“As long we exist, as long as we breathe, as long as we want it, Latvia will go on. For this to be true, we need the support of each and every Latvian who maintains this will”. Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, said this on Saturday, 18 November, when addressing the audience of the celebratory Saeima sitting in honour of the 99th anniversary of the proclamation of independence of the Republic of Latvia.
Commenting on the road to Latvia’s independence, the Speaker stressed that our state was built on the foundations of parliamentarianism and democracy. She stated: “Our paramount task today is to reinforce these foundations and not succumb to attempts to undermine or disrupt them. The Saeima must work to raise its own image”.
Speaker Mūrniece called on MPs to gain people’s trust through hard work, adding that political processes are not sustainable without the foundation of mutual respect. Since a new Saeima will be elected next year, Ināra Mūrniece called for more responsible promises to be made by politicians before the election.
As a society, we are becoming smarter; we have learnt to recognise the traps set by our foes and the Kremlin propaganda. Our values are the compass that constantly guides us in our choices, said the Speaker, remarking on the attempts to damage this compass in order to set our nation off course politically.
“We are all capable of acting for our own benefit and the benefit of our state. There is always place for constructive criticism that reveals negligence and imperfections”, noted Mūrniece, continuing that there is, however, a difference between constructive criticism and whining. We should not act as grumbling back-seat drivers when it comes to our state. “Each and every one of us can be Latvia’s knight in shining armour”, said the Speaker.
Celebrating 18 November on the eve of the centennial of our state is an overwhelming experience, and it is also the right time to talk about the most important tasks ahead, emphasised Speaker Mūrniece and named the crucial goals: to ensure that all children live in a family and to encourage those who left their homeland to come back.
Orphanages belong to the past; there are no excuses for them to still exist, said Mūrniece, urging to do what it takes to ensure that all children live in a warm family environment. We also need to put in motion a centripetal force that would bring back to Latvia as many people as possible. In order to achieve that, we need to establish appropriate conditions for job creation by our entrepreneurs, stamp out undeclared income, and eliminate antagonistic experiences in interacting with public institutions.
Discussing future challenges, the Speaker of the Saeima highlighted education and urged the debaters of the school reform to focus on what is most important – the quality of education. “Latvians have never measured the value of a school by the kilometres it takes to get there, but by the knowledge that the school provides”, emphasised Mūrniece.
We have finally agreed on gradual transition to education in the official language, and this is a task that should have been completed a long time ago, stated Mūrniece. She referred to 2012, when at the national referendum three quarters of a million voters expressed their unequivocal desire for only one official language in Latvia.
Speaker Mūrniece also touched upon security and defence. Ināra Mūrniece pointed out that we must not take for granted the security of our region, and our NATO membership is the best security guarantee one can get. The Speaker thanked NATO allies for their solidarity and Canada for leading the allied forces in Latvia.
The Speaker of the Saeima expressed her gratitude to all the people of Latvia who helped our state to reach its 99th anniversary by making it more beautiful, more prosperous, more secure, more compassionate and inspirational.
“May Latvia live forever”, the Speaker wished our country on its 99th birthday.
Address by the Speaker:
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