Estonia suffers from army fall-out

August 21, 1998

A CAMPAIGN by the Estonian army to recruit young men for a year's service between school and university has flopped. Nationwide, only three young men have so far volunteered.

The plan was that students who had passed their university entrance exams should spend a "gap year" in the armed forces. They would have the right to choose their unit and place of service and could apply for a training course as reserve officers. Since young male Estonians have in any case to perform military service, the lack of support seems at first surprising. The chief of the Estonian general staff attributed it to the "passivity" of young men, and their "immaturity" as citizens.

However, student activist Leif Kalev has a different explanation. The armed forces, he said, have a very limited attraction for students. With any luck, he said, conscription term may be cut from a year to six months.

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