Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"10 Years of Poland's membership into NATO"

On April 29, 2009 an exhibition dedicated to the 10 years of Poland's membership into NATO was opened in Latvian War Museum, in Riga. It was organised by the Embassy of Republic of Poland to Latvia.

Here are some photos with info:

10 years of Poland in NATO

10 years of Poland in NATO - special edition of "Polska Zbrojna" and "The Warsaw Voice"

Monday, April 20, 2009

New pirate attack thwarted in Gulf of Aden

(CNN) – NATO forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden foiled a pirate attack on a Norwegian tanker this weekend, a NATO spokesman said.

Pirates attempted to capture the MV Front Ardennes at 6 p.m. Saturday and were apprehended seven hours later, Commander Chris Davies told CNN. A NATO-supported Canadian navy ship, the HMCS Winnipeg, was returning from escorting a World Food Program vessel in the gulf when it saw the Norwegian ship under attack, Davies said. A British Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel, the The Sunday incident is the latest in a string of hijackings off the Horn of Africa, which have received more attention since pirates attacked a U.S.-flagged cargo ship on April 8 and took its captain hostage.

On Saturday, Dutch naval forces captured seven pirates and freed 20 captive fishermen after tracking the pirates to their “mother ship” in the western Gulf of Aden. The rescue came as pirates were capturing another vessel -- a Belgian ship -- off the coast of the Seychelles islands.

On Wednesday, the French navy captured 11 suspected pirates off the coast of Kenya, the French Ministry of Defense announced. The French launched a helicopter from the frigate Nivose to head off an attack on a ship Tuesday night, then seized the suspected pirates Wednesday morning, the statement said.

On Tuesday, the Liberty Sun, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship bound for Mombasa, Kenya, was attacked by Somali pirates, according to a NATO source with direct knowledge of the matter. The pirates never made it onto the ship.

Also Tuesday, pirates in the Gulf of Aden hijacked the MV Irene EM, a 35,000-ton Greek-owned bulk carrier, according to a NATO spokesman and the European Union’s Maritime Security Center.

Later Tuesday, pirates on four skiffs seized the 5,000-ton MV Sea Horse, a Lebanese-owned and Togo-flagged vessel, Davies said. Wave Knight, was also in the area. The pirates were captured at 1 a.m. Sunday after they threw weapons, ladders and scaling equipment overboard, Davies said. Several rounds of ammunition were found on the pirates’ boat. The pirates were detained, but allowed to go free after questioning.

There is currently no formal procedure for
NATO personnel to follow once they have apprehended pirates, Davies noted. Their weapons are confiscated and they are then typically given provisions and released.

On Monday, pirates hijacked two Egyptian fishing boats carrying a total of between 18 and 24 people, the Egyptian Information Ministry told CNN.

The hijacking of the U.S.-flagged ship, the Maersk Alabama, began when pirates attacked the vessel about 350 miles off Somalia’s coast on April 8. The crew quickly regained control of the ship, but the captain, Richard Phillips, was taken hostage and held for five days in a covered lifeboat. On April 12, U.S. Navy snipers killed three pirates holding Phillips. A fourth pirate was taken into custody. Pirates in Somalia said later that Tuesday’s attack on the Liberty Sun was a response to the killing of Phillips’ captors.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BALTDEFCOL 10th Anniversary

Kristīne Atmante, BALTDEFCOL instructor from 2003 to 2007.
Photo by Normunds Mežiņš, BALTDEFCOL archive.

Ten years ago when the Baltic States were not part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Union a decision was made to establish the Baltic Defense College (BALTDEFCOL). In the first years BALTDEFCOL trained officers to plan and execute military operations in accordance with the principles of total defense. Now, for approximately seven years, the college trains the principles of planning NATO operations and uses scenarios consistent with NATO missions and operations, for example, they have put together a training block on combat tactics of irregular forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The first Senior Staff Course had only 32 students from eight countries, but in 2008, 64 students from 19 countries graduated from the Joint Staff Course. At the beginning the college had only one course; now it organizes four different courses for military personnel and civilians, as well as high-level conferences and seminars. In ten years the number of graduates, military personnel and civilians, has reached 628.

BALTDEFCOL establishment and development

Although in the late nineties the Baltic States had their own military academies, a decision was made to form a joint defense college for these three countries. The idea of forming the college belonged primarily to Brigadier General Michael Clemmesen, Denmark’s military attaché in the Baltic States. He believed that the best investment in developing Baltic defense capabilities was developing personnel and training the Baltic officers in accordance with western standards and military leadership principles. Baltic States had the goal of joining NATO, but it was clear that they lacked knowledge and expertise to train NATO procedures and there were very few officers with operational experience. Michael Clemmesen actively lobbied this idea in the Baltic States and received support from Sweden to create the college. Sweden also assumed political leadership of the project. In recognition for Sweden’s support, the largest auditorium of the BALTDEFCOL is named after Björn von Sydow, Sweden’s Minister of Defense. (...)

The full article read in a military journal "Tevijas Sargs"

NATO Information campaign starts in Vidzeme

Baltinava secondary school, April 14, 2009

As it was reported, on March 30, 2009 Latvian Transatlantic organisation (LATO) in cooperation with NATO, the Ministry of Defence of Latvia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia launched a broad NATO information campaign in the schools of Latvia, thus marking the 5th anniversary of Latvia’s NATO membership and 60 years since founding of NATO.

The goal of the campaign is to inform and educate schoolchildren and their teachers about NATO, its goals and role in Latvia’s security policy, as well about the benefits and costs of the Latvia’s membership.

The campaign started in the Eastern part of Latvia – Latgale region, where representatives of LATO, Ministry of Defence and Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF) visited 8 schools in Ilūkste, Svente, Dagda, Kaunata, Varakļāni, Rudzāti, Kārsava, Tilža. On April 14, LATO and NAF together with the ambassador of the Netherlands H.E. Mr. Jurriaan Kraak paid a visit to the Baltinana secondary school. But on April 15, the NATO Information campaign started in the North-Eastern region of Latvia – Vidzeme, where LATO team will visit schools in Valmiera, Valka, Cēsis, Alūksne region:

  • April 15 - Burtnieki Ausekļa secondary school and Smiltene gymnasium;
  • April 16 - Rāmuļi primary school and Vecpiebalga secondary school
  • April17 - O.Vācieša Gaujiena secondary school and Dāvja Ozoliņa Ape secondary school
  • April 20 – Ranka technical secondary school and Lizums secondary school
  • April 21 - Kalsnava and Kusa primary school

During each visit a special short film “Latvia in NATO – five years” shot by the State Agency of the Ministry of Defence of Latvia “Tēvijas sargs” is demonstrated; further experts from Ministry of Defence, National Armed Forces (NAF), LATO, several embassies and universities make presentations about the political and military aspects of NATO, as well as introduce the audience with the development and everyday life of Latvian NAF. Pupils and teachers are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the quiz – most active ones receive practical presents, souvenirs from LATO, NATO, the Ministry of Defence of Latvia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. Every school library receives booklets and both printed and audiovisual information materials about NATO, NAF, security and defence policy issues.

Information campaign will continue till the middle of May, covering around 50 schools in all regions of Latvia.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SIMOTAN IV - Applications

The Portuguese Atlantic Committee and the School of Social and Political Sciences of the Technical University of Lisbon have the immense pleasure of inviting your association to participate in SIMOTAN IV, a North Atlantic Council simulation, which will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, from May 20th to May 23rd.

We kindly ask all candidates to send us the Application Form and supporting documents no lather than April 20th.

In order to apply, get in contact with your National Chapter or contact us at and/or

You can also find more information on the event group in Facebook.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Application for the Akhaltsikhe International Security Seminar 2009 has started

Latvian Transatlantic organisation (LATO) in cooperation with Georgian NGO “new Generation – new Initiative” and the support of Latvian Ministry of Defence organises the second Akhaltsikhe International Security Seminar 2009, which is going to be held on July 13-17, 2009 in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia.

Akhaltsikhe International Security Seminar (AISS) is designed as an annual event in Akhaltsikhe city, Georgia, whose aim is to bring together bright students and young activists from the Baltic and Black Sea region to discuss topical regional security issues.

This year AISS focuses on the common challenges and interests of the Baltic and Black sea region, where participants will be engaged into discussions of common security challenges and strategic interests for the countries of both regions. Special attention will be devoted to the role and interests of the US and Russia, which policies have a major impact on the regional security. Besides lectures of prominent experts, participants of the seminar will have topical workshops, presentations, debates and excursions both in Samtskhe-Javakheti region and capital Tbilisi.

AISS 2009 will bring together 16 youngsters from Latvia (7), Georgia (7) and Ukraine (2). LATO and nGnI are responsible for the selections of the participants in Latvia and Georgia. Foundation Souspilnist is a national coordinator for Ukraine. All the applicants have to submit to the national coordinators an application form, detailed CV and an essay (500-1500 words) on the topic following topic – “Security policy of the Baltic and Black sea region: points of common strategic interest and action”.

More detailed information in Latvian and Georgian.

The first Akhaltsikhe International Security Seminar on the topic “Russia-Georgia Conflict Aftermaths: Policy Priorities for Europe and Black Sea Region” was organised on November 24-26, 2008 in Tbilisi, Georgia, where twenty four youngsters from Latvia and Georgia took part, discussing regional security issues with prominent experts and officials. Initially the seminar was planned for September 22-26, but had to be postponed and relocated due to the August War between Russia and Georgia. The AISS 2008 was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Ministry of Defence of Latvia and Ministry of Defence of Georgia.

Akhaltsikhe city is the centre of Samtskhe-Javakheti region, located in the South-West Georgia. Akhaltsikhe was chosen as the location for the AISS due to the existing link between the NATO Corner in Akhaltsikhe Institute (opened by nGnI in 2007 as a part of NATO information campaign) and LATO and Latvian Ministry of Defence (MOD). In March 2008 LATO and Latvian MOD were invited by nGnI to become patrons of the NATO Corner in Akhaltsikhe due to Latvia’s involvement in creation and publishing of the book “NATO and Georgia’s Security” for Georgian secondary schools. Patronage of this NATO Corner does not only mean cooperation with this particular resource centre but also carries a more symbolic meaning – link between Latvia and Georgia, cooperation on NATO information campaigns, work with defence and security policy questions, facilitating projects and activities in Akhaltsikhe region in particular. AISS is the next step in developing the link between Latvia and Akhaltsikhe.

Monday, April 6, 2009

First week of NATO information campaign in Latvian schools (Latgale region)

On March 30, 2009 LATO in cooperation with Ministry of Defence of Latvia, National Armed Forces (NAF) of Latvia with support of NATO and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia started a broad NATO information campaign in the schools of Latvia, thus marking the 5th anniversary of Latvia’s NATO membership and 60 years since founding of NATO. It is planned to visit altogether 50 schools with a special attention to the rural and remote areas. This week already 8 schools in the eastern part of Latvia – Latgale – have been visited.

The goal of the campaign is to inform and educate schoolchildren and their teachers about NATO, its goals and role in Latvia’s security policy, as well about the benefits and costs of the Latvia’s membership.

During the each visit a special short film “Latvia in NATO – five years” shot by the State Agency of the Ministry of Defence of Latvia “Tēvijas sargs” is demonstrated; further experts from Ministry of Defence, National Armed Forces (NAF), LATO, several embassies and universities make presentations about the political and military aspects of NATO, as well as introduce audience with the development and everyday life of National Armed Forces and civil guards. Pupils and teachers are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the quiz – most active ones receive practical presents, souvenirs from LATO, NATO, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In each school also booklets and both printed and audiovisual information materials about NATO, NAF, security and defence policy issues are distributed.

Information campaign will continue till the middle of May and after the Latgale region, LATO team will visit further schools in Vidzeme, Zemgale, Kurzeme and Riga region.

Photos from the campaign

NATO summit simulation game in Riga

On March 27, 2009 Latvian Transatlantic organisation (LATO) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia with the support of NATO and Ministry of Defence of Latvia organised a NATO summit simulation game „NATO 60 years experience – quo vadis?” which was one of the activities dedicated to the Latvia’s five years of NATO membership and NATO 60th anniversary.

The simulation game was the second and final round of a competition where 18-26 years old students and active youngsters in the teams of two had to write an essay „NATO 60 years experience – quo vadis?” and analyse the political and military aspects of NATO (NATO partnerships, further enlargement, NATO military role – Article 5 and out-of-area operations), as well as in their context – to evaluate Latvia’s experience as a NATO member.

The goal of the competition was to assess and enhance the knowledge and interest among Latvia’s students about NATO and international and Latvia’s security issues, thus encouraging political involvement of young people, independent research work, improvement of analytical skills and erudition as well as understanding of the decision making processes.

The best 26 teams (52 youngsters) were invited to participate in the NATO summit simulation game and represent one of the NATO member countries.

During the simulation game teams had to present their “country position” and come to an agreement about the declaration which included issues like future challenges of NATO and new threats, the prospects of further enlargement, in particular look on Georgia, Ukraine, Balkan countries, involvement and contribution to the peace keeping missions, as well as further relations with Russia and importance of energy and cyber security. The debates were very intensive and tough in particular on further NATO enlargement and relations with Russia.

An evaluation commission with representatives of LATO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence and Latvian Institute of International Affairs assessed the activity, argumentation, knowledge and cooperation skills of each of the “country” and chose three best teams, which were awarded with the main prize – a trip to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium! Another three teams who also showed great knowledge about the represented countries, NATO and security/defence issues received gift tokens of the book store “Valters un Rapa”

As the evaluation commission reported, it was pleasantly surprised about the high level of knowledge of the participants and their ability to adopt themselves so good in the roles of each country.

LATO representative in the commission Ms. Irina Ivaškina said „This was very interesting and truly unique opportunity for the youngsters to test their theoretical knowledge and use them in practice, as well as learn so much new about each of the NATO member states and the real decision making processes – how hard it is to reach a compromise and common position.” And exactly this was also the main goal of LATO and all the partners of the project.

Photos from the event are available here

Latvia’s 5th Anniversary of NATO membership is marked in the centre of Riga

On March 29, 2004 Latvia became a fully fledged NATO member state, therefore guaranteeing its security. Five years have been passed since that historical date, therefore to mark the 5th anniversary of Latvia’s membership into NATO Latvian Transatlantic organisation in cooperation with Latvian Ministry of Defence, Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF) and the support of Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JSC “Laima” on March 29, 2009, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM near the monument of Freedom organised a public information campaign, where people were invited to take part.

Despite the rainy and chilly weather conditions, people expressed rather high interests about NATO, Latvia’s membership into NATO and Latvian NAF as well as about military equipment, exposed by the Latvian NAF including a military vehicle Humvee.

The information campaign started at 10:00 AM with the quiz on NATO and Latvian NAF, where people could try their knowledge and get valuable gifts like books, DVDs, “Laima” sweets, NATO souvenirs etc. At 1:30 PM 104 volunteers, among whom where 90 representatives of the “Jaunsardze” (“New Guard”) movement, made a massive inscription “LV 5 NATO”, dedicated to Latvia’s 5 years in NATO. Afterwards private first class soldier Raimonds Bergmanis announced the start of a competition, where young people had to make a wall with an inscription LV 5 NATO out of 1,5 kg weight cardboard boxes. The winners of the competition were awarded with the campaign T-shirts by the President of the Republic of Latvia Valdis Zatlers, who together with the Defence Minister Imants Lieģis and other state and military officials attended the event. The campaign was finished with the performance of the orchestra of the Latvian NAF.

More pictures from the event

Sunday, April 5, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama is pleased with NATO Allies' pledges of Afghan support

April 4, 2009 - CNN News

President Obama hailed the NATO Summit in Strasbourg-Kehl on Saturday, calling the meeting “very productive” and praising the Alliance’s commitment to the fight in Afghanistan.

“Today I’m confident that we took a substantial step forward to renewing our alliance to meet the challenges of our time,” said President Obama.

Speaking to reporters as demonstrators protested against more involvement in Afghanistan, President Obama said he was “pleased NATO Allies pledged their strong and unanimous support” for America's new strategy in Afghanistan – which calls for more troops, trainers and civilian workers.

He said America’s NATO Allies and Partners have agreed to supply more combat troops to help shore up security during Afghan elections later this year.

More trainers have also been pledged for the police and army, and an expansion of a trust fund to help sustain Afghan security forces is in the works. President Obama talked about achieving an increase in non-military assistance, such as doctors, engineers, educators and agricultural specialists.

The United States’ NATO Allies are pledging 5,000 more troops: 3,000 for the upcoming Afghan election security, 1,400 to 2,000 troops embedded with Afghan soldiers, and 400 police trainers.This is apart from the 17,000 more combat troops and 4,000 trainers President Obama recently committed.

“These commitments have troops, trainers and civilians represent a strong down payment on the future of our mission in Afghanistan and on the future of NATO.”

President Obama had been pushing for more NATO troops in Afghanistan, and he was asked whether he thought he got enough combat troops.

“This was not a pledging conference, and yet, we already received the kinds of commitments that historically you don’t see at a conference like this,” President Obama said.

“This was at a summit that was designed to discuss strategy as opposed to attract pledges, and I think it’s an indication of the fact that this alliance is committed to achieving the focused goals that we have set out in Afghanistan.’

Along with the focus on the ground in Afghanistan, Preseident Obama said the United States and his Allies want to help strengthen Pakistan’s ability to fight al Qaeda and “deliver goods and services and a better life for its people.”

President Obama thanked French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for hosting the conference.

‘I should add that not only were they gracious hosts, but the commitment that they made with respect to Afghanistan, indicate the seriousness of purpose with which they are approaching the NATO challenge and our mission in Afghanistan in particular,’ President Obama said.

Noting that Saturday marked NATO’s 60th birthday, President Obama said, “It’s a measure of our vitality that we are still welcoming new members.”

After the conclusion of the Summit Saturday, President Obama headed to Prague, in the Czech Republic, the current president of the European Union.

In Prague, President Obama plans to make a speech on proliferation and ridding the world of nuclear weapons. As many as 30,000 people were expected to turn out for the speech, the first major foreign policy address of President Obama’s presidency.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Chairman of NATO Military Committee, adm. di Paola addressed Youth Forum

Admiral Giampaolo di Paola, Chairman of NATO Military Committee addressed the Youth Forum with an intense and comprehensive speech over NATO current threats and future challenges.
Admiral di Paola recall NATO's role in contributing to peace and stability in several international crisis and Alliance role in stabilization and reconstruction process.
Comprehensive approach must be further developed, in order to promote a deeper cooperation with other international organizations such as EU and UN.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

NATO in 2020: what lies ahead

Young Atlanticists are blogging live the Youth Summit.
150 international participants arrived yesterday and had a informal dinner in a city south-west of Strasbourg.
This morning a guided tour of Strasbourg took place!
At 15:00 the conference will start...
Streaming video of a young leaders summit is available here.