The increase in funding is essential in order to raise the readiness of state defense capabilities, fulfil collective defense obligations toward the NATO alliance, and create a base for long-term development projects in the military sector, supporting Latvia’s inclusion in European and trans-Atlantic security institutions.
Saeima Budget and Finance (Tax) Committee chair Jānis Reirs said this was another significant step toward strengthening Latvia’s national defense systems. “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and rising geopolitical tensions around the world have given clear signals of the objective need to build up Latvia’s defense powers. We can surely rely on our NATO partners, but we must ourselves take care for our own security and deliver on the promises we’ve given our allies, one of which is a national defense budget worth 2% of our GDP,” he stressed.
Reirs added that the Stratcom NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Rīga would be critical to aligning Latvia with the alliance’s overall political and military goals. “The Ukraine crisis, Russia’s soft power in Latvia and attempts to redraw Europe’s borders clearly show how great is the significance of a targeted information campaign,” he said.
The bill provides the Cabinet with powers to reallocate defense funds if necessary for carrying out specific projects. Reirs said resources diverted to state defense projects must simultaneously be ensured to be rational and effective, also taking into account the impact of returns to the national economy.
On his part Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed satisfaction with the parliament’s unanimous vote in an official ministry release.
Meanwhile Defense Minister Raimonds Vējonis told the military sector’s official news source Sargs.lv that this “demonstrates Latvia’s readiness to switch from declarations and statements to real work in order to reinforce our country’s defense in the long term and ensure its stability, prosperity and growth.”
“This is a significant achievement I and previous defense ministers have been striving for. This is an important message to our NATO allies that we take our country’s defense and commitments seriously and are ready to allocate the necessary funding for it,” he went on to say.