Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence François Bausch paid a working visit to Latvia from 2 to 4 May 2022, together with the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Steve Thull. The programme included a visit to the main air force base and a work meeting at the Latvian Ministry of Defence.
François Bausch was welcomed by Artis Pabriks, Latvian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. After laying flowers at the Colonel Oskars Kalpaks Memorial, hero of the Latvian independence, followed by a meeting with his Latvian counterpart.
The discussions at the Latvian Ministry of Defence focused, among other issues, on bilateral defence cooperation, Baltic concerns over the Russian threat, the European Union's strategic compass and the role of NATO, especially in light of the war in Ukraine and a possible membership of Finland and Sweden to NATO. "My visit here represents a sign of solidarity with our Baltic allies and a show of respect regarding their fears in the face of a particularly tense security environment following the Russian invasion of Ukraine", the Luxembourg Defence Minister stated during the interview.
On 3 May 2022, François Bausch was briefed by Jănis Sărts, the Director of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (CoE) on the importance of communication in hybrid warfare as well as on Russian information and disinformation influence operations in the context of the current war in Ukraine. This centre of excellence focuses on improving the strategic communication capability by offering analyses of the information environment.
Later on in the day, the Minister of Defence visited the Lielvărde Air Base, where he attended a presentation of the Latvian Air Force and demonstrations during a tour of the air base.
Since 2020, the Directorate of Defence has been supporting Latvia in its efforts to protect the environment and clean up military sites in Latvia by co-financing the pollution remediation of the Lielvărde base, among others. This project demonstrates the importance that both countries attach to environmental protection in the framework of defence policy.
"My visit here is of particular importance, since it is only on site that you really become aware of the security concerns of the local population and authorities in the face of the Russian aggression. We must continue all our efforts to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion," said François Bausch during the visit. The Minister also underlined the excellent bilateral relations between Latvia and Luxembourg: "By the time the decontamination projects are finished, the Directorate of Defence will have invested several million euros in Latvian defence. And we plan to deepen this relationship by sharing images from our future observation satellite to be launched next year. I also see a huge potential for future cooperation in the field of cyber defence." The visit concluded with both ministers flying over the Base in a historical An-2 aircraft of the Latvian Air Force.
In the afternoon, during the visit to the Ădaži Military Base, François Bausch was welcomed by Colonel Sandris Gaugers, Commander of the Latvian Land Forces Mechanised Infantry Brigade and Lieutenant Colonel Dan Richel of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup in Latvia. In 2017, the Directorate of Defence financed the construction of one building of the base.
On 4 May 2022, the Luxembourg delegation attended the military parade in Saldus, which was held on the occasion of the Restoration of Independence Day of the Republic of Latvia in the presence of the Latvian President, Egils Levits and Minister of Defence, Artis Pabriks.
Press release by the Directorate of Defence