On 23 October 2020, Liepāja hosted a ceremony for handing over the memorial plaque of Miķelis Valters, the first Latvian Minister of the Interior, a diplomat and statesman, to Liepāja Museum for safekeeping. Ilmārs Jānis Miķelis Jēkabsons, the grandson of Miķelis Valters, presented the museum with the plate that once marked Valters’ grave in the Eastern Cemetery in Nice at his funeral in 1968. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs arranged for the plate to be brought to Latvia and today it has been taken to Liepāja.
At the ceremony, remarks were delivered by Dace Kārkla, Director of the Liepāja Museum and Atis Deksnis, Deputy Chairman of Liepāja City Council, as well as Valda Jēkabsone-Valtere, Miķelis Valters’ daughter-in-law.
Gints Jegermanis, Director of the European Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told those who had gathered how the Foreign Ministry and the Latvian Embassy in France contributed to bringing Miķelis Valters back to Latvia, and about his memorial ceremony at Riga Castle and reburial at the First Meža Kapi (The Forest Cemetery).
Toms Ķikuts, historian and Deputy Director for Research at the National History Museum of Latvia, spoke about Valters’ link with Liepāja – his childhood, youth and what he was doing in 1919.
During the ceremony, the quintet of musicians from the National Armed Forces’ Navy Band performed several pieces composed in Latvia in the 1920-30s.
In the early 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Latvia in France, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and Miķelis Valters’ family, began planning Miķelis Valters’ reburial in Latvia.
The body of Miķelis Valters was exhumed from the Eastern Cemetery in Nice, in France, on 11 August 2020, and transported to Latvia for reburial on an airBaltic flight three days later.
On 23 September, a memorial ceremony for Miķelis Valters was held in Riga Castle, followed by his reinterment at the First Meža Kapi (Forest Cemetery).
Statesman Miķelis Valters (1874-1968) was Latvia’s first Minister of the Interior, a politician, diplomat, journalist and literary figure. He had a major role to play in shaping and formulation of the idea of an independent Latvia and in the establishment of the state. From October 1919, Miķelis Valters was a diplomatic representative for Latvia in Italy, in March 1921 – and became Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Italy in November 1921 – as well as non-resident Minister to Spain and Portugal. Miķelis Valters had also been posted as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to France, Poland, Hungary, Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as Consul to Königsberg (East Prussia).
In recognition of the contributions and efforts made by Miķelis Valters to the formation and establishment of the Latvian state, a conference titled Un centenaire à l’heure de l’Europe. La Lettonie was held in Nice on 22 March 2018.
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