Latvia's NATO Integration Plan 1999
NATO membership is one of the key priorities of Latvia's foreign and security policy. In order to direct and oversee the process of Latvia's preparations for membership, on 13 October 1998 the Government has established NATO Integration Council. It is headed by the Prime Minister aand includes the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence. At its inaugural meeting on 14 October 1998, the NATO Integration Council adopted the NATO Integration Plan of Latvia.
The NATO Integration Plan will serve as a basis for the work of the Integration Council. The Plan reflects the comprehensive thinking of the Government in the context of Euroatlantic integration. It is aimed at implementation of the requirements set by the Alliance in the Washington Treaty, in the "Study on NATO Enlargement", and during the Intensified Dialogue. The Integration Plan describes how these preconditions are being fulfilled and outlines the tasks ahead. The Plan contains annexes with specific tasks, timelines and necessary resources. The Plan and the annexes will be regularly reviewed and updated.
Domestic Policy and Integration into the European Union:
The Plan shows how the measures aimed at Latvia's integration into the EU develops environment conducive to the integration into NATO. Economic development, social integration, social integration, social security, justice and home affairs, strengthened borders, enhanced crisis management capacities and environmental responsibility are important both for the EU and NATO membership.
Sustainable economic growth creates the basis for necessary funding for defence. The Government is supporting policies which will yield 5-6% GDP growth per year in 1998-2003 time frame. The Memorandum of Understanding agreed by the Government In June 1998 foresees the increase of the defence budget for the year 1999 to 1 % of GDP, and sets a target of 2 % of GDP in next 5 years.
Cooperation with the Neighbouring Countries:
Strengthened cooperation among the Baltic States and Nordic countries in political, security, as well as economic fields, as described in the Plan, increases regional stability and enhances the potential for the Baltic states' integration into European and Transatlantic structures.
Latvia's consistent efforts to build good neighbourly relations with the Russian Federation and Belarus contribute to confidence building in the region and improve the security environment.
Participation in International Organisations:
The Plan explains how Latvia's drive for NATO is reinforced by active participation in international organisations including the United Nations, OSCE, WEU and Council of Europe.
Democratic Control over the Armed Forces:
The Plan outlines the mechanisms for ensuring the democratic control of the armed forces in Latvia. It lists activities aimed at ensuring transparency of the defence establishment and increased public awareness in defence matters.
Security Cooperation within the Baltic Sea Region:
Military co-operation of the Baltic States promotes intra-Baltic interoperability of armed forces, as well as interoperability with NATO. The Plan shows how Baltic Security Assistance initiative BALTSEA contributes to the development programs of the National Armed Force. A number of regional projects included in BALTSEA (Baltic battalion BALTBAT; Baltic Air Surveillance Network BALTNET; Baltic Naval Squadron BALTRON; Baltic Defence College BALTDEFCOL) over the time will become an organic part of national defence system.
Cooperation with NATO:
NATO Integration Plan foresees continuation of active involvement in the Intensified Dialogue with NATO on enlargement, as well as participation in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme. Latvia's involvement in EAPC consultations, discussions and joint decision making will focus on development and planning of PfP programme and on issues related to crisis management.
Strengthening of Military Capacity::
Latvia's preparations to become a full member of NATO are focused, in the military area, in two general directions: the development of self-defence capabilities and increasing the National Armed Forces (NAF) interoperability with NATO.
In order to increase effectiveness of the NAF command and control system, it was decided to base it on the NATO standards. The Plan foresees introduction of more modern command, control and communications (C3) systems that comply with NATO standards. Latvian Professional Battalion (LATBAT) will be fully compatible with NATO. A new training concept for military education based on the experience of NATO countries has been developed. Further development of Adazi training facility near Riga will provide for training of personnel, as well as increased interoperability. Unified military logistics system with centralized contracting/reimbursement system will improve the effective use of resources.
Interoperability with NATO:
Interoperability with NATO will be developed through the PfP program, especially the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP), as well as bilateral co-operation programs with NATO Allies.
The Plan envisages harmonization of Latvia's participation in the PARP process with its Individual PfP programme and its national defence plans. It is planned to gradually enlarge the number of Armed Forces units and resources to which PARP Interoperability Objectives are applied.
Language training along with interoperability in NATO procedures and communications will remain Latvia's priorities. Centralized database for documents related to NATO standards will help in developing interoperability.Latvia intends to continue its participation in NATO-led missions in Bosnia- Herzegovina, which since 1996 has been an important testing ground for the interoperability reached with NATO forces.