Your Excellency Maria Fernanda Espinosa,
President of the General Assembly;
Honorable representatives of the Mayor`s office;
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the eighth Ambassador of Latvia to the UN, I would like to thank you all for joining our celebration of the first centennial of the modern, democratic Latvian Republic that was proclaimed on November 18, 1918. The Latvian state was established on the ruins of the First World War and soon after became a founding member of the League of Nations - precursor of the United Nations. However, the first period of independence lasted only a short 22 years. During WWII the Latvian state was destroyed by the successive Soviet and Nazi occupations. We will never forget that more than 30 UN member states refused to recognize this illegal annexation.
Moreover, this brutal period did not erase the freedom aspirations of the Latvian people. In the late eighties and early nineties, a peaceful - almost Gandhi style independence movement called the Singing Revolution succeeded in achieving the restoration of our sovereignty and legitimate international status. Thank you for your support, friendship and solidarity at a time when my nation underwent multiple trials and tribulations.
On September 17, 1991 Latvia joined the United Nations. In less than 30 years, Latvia has telescoped its development from a former captive nation and a recipient of international assistance to a champion of rule of law, effective multilateralism, digital governance and climate protection. Latvia stands ready to share our recent transformational experience, our knowledge of building inclusive society, sustainable development, and regional integration. We have a vision of a better UN and a more just world, which is why in 2006 Latvia put forward a former President Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga as the first ever female candidate for the position of the UN Secretary General, stressing the urgency of gender parity worldwide.
Latvians understand well that true multilateralism means actions, not words. Therefore, Latvia supports collective security by contributing to peacekeeping operations like MINUSMA in Sahel, as well a number of international missions in Georgia, Ukraine, Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.
I would like to thank you all for sharing with us our joy on this particular occasion that can occur only once in a lifetime. Our lesson for the first 100 years is the following – never stay silent, alone, passive when injustice takes place. Always strive for collective, regional, multilateral resolutions. Together we can achieve much more. Only joint actions can address the pressing issues that the global community faces today.
On a final note, one of my new colleagues at the UN offered a good explanation on the difference between diplomatic service at a bilateral embassy and a mission at the UN. In terms of music styles, the work at an embassy reminds of playing country music, whereas at the UN your efforts resemble playing jazz. Here, it is much more about improvisation, initiative and sometimes risk taking. So tonight, a Latvian-American jazz quintet led by Arta Jēkabsone will help us to get the right rhythm to uplift our spirits. Please enjoy this very special day!
I raise my glass to the wealth, health and happiness of all those present tonight!
Long live Latvia and the United Nations!
Thank you all again.