On February 7, in Paris, France, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Latvia Raimonds Bergmanis and the Minister of Defence of France Jean-Yves Le Drian signed an intergovernmental agreement in the field of defence that stipulates the development of bilateral relations between Defence Ministries and armed forces of Latvia and France.
This agreement envisages implementation of bilateral cooperation in such fields of the defence sector as the development of security and defence concepts, strategic communication, defence and planning policy, cyber defence, and military information and communication systems and technologies related to it, military exercises, intiatives with regard to armament and military equipment, war medicine, language training and others.
“The signed agreement is a confirmation demonstrating that Latvia and France keep up with the time just as NATO did it, making serious commitments during Wales and Warsaw summits, thus proving its ability to change. Our countries acknowledge that we are able to change and there are many ways how to cooperate in the field of defence,” R. Bergmanis stated after signing the agreement, adding that Latvia is also interested in educating its officers in France. Such cooperation had been organized before the economic crisis in 2008.
The Minister of Defence of France stated that France is carrying out and will continue carrying out the deterrence policy measures taken during NATO Warsaw summit with greatest responsibility by deploying their military troops to the Baltic States: “We want to serve as an example for the collective defence, we do not want to be the country that causes threat. We stand, primarily, for peace and positive dialogue.”
The new agreement adds to the legal framework of bilateral coperation between Latvia and France in the defence sector. Up to present, the bilateral cooperation in the defence sector was regulated by the agreement between Defence Ministries of both countries, signed on May 11, 1994, in Paris.
France was one of the first countries which the Defence Ministry of Latvia started its cooperation with. The Defence Minister of France Pierre Joxe was also one of the first foreign defence ministers who visited Latvia already in January 1993.
French Air force participates in air policing operation in the air space of the Baltic States, implemented by NATO, ensuring constant presence of units on rotational basis. In 2016, France decided to join NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence. Military personnel from France also participates in military exercises in Latvia.
During his meetings with the Minister of Defence of France and representatives from the Senate, R. Bergmanis acknowledged that ties between Latvia and France are historic because French soldiers fought side by side with Latvians during the First World War and also currently Latvia stands united with France, participating in various operations and international missions: “France has always been a close ally, supporting Baltic air policing mission and participating in joint military exercises and training Latvian troops. There is great potential to strengthen the defence relations between our countries which has to be developed further.”
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