From June 3 to June 10, Robert Baines, president and CEO of the NATO Association of Canada, joined a delegation of Canadian academics and security experts—Steve Saideman, Jean-Christophe Boucher, Justin Massie, Marcus Kolga, and Alexandra Gheciu—and members of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Public Affairs on a visit to Latvia. A testament to the close ties between Canada and Latvia, the week-long trip offered glimpses of Ottawa’s regional defence footprint and put the Canadian and Latvian security communities into dialogue about topics of mutual concern.
Among shared priorities, safeguarding NATO’s Eastern Flank ranks high. Canada supports Latvia and NATO in bolstering the alliance’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), serving as the “framework nation” there. As of May, the CAF had around 800 personnel in Latvia.
Notably, the delegation in which Baines participated visited the Task Force Latvia Headquarters and Camp Ādaži—the hubs for CAF members stationed in the country. Other highlights of the trip include visits to NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, the Canadian Embassy, and the Latvian Ministry of Defence.
Over the course of these visits, Baines and other members of the delegation engaged those entrusted with overseeing Task Force Latvia and maintaining the close bilateral relationship between Ottawa and Riga. Baines remarked: “The kind of professional solidarity on display at all levels was heartening. We had the chance to have briefings from representatives of parliament, the Department of Defence, the Latvian military, and Canadian leadership at three different levels of the NATO mission.” Andris Sprūds, a security expert and member of Latvia’s parliament, counted among the dignitaries whom Baines met.
These interactions underscored that a common and unwavering goal unites Canada and Latvia as NATO members. “The collaborative spirit and determination to overcome the inevitable difficulties of multi-national teamwork permeated all discussions—as did a real sense of the immediate danger posed by an unpredictable Russia,” said Baines. “Canada’s current contributions are well appreciated and further support is eagerly awaited in our role as the framework nation for the eFP Brigade.”
Baines’ participation signals the NATO Association of Canada’s interest in playing a constructive role in Canada-Latvia relations and continued commitment to educating Canadians about the important bilateral linkages between Ottawa and Riga. This topic features regularly in the NATO Association of Canada’s programming, most recently in a discussion between Kaspars Ozoliņš, Latvia’s Ambassador to Canada, and Kevin Rex, former Ambassador of Canada to Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
The NATO Association of Canada looks forward to building on the relationships built during this visit and developing future events and content about Task Force Latvia and Canada-Latvia relations. To stay up to date on these initiatives, regularly check the NATO Association of Canada’s future events‘ page and consider following us Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.