Overall, even though it has not been an objective per se, the whole-of-government approach has been running well in Latvia. Having all relevant institutions involved in policymaking has been a standard practice. No known significant decisions on external crises have been taken unilaterally.
The main advantage of Latvia’s system is its smallness and the frameworks set by its international alliances. The former factor means a relatively compact public administration in which the relevant players interact with each other frequently and across a broad spectrum of issues. The latter factor – i.e. membership in both the EU and NATO for 15 years (which is longer than the period between gaining independence and joining these alliances) – has fostered the transposition of a mostly modern, post-Cold War-era approach to preventing and managing crises and conflicts. Operations and missions led by the above-mentioned organisations as well as by the United States have been the focus of Latvia’s external engagement, along with the development aid and civilian missions to countries in the EU’s Eastern Partnership (Georgia and Ukraine, in particular) and Central Asia.
The drawbacks of the Latvian approach are the lack of strong political initiatives and insufficient resources devoted to streamlining the whole-of-government approach as well as engagement with external crises and conflicts. To make Latvia’s external engagement and the national mechanisms underpinning it work better and more boldly, the following can be suggested: to enhance training for and funding of a better-integrated whole-of government approach and external engagement in general; to increase funding for development aid and to thereby expand the scope of activities in crisis and conflict regions; to increase the number of Latvian troops and civilian experts deployed to missions and operations abroad; to launch bolder political initiatives aimed at preventing and managing crises and conflicts abroad – and to thereby enable Latvia to hit above its weight.