Six Latvian municipalities still unclear on civil defense plans

On January 1 this year, all Latvian municipalities were required to include a section in their civil protection plan on what to do in the event of a military invasion or war. Most have already drawn up a comprehensive plan, but six have not yet done that, Latvian Radio reports May 22.

Although it was previously reported by officials that four municipalities had not yet developed an annex to the plan, the reality is that there are six municipalities for which part of the plan is under development or has not yet been approved. Why is this? And is there any reason to worry that some municipalities will not be prepared in the event of a military threat?

In the annex to the Civil Protection Plan on actions in case of military invasion or war, municipalities have to answer several questions - How to inform the population? Where to get food, drinking water, fuel or medical supplies? Where to shelter and how to evacuate? How to ensure public order in the municipality? Some of this information is restricted.

Saulkrasti is one of the municipalities that has not yet approved the military section of the annex to the Civil Protection Plan.

According to the Saulkrasti municipality council chairman Normunds Līcis, the annex was already drafted at the project level last autumn, and they then realized that it was generic and vague due to the lack of information and support from the state.

"Should every municipality really reinvent the wheel if there are people who have a specialty in this, who can draw on experience in the Ukrainian issue, and then accordingly transfer this information more precisely, more coordinated to all municipalities [...]? This, in my opinion, should be at a much higher level, and if we also look at the Cabinet of Ministers regulations, which are provided for in the special section, these 14 points, we see that most of these points are national issues, issues to be solved jointly, not local issues."

The annex will be "symbolically approved" on May 29 and will continue to be further developed, Līcis said.

Similar to Saulkrasti, the annex to the Civil Protection Plan has not been fully developed and approved by the municipalities of Cēsis, Ogre, Līvāni, Preiļi, and Valka, which promise to do so in the next few months. These municipalities also point to national shortcomings that prevent the meaningful development of the chapter, although they are reluctant to comment publicly on the reasons.

"The Civil Protection Plan is definitely an ongoing process, and probably in half a year we will say that it is an indicative document on the availability of resources," says Dagnis Straubergs (LRA), chairman of the Limbaži municipality council.

The annex was already developed last year in Limbaži municipality, and, as the chairman claims, the most difficult thing is not to create a plan, but to apply it, because at the moment it is "impossible to predict" what would happen in the event of a military invasion or war.

Every year, municipalities, including those that have not yet prepared annexes, are trained together with government bodies and the National Armed Forces, to theoretically play out a scenario of how municipalities could deliver the measures included in the Civil Protection Plan section.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, which is responsible for municipalities, points out that if the Ministry has not been approached about a specific municipality and its failure to implement an annex to the plan, it will not assess whether and why municipalities have failed to meet the deadline for the military section of the plan.

However, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defense and the government refuse to explain further the problems that municipalities see in the military section of the Civil Protection Plans and whether any support or assistance from the State is foreseen, stressing that the monitoring of the plans is the responsibility of the State Fire and Rescue Service. Perhaps this also means that it is still unclear how municipalities in the country will act in the event of a military threat or war, and whether they will be able to protect their citizens in real life, rather everyone is focused on paperwork for the time being.

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