Latvia will approve fast-track legislation to speed up the construction and start-up of what will be the largest military training camp in the Baltic countries, in order to be able to host a larger contingent of NATO troops, according to the Minister of Defence, Inara Murniece.
Speaking to reporters in Riga, Murniece said the government will invest approximately 38 million euros to make the Selonia Military Training Area in the southeast of the country operational by 2025.
At some 26,600 hectares, the new base will be almost twice the size of the Adazi base north of Riga, where the NATO battle group in the Baltic country, which has a significant Spanish presence, is currently deployed.
Murniece expressed the expectation that legislation to speed up the construction of the new base, which will include land belonging to various localities and municipalities, will be approved before the summer recess.
According to a Defence Ministry statement, the Latvian government has designated the Selonia base as "of national importance", which will simplify and speed up the processes for construction, including the expropriation of some 2,000 hectares in private and municipal hands.
The Defence Minister also said that the Baltic country is looking for "partners" to co-finance the construction of the base.
The three Baltic states are pressing NATO to expand its presence through the permanent or rotational stationing of a battalion in each of them, one of the issues to be discussed at next month's leaders' summit in Vilnius.
For its part, Estonia is in the process of expanding the Nursipalu base in the southeast of the country to accommodate a larger number of allied troops.