Canada's decision to bolster its military presence in Latvia is an outstanding example of unity and solidarity among NATO allies. It is an important contribution not only to the security of the Baltic States, but to the security of Europe as a whole. It sends a clear message to Russia that NATO is determined to defend every inch of its territory, Daiga Mieriņa, Speaker of the Saeima, emphasised during a meeting with Greg Fergus, Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, in Ottawa.
"We regard Canadian soldiers in Latvia as our own, and their presence builds our sense of security," Speaker Mieriņa confirmed to Speaker Fergus. The gratitude and appreciation is felt not only by the Saeima and the government but also by the people of Latvia who recognise the significance of the allied presence in deterring Russia.
Daiga Mieriņa, together with her Baltic counterparts Lauri Hussar, Speaker of the Estonian Riigikogu, and Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas, is visiting Canada to strengthen transatlantic cooperation in support of Ukraine and the broader containment of Russian aggression.
Canada leads the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia and has announced plans to scale up its presence to brigade level from the current 800 to at least 2,000 troops by the end of 2026. Meanwhile, Latvia will continue to invest in military infrastructure so that Canadian troops can fully benefit from military service and training opportunities. A strong collaboration with the Canadian Armed Forces has been established in the context of training Ukrainian soldiers in Latvia, which will be continued in the future.
Regarding the situation in Ukraine, the Speaker of the Saeima highlighted that the best way to safeguard Europe's security is to provide maximum aid and support to Ukraine right now, including military support that would hasten Russia's defeat. Today, the Ukraine-Russia frontline is Europe's line of defence, and Latvia is doing everything it can to support Ukraine in achieving victory.
"It would be a mistake to view Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a regional conflict," remarked Speaker Fergus. It is a global fight for world order in which all allies must stand up to defend democratic values and the rule of law.
The Speakers of the Baltic Parliaments also met the Canada-Nordic-Baltic Parliamentary Friendship Group at the Canadian Senate. Addressing its members, the Speaker of the Saeima stressed the importance of documenting Russia's war crimes and holding the aggressor accountable. Russia has so far evaded accountability for its actions, contributing to a sense of impunity. Speaker Mieriņa also emphasised the need to limit the circumvention of sanctions to prevent Russia from acquiring Western-made components for its military industry. The discussions also touched upon the necessity to combat disinformation spread by Russia.
The Speakers of the Baltic Parliaments will continue their North American visit by traveling to the United States capital Washington, D.C. where they will meet influential members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives from both the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Speaker Mieriņa is on an official visit to Canada and the USA from 27 January to 2 February.
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Saeima Press Service