Mandatory service plan could be extended to diaspora and all sexes

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The planned mandatory national defense service is also planned to involve Latvians living abroad and women on a mandatory instead of voluntary basis, Kaspars Galkins, spokesman of the Ministry of Defense (AM) told LETA on July 7.

Galkins said that the service offered by AM is a new social contract between the State and society, which means that every citizen must be involved in the protection of the State. This involvement is one of the most important guarantees for Latvia not to experience Russian military aggression, so the service will also apply to citizens living abroad who correspond to the age of recruitment.

"The Latvian society needs to change its thinking and accept that the service in the state army is a matter of honor and duty, as it is, for example, in Finland, not a punishment," said Galkins.

In addition, experience has shown that citizens living abroad who have joined the National Guard are returning from their country of residence to train and participate regularly.

Although currently, AM has offered the compulsory service only for men, it could be made mandatory for everyone. The proposed recruitment of men only is based on financial considerations. The Ministry stands for gender equality and if the government and the Saeima are prepared to grant additional funding, it would be possible to change this setting.

At the moment, it is also unknown what sanctions AM will encourage for deliberate avoidance of service and whether it will be an administrative or criminal responsibility.

"We are currently continuing to study Finland's experience in determining responsibility for deliberately avoiding the national defense service. However, as has already been mentioned, first of all, the Ministry of Defense calls for a principled change of attitude. The service is in the interest of every resident of Latvia,” said Galkins.

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