No reason to question guarantees of Article 5 of NATO Treaty - Rinkevics

  • 2024-02-26
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - There is no reason to question the guarantees of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, but in the worst case scenario, Latvia has and will have its own tasks to attend to, President Edgars Rinkevics said on Facebook, responding to a public debate on how fast the allies would respond in case of war. 

The president noted that Article 5 of the 1949 Treaty of Washington provides that "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area".

This legal and political commitment has been implemented over the last 75 years through NATO's military structures.

Following the illegal occupation of Crimea in 2014, and in order to make Article 5 immediately effective in the event of an attack, NATO decided at several summits to deploy allied forces on its Eastern flank, including in Latvia. As the situation has evolved, plans and the size of the Allied presence have been and are being refined, Rinkevičs said.

Being aware that a political decision takes time, but in order to make defense effective from the first moment, the Commander-in-Chief of NATO Forces in Europe has been delegated a number of powers to take the necessary steps to implement the Regional Defense Plans. As the situation evolves, plans and concrete steps are continuously refined, but their details are not to be disclosed.

At the same time, it is the obligation of each member state to ensure its security and  bring preparedness to the maximum, which is why it is important that the National Armed Forces are developed and prepared, and the same applies to national security in general. We will be helped, but we must also take care of ourselves at all times, the president writes. 

The president noted that Section 8 of the Latvian National Security Law establishes responsibility for "triggering Article 5 procedures". According to this law, in the event of a military attack, the president of Latvia shall immediately request NATO collective defense support and authorize NATO to take such measures as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to preserve and restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Latvia.

The president also decides on Latvia's position if another NATO member state requests that the issue of NATO collective defense support be considered and if the Cabinet of Ministers is delayed in taking such a decision.

Since Russia's invasions of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022, NATO has done much to improve collective defense. In the event of a military invasion, the first counter-attacks will in any case have to be made by our armed forces, the allied forces already deployed here and the Alliance as a whole. Of course, the mobilization and redeployment of allied forces to the "Article 5 region" will take place in parallel, the president stressed.

"So there is no reason to question the guarantees of Article 5, but one should realize that if the worst-case scenario comes to pass, we too have and will have our own tasks to attend to," the president said.