Saeima adopts the law on development of Selonia Training Area
On Thursday, 22 June, Saeima in the second and final reading adopted the Law on Establishing of the Selonia Military Training Area. Law sets out the legal framework for the development of new Selonia Training Area in Jēkabpils and Aizkraukle regions.
‘Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine has made Latvia prioritise in its defence policy an enhanced and continued presence of NATO allies in Latvia. By adopting the Selonia Training Area law, Saeima is sending a clear signal to our allies that Latvia will do its best as the host country to provide Latvian and allied forces new training grounds where they can continue to improve combat skills and interoperability,’ Defence Minister Ināra Mūrniece underlined.
New Training Area has become a real necessity after Alliance decided to increase NATO’s military presence in the Baltics in the summer of 2022, during the Madrid Summit, and also because Latvia’s defence policy intends to increase the defence personnel available to National Armed Forces.
Selonia Training Area has been designated as the project of national significance. It is also subject to special regulatory framework to ensure that training area can accommodate and provide training opportunities for the growing NATO force in the following years.
Law provides special framework for construction of military objects for Selonia Training Area on encumbered land. These plots will eventually be expropriated for public purposes – construction of Selonia training site. Any construction activities influencing the value or condition of property prior to complete expropriation, such as cutting of trees or specific construction works, will be conducted in a manner consistent with fair compensation principles established by the Ministry of Defence.
Saeima also made changes to the Law on Forests on Thursday, permitting to offer state-owned forest land to owners whose land is expropriated for the development of training area if they decide to agree to such option.
According to plans, training area will have minimum impact on private owners and free movement of local residents. Most of its area will cover uninhabited forests.
Military infrastructure at the Selonia Training Area will be developed in stages. It is planned that the first construction phase will cover 12 properties. According to data from the Land Register Cadastre, these 12 properties include 4 houses none of which are currently inhabited or register as the official address of a person.
New training area is expected to strengthen Latvia’s defence capabilities and promote growth in the regional economy by bringing more people into Aizkraukle and Jēkabpils regions, offering better infrastructure and creating new jobs. This is a good reason for local governments to start investing in infrastructure availability.
As reported earlier, Ministry of Defence launched Selonia Training Area development project covering 25,000 hectares in 2022. This infrastructure will allow Latvia as the host country provide all necessary support to growing allied force, which will be enhanced to a brigade level, while also meeting its NATO member state commitments. Ministry of Defence continues to invest in regional military camps, training areas and infrastructure to enhance defence potential of Latvian regions, create new jobs and growth opportunities in the regions important for national defence.
Saeima also delegated Ministry of Defence to draft regulations on the borders of Selonia Training Area and properties within those borders for the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on 11 July 2023.
Bill on Establishing of the Selonia Military Training Area will still have to be signed into law by the President of Latvia. It will come to force on the next day of its publishing in the official journal Latvijas Vēstnesis.
Head of the Media Relations Section
Military Public Affairs Department