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28 Mar 2024

Latvia Celebrates 20th Anniversary of NATO Membership

Latvia Celebrates 20th Anniversary of NATO Membership
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NATO Press Release

On 27-29 March 2024, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, visited Latvia upon the invitation of the Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Leonīds Kalniņš. While in Riga, Admiral Bauer met with the President, Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, in order to discuss collective deterrence and defence and the implementation of the decisions taken at the Vilnius summit last year. Admiral Bauer also participated in public events to celebrate Latvia’s NATO 20 year-membership.


“Latvia has been a highly valued Ally since 2004 and is now leading by example with its increased spending on defence and significant support to Ukraine,” said Admiral Bauer, welcoming new capabilities of the National Armed Forces, such as air and coastal defence. “Latvia is also investing in military infrastructure for training and exercises, hosting Canada-led Allied forces and contributing to NATO’s international missions.”


In his meeting with President Edgars Rinkēvičs at Riga Castle, Admiral Bauer discussed regional defence planning and the upcoming NATO summit in Washington DC, as well as the continued support to Ukraine.  

The meetings with Minister of Defence Andris Sprūds, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Krišjānis Kariņš and Chief of Defence Leonīds Kalniņš focused on collective defence and the strengthening of Latvia’s defence posture. “NATO and national defence plans are more interconnected than ever before.  NATO is stronger and readier than it has ever been,” said Admiral Bauer. He also joined Minister Kariņš in a round-table session on defence and security with representatives of media and academia, to discuss key political and military strategic issues within NATO.


Together with Minister of Defence Andris Sprūds, Admiral Bauer opened a photo exhibition at the Freedom Monument in Riga, portraying 20 years of Latvia’s NATO membership. In his speech, Admiral Bauer praised Latvia for its courageous devotion to freedom. Admiral Bauer referred to the visit he made to Kyiv last week, where he was inspired by the courage and focus of the Ukrainians. “Despite all the destruction, despite all the suffering, Ukraine is strong. And they deserve nothing less than our strongest support. This monument here in Riga shows that no matter how high the stakes, no matter how complicated the situation, democracy will triumph over autocracy. Freedom will triumph over oppression”.

On the final day of the visit, Admiral Bauer met with the director and senior staff of the NATO StratCom Centre of Excellence in Riga and visited the LMT mobile telecommunications company, a partner of the Latvian Ministry of Defence.

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