On Thursday, 25 February, Latvian Saeima approved amendments to the National Security Law and National Armed Forces Law proposed by President Raimonds Vejonis. Laws were amended in order to enhance the duties of state officials and institutions in the event of war.
Amendments state – if the Cabinet of Ministers is delayed in its duties during wartime, the State President’s appointed supreme commander will take on the necessary functions and lead the country’s defence. In order to secure effective cooperation between the supreme commander and the government during war, it is expected that the supreme commander or his appointed representative will be allowed to take part in government meetings as an advisor.
Amendments will establish the duty of the Defence Minister, National Armed Forces Commander and army units to respond immediately in the event of a military aggression. If that happens, every National Armed Forces unit commander will be obligated to respond to military aggression without waiting for an official order. The supreme commander of Latvia’s national armed forces has to inform the Defence Ministry of all military defence measures. In accordance with the State Defence Plan, the defence minister has to inform the president, Saeima praesidium and the prime minister to carry out state defence activities, as stated in amendments.
It is also stated in new rules – in times of war or in the event of extraordinary circumstances, a meeting of the government can be allowed to take place and decisions to be approved if as little as three members of the government and prime minister take part in the meeting.
Amendments also include a definition of war time, stating that war time is established if an external enemy carries out an attack or other actions aimed against the country’s independence, constitutional order or territorial integrity.
Chairman of Saeima’s Defence, Interior and Corruption Committee Ainars Latkovskis had previously said about amendments: «Amendments to the laws are necessary in order to provide a clear and unambiguous decision-making mechanism in situations of war and to make sure that state officials and institutions to prevent threats to state independence, constitutional order and territorial integrity more effectively. Amendments are especially important under current conditions, because the security situation in Europe has changed. The same applies to the definition of war.»
«Today we enhance our position to prevent any threats to our country’s independence constitutional order and territorial integrity,» – said President Raimonds Vejonis, expressing his gratitude for the Saeima’s decision to support his proposed amendments to laws of national security.
«I will stay where I am and so will you – the words spoken on 17 June 1940 will never be possible again,» – added Vejonis.
At the same time, the president called to continue work on future improvements of the national security system. «We have to secure the necessary state defence budget size and enhance cooperation with allies. State institutions should closely follow geopolitical challenges in order to be able to enhance the country’s reaction capabilities,» – said Vejonis.