Saeima approves Latvian troops' participation in two missions

On Thursday the Saeima adopted a decision on the participation of Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) soldiers in the European Union (EU) military operation in the Mediterranean region and the NATO mission in  Iraq, Saeima press service said September 17.

In the EU military operation in the Mediterranean region, the officer permanently seconded from the NBS served at the operational headquarters of the operation in Rome. However, in order to make efficient and extend operational opportunities for our representatives, it is necessary to start full participation in the operation. The NBS is currently scheduled to continue filling one position in the operational headquarters, as well as filling one position on the operation forces ship.

Depending on the security situation and future operational needs the Ministry of Defense may, if necessary, consider the possibility of increasing the NBS contingent in this operation.

The draft decision states that this operation is essential in the context of Latvia and the EU, not only in order to limit the flow of arms to Libya and thus reduce the instability there, but also in order to reduce illegal immigration. The mandate for the operation is currently set until 31 March 2021. Future NBS participation in the operation would be ensured in line with EU decisions regarding the mandate, tasks and duration of the mission.

The Saeima on September 17 also accepted the draft decisions prepared by the Ministry of Defense regarding the participation of 34 Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) soldiers in the NATO mission in Iraq.

Defense Minister Artis Pabriks told MEPs that the number of troops could be approximately extended to 35 people. “It doesn't mean we will send all these people at the same time. We have to have this opportunity,” the minister explained.

This will help promote cooperation between the Latvian Armed Forces and neighboring countries, and will allow additional experience in such missions, said Pabriks.

This NATO mission is a training and advice-giving mission that does not include combat tasks. The main tasks of the mission are the provision of support and advice for the efficient, sustainable, transparent and comprehensive establishment of Iraqi State Defense and Security Institutions and the civilian sector.

It contributes to Iraq's ability to fight terrorism effectively, particularly in the fight against the terrorist group Daesh, and contributes to Iraq's ability to stabilize the country as a whole, said the Defense Ministry. The total mission consists of between 550 and 600 military and civilian personnel and is headed by Canada until December of this year.

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