Pabriks: Every Latvian citizen should protect right to live in free country

The re-introduction of mandatory military service proposed Tuesday by the Ministry of Defense had been mulled for months and should be done to show that Latvia is 'serious about its defense', Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said on Latvian Television on July 6.

The Minister said that the service was proposed to be introduced within a transitional period of five years due to the infrastructure needed. In the first two or three years, existing infrastructure would be used for service purposes, so the planned investments “are not too large” and could amount to a couple of millions of euros, Pabriks said.

However, at the end of the transitional period for the introduction of the service, or five years later, the costs “could be very serious”, Pabriks said. After 4 or 5 years, investment in the development of the service could reach €100 to €120 million per year.

Pabriks said that Latvia could not afford to execute this idea financially if the service was extended to all young people at once, and therefore a transitional period of five years has been chosen.

“Ideally, I would like to see that, five years later, the majority of young people aged 18-27 choose one of the ways to engage in state protection. The current system has exhausted itself. We want a much higher number of Latvian citizens to learn at least the critical minimum in the next five years so that the public is safe. The previous system is not broken, we are maintaining the professional service and the National Guard,” said Pabriks.

According to Pabriks, the intention has been discussed for half a year and that every citizen should do something to live in a free and democratic state.

“We live in a free, democratic country adjacent to a neighbour that has not abandoned its imperial traditions. If we don't want our freedom to be deprived of us, every citizen has to do something to defend our rights. [..] The presence of allies is increased, and this means guarantees, but it is our job to show that we are very serious about protection, and that all those in the Kremlin dreaming of some territories and occupying neighbors stop looking at us,” said Pabriks.

Raimonds Graube, Chairman of the Board of the defense foundation “Namejs”, welcomed the idea: “I am very pleased that such a decision [on the mandatory State Protection Service] has been taken in view of what is happening in Ukraine. […] If we are preparing such a system in time, together with training in higher education, it will be a very complex and modern model for Latvia."

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