Last week false news about NATO soldiers in Latvia who will be authorized to move around the country with loaded weapons, thus endangering residents of Latvia, was spread in the public space.
The Ministry of Defence explains that the proposed amendments to the law “Status of the Foreign Armed Forces in the Republic of Latvia” were designed to permit the allies to provide support to Latvia as soon as possible, avoiding lengthy administrative procedures in case of threat. These amendments will only be applied to border crossing in order to ensure units’ self-defence capabilities.
It is also significant to note that NATO soldiers in Latvia do not or will not move around with loaded weapons based on their own initiative, since any unit that arrives in Latvia, comes here in response to an invitation. The Ministry of Defence and the National Armed Forces coordinate the movement of allies in Latvia with or without weapons.
The aforementioned amendments stipulate that NATO and EU Member States’ armed forces may only transport loaded combat vehicles with a permission granted by the Ministry of Defence. Moreover, movement with such weapons that pose a threat to public safety will not be permitted.
The bill stipulates that armed forces’ units of NATO and EU member countries have special rights regarding movement of combat vehicles and weapons across the inner border of the Republic of Latvia if required by operational needs. The Ministry of Defence and the National Armed forces are responsible for the observance of such special order that is to be granted to the armed forces’ units of NATO and EU member states. The bill stipulates only two cases when the permission can be granted to transport loaded combat vehicles (including aircraft) and weapons across the inner border and in the territory of Latvia – if it is stated in manuals of combat vehicles and weapons or depending on the type of threat to the state, its intensity and character. Thus, the permission will be granted only if the aforementioned conditions apply.