Latvia's Security Policy - Goals and Possibilities
erschienen in der Publikation "Sicherheitspolitik in der GUS und im Baltikum (1/01)" (ISBN: 3-901328-53-X) - März 2001
Autor(en):Dr. Dzintra Bungs
Almost a decade later, security - albeit in a broader sense - remains a major factor in determining Latvia’s policies and actions. After half a century of foreign rule and alien ideologies, Latvians want to do their utmost to preserve their country’s independence and safeguard its democratic institutions. They believe that the best way to accomplish this is through unambiguous affiliation with the Western democracies and their most influential and authoritative organizations: the EU and the NATO. The main reasons for wanting to belong to the EU and NATO are well known and have not changed since Latvia regained its independence; in the order of perceived importance, they are:
affirmation that they have "returned to Europe";
economic and other benefits. Security remains the paramount reason. Latvia seeks membership of the EU mainly on account of the "soft security" that the Union offers. Concomitantly, Latvia’s pursuit of NATO membership stems primarily from the Alliance’s ability to provide its members with "hard security". Latvia welcomes the plans for a European military force under the framework of the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and wants to contribute to its development. Yet Latvia remains firmly convinced that the European initiatives will neither diminish the need for NATO, nor render superfluous the participation of the United States in European security affairs. As Latvia’s Minister of Defense, Girts Kristovskis, summed up, "more Europe does not mean less America". Keeping in mind its security aspirations, Latvia intends to finish quickly the negotiations for EU membership, complete the tasks and recommendations deriving from NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) so as to qualify in the year 2002 for an invitation to start the accession process; and participate actively in the endeavors of the US-Baltic Charter, as well as other international and regional organizations and cooperative frameworks.
Before turning to Latvia’s security goals and the possibilities for attaining them, this study will take a brief look at a few key events in the early 1990s that have affected the country’s quest for security, and the development of the armed forces. A review of Latvia’s Security Concept will follow, though the Concept will serve here as a point of reference, not a measuring stick of achievements and shortcomings. In view of their relevance to security, Latvia’s relations with other countries - especially the United States of America and the Russian Federation - and international organizations - particularly the EU and NATO - will also be considered. From this discussion some prospects for the future will be delineated.