Two Latvian soldiers will participate in the EU Training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali). After six months they will be replaced by other Latvian militaries.
The mission in Mali will be historic for Latvia for several reasons, said Defense Minister Artis Pabriks, who on April 8 attended the ceremony for two Latvian soldiers departing for Mali.
"First of all, this is a training mission led by the EU, not NATO, and it will be a new challenge for our troops. So far we have had little experience with African countries but Africa is the continent where tension might increase also in future therefore we have to contribute to improving the situation,” Pabriks said.
He called on the Latvian soldiers departing for Mali to return home with new knowledge to be shared with others.
Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Raimonds Graube also said that participating in a training mission in Africa for the first time was a professional challenge to Latvian soldiers and also a chance for them to obtain valuable experience.
By tradition, the departing soldiers were handed the Latvian national flag and a loaf of brown bread.
French Ambassador to Latvia Stephane Visconti during a meeting with Defense Minister Artis Pabriks on April 8 voiced appreciation and thanked Latvia for sending two officers to Mali for participation in the EU military training mission.
The French ambassador said that although Mali might seem a faraway country to people in Latvia, in the modern world, issues arising near the European Union's boarded can soon start affecting member states of the bloc. "It is essential to tackle them at the very beginning, therefore I highly appreciate Latvia's involvement in this training mission," Visconti said.
The Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on March 7 approved decree “On participation of Latvian National armed forces soldiers in European Union military mission to help training of Mali Armed forces.”
EUTM Mali will provide advice and military training to the Malian Armed Forces, covering matters such as command and control, logistics and human resources as well as international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and human rights. This will increase military capabilities of Mali army and give them the opportunity to regain the territorial integrity of the state under the command of civil institutions.
Half of 500 soldiers in the mission will train Mali army, the rest will be responsible for the security and administration, as well as medical support.
The headquarters is set in Bamako, but the training will take place in Kulikoro where will serve Latvian soldiers. They will communicate with Mali Armed forces and civilians, which represent several different nationalities, in French.