On 1 July 2018, in the procession of the XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Celebration, the Latvian Diplomats Choir will carry a 95-year-old historic flag passed on by the Envoy of Latvia to the United States of America – a flag almost as old as the Latvian state.
In the pre-war Latvia, and also during the period of occupation, the flag was the attribute of head of the Latvian Legation in the USA. The Latvian Legation in the USA was opened in 1922, and the Law on the Flags of the Latvian State, Trading, Public Officeholders, Certain Institutions and Warships was passed in 1923.
The flag was presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Ambassador Jānis Lūsis, who had been serving as a diplomat in the Legation in Washington since 1986, joined the Latvian diplomatic service after the country regained independence, and was later posted as Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Italy, San Marino, and Malta.
As is common knowledge, the diplomatic relations between Latvia and the USA were meant to play a unique role in the history of the Latvian Foreign Service. The Welles Declaration, issued by Sumner Welles, the United States’ acting Secretary of State on 23 July 1940, underpinned the policy of non-recognition by the USA of the occupation of the Baltic States and ensured their diplomatic representation in Washington as far as 1991. The Latvian Legation in Washington was the only diplomatic mission of the state of Latvia abroad that continued functioning during the entire period of Latvia’s occupation.
The Latvian Diplomats Choir was established on 26 January 2016, on the 95th anniversary of the international de iure recognition of the state of Latvia, or the so-called Diplomats Day. The choir brings together Latvian diplomats, the Foreign Ministry staff, their family members and friends. It is for the first time that the choir under the guidance of its conductor Katrīna Jēkabsone, having been assigned Grade One in the Group A mixed choirs’ category in Riga, won the right to take part in the Latvian Nationwide Song and Dance Festival. In the procession, the choristers will wear various folk costumes representing the cultural and historical diversity of Latvia’s regions.
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