(E) The 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships are currently underway in Riga, Latvia where deployed Canadian Armed Forces members continue to lead the Enhanced Forward Presence as part of Operation REASSURANCE and NATO assurance and deterrence measures.
Today, we’re lucky to be joined by the Land Forces Mechanized Infantry Brigade’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Igors Harlapenkovs to tell us more.
So welcome and thank you for joining us, sir. I understand that Team Canada played Latvia a few weeks ago and that the Canadian Armed Forces played the Latvian National Armed Forces team in a friendly game of floor hockey. Can you tell me a little bit more about how that went?
(I) Actually, it went great and just from history, when we met Latvians and the Canadians in the game. It was in 1935 when we met each other first time. And that game was not good for Latvians. We lost almost 0-14.
(I) Yes. But this time, we beat the Canadians in the floor ball game and also on ice championship as well, so it was like a little bit of revenge.
(E) Okay. Alright. Well, I'm not too sure I'm happy about that, but them the breaks. Given how closely our two nations have worked together for the last few years, how important do you think it is to have these types of events to look forward to and how much do they build the relationship between our two armed forces?
(I) I think we are actually very close. Both nations, we like ice hockey. Actually, it's almost in our blood, so we feel and we join and we like these sports games, but about integration in the Latvian Armed Forces, it actually integrates very well. And the mentality, we understand each other very easily. So, actually, I could say that it's very easy to work with Canadians. Very easy. We understand easy and we can work easy and we can solve different problems. We don't have any like difficulties in our duties, so it's actually perfect.
(E) Well, it's good to hear. Excellent. I was wondering if you could give us a little update on the current status of the Enhance Forward Presence Group going into the second year of the pandemic, which I'm sure is a very challenging time for you, folks, in Latvia.
(I) Yes, but no, we're very good. Almost like, because EFP (Enhanced Forward Presence) is almost vaccinated and Latvian Armed Forces are almost vaccinated as well. So now, we are opening more activities. So we are now more free to go outside and to communicate. I think the situation now is very good and we can do our exercises together more openly, to communicate more. So I think it's very, very good and now, we are actually lifting limitations.
(E) That's excellent. I'm glad to hear that the majority of the folks, they're vaccinated and that the working conditions are improving. So, once again, thank you very much, Lieutenant Colonel, for joining us today and sharing with us a little bit about what's going on in Latvia. You take care.
(I) You're welcome. Thank you.