Government approves Latvian troops going to Kosovo

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The government supported the sending of Latvian soldiers to the international operation in Kosovo (KFOR), newswire LETA said August 11.

The final decision to send soldiers to Kosovo will have to be taken by the Saeima. It is planned that Latvia's participation in this operation would last until December 31, 2023.

Based on a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council in 1999, the NATO-led operation in Kosovo (KFOR) was launched in June 1999 following a long-standing inter-ethnic conflict and violence in the Balkan region.

The main tasks of the KFOR are the establishment and maintenance of a secure environment that guarantees freedom of movement throughout Kosovo for all citizens, regardless of their ethnic origin. The operation also has the task of supporting and coordinating international humanitarian aid efforts, development of Kosovo's security forces and helping the development of a peaceful, stable, democratic and ethnically varied Kosovo.

There are currently 3600 troops in KFOR, which is insufficient to perform the tasks effectively.

Although overall, the political, economic, ethnic and security situation in Kosovo has improved significantly compared to 1999, it is nevertheless characterized by fragility and risk, and is reinforced by the serious political tensions with Serbia. This makes it difficult to integrate Kosovo into the European Union (EU) and other international organisations, explained Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In order to promote the internal, external security, and integration in the EU,  Latvia's participation in KFOR would be an internationally noticeable and valuable contribution, said the Ministry of Defence (AM).

Latvia has already participated in KFOR from February 2000 to August 2009, with units and specialties of different sizes.

The number of Latvia's contingent members would not exceed 160 troops, and the main tasks would be patrolling, protecting their forces, maintaining combat capabilities, training, and rapid response tasks.

Latvia's participation in KFOR would allow National Armed Forces (NBS) to continue tactical cooperation with NATO, as well as to improve its military capabilities in different areas of operations, said AM.

The participation of the NBS in the operation is planned in accordance with the provisions of the Law, namely participation in an international peace-keeping operation aimed at restoring and maintaining peace in conflict zones where the personnel involved are not entitled to participate in combat, except where this is necessary for self-defense purposes.

NBS's participation in the operation will be ensured according to the State budget allocated to the defense sector.


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