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Estonia: Fall Conscription Starts

By Heiki Ahonen

Tallinn, 5 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Estonia's defense forces today started Fall conscription, calling some 1,200 young men to service.

Under Estonian law, all men aged 19 must serve one year in the service of their choice. If they refuse to bear arms for religious or other reasons, alternative service lasting nearly two years can be applied.

Conscription in Estonia is carried out three times a year, involving a total of just over 3,500 men. During this latest round, 900 conscripts will serve in the army, 150 in border guard troops, 105 in interior ministry troops and 50 in rescue services.

Estonian defense forces have long had the problem of men not wanting to serve in the armed forces. But senior Defense Ministry official Illo-Mati Pilvet today told RFE/RL that the current situation seems to be "more optimistic."