|Latvia's Place Is Within the Coalition Among NATO Member Countries |
Latvia's Place Is Within the Coalition Among NATO Member Countries
Statement by Mr. Girts Valdis Kristovskis, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Latvia at the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Defence Ministers session. Brussels, December 19, 2001.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Dear Colleagues, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Firstly, can I thank Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld for the excellent insight into the recent campaign in Afganistan and congratulate him on the success achieved so far.
The outrageous events of the 11th of September in the United States were attacks on democracy - on all the democracies represented around this EAPC table.
The initial response by Latvia's Government was to speedily set up a High Level Task Force led by the Prime Minister. It produced an Action Plan within a couple of weeks aimed at ensuring that Latvia's territory, banking system or any other assets can not be used by terrorists.
After NATO invoked article 5 of the Washington Treaty we stated that Latvia's place is within the coalition among NATO member countries.
In addition Latvia's Government is looking favourably at a request by a member state of the Alliance regarding possible participation with them in a Peace support operation in Afganistan itself.
Latvia is mindful of the fact that Allied forces providing peace support in the Balkans may need to be moved elsewhere. For this reason, Latvia is prepared to double its modest participation in operations in the Balkans.
Amongst our main tasks in 2002, besides the preparation for the 4th MAP cycle, will be the implementation of a new Force structure. We were very grateful for the advice and assistance which resulted in the review of our Force Structure with the Allies. Within this process we will focus on the further development of our Host Nation Support (HNS) system, our mobilisation system as well as our Command, Control and Communications (C3) system. Given that the costings of the new Force Structure are resource based, it has been of particular importance that Latvia's Government raised defence spending by over 60% for next year, to reach 1.75% of GDP.
Military interoperability with the Alliance will remain our priority both before and after the Prague Summit. We attach particular importance to the connection of the Baltic Air Surveillance System, BALTNET, to the NATO system. Interoperability of Air Space is fundamental both to our own sovereignty and interoperability. We are grateful for the support being provided by the Defence Support Division on these matters.
Mr. Chairman, Colleagues!
These two crucial challenges - the fight against terrorism and our continuing integration towards the Alliance -will both have to be confronted during the coming years. Our agenda, together with Allies and Partners is clear. Latvia will continue to tackle it with determination and resolve.