On March 3, LATO launched a discussion series „Talks on Security and Foreign Policy”, whose aim is to to establish a tradition of having informal open debates on foreign and security policy issues; to facilitate a dialogue between policy makers and wider society; to provide a platform for exchange of ideas and opinions on actual foreign policy issues; and contribute to the creation of Latvia’s expert community.
The first guest was the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Mr. Jānis Sārts. In his speech he covered such issues as the influence of financial crisis on Latvia’s and Europe’s security, influence of Europe on the international arena, U.S. role in Europe’s security etc.
Participants of the discussion were very active in advancing a dialogue with Mr. Sārts, expressing their interest in such topics as the reform of the National Armed Forces of Latvia, Latvia’s participation in the international missions, involvement of Zemessardze (Civil Guard) in ensuring security of Latvia, Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and NATO’s New Strategic Concept, readiness of Latvia’s state institutions (including the Ministry of Defence) to divert a cyber attack, the Treaty of Lisbon and changes in the defence sector, sale of French warship „Mistral” to Russia and security of the Baltic States, Latvia’s participation in the EU Battle Group, NATO’s future development, NATO-Russia dialogue after the presidential elections in Ukraine, Georgia-Russia war – return of the conventional interstate war on NATO’s agenda, Russia’s proposal on new security treaty of Europe and Latvia’s position.
In order to ensure an informal atmosphere of the discussion, it was organised according to the Chatham House rules. Around 30 people of different age group took part in the discussion – students, teachers, researchers, NGO representatives, pensioners etc.
LATO is committed to continue organisation of such kind of discussions, raising public awareness on security and foreign policy issues. The second discussion is scheduled for March 10, 2010 with Latvia’s permanent representative to NATO, Amb. Jānis Eichmanis.
For more information, please, contact LATO project manager, Ms. Irīna Ivaškina – Irina@lato.lv, (+371) 67322883