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Denmark plays a new role in Latvia

01.10.2018  15:43

Hans Brask, article in Latvijas Avize, September 28, 2018.

Many important decisions were made during the last NATO summit – one of them, which got little attention, was to make a new Danish-led and 300 man strong military headquarter in Adadzi.

The security challenges that we are faced with in Europe and in the Baltic Sea region these years call for constant assessment of how we can make best use of our military force to ensure that peace and security is maintained. One outcome of these assessments was to create a new  military headquarter in Latvia. Before going into this exciting new development, I want to draw attention to this year’s Riga Conference at the Latvian National Library on 28-29 September, in which I look forward to participate.

The conference is an excellent international forum for discussing defence and security policies among European and Transatlantic partners, and for assessing today’s international conflicts that pose a threat to our security and livelihood. Do we have the right policies in place?

The Riga Conference will be a good occasion to revisit the NATO summit that took place this summer. The media reported mostly on the sometimes heated discussions about the NATO budget. In fact, a number of very important decisions were taken both to strengthen the military cooperation, not least in the Baltic Sea Region, and to demonstrate that we stand together in close solidarity. We will not be bullied or moved.

The NATO countries, moreover, decided to strengthen our democracies’ capability to withstand external pressures and attempts to meddle in the democratic processes. This is not least important during election times. I am pleased to see that Latvia has done a lot to prepare herself for the general elections on 6 October and to avoid manipulative campaigns of external forces. I wish all Latvians a good and free election day – every democracy’s day of festivity. A high turnout would be a good 100 years anniversary gift for everyone to enjoy.

At the NATO Summit Sweden and Finland were also present during some of the important discussion, which is positive. Cooperation with our two regional non-NATO members has become much stronger in recent years. I am sure that much more can be done to ensure closer integration in the Baltic Sea Region within the military field.

As the Danish ambassador, there was one decision from the NATO Summit that I am particularly pleased about - but it did not get much attention. It is the decision to create a permanent Multinational Division Headquarter in Adazi.

Denmark, Estonia, and Latvia are taking the main responsibility for this initiative (Framework Nations) and Lithuania, Canada, and UK are joining the efforts (Participating Nations). As we speak, Multinational Division Headquarter North is in the process of being established; the Advanced Party of approximately 10 Danish soldiers have already arrived at Adazi. It is expected to be fully operational in 2019 when approximately 100 soldiers will be serving in this headquarter, during peacetime. Part of the Multinational Division Headquarter North will be placed in Karup in Denmark, thereby creating an even stronger bridge between Denmark and Latvia.

The initiative was taken by the Danish Government, and it has been positively received as an integral part of the NATO structures. I am sure that more NATO partners will join the headquarter in the coming years. The proposal was part of the Danish defence agreement reached earlier this year, which strongly emphasises supporting our Baltic allies in securing NATO’s eastern border. This is not a task for the Baltic States alone, but a joint task for the entire alliance.

The main task of the headquarter is to improve defence planning (command and control), military training, and to strengthen the militaries’ ability to work closely together (inter-operational capacity), thereby making NATO’s deterrence stronger – the message to Russia is: do not even think about it!

The headquarter is the newest chapter in a long history of friendship and cooperation between Denmark and Latvia, and between Denmark and the Baltic States in general. As soon as Latvia regained her independence, the bilateral cooperation began and many new structures were established. One of them was the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia, which will celebrate its 20 years anniversary next year. In august this year, 63 new students from 12 nations were welcomed to the school for the academic year 2018-2019. Denmark also became the coordinating nation for the multinational Baltic Battalion in 1994, established in order to contribute to international peacekeeping operations. Today, Danish and Latvian soldiers are working jointly on international mission and, for example, trying to maintain peace in parts of Iraq. The close cooperation in terms of interoperability became even stronger when the Latvian Brigade was affiliated to the Danish Division in 2013.

These are just some examples of how close and integrated our military has become over the years – our training and even military thinking has become alike, which makes it natural for Denmark to play a new role in Latvia. The embassy looks forward to welcoming the soldiers and military personnel to Latvia. We expect many high-level visitors in the months to come – celebrating Latvia’s centenary and the close ties between our two nations.

Link to the article in Latvian: