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Saeima’s decision to extend mission in Iraq will not be compulsory for Latvian troops

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Latvia, troops, mission, Iraq, extension, SaeimaSaeima’s mandate for the extension of Latvian military mission in Iraq is not for making it compulsory, rather to providing legal rights for troops to participate in this mission, Defence Minister Artis Pabriks explained in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Monday, 13 January.

On Tuesday, 14 January, Latvian government plans to decide on whether or not to extend the mission of Latvian troops in Iraq. Once it has been thoroughly discussed, the final decision will have to be made by the Saeima.

In his interview, Pabriks explained it is merely a coincidence that Latvia’s government and parliament have to make such a decision in a time when the situation in Iraq has escalated.

«The previous parliament-issued mandate runs out in February. This means if we do not extend the mandate, Latvian legislation will no longer allow us to participate in the international mission,»

said Pabriks, stressing that participation in international missions is, according to foreign policy and security policy standpoint, one of the objectives important to Latvia if the country wants to be active in international policy and receive support from allies.

«This means extension of the mission does not make it compulsory for us to be in Iraq […], but it does offer us the opportunity. Had we not extended this mandate, however, we would have had to leave the mission on the next day,» explained the minister.

According to him, it is also planned to increase the maximum allowed number of Latvian troops participating in the mission from ten to 30 in order to «create on opportunity to manoeuvrer a larger number of troops more freely».

«This simply makes it easier for both the armed forces and Defence Ministry to perform operative planning. This does not mean we will have 30 troops there or six or twelve – we will decide on the numbers accordingly,» said Pabriks.

He also said the situation in Iraq is such that it is unclear where the coalition forces mission is even able to continue.

As previously reported, the Saeima had previously issued a mandate to Latvian troops to perform their duties in Iraq until February 2020. To extend the mission, a decision from Latvia’s parliament is needed.

Read also: Latvian troops stationed in Iraq to be relocated to Kuwait

Last week at least two air force bases in Iraq with US troops stationed there came under fire from missiles fired by Iran, as reported by officials in these countries. It was the first act of revenge for the death of Iranian commander general Qasem Soleimani in the US organized UAV strike in Baghdad.


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