to concerns for slipping quality of education.

He said that the character of Narva will benefit cadets in helping them understand their work in the future. Police officers and border guards must speak multiple languages in Estonia. „Narva is also the location of the actual border. It would be difficult to find a better place for training. It will be a solid internal security center,“ he promised.

Information available to Postimees suggests the cabinet did not put the matter to a vote but looked for a compromise instead. Those in favor of moving the academy included Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu, Minister of Enterprise and Information Technology Urve Palo (SDE), Minister of Health Care and Labor Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE), and Minister of State Administration Mihhail Korb (Center).

„It was important to keep discussing the matter until we had a position we could all get behind. This is that solution,“ Reinsalu said.

That solution was an idea put forward by a panel of experts for a college that would handle border guard training and continued education. Calculations by the finance ministry suggest the college will cost around €10 million to construct, while the interior ministry believes it will be more, and the justice ministry is convinced it will be less.

Reinsalu said he is happy with the decision. „If the sides find this proposal acceptable then I'm happy with it, because it is something. Quite something,“ the minister said.

He added that the decision serves the intended purpose as cadets will be patrolling the city's streets, working at border inspection points and customs, and participating in the work of local rescue commandos and the Viru penitentiary.

„It is a good decision that comes after a lengthy discussion that will contribute to Ida-Viru security and the presence of the Estonian state in the area. Ida-Viru County is not periphery the rest of Estonia has forgotten. Narva is an Estonian city,“ Reinsalu said. „We are making an actual contribution, and this decision shows we can make Ida-Viru stronger also in the field of internal security.“

The cabinet aims to construct the academy's Narva college by the end of 2019.