“The people’s dream of an independent Latvia, the politicians’ ability to work together for a higher ideal and parliamentary democracy – these were the cornerstones of the newly-founded state. Today we can only marvel at how politically mature and modern the state of Latvia was upon its birth. Our nation has gone through a lot over the past century, but this path has always led us towards the three stars. Our land, our language and our state,” underlined Speaker Ināra Mūrniece during her address for the ceremonial sitting of the Saeima in honour of the 100th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia at the National Theatre of Latvia.
“This is an extraordinary moment! We are the happy chosen ones who get to celebrate Latvia’s 100 years in a free and democratic state. And we are able to gather in the very place where the independent Republic of Latvia was proclaimed 100 years ago,” said Speaker Mūrniece.
Reminiscing the founding of the Latvian state in 1918, Speaker Mūrniece stressed that the pre-parliament of Latvia – the People’s Council – had formulated a cutting-edge political platform, which was progressive even by Western European standards, stipulating a democratic system of government, voting rights for both genders, respect for the interests of national minorities, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. It was also clearly stated that in foreign relations, Latvia belongs among the League of Nations, the predecessor of the modern-day United Nations.
Latvia’s statehood has always been intertwined with geopolitical processes in Europe and the world, including the World War I and II and the fall of the Soviet Union. “For 50 long years Latvians were forced to live in an occupied country, and that has left deep and lasting scars. The repressions enacted by the occupation regimes are the grimmest pages in the history of the Latvian nation,” noted the Speaker. However, the idea of independence was kept alive by our people. The national partisans of Latvia continued armed resistance against the occupation regime for a decade after the end of World War II. The ideals of independence and democracy were kept alive by dissidents. “Exiles have played a crucial role in maintaining our statehood. The nonviolent resistance of the people flourished with the saving of the River Daugava, the Baltic Way and the Barricades,” said Ināra Mūrniece.
“The restoration of our independence on 4 May 1990 was rightfully called a miracle, something unbelievable and incredible. There are few precedents in the world where a nation, having lost its freedom and spent half a century under a totalitarian and repressive regime, has managed to rise from the ashes, regaining its freedom and restoring its democratic state. This remains the unique example of Latvia and the Baltic States, and it is respected and admired throughout the free world,” emphasised the Speaker while also thanking everyone who joined hands back then and succeeded in restoring the Republic of Latvia statehood. “They are among us today!”
“Nowadays, many of us experience the continuity of our families through many generations. Great-grandparents nurture their greatgrandchildren, and this time through which these generations join hands, can span even longer than 100 years. Through this living human chain, the contemporaries of the state of Latvia have brought the fundamental values of our state into the next century,” underscored Ināra Mūrniece.
According to the Speaker, the recent parliamentary election demonstrated that the vast majority of the electorate has no doubts about Latvia’s geopolitical stance. Latvia’s membership in the European Union, NATO, and the western democratic world is undisputable. “It is of utmost importance for our foreign policy to maintain this course, especially in light of the Kremlin’s military activities and displays of power within our region that are not expected to abate any time soon,” said the Speaker, underlining that security is and will continue to be our priority.
Speaker also told that security is best ensured when working together with allies – our NATO partners in Europe, the USA and Canada. She thanked the allies, National Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Youth Guard, State Police, Border Guard, and the Fire and Rescue Service on behalf of all the Latvian nation. “However, we need to provide a comprehensive defence! It must involve a wide range of institutions and the entire society.”
Talking about the future challenges, Ināra Mūrniece underlined that there are many open questions to which politicians must provide answers shortly. How will we follow-up on the support programmes for families with children? How will we keep our promise to ensure that children grow up in a family environment? How will we ensure that as many compatriots as possible return to their homeland from economic emigration?
Speaker concluded her speech by saying that the path that lead to the centenary has been a beautiful experience, which motivated us to better ourselves and our state. It has been a path of culture. It has been a path of our own, a journey to our roots, a journey towards our own cultural space and that of the entire world. “This summer we held the unforgettable Song and Dance Festival. We showed our national pride by raising the national flag at our homes, above towers and in city squares.”
“Latvia is a grand state, made by generations of grand Latvian people. Each one of us,” said the Speaker wishing Latvia to live eternally.
Full speech available at: http://www.saeima.lv/en/news/saeima-news/27394-address-by-inara-murniece-speaker-of-the-saeima-at-the-ceremonial-sitting-of-the-saeima-in-honour-of-the-100th-anniversary-of-the-proclamation-of-the-republic-of-latvia
Saeima Press Service