On the 97th anniversary of Latvia’s de iure recognition, the Foreign Ministry launches a publication on the origins of the Latvian state and diplomacy

27.01.2018. 22:08

The formation of Latvian diplomacy and the Foreign Service, just like the formation of the state of Latvia took place through demanding work over a longer term; the process was very complicated at times, not always straightforward and easy. These two related processes and personalities on the path to the proclamation of the Republic of Latvia are reflected in a publication entitled “The Republic of Latvia and Diplomacy in the Making. From the mid-1800s to the exercise of people’s self-determination on 18 November 1918”, created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.    

The Young Latvians movement in the mid-19th century awakened national self-confidence, and stimulated national thinking and aspirations towards statehood. In the late 1903 in Switzerland, in the publication of the Latvian Social Democratic Union, “Proletāriets”, Miķelis Valters came forward with a slogan “Down with autocracy, down with Russia!”.

A great contribution to the establishment of Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service was made by former participants of the 1905 Revolution, who had learned foreign languages while in exile and could assume senior posts at the Foreign Ministry. Antons Balodis, Fēlikss Cielēns, Pēteris Sēja, and Georgs Bisenieks were among the most prominent. Also a number of activists who had worked in the Latvian refugee relief organisations in Russia during World War I, for instance, Fridrihs Vesmanis, Kristaps Bahmanis, Kārlis Zariņš, later became notable Latvian diplomats. 

The February Revolution and the overthrow of the monarchy in Russia in the early 1917 paved the way for the consolidation of the Latvian nation. Later in the year, with the aim of achieving Latvia’s independence, delegates from Latvian political parties and the organisations of refugees, soldiers and co-operators gathered in Valka and established the Latvian Provisional National Council. Its foreign affairs section operated in Petrograd in the first half of 1918, maintaining contacts with the diplomatic corps of the Western European countries. It was here that the first Foreign Minister of Latvia, Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics and envoy Jānis Sesks honed their diplomatic skills. Meanwhile the Democratic Bloc (Kārlis Ulmanis, Miķelis Valters and others) was functioning in Riga, under the conditions of the German occupation regime. On 11 November, Germany admitted defeat and signed the Armistice of Compiegne. In London, the representative of the Latvian Provisional National Council, Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics, received a note confirming the readiness of the British Government to grant provisional recognition to the Latvian National Council as a de facto independent body, pending a decision of the Peace Conference.

The Democratic Bloc and the Latvian Provisional National Council reached an agreement and, on 17 November 1918 in Riga, established the People’s Council. It was formed by eight Latvian democratic parties, from moderate right to moderate left. The People’s Council adopted the first constitutional act – its political platform.

The Republic of Latvia was officially proclaimed on 18 November 1918.

The Latvian people exercised their right to self-determination and established their own independent state.

The publication in Latvian and English is meant for diverse groups of readers, also foreign ambassadors, honorary consuls and the staff of Latvian diplomatic missions.

 


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