Address by the President of the Republic of Latvia H.E. Vaira Vīke-Freiberga, at the opening of the exhibition "ON GUARD FOR LATVIA'S STATEHOOD" Latvia's Foreign Service Staff in Exile During the Years of Occupation June 17, 1941 - August 21,1991

24.03.2004. 14:57

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to start by congratulating Ministry of Foreign Affairs and particularly Madame Minister for the initiative of creating such an exhibition in which at least symbolically we see the return to their native land and to the institution in whose name they worked for so many long decades, of all those people who brought high the torch of belief in Latvia's independence and in Latvia's statehood.

I had a conversation just two days ago at the International Forum on Genocide in Stockholm with a congressman from the United States who told me an anecdote of how many years ago when he had first got elected, he received a visit from three persons, each one of them representing one of the Baltic states, claiming to speak in their name and asking for continued support from the United States Congress to the idea of non-recognition - the incorporation, the annexation, the occupation of Baltic states into the Soviet Union. He said that he did not know much about it, that it was all news to him, and while he sat there patiently listening to these persons make their case, he thought to himself: "What an incredible trio of dreamers, and how donquixotic can you get in your dreams and aspirations?" And he said: "I tried not to show it but I thought to myself what a hopeless cause here was represented, where do they get a courage and a strength to continue working hard on such an idea that is so visibly utopic as the idea of restituting the sovereignty, the independence of three Baltic nations".

We did have these people, these donquixotic notions of the sanctity to Latvia's right to independence shared by our Estonian and Lithuanian brothers abroad. It was the spirit, which animated both the organizations of the exiles in all their forms, as well as their diplomatic representatives. And, yes, in many ways the single idea was glamorous to claim to represent countries that de facto had not their existence for so many long decades.

Some of you sometimes may come across the novel, I must admit I do not remember the author and the title - it was a spy thriller set in London at some point and it made a reference to the Latvian diplomatic representation there with very, I might say, superficial and arrogant attitude about obscure little country with obscure little representation, with a totally crazy idea of somehow claiming to represent the rights of these countries to their independence. You see, these people, no matter how hopeless and how unjustified their claims might have seen to others, were recognized by the official governments of a whole long list of important countries and why? Because they did have official, legal inheritance, as it were, of their right to represent Latvia abroad.

I think it was one of the wisest steps that had been taken before the end of Latvian statehood, the legal right to represent Latvia to some of our representatives abroad which was then taken on in a way of inheritance by others following. And by that extremely important manner the recognition of Latvia de iure could be maintained, we could convince others of the justification of maintaining it and we could demand in a way and obtain their agreement to the non recognition of the annexation of Latvia into the Soviet Union.

These few dreamers, these don quixotes who went in the world in their tiny little offices with the resources that came from a wisely invested golden deposits of Latvia abroad - they continued to work as impossible as it may seem. Their dream came true, the continuity was established, the legal de iure status of Latvia has continued to be uninterrupted since the recognition of Latvia in 1918. That is something of extremely great importance to us all - current generations, past generations and future ones as well.