Honourable President of Latvia,
Honourable Prime Minister,
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Beloved people of Latvia,
In Latvia, November is one of the darkest months of the year, but it is also our national holiday month. Therefore, in November we light candles—for Latvia, for each of us. For Freedom, Democracy, and Independence.
As the candle flame dispels the darkness, the decision of 18 November 1918 on the proclamation of the Republic of Latvia dispelled doubts about the possibility of our state to exist freely and independently, about the people’s ability to move towards the unknown.
This historic decision freed hearts from disbelief and instilled the courage to follow a new path. The founding of the Latvian state revealed the unity of the nation and its ability to face challenges.
And before long, we had to prove it.
In November 1919, surrounded by deep snow, freezing cold, and numbing winds, the patriots of the new state, the freedom fighters: students, schoolchildren, people from our cities and rural areas rose up to protect the newly established state of Latvia.
They were united by faith and confidence, an unprecedented wave of patriotism. They drew strength from the conviction that together we are strong and invincible!
The memory of our heroes is forever woven into the Latvian flag, which symbolically reminds us that we have fought for our independence, therefore, on the birthday of our state, it is important to remember that we—and not other powers—are the ones who forge our future and make our history.
We have our own heroes whose memorial places are to be honoured: maintained or rebuilt so that they do not disappear from the memory of the people. It is important for us to remember the story of the flag, which had been hidden for 50 years, and since 4 May 1990 has been proudly flying above our heads.
The vote of the Supreme Council gave us a second chance to love, respect, and be proud of the state of Latvia, a second chance to appreciate and honour what our predecessors fought for in the Latvian War of Independence. Paraphrasing Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics, we immortalise our victories with a quill, ink and brain!
Thanks to the vote of 4 May, the faith and ideals of the Supreme Council Members, Latvia broke out of the darkness of the Iron Curtain and returned to the democratic Western world.
Historical scars are still hurting, that is why we perceive Ukraine’s fight for freedom as our own, for we have survived a similar abuse of the aggressor.
Peace, as a true value, acquires a deeper meaning in the light of this common historical experience.
Peace, which begins with our individual responsibility and action, must be respected and protected every day.
If each of us is honest and works selflessly, we promote personal development and have a positive impact on the society as a whole. Even a small and seemingly imperceptible action can inspire great deeds and major changes in others.
This year has brought a number of challenges. We need to turn them into opportunities to become stronger and more proficient.
There is no progress without change. To quote our great poet Rainis, “One must change to survive.” However, let us not forget that changes always require immersion and substantiation. In the national context, the Parliament’s role is to propose and be able to explain these changes
— it has to be done constantly, reliably, with foresight and our state in mind.
I urge you to promote changes in the Parliament’s work by rendering the decision-making process even more open. We must be able to explain to the public the resolutions and laws adopted by the Saeima.
As Members of the Saeima, each of us must promote the involvement and dialogue of civil society, thus strengthening mutual trust.
Our education system is also facing new changes, laying the foundation for the future of our country. A lot of work has been done on the remuneration of teachers, the development of the school network. We have transitioned to learning in the official language, we have adopted a new approach to the second foreign language, with a focus on teaching the European Union languages.
In particular, I would like to emphasise that the issue of the school network should be considered individually together with each municipality, taking into account the distance of schools from children’s homes, road infrastructure, and access to public transport.
Together, we must be able to find solutions for the development of a school network that promotes balanced growth, without neglecting the border areas. In managing the changes in the education sector, I see opportunities to strengthen our relations with the friends and neighbours in the other Baltic states.
This year’s changes also affect the rule of law aspects. I believe that the current convocation of the Saeima with its decisions is already contributing to strengthening the rule of law in Latvia, and I urge you, esteemed colleagues, to keep in mind, while contemplating future actions and decisions, that the rule of law, which defends the fundamental values of the state and the rights of its citizens, is the foundation of our democracy.
I believe that mutual respect and empathy can help find compromises and strengthen society. Such an approach facilitates high-quality decision-making and prevents division in society.
Anyone who respects and honours the state of Latvia must feel that they are heard and their rights are protected in our home country, fostering a sense of belonging to our state and our people.
We need to be able to recognise and single out each other’s strengths, not shortcomings. In a democratic society, it should never be about the loudest voice that declares to have the truth, but rather about the ability to substantiate one’s position in a reasoned manner.
As Members of the Saeima, we must set an example that through tolerance, acceptance, and understanding, we are able to find compromises in order to maintain the unity of society. The real growth potential of the state lies in the ability to recognise and appreciate the importance of Latvia as a whole, the strength and added value of our regions.
The whole world is undergoing change, becoming caught not only in political but also military crossfires. Our ability to effectively deal with complex situations and matters related to them is an important prerequisite for moving towards peace.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine poses a direct threat to peace in Latvia and around the world. The hybrid threat posed by the supporter of Russia’s aggression, Belarus, can be witnessed every day on our state borders.
Attempts to create internal political crises and chaos with disinformation, cyberattacks, and other elements of hybrid warfare can also be observed elsewhere in Europe and beyond.
Russia wants to influence and change the basic principles of international relations between democratic states on which our security is based.
Russia’s aggression poses a global threat, and the response must also be global. We must support the maximisation of Ukraine’s capabilities to ensure Russia’s military defeat in the battlefield, and the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as soon as possible.
We must promote the strengthening of the security space of the North Atlantic Alliance, including Latvia, by actually completing the creation of a single and free European space, which undoubtedly includes Ukraine.
Our response to Russia’s aggression will remain strong and unambiguous. We must not allow doubt, prejudice, hesitation, or fatigue to set in.
I thank our allies for their presence and cooperation in strengthening the security of our country and the Baltic region.
We cannot view our security out of context. We need a common position and decisiveness when providing military support to Ukraine, deciding Ukraine’s future in the European Union and NATO, and also building Europe’s military capabilities, which requires rapid development of the military industry.
Therefore, while strengthening our military capabilities and internal security, we must be prepared to act quickly and decisively. Indeed, security is one of the highest priorities of the draft state budget for the next year. Likewise, moving forward, investment in Latvia’s defence needs to be increased in a targeted manner every year.
Responsible decisions have already been taken in strengthening the National Armed Forces, such as:
- establishing the State Defence Service;
- adopting the decision to establish the Selonia Military Training Area, which will, among other things, provide opportunities for hosting larger military units of our NATO allies.
I sincerely thank the staff of our interior system—border guards, police officers, firefighters-rescuers—for protecting our state border and mitigating external immigration.
Today, I thank all the people of Latvia who with their attitude, actions, and work do everything in their power to make us proud of our country, respect one another, and feel safe at our home, in our homeland.
We need to ensure that information attacks do not threaten national security and we must be prepared for civil protection challenges. It is important to introduce the civil protection system throughout the territory of Latvia by actively implementing civil protection measures at local government level. This will improve cooperation between the state, municipalities, and citizens.
We need to find funding in order not only to introduce a stable and reliable public warning system, but also to educate all stakeholders and to provide the necessary material reserves in emergency situations.
It is important to understand that peace is more than just absence of disturbances or conflicts, it is an active process involving justice, respect for human rights, economic development, and sustainable environment. Peace requires cooperation and dialogue to address common challenges, such as reducing poverty and international instability.
The government has developed a balanced state budget for the next year, which will contribute to Latvia’s development, prosperity and security.
The main national priorities—security, education, and health—all involve economic development. It is important to acknowledge the contribution of entrepreneurs to the state budget and to underline that entrepreneurship is what generates income, contributing to our country’s growth.
The development of the national economy requires modern and effective entrepreneurship focused on exportability and knowledge-intensive production.
Only coordinated cooperation in education, science, innovation, housing, finance and capital, employment, and investment fields can provide a solid basis for the long-term economic development of our country.
Support measures for small and medium-sized enterprises need to be increased. This type of entrepreneurship is the driving force of a dynamic economy and the development of local communities, an essential element of regional balance. It is therefore important to support regional development and entrepreneurship not only in urban centres, but also in rural areas.
As a result of geopolitical and economic challenges, we have had to address issues related to energy supply and huge increases in electricity prices after abandoning fossil fuels.
We have worked on adapting the state energy policy to the current situation, knowing that the energy supply system is the basis for people’s daily lives and business development.
We have demonstrated our ability to respond to problems, for example, by finding a quick solution to electricity supply issues that affected every household in Latvia this year.
I am convinced that it is with the active efforts of the current Saeima that we will remain able to act and take the necessary steps to achieve full energy independence of our state as soon as possible.
I believe that we are a nation that loves our land, which we all share and which at the same time is unique for each one of us. Latvia is as close and dear to our hearts as only a homeland can be.
Freedom, Independence, and Democracy are our fundamental values. They are rooted in each one of us, and it is our sacred duty to honour, nurture, and protect these values.
I urge everyone to work together to increase prosperity in Latvia, to have mutual understanding and respect, so that we could all be safe. I believe that by joining forces we can overcome any difficulties.
Today, Latvia celebrates the 105th anniversary of its freedom and independence. This day is the source of pride and respect for our country. On this festive day, we all recognise the spirit of Latvia, which is alive and strong like the everlasting oak tree that grows on our land.
Let us honour this day and may our country withstand every storm and preserve peace and prosperity for our people in the future.
To conclude my speech, I would like to quote the somewhat controversial, yet historically significant statesman, Kārlis Ulmanis:
“Let us gather our resolve, get up, and embark on our work, and may there be a thought to fortify us, restore our strength when we start to tire, keep us steadfast and resolved when navigating new paths, and the thought is: the times ahead belong to us.”
I am certain that with dedicated and selfless work the times ahead indeed will belong to us, the times that will make us proud as a nation, and our motherland Latvia will also look at us with pride.
God bless Latvia!