THEME IN FOCUS
No. 16, 23 August 2001
- Ten years anniversary marked since restoration of Latvia's independence
- Balts thank U.S. ex-President for contributing to their independence restoration
- Conference "Complicated Road from Socialist Dictatorship to Democracy" analyses events and circumstances of the restoration of Latvia's independence
- Museum of Barricade Days of January 1991 opened
- National Armed Forces mark 10th anniversary of their formation after the restoration of independence
- Latvian National Guard to celebrate 10th anniversary this week
- Law On the Statehood of the Republic of Latvia
- Concurrent Resolution of the U.S. Congress congratulating the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the tenth anniversary of the end of their illegal incorporation into the Soviet Union
- Useful links
Ten years anniversary marked since restoration of Latvia's independence
On 21 August 2001 a celebratory Parliament meeting and flower laying ceremony at the Freedom Monument in Riga, as well as other events marked the celebration of the10th anniversary since the constitutional restoration of independence of the Republic of Latvia.
Latvia's top officials, former Supreme Council and Government members, as well as foreign diplomats and Parliament representatives attended the Parliament meeting on 21 August with the speeches by Parliament Speaker Mr Janis Straume and the former Chairman of the Supreme Council Mr Anatolijs Gorbunovs. After the meeting, Latvian officials and guests placed flowers at the Freedom Monument, the symbol of Latvia's independence. Several exhibitions, events and concerts were held during the day in Riga, including the international conference "Complicated Road from Socialist Dictatorship to Democracy".
Latvian Parliament Speaker Mr Janis Straume at the Parliament meeting on Tuesday noted that 21 August 1991 marked a turning point in the history of Latvia and Europe. The adoption of the constitutional law about the Latvian state declared full independence of Latvia and opened for the Baltic State a door to new processes, ideas, said Mr Straume. "In 1991 the EU and NATO was a distant, even a utopian goal for us, today we have been recognised by both Europe and the world," said the Speaker.
The first Head of Government of the independent Latvia Mr Ivars Godmanis, told BNS that 4 May 1990, the January barricades in 1991 and 21 August, as well as the victory of the Popular Front at the Supreme Council elections are constituent stages of restoring Latvia's independence and important pages of the country's and people's history.
"I remember the bravery of Latvia's Supreme Council members in passing this independence law, the bravery of Government members and the fearlessness when facing the ruling military predominance, as well as the bravery of Government security guards in the events of direct military confrontation," said Mr Godmanis.
On 21 August 1991 the Latvian Supreme Council passed the constitutional law "On the Statehood of the Republic of Latvia", creating a foundation for restoration of the country's independence and statehood.
Balts thank U.S. ex-President for contributing to their independence restoration
On 21 August 2001 former Supreme Council leaders from the three Baltic States sent a joint letter to the former U.S. President George Bush, noting the U.S. contribution to restoration of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian independence. The letter was sent on the 10th anniversary since the restoration of Latvia's independence.
This anniversary had brought to Riga men, who headed the Soviet-style parliaments or Supreme Councils of the Baltic States at the time the three countries sought to break free from the Soviet Union. Mr Anatolijs Gorbunovs of Latvia, Mr Vytautas Landsbergis of Lithuania and Mr Arnold Ruutel of Estonia in the letter to the former U.S. President noted the consistent U.S. policy of refusing to recognise incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union.
The former Supreme Council leaders also said they appreciated current support by the U.S. to the Baltic States' efforts to achieve their political, democratic and economic development goals. The letter expressed hope for continued U.S. support to the Baltic States on their movement to NATO.
Conference "Complicated Road from Socialist Dictatorship to Democracy" analyses events and circumstances of the restoration of Latvia's independence
On 21 August 2001 a conference "Complicated Road from Socialist Dictatorship to Democracy" organised by the Museum of the Latvian Popular Front was held at the Congress House. In order to analyse the historical circumstances of the restoration of independence of Latvia, experts in history, economy, and political science from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden and Russia, as well as current and former state officials participated in the conference.
The Prime Minister of Latvia Mr Andris Berzins opening the conference said, "I am sure that, considering Latvia's complicated history, our main task is and will be to ensure the irreversibility of our state's independence." The only way Latvia can do it today is to join NATO, he added.
Russian academician Alexander Yakovlev, one of the 'architects' of the democratisation processes in the Soviet Union in 1990s, delivered a speech at the conference. He congratulated the people of Latvia with breaking free from the repressive Soviet regime and reminded that ten years ago the people of Latvia and Russia overcame their common enemy - the violent Soviet regime.
The Ambassador of Sweden to Latvia Mr Tomas Bertelman held a speech at the conference accentuating the importance of international support in the Baltic people's struggle for the restoration of the countries' independence, whereas the first Head of Government of Estonia Mr Edgar Savisaar and a Lithuanian philosopher Prof. Bronislav Kuzmick reminded that the Baltic States could restore their independence only in a united struggle, and the spirit of togetherness is to be maintained and tended also in future.
Latvijas Vestnesis, BNS
Museum of Barricade Days of January 1991 opened
On 21 August 2001, in honour of the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the constitutional law "On the Statehood of the Republic of Latvia", in the premises of the 1991 Barricade Participants Support Foundation (Kramu 3, Riga), the opening of the Museum of Barricades of 1991 was held. At the opening ceremony state officials as well as the active participants of the events of 1991 were present.
The exposition is on display in three rooms of the Foundation where a model of the Dome Square with fires and lorries depicting the atmosphere of January 1991 is placed. There is a map of Barricade Days of January 1991 with the defended objects in Riga, whereas in another room photographs and chronology of that time are displayed. In the background, speeches that were broadcast on the radio during the Barricade Days are played.
Opening the museum, a member of the Saeima Mr Romualds Razuks said: "At that time there was a shortage of information. We were not afraid of what would happen with us - the most dreadful was the not-knowing."
National Armed Forces mark 10th anniversary of their formation after the restoration of independence
The Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF) this year mark the 10th anniversary of their formation after the restoration of Latvia's independence in 1991. A number of events dedicated to this anniversary will be held throughout the country from August to November.
The round of festive occasions opened on 9 August 2001 with a NAF sports competition. A series of events are scheduled for 25 August, the 10th anniversary of the National Guard, which is a part of the Latvian NAF. On 19 September the army will mark the 10th anniversary since formation of the Special Tasks Unit.
November will be rich in celebrations with Latvian Defence Minister Mr Girts Valdis Kristovskis, and NAF Commander Col. Raimonds Graube holding receptions both for current and retired army officers. The NAF will also organise an international handball tournament from 6 to 12 November.
On 11 November the traditional date for commemorating Latvian soldiers, the army units will parade the streets of Riga and other largest Latvian cities. The ceremony to commend the best soldiers will be held on 14 November with another major parade to be staged by tradition on 18 November, the Latvian Independence Day.
Latvian National Guard to celebrate 10th anniversary this week
Just as all the national armed forces in Latvia, the National Guard is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, events set to be participated by the President of Latvia this weekend. The anniversary events will be staged on 25 August 2001 with a march of around 1,200 national guards along the embankment of the Old Town of Riga and on to the Freedom Monument and then the Brethren Cemetery.
The army orchestra will later be playing at the Mezaparks open air stage, followed by a speech by the President Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Army Commander Col. Raimonds Graube and Defence Minister Mr Girts Valdis Kristovskis, as well as by the Acting Commander of the National Guard, lt. Col Guntis Porietis.
On 23 August 1991 one of the first laws to be passed by the restored and independent Republic of Latvia was a law on the National Guard, specifying that it is a voluntary military organisation for self-defence. Its aim is to involve citizens of Latvia in the defence of the Latvian people and territory.
In a very short time thousands of voluntaries joined the National Guard across Latvia, numbering 10,000 by December 1991. Today the National Guard is a structure of the National Armed Forces, with around 15,000 people enrolled. Around 1,400 national guards are on full time service, while 13,500 carry out their duties in their free time from work.
Law On the Statehood of the Republic of Latvia
Full text. Translated by the Translation and Terminology Centre.
Cognisant of its responsibility on behalf of the people and having regard to the 4 May 1990 Declaration On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, the results of the 3 March 1991 National Plebiscite of the People of Latvia, and the fact that, as a result of the governmental overthrow of the U.S.S.R. on 19 August 1991, the institutions of constitutional state power and administration of the U.S.S.R. have ceased to exist, and it is not possible to implement Paragraph 9 of the Declaration On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia by means of negotiation, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia resolves as follows:
(1) It is hereby declared that Latvia is an independent, democratic republic wherein the sovereign power of the State of Latvia belongs to the people of Latvia and the statehood thereof is determined by the 15 February 1922 Constitution of the Republic of Latvia.
(2) Paragraph 5 of the 4 May 1990 Declaration On the Restoration of the Independence of the Republic of Latvia, which determined a transition period for the de facto restoration of the State authority of the Republic of Latvia, is hereby repealed.
(3) Until such time as occupation and annexation are abrogated and the Saeima has been convened, supreme state power in the Republic of Latvia shall be exercised in full by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia. Only the laws and the resolutions of the Supreme State power and State administrative institutions shall be in force in the territory of the Republic of Latvia.
(4) This constitutional law shall come into force upon adoption thereof.
of the Republic of Latvia A. Gorbunovs
of the Republic of Latvia I. Daudiss
Riga, 21 August 1991
Concurrent Resolution of the U.S. Congress congratulating the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the tenth anniversary of the end of their illegal incorporation into the Soviet Union
S . CON . RES . 34
Whereas the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were forcibly and illegally incorporated into the Soviet Union from 1940 until 1991;
Whereas their forcible and illegal incorporation into the Soviet Union was never recognized by the United States;
Whereas, from 1940 to 1991, thousands of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians were executed, imprisoned, or exiled by Soviet authorities through a regime of brutal repression, Sovietization, and Russification in their respective nations;
Whereas, despite the efforts of the Soviet Union to eradicate the memory of independence, the Baltic people never lost their hope for freedom and their long-held dream of full independence;
Whereas, during the period of 'glasnost' and 'perestroika' in the Soviet Union, the Baltic people led the struggle for democratic reform and national independence; and
Whereas, in the years following the restoration of full independence, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have demonstrated their commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and have actively participated in a wide range of international structures, pursuing further integration with European political, economic, and security organizations: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress--
(1) congratulates Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the tenth anniversary of the end of their illegal incorporation into the Soviet Union; and
(2) calls on the President to continue to build the close and mutually beneficial relations the United States has enjoyed with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania since the restoration of the full independence of those nations.
Passed the Senate July 18, 2001.
Special edition of "Current Latvia" (Nr. 3) on the occasion of the 10th anniversary since adoption of the Declaration of the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia: http://www.am.gov.lv/en/?id=4152