Solvita Āboltiņa: The millstone of freedom is the most precious, albeit the heaviest burden


“The millstone of freedom has to be carried day by day throughout one’s lifetime, for it is the most precious, albeit the heaviest burden. Since 4 May 1990, each patriot, each and every one of us, has to keep on carrying it. You cannot cast off your freedom; you cannot collapse under its weight or complain about how heavy it is,” said Speaker Āboltiņa in her address at the ceremonial sitting of the Saeima on 4 May.

“Just as in the past, when we regained our independence, the making of crucial decisions still depends on the unity of political parties, the desire of our people to become involved and the idea of statehood in their hearts,” indicated the Speaker.

When reminding that 90 years have elapsed since the first sitting of the Saeima, Speaker Āboltiņa recalled words said by Jānis Čakste, President of the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia, to the new parliament: “You have been sent by the people to do an important work. I am confident that you will do it selflessly and conscientiously for the honour and blessing of our precious motherland.”

The Speaker emphasised that these words were relevant not just back in 1922. Today as well all citizens of Latvia sincerely hope that the members of parliament whom they have elected will fulfil their duties conscientiously, selflessly, without tarnishing their reputation and that they will place the public good above their own: “It would be very fitting if, before every important vote where a single ballot can determine Latvia’s fate, we were to carefully consider our choice and uphold our loyalty to our country and the values set forth in the Constitution.”

The founders of the Republic of Latvia did not doubt that the new state must be a parliamentary republic, noted Speaker Āboltiņa by citing Arveds Bergs, one of the most outstanding politicians of the time, who had said “parliamentarism is the type of governance that we need”, but he had also warned that “we have chosen the most complicated embodiment of state power”.

Solvita Āboltiņa indicated that the most efficient and suitable way is not always the easiest one, for parliamentarism “does not offer ready-made answers, nor does it rely on a wise man who knows all the right choices. It is not one leader with unlimited authority who decides on our future. It is the people and their representatives that have a say”. The Speaker admitted that members of parliament have to prove that parliamentarism is an effective form of governance suited for Latvia. And this can be done by working together, taking wise and justified decisions, interacting with voters, non-governmental organisations and experts.

Āboltiņa stressed that the Declaration of 4 May restored the ideas and values which in 1922 were set forth in our Constitution and thus formed the foundations of our state. Bearing in mind the 90th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, the Speaker recalled Professor Vasily Sinaisky, a scholar of law, who had said that a constitution is an agreement signed by all citizens; in a way, it is a monument in whose presence all controversies subside. He emphasised that a constitution is the mandatory minimum prerequisite for peace, and without it the development of a law-based state or culture is impossible.

“During these years, the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia has truly become a monument to our striving for independence and desire to live in a free and democratic state, a state that is based on the rule of law; to live in close relations with other European nations and in a state where fundamental values such as the rule of law, human rights and justice are observed,” said the Speaker of the Saeima.

Solvita Āboltiņa urged everyone during the celebration of 4 May and the 90th anniversary of the Constitution to once again acknowledge our foundations – a state in which the people of Latvia, citizens of Latvia of all ethnicities, govern themselves in a democratic manner, a state which is the only place where we can protect, cherish and develop the Latvian language and culture.

On Friday, 4 May, a ceremonial sitting of the Saeima in honour of the 22nd anniversary of the Renewal of Independence of the Republic of Latvia was held, during which Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, gave her address.

Full text of the address of the Speaker Āboltiņa is available at: 

Full video:

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