Do Canadian troops remain in Latvia forever?

On Wednesday, 28 March, Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee supported in the second reading a legislative draft in accordance with which it is planned to ratify a memorandum of understanding between Latvia and Canada regarding expanded partnership in the field of defence and security.

This document details Latvia’s and Canada’s partnership in defence and establishes the rights and duties of Canadian troops in Latvia, as reported by Saeima press-services.

Presence of allied armed forces, including Canada, is very important for Latvia’s interests. Canada has already contributed a lot for the development of infrastructure needed for expanded presence of NATO forces as part of the multi-national battalion in the country. In spite of existing cooperation with Canada, creation of a constant base for Canadian armed forces is considered an important pre-condition to continue receiving collective defence guarantees.

Saeima notes that the presence of NATO forces in other member states is governed by NATO Status of Forces Agreement (NATO SOFA). Still, this document only provides a general definition of status for allied armed forces. More detailed conditions will be provided by the memorandum of understanding between Latvia and Canada.

This document provides Canadian forces the option to remain and freely access military infrastructure objects in Latvia, as well as perform construction there. When performing construction work, Canadian troops will have to comply with requirements and standards of the country they’re in. The memorandum also provides that all structures built by guest soldiers will belong to Latvia. They will be provided to Canadian troops for as long as necessary, as explained by Saeima’s press-service.

The memorandum also provides that Canadian military planes, land vehicles and ships will be able to remain in Latvia as long as they comply with specific regulations that govern movement within the country.

In accordance with the document, Latvia also refuses the right to perform primary criminal jurisdiction, except for special cases. This right will be available to Latvia’s Prosecutor General’s office in criminal processes launched for serious and especially serious crimes.

The memorandum also governs a number of other matters.

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