Government supports return of mandatory military service in Latvia

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On Tuesday, September 6, the government supported the introduction of mandatory National Defense Service (VAD) in Latvia, LETA reported.

The government supported the introduction of VAD for men aged 18 to 27 and on a voluntary basis for women starting 2028, ensuring maximum recruitment of citizens to the national defence service.

Ministers also supported the proposed transitional period from 2023 to 2027, with the first draft in January 2023.

Conscripts will receive 300 euros per month, and at the end of their service a payment of 1100 euros. It is planned to develop four types of performance of the national defense service: service in a National Armed Forces unit, service in the National Guard, special military training for university students and state civil service.

It is planned that the Minister of Defense will submit to the Cabinet the draft regulatory enactments necessary for the introduction of the VAD by the end of September.

The draft law provides that  VAD is performed for 11 months full time in the National Armed Forces (NBS) or National Guard unit, or not less than five years in the National Guard on a part-time basis, with a minimum of 21 individual training session and a maximum of seven days of collective training each year.

Persons subject to VAD will be able to replace it with civilian service in accordance with the Law of the Civil Service, if they cannot perform active military service because their state of health does not correspond to military standards, but corresponds to the civil service of the State.

Regarding the registration and conscription of persons, the draft law provides that the responsible unit of the Defense Ministry shall have free online access to the Register of Natural Persons, the Criminal Register, the Disability Information System, the State Education Information System and the Latvian eHealth System.

The following categories of citizens will not be recruited for VAD:

  • a citizen whose state of health does not correspond to the requirements of the VAD;
  • a citizen who is still at school or vocational school;
  • a citizen who has been punished for a serious or particularly serious criminal offense regardless of whether the penalty has been removed or suspended;
  • a citizen who is a suspect or an accused person in criminal proceedings;
  • a citizen who has been convicted of a serious or particularly serious criminal offense but not punished;
  • a citizen who has been punished for a crime if the punishment has not been removed;
  • a citizen who is the sole parent of a child;
  • a citizen who has replaced VAD with state civil service;
  • a citizen who has dual citizenship and who has served in another country's military service;
  • a professional soldier who has served no less than three years;
  • graduates of the Pulkveža Oskara Kalpaka vocational school [a military academy].

Those who have a valid reason to postpone VAD by a few years may do so, but not longer than when the person reaches 26 years of age.

An employer or educational establishment must provide the person with a year's leave to serve in the VAD and must ensure that they may return on the same conditions as when they left. 

Recruits who live abroad will be obliged to return to Latvia before the age 26 to serve.

Criminal liability will apply for deliberate avoidance of military service.

Latvia did previously have mandatory military service until January 2007, when it switched to a fully professional military service backed up by a National Guard militia.

The relevant laws will still need to be approved by the Saeima.


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