by Mr. Maris
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.
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'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!