“Today, the most valuable affirmation of our patriotism and love for our country, people, and state is to vigilantly safeguard parliamentary democracy, to protect the most sacred values—our freedom, independence and democracy,” said Edvards Smiltēns, Speaker of the Saeima, on Thursday, 4 May, addressing participants of the ceremonial Saeima sitting on the occasion of the Day of Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia.
Today we are celebrating the 33rd anniversary since we restored the independence of the Republic of Latvia, said Speaker Smiltēns, emphasising that it also includes the restoration of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, with a clear message to the world in two extremely important words — Latvia EXISTS”.
“A state system that 100 years ago was finely and thoughtfully enshrined in our Constitution, which has proved to be the safest, clearest, and strongest state architecture to ensure representation of the people’s interests and balanced governance. For all these years, we have consistently followed the path of parliamentary democracy. Perhaps the most difficult and the most complicated path, yet the correct one,“ said Smiltēns.
“We are a member of NATO and the EU, firmly integrated into a security and value system aimed at developing our countries, rather than grabbing and destroying others,” said Speaker Smiltēns, adding that we can feel safe because we consistently invest in our defence, and we can rely on the presence and protection of our allies. However, that cannot be said about many others right here in Europe. Especially those who hesitated, postponed, or changed their choices.
As Russia is spreading death and devastation in Ukraine, the democratic world has met with such an unmistakable challenge to its security and values that the countries of the European Union and NATO have become even more united in understanding the level and origin of the threats. “We have always clearly seen the true nature of our neighbour,” said Speaker Smiltēns.
Speaker Smiltēns also pointed out that back in 2002, when Latvia received the invitation to join NATO, President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga promised on behalf of Latvia that we would strive to our utmost to do whatever needs to be done to create a world where justice and liberty are available to all. And in keeping our promise, we are drawing inspiration and courage from the decisions of the Members of the Supreme Council 33 years ago, and from Ukraine’s freedom fighters today. And it is our promise and our duty to pass on this courage, said Speaker Smiltēns, adding that at the political, non-governmental, and societal level, we have shown that we are able to react boldly, immediately, but also pragmatically, bearing in mind the common European security interests; we are also able to act very effectively and to maintain this pace.
Regarding security issues, Speaker Smiltēns underlined the need of further developing the army, strengthening borders, reinforcing the interior, also the security of welfare, healthcare, media and language space. “We must remind ourselves at all times that the security of the individual, of the human being, of the person, is the primary and fundamental prism through which to view the overall security of the country, as this distinguishes us as a democratic Western country from tyrannical regimes that are sending thousands of their people to a senseless death where they are just small, worthless cogs.
Security is very expensive, said Speaker Smiltēns, adding that freedom is not a value given by default, it comes at great effort and cost. “We need resources to defend our freedom, independence, and democracy. And we need them now,” said Edvards Smiltēns, pointing out that strategic vision, de-bureaucratisation, and efficiency monitoring must become permanent items on the Saeima’s agenda.
“Both with the mind and with the heart, Latvian society chooses parliamentary democracy as a form of state structure, and we all work hard to show and prove that this is the right choice,” said Speaker Smiltēns, appreciating the courage and consistency of the Members of the Supreme Council, who voted for independence. “Allow me to wish us to become worthy heirs of their determination, perseverance, and courage,” said Edvards Smiltēns in the conclusion of his address.
Saeima Press Service