Latvia has responded with determination to the new threats and challenges posed by international terrorism. The key aspects of Latvian policy in this area are: the provision of full political support to the international anti-terrorism coalition; the adoption of measures to prevent terrorists making use of Latvia's territory or banks; and the making of a practical contribution to international anti-terrorist operations.
Preventive measures have been taken domestically and internationally to face the threat of terrorism effectively
Immediately after the terrorist attacks on the 11th of September 2001, Latvia held consultations with the other two Baltic States and developed an outline of joint measures to be taken in order to confront international terrorism.
The Latvian government developed an Action Plan for Combating International Terrorism as a matter of urgency. The Plan was approved in mid-October 2001. Its main thrust is to deny terrorists any opportunity to make use of Latvia's territory, banking system or other assets.
A number of changes have been made to legislation and normative acts in line with the Plan: these include criminalizing support for international terrorism and giving law enforcement authorities additional powers of control over financial transactions. Cooperation among the state security services has been strengthened, and controls over exports, imports and the transit of strategically significant goods enhanced. The Ministries of Defence and the Interior have strengthened their capacity to deal with terrorist threats.
Latvia has since ratified all major international conventions on combating terrorism. Latvia actively supports the work of the UN in coordinating international anti-terrorism efforts, has associated itself with the respective declarations of the European Union and supported the resolve of NATO to assist the United States in the fight against terrorism.
The tasks and objectives specified in the Action Plan have been fully implemented this year. Currently, a variety of governmental institutions are working to further enhance the country's ability to respond to terrorism and other modern security challenges.
New anti-terrorism capacities
In response to the rising concern over the threat of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Latvia's Ministry of Defence has decided to set up an NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) Protection Unit within the National Armed Forces. This 40-person-strong formation will be NATO-interoperable and able to participate in international operations. It is planned that the NBC protection unit will be operationally ready by the end of 2004.