Features of international security environment
Just as any other modern democracy, Latvia is also concerned about the challenges posed by globalization and the processes in the international security environment. Therefore, Latvia’s security policy is based on an active multilateral and bilateral cooperation and participation in the international organizations – the European Union and NATO.
Latvia - NATO
Latvia has its security policy roots in the membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The member states share common values and the awareness that security co-operation is the most effective way of promoting security in their own countries and in the Euro-Atlantic area as a whole. Jointly with other Allies, Latvia takes part in efforts to ensure strong collective defence of the Alliance and participates in NATO-led international operations.
According to the 2010 NATO Strategic Concept, the core tasks of the Alliance are:
- collective defence,
- international crisis management,
- cooperative security.
The EU Common Security and Defence Policy
The Common Security and Defence Policy – CSDP is a part of the broader EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. The role of the EU in solving global security problems has increased over the past years both in terms of quality and quantity through the use of its civilian and military capabilities in the management of conflicts and crises beyond the EU borders. A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy has to be particularly emphasized, as it sets out the core principles and ambitions for the EU’s security and defence policy. As EU member state, Latvia supports a functional CSDP and sees these European efforts as contributing to greater burden sharing in transatlantic security as well. Yet, NATO and US presence in Europe remain the key elements of the European defence.
Latvia strongly supports a close EU–NATO cooperation as our security is interlinked. Thus, EU and NATO can use their resources more efficiently and better co-ordinate the response to the common security challenges. Joint Declaration both organizations signed in 2016 was an important milestone for new quality and dynamics of the transatlantic bond. Declaration sets out seven areas of cooperation between EU and NATO: 1) countering hybrid threats; 2) operational cooperation; 3) cyber security; 4) defence capabilities; 5) defence industry and research; 6) exercises; 7) assisting partners in capacity - building. Whereas the Declaration of 2018, identifies additional EU-NATO cooperation areas as military mobility, counter-terrorism, resilience to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related risks, and promoting the women, peace and security agenda. In addition to the practical cooperation, both organisations continue strengthening the political dialogue.
Participation in International missions and operations
Latvia is an active and trustworthy ally to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU) and contributes to the guarantee of stability and security by: participation in international operations; strengthening of military and civilian crisis management capabilities; increasing defence budget; providing help to other countries, when necessary, and actively cooperating with other partners bilaterally and multilaterally.
Latvia participates in EU civilian and military operations, in NATO led military operations, in UN led peace keeping operation as well as in missions led by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation of Europe (OSCE).
Since June 2021 Latvia has participated in the NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR) with one light infantry ornament. This is our largest contribution to international missions. KFOR continues to help maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people and communities in Kosovo, according to its mandate.
In November 2020, Latvia started participating in the NATO Mission Iraq. Established in 2018, NATO's mission in Iraq is a non-combat training and advisory mission. Its main tasks are to support the effective, sustainable, transparent and comprehensive establishment of Iraq's national defense and security institutions, and civilian sector.
Latvia is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and provides continued support to the efforts of the coalition to combat international terrorism in Iraq and Syria. Since the establishment of the Coalition in 2014, Latvia has sent its military instructors to Iraq and provided financial assistance to mine-clearance activities in Syria.
Fighting international terrorism
Terrorism is a multi-faceted phenomenon and in recent decades has become one of the most serious threats to the international security, endangering the lives of innocent people and society as a whole. There are no boundaries to terrorism. The network of international terrorism has gradually become a body of decentralised, independent groups, basing its actions on radical ideologies. As a result, terrorism has become even more global and its targets even more unpredictable. Considering the constant development of the technologies and tactics used by terrorists, fighting these requires appropriate measures, and close cooperation among involved institutions, including diplomatic, interior and strategic services, security structures and financial institutions, at both national and international level. The fight against terrorism demands constant progress, and recognising this, the responsible Latvian institutions work diligently to improve the capability of the state to react to the threat of terrorism, and to improve the mechanism of mutual cooperation.
Arms control and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are integral tools in advancing Euro Atlantic and global security. An important element of the Latvian foreign and security policy is responsible action in the areas of arms control and non-proliferation. Latvia implements its arms control and non-proliferation policy by honouring its commitments as a state party or subscriber of the main agreements, regimes and initiatives in arms control and non-proliferation, as well as by developing and implementing a strict export control policy. Latvia underlines the importance of implementing a balanced approach to fostering global disarmament and honouring its commitments as NATO member state. In light of the global threat of terrorism it is especially important to prevent the proliferation of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
Export Control of Strategically Significant Goods
The uncontrolled spread of military technology, biological and chemical weapons and firearms, as well as other goods of strategic significance, may give rise to a serious threat of terrorism and military conflict. In order to prevent the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, an effective control of export, import and transit of strategically significant goods is important. The successful co-operation between EU, OSCE and UN in a regime of international export control measures is also of great importance.