Revised security laws mark a break with history

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Saeima on Thursday approved amendments to Latvia's security laws proposed by President Raimonds Vējonis - who then said the changes would ensure Latvia could never capitulate without a fight.

After Saeima backed his proposals to speed up and streamline government and military decision-making in the case of an emergency, Vējonis - who is still recuperating after heart surgery - released a statement saying:

"Today we strengthen our position in order to prevent and deal with any threat to our country's independence, constitutional order and territorial integrity."

In a highly significant move, Vējonis cited the example of his predecessor Kārlis Ulmanis who in a famous 1940 broadcast as Soviet tanks rolled into the country said: "I will stay in my place and you stay in yours."

Controversy has surrounded the comments ever since with some saying Ulmanis' capitulation may have saved many lives while others argue that the lack of resistance to invasion was a disgrace that made it easier for the Soviets to claim they were arriving at the request of locals.

But on Thursday Vējonis tackled the thorny issue head on and signaled that in future any aggressor should expect to meet far more resistance.

"I will stay in place, you stay in yours - these words spoken on the evening of 17 June 1940 will never again be possible," Vējonis promised.

The new laws give greater flexibility to local commanders to respond immediately to any evidence of military aggression on Latvian soil and allow central government to make crucial decisions even without a full cabinet quorum.

However, Vējonis said still more needed to be done to bolster Latvia's defenses and that leaders needed to learn lessons from current geopolitical challenges in order to improve their own responses.


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