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Latvia's Annual National Program 2003
Latvia-s Annual National Program (ANP) 2003 has been designed to reflect Latvia-s readiness to undertake responsibilities of NATO Ally once invited to join the Organisation, it-s continuous preparations for NATO membership and specific plans in this respect for the year 2003.
The document has been structured in a way to reflect progress and achievements since previous program had been submitted to NATO. Also it is focusing on the fact that already now Latvia is considering co-operation models after the Prague Summit and looking for the most effective ways to contribute to the Alliance-s capabilities.
The ANP traditionally consists of six chapters: (1) political/ economic issues, (2) defence/ military issues, (3) resource issues, (4) security issues, (5) legal issues and (6) implementation of Annual National Program. Latvia-s Annual National Program 2003 is developed on the basis of experience from previous programs and taking into account NATO's Progress Reports. Allied countries have provided valuable comments during the NATO-Latvia meetings in Brussels and bilateral political-military consultations.
Latvia's Annual National Program 2002
The third session of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) with Latvia took place in NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The delegation of Latvia was led by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia Mr.Andris Berzins. Members of the delegation included the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Latvia Mr.Girts Valdis Kristovskis, Foreign and Defence Ministries- officials, Professor at the University of Latvia Ms.Inna Steinbuka and Mr.Rudolfs Kalnins, Head of the Secretariat of the Corruption and Crime Prevention Council. NATO Member States were represented at the Ambassador-s level. NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson was presiding over the meeting.
The negotiations focused on the priority issues that should be paid a particular attention to by the Government in preparations for NATO Prague Summit where the decision on further enlargement of NATO is expected. The said priorities are set by NATO Membership Action Plan elaborated by the Foreign and Defence Ministries of Latvia. The successful execution of the Plan is an essential precondition for admission of Latvia to the Alliance.
In his address the Prime Minister of Latvia Mr.Andris Berzins informed about Latvia-s accomplishments in preparation process for the membership in NATO, especially considering the development of economy, society integration and the fight against corruption. Mr. Andris Berzins pointed out that Latvia-s membership in NATO would enhance security in the Baltic region and Europe, which is also the precondition for the stable sustained development of the Latvian state. Latvia already has made a contribution to the process by participation in NATO-led peace keeping operations, development of the regional co-operation and implementation of the joint Baltic States- defence projects.
At the session, the Ambassadors positively evaluated Latvia-s progress in implementation of the MAP, and praised the stable and dynamic growth of the Latvian economy, which guarantees inter alia also the funding necessary for Latvia-s defence needs. The Ambassadors also positively noted Latvia-s accomplishments in the society integration field, yet recommending the Government of Latvia to pay serious attention to this issue hereinafter. Commenting on Latvia-s efforts in the field of fight against corruption, NATO Ambassadors approved of them and urged to continue with the commenced work. NATO Ambassadors stressed that the amendments to the electoral law would facilitate development of democracy in Latvia, as they would foster the receiving of the invitation to the Alliance.
The representatives of NATO Member States approved of Latvia-s contribution to the strengthening of the regional security and to the development of relations with Russia. NATO party joined the opinion that Latvia-s membership in NATO would facilitate bilateral relations with Russia. The participants of the session were unanimous that Latvia has to carry on with the work as seriously as before until NATO Prague Summit in November this year and following it as well.
Latvia's Annual National Program 2001
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Indulis Berzins and the Minister of Defense Girts Valdis Kristovskis participated in the first review meeting of Latvia's Membership Action Plan (MAP) 2000 in Brussels. The representatives of the NATO countries characterized Latvia's Plan as realistic, credible and financially proved, thus MAP 2000 is an important step towards NATO membership.
Latvia's readiness to contribute to the strengthening of European security (participation in KFOR and SFOR peace missions as well as enlargement of the stability zone by facilitating co-operation among neighbor countries in Baltic region) was positively valuated by Alliance. Several representatives of the Alliance countries assured that attempts by Russia to slow down process of the conclusion of the border agreement, unwillingness to activate bilateral co-operation with Latvia as well as unfounded complaints about human rights violation and non-integration of society will not affect decision concerning Latvia's invitation to join NATO.
Latvia's Annual National Program 2000
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Mr. Indulis Berzins and the Defence Minister of Latvia Mr. Girts Valdis Kristovskis participated in the first evaluation meeting of the NATO Membership Action Plan of Latvia that took place in Brussels. NATO was represented by the North Atlantic Council that consists of Ambassadors of 19 NATO member states.
The representatives of the NATO countries came to the conclusion that the Membership Action Plan of Latvia is well formed, realistic and has a good financial basis and thus can be considered to be a serious step on the way to the membership in NATO. The Ambassadors also positively evaluated Latvia's readiness to contribute to the security of Europe by this meaning first of all Latvia's participation in the international KFOR and SFOR peace keeping missions as well as the expansion of the stability zone by developing close co-operation with the neighbouring countries in the Baltic region.
During the meeting Latvia's relations with the neighbouring countries including also Russia were discussed. Members of several NATO countries noted that Russia's attempts to hinder the signing of the border agreement with Latvia, its unwillingness to make a bilateral co-operation with Latvia more active, as well as ungrounded reproaches to Latvia in the field of human rights and society integration will not influence NATO in adopting decision on Latvia's integration in the Alliance.
In his introductory speech Mr. I Berzins informed on Latvia's progress in the framework of the Membership Action Plan. He also touched upon several other important issues, pointing out that Latvia's active and determined participation in the process of NATO Membership Action Plan is directed so that Latvia would be ready to receive an invitation to join the Alliance in the next wave of enlargement the decision on which is expected to be taken in 2002. Latvia plans to ensure the necessary funding for reaching goals set in the Membership Action Plan. In 2003 the level of defence budget is planned to be 2% of gross domestic product that is average ratio of NATO member states.
Both during his presentation and answering to the questions set by Ambassadors of NATO member states Foreign minister Mr. I. Berzins reiterated the strong determination of the Latvian government to continue the process of the integration of society the positive results of which are becoming more visible. In this context the Minister mentioned the increasing number of applicants for Latvian citizenship, as well as the increase in the number of children who study in Latvian schools in the Latvian language.