On January 26 the Minister of Defence Raimonds Bergmanis and Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Raimonds Graube met with the soldiers of the Latvian contingent who are soon going to deploy to Mali and Iraq.
One soldier will participate in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali , arriving there on February 9 and serving in Netherland led headquarters in Bamako in reconnaissance unit.
Six soldiers will participate in the counter-terrorism operation in Iraq within contingent of Denmark. They will arrive in Iraq starting from February 1. The Latvian contingent will be located at one of several training centres of the Iraqi security forces, Iraqi and US Air Force Base, approximately 180 km west of Baghdad.
“Only after a while will we realize the importance of this day,” addressing soldiers and those present said the Minister of Defence, indicating that this is the first time Latvian soldiers will participate in a UN operation, although soon it will be 20 years since Latvia has been participating in international operations.
“Latvia is one of dozens of countries that have taken part in the battle against the terrorist organization Daesh but until now our support for the international coalition has not been military,” said the Minister of Defence.
“Having participated in several international operations, you are very experienced soldiers, thus there are no doubts that your duties will be performed honourably, once again demonstrating the allies your professionalism,” emphasised the Minister of Defence, handing the flag of the Republic of Latvia to the commanders of the contingents.
“Upon meeting with the Chiefs of Defence of the Denmark and the Netherlands, I received an affirmation of your professionalism, high morale and level of discipline,” said Chief of Defence. “You will return with new knowledge and experience, and those are essential to the armed forces and the safety of the society in general,” Lieutenant General Graube pointed out, handing a loaf of rye bread to both of the contingents.
UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has a central role in stabilizing the situation in this country. Together with the support for this organization the positions of the UN in Mali and the region in general are being strengthened to ensure peace, implement the process of reconciliation, protect civilians and promote human rights, as well as prevent the escalation of the crisis in neighbouring countries.
The soldiers of the international coalition forces in Iraq train the Iraqi security forces for the battle against the terrorist organization. At the moment the coalition led by USA is comprised of already more than 65 countries, including Latvia.
On January 14 the Parliament supported the participation of the Armed forces in the comprehensive stabilization operation led by the UN in Mali and the counter-terrorism operation in Iraq.
At the moment Latvia is taking part in the European Union (EU) anti-piracy operation “Atalanta”, EU Training mission in Mali, NATO training operation “Resolute Support” in Afghanistan and EUNAVFOR MED “ operation “Sophia” in the Mediterranean region .