We can learn from the predecessors of our Parliament the importance of not losing clarity about the greater goal to be achieved—and not getting lost in the trifling matters of everyday life. One hundred years ago, in this building, our predecessors set themselves the goal of building a free and democratic Latvia, and they chose the path of parliamentarism. A difficult, complex, winding, and steep path, but ultimately the only right path. A path that has largely determined who we are, what our country is now and what it will be like a hundred years from now, said Edvards Smiltēns, Speaker of the Saeima, on Monday, 7 November, at the ceremonial sitting of the Saeima dedicated to the centenary of the first sitting of the 1st Saeima and the entry into force of the Constitution (Satversme).
“It is particularly important for us to remember the meaning and value of democracy in these times, when we see the enormous damage that authoritarian regimes do to the world,” noted the Speaker of the Saeima, underlining that history has shown—democracy can prevent countries and nations from running into such quagmires of extremes or wrong choices that are at times impossible to escape.
Smiltēns stressed that almost 1000 Members of Parliament have worked in the various convocations of the Saeima—different in their views and convictions, representing different voters, and all of them together forming a tightly woven, multi‑coloured, and multi‑layered political fabric that, while reflecting Latvian society, concurrently has been forming it, influencing it, and shaping its future. “Each era and stage of our country's development has had its own struggles and challenges. We are strong and we take responsibility because we have to protect our country every day,” noted the Speaker of the Saeima, highlighting that the greatest challenge to Latvia is still posed by Russia’s political regime.
“Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, genocide, terrorism against Ukrainian civilians have, hopefully, finally opened the eyes of everyone in the world, making it clear what the Russian regime is really like. At the moment, Russia is spreading its dark imperial gloom, which can only be countered by a firm wall of unity and solidarity of the entire free and democratic world. Latvia and the Baltic region, together with Ukraine, have a special mission in this respect—supporting the Ukrainian people and preventing the world from falling into the grey area of compromise,” stated Smiltēns.
“The Saeima is never finished. It is always growing and developing. It has never been disconnected from social processes, the party system, and civic engagement. Times change, but the idea remains the same, and it lives and develops despite the difficulties it has to overcome on its way—the idea of people's power, the right to one’s own opinion, ideas, and convictions,” emphasised the Speaker of the Saeima, expressing his conviction that the 14th Saeima would be committed to strengthening Latvia’s democracy, building trust, and fostering citizen engagement. “We have to earn the respect. Both by taking sound, just, and understandable decisions, by respecting the voters, the citizens of Latvia, and by respecting each other in the Saeima,” said Smiltēns.
Before the sitting, the Saeima held a ceremonial event "Latvian Parliamentarism in the Centenary of the Saeima" that consisted of presentations and expert discussion. In his opening address, Speaker Edvards Smiltēns stressed that 100 years ago this building was the place where the three values crucial for Latvia were defined—freedom, independence, democracy; these are values that each of us has the duty of protecting every day. During the event, presentations were given by Jānis Pleps, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia, Edvīns Danovskis, Senior Legal Adviser of the Saeima Legal Bureau, and Gunārs Kusiņš, Justice of the Constitutional Court and former Head of the Saeima Legal Bureau.
One hundred years ago, at noon on 7 November 1922, the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia—the Saeima—started its work. Along with the convening of the 1st Saeima, the fundamental law of Latvia—the Constitution (Satversme)—entered into force.
Saeima Press Service