In anticipation of the U.S. led, large multinational military exercise dubbed as the Defender Europe 2020, Latvian population faces great pressure from the national authorities. The preparations made by the Ministry of Defence make Latvians nervous.
Thus, the transferring properties, needed for conducting maneuvers, to the Ministry of Defence has been actively in the process for the last several years.
In 2019, Ministry of Agriculture transferred one of its properties, Jaunlāčusils, for the development of Lāčusils regional military base. Additional land increased the area of Lāčusils military training area by 2387 hectares. Expansion of Mežaine training area near Skrunda has also been conducted in 2019.
Today the public discussion of the expansion of the military training ground near Daugavpils is in full swing. It is planned to globally expand the Mezha Matskevichi training ground from 10 to 2064 hectares (increase by 200 times!), having built a military training base on the territory. A meeting was planned for everyone to receive answers to questions regarding the consequences and prospects of the expansion of the Meža Matskevičy training ground on February 4. However, the Daugavpils’ local government canceled the planned event. Now the meeting is scheduled for the second half of March. The public comment period has been extended until February 24.
Evidently, the local authorities did not expect such a fierce protest from the residents.
Many people carry negative attitudes to the expansion of the training ground and the conducting the exercise due to the reason that such decisions will lead to: low-altitude flights of military aircraft over the city, damage to gas pipelines and water wells, supplying drinking water in Daugavpils, disruption of Daugavpils Airport development plan, negative impact on tourism development in the region, large-scale deforestation and extinction of endangered species of black-headed gull and reducing of hunting areas. The petition has been started to collect signatures and to send them to the Ministry of Defence.
These reasons are so serious that can not be ignored by the authorities. It seems as if they are not able to find arguments to defend their plans. Latvians consider the plans as violating their civil rights and as disturbance of their lives. Another question is the authorities have already taken the decision to expand military training grounds and the public discussions are only a show. Let’s see. Show must go on…