On 30 July at the National Library of Latvia, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, took part in the first Congress of European Latvians and the World Latvian Conference held as part of the congress. Alongside other developments concerning the diaspora, this meeting is a pivotal point in the diaspora policy.
These days saw the formulation of a roadmap for Latvia’s centenary. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also prepared to provide its contribution, said the Parliamentary Secretary and added that an agreement has been achieved with the Prime Minister that funding for measures in support of the diaspora will be from now on budgeted annually as the financial reference amount or core funding. This will ensure stability in planning long-term projects and put an end to current uncertainty, noted the Parliamentary Secretary. She also emphasised that a conceptual decision has been taken concerning the coordination of the work on diaspora policy under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry.
We have also agreed, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica noted, that funding for education projects will be considerably increased. Maintaining Latvian schools, supplying learning materials, books, and support for teachers – these are some of the most essential activities on a daily basis. For decades, weekend schools have had a decisive role to play in preserving the Latvian language and culture among Latvians worldwide, said the Parliamentary Secretary.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica recalled that Latvian summer high schools at Garezers, USA, and in Australia are a phenomenon to preserve which would be in everyone’s interests. New weekend schools have been established across Europe in recent years and their number has already reached 72. Hundreds of volunteer teachers are devoting their time and effort to this work, which definitely deserves our heartfelt gratitude.
In 1985, the Baltic Peace and Freedom Cruise linked the shores of Baltic countries to send a message that the dream of an independent Latvia was not anything impossible, it was not a utopia, but a realistic goal to aspire and work for. In this context, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica emphasised that “to think of the ways how Latvia can become the most successful country across the globe is much less a utopia than it was to hope, several decades ago, that Latvia will regain its independence. Latvians in Latvia and abroad, by pooling their efforts, aspirations, and resolve, by never giving up, restored Latvia’s statehood, freedom, democracy and openness. The next task is to actually develop Latvia into the most outstanding country in the world. The roadmap will definitely serve this major purpose.”
The first Congress of European Latvians took place from 28 to 30 July, and it was organised by the European Latvian Association. The event was also supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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