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Nation may reinstate mandatory military service.

RIGA -- The Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF) is considering reinstating mandatory military service if its budget is cut any further, said Airis Rikveilis, head of the Defense Ministry bureau.

The current budget plan allows for enough resources to create a professional army, which according to the Defense Ministry is preferable. However, representatives said that if the budget undergoes any more cuts, the ministry would have to reconsider the financial benefits of mandatory service for emergencies and for state security.

The announcement has been met with objection from numerous members of parliament.

Parliamentarian Dainis Turlais said that to renew obligatory military service in order to save on the budget is absurd.

"It would be good if we would be able to switch to all professional service, not only for soldiers, but also military might and ministry leadership. Enlistment is already cheaper as it is conducted within the means of the budget, and therefore obligatory military service is an incorrect solution to budget problems," said Turlais.

As Turlais explained, obligatory service costs more, not only from a material standpoint but also from human resources.

"At the moment, there is the feeling that in the ministry, people are under such pressure to show their economic side, which is also the impetus for such an absurd decision. Maybe they need to think more on how to earn funds instead of messing around," said Turlais.

Former head of the National Armed Forces Juris Dalbins explained that mandatory service was only abolished in 2007 to save money in the defense budget, and to reinstate in the current situation would not be very practical.

"The situation surrounding this announcement is completely not adequate. We could adhere to this decision and try to make it happen, but results from this action aren't possible at this time," said Dalbins.

As budget talks came to a close, it has been decided not to cut the Defense Ministry's budget further at the moment.

The Cabinet of Ministers endorsed the action plan for switching to professional military service on May 17, 2005; with the NAF liquidating mandatory military service on January 1, 2007.
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Title Annotation:News Latvia
Author:Hanley, Monika
Publication:The Baltic Times (Riga, Latvia)
Date:Jun 18, 2009
Words:351
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