Updated: 14-May-2002 NATO Speeches

7 Dec. 2001


by Mr. Maris Riekstins
Secretary of State of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Latvia
at the EAPC Foreign Ministers Meeting

NATO' s role in the fight against terrorism after the events of 11th September has been significant and focused. The broad scope of countries represented around the EAPC table highlighted the value of our Council. I want to use this opportunity to share with you Latvia' s perspective on three aspects linked to the fight against terrorism: Latvia's responses, NATO enlargement and improving NATO-Russian relations.

Latvia's responses

On 12th September, Latvia's position about the events of the preceding day was expressed at EAPC Ambassadorial level. It was a joint position taken together with the other nine NATO candidate countries. We aligned ourselves with the position taken by the NAC. After NATO invoked article 5 of the Washington Treaty we stated that Latvia's place is within the coalition among NATO member countries. The highest political support was given by our President at the Summit meeting of 10 Presidents with the Secretary General in Sofia a few weeks later.

But as we all know, political support needs to be bolstered by practical actions. That is why Latvia's Government speedily set up a high level Task Force led by the Prime Minister. It produced an Action Plan within a couple of weeks aimed at ensuring that Latvia's territory, banking system or any other assets can not be used by terrorists. Strengthened cooperation among security services, legislative amendments providing for better control over financial transfers and tightening of border controls are among the measures taken by Latvia.

More recently Latvia has consigned humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and indicated a readiness to double our participation in peace support operations in the Balkans to release Allied forces for other duties.

NATO Enlargement

NATO's Secretary General has clearly stated that 11th September has not invalidated, but rather enforced the rationale for the previous NATO agenda, including enlargement. Indeed, the cooperation in fighting the terrorism underlines the need for permanent allied relationship, based on common values. Enlargement will increase the number of countries tied by the solemn commitment to address any security threat together. It will increase our preparedness to respond to threats.

But I want to assure you that Latvia will no be complacent about the question of whether we will qualify for an invitation at Prague. Instead, we will continue to work right up to the line, and beyond. Performance in MAP and restructuring of our Armed Forces will remain at the top of our agenda. Our contributions to security in the Euroatlantic area will be reinforced by the ongoing success of Baltic cooperation, by participation in peace operations in the Balkans and by continuing engagement in the fight against terrorism.


A fundamental principle that we have learned over the years of our preparation for membership is that a long-term substantial intensification of relations can only be based on the shared values and shared assessment of risks to our societies. The degree of trust that can develop between the Alliance and Russia is also dependent on the common value base.

We welcome the recent change in Russia's position towards more intensive and constructive cooperation with the West in general and NATO in particular. Latvia has always supported strong and stable relations between NATO and Russia. Now there are better conditions to exploit the potential contained in the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997. It is not so much the format of councils, but the quality of contribution that matters for the relations to be successful.

When discussing the strengthened cooperation between the Alliance and Russia, one should not neglect the existing instruments for NATO's outreach. Perhaps the mechanisms of PfP can be used also in the context of strengthened NATO-Russia cooperation. This way, those Partners that do not want to join the Alliance will not be cut out of the cooperation, and the PfP programme itself will retain more relevance.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman!

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