Address by Kārlis Eihenbaums, Ambassador of Latvia to Canada
Baltic 100 Celebration at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto
23 September 2018
Hello to everybody! Tere! Labadiena! Labdien!
Dear Friends, it is very touching to be in front of such a nice representation of people like us Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians where ever we are actually living. We are proud people from the Baltics.
My thanks to those who have made this event happen. My wife Ināra and I are very happy that you are here today in the heart of Toronto to celebrate with us the centennial anniversaries of the established or renewed statehood of our countries.
On the 18th November, Latvia will have stood as an independent and free state for 100 years. We’re 100 years young, because for a state it’s just the beginning. You folks know it very well from your own, Canadian history.
Today I would like to mention a few things where we, so to say, stand in Canada.
I am happy that we started building a monument called “Tribute to Liberty” in Ottawa, the federal capital of Canada, which will highlight and spotlight Canada as a land of refuge. This will also be a monument to the victims of the regimes that stole people’s liberty, a monument to many who suffered, and to the few who were fortunate enough to find their liberty again in Canada. Among them are so many Latvians, and many of them and their descendants are here today.
This monument will be a reminder that the problems on other continents are not as far away as we may think.
I am glad that Latvia is among the supporters of this monument to decency and respect. We’re hoping it will bring an important message to anyone visiting Canada’s beautiful capital and to the residents of Ottawa.
We give great thanks to Canada for not only the readiness to stand by our side as an ally, but also for the physical troop deployment in Latvia over the course of 2017.
Your soldiers, Canadians, are protectors of democratic values and you all bear them within you. You are protectors of an international order that is a foundation for peace and stability. You are NATO solidarity in action. You embody your country, Canada.
Your troops — standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Spanish, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Albanian, Czech and Slovak soldiers in Latvia — help make sure that the world we want to go out and explore is now much safer for everyone.
This enhanced, defensive presence is a strong confirmation of reassurance and resolve. This deployment benefits all allies across Europe. Whether they are along the shores of the Baltic Sea: Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south, but also Poland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and even non-NATO countries like Sweden and Finland.
Canada is confirming its worldwide engagement and leadership. It’s ready to stand up and fight for common values in the face of those who seem uncertain about the distinctions between good and evil, and ready to square off with those who, unfortunately, have not learned the lessons of history.
Let’s also note that we are up against an extremely well-funded, well-oiled, state-controlled media. This propaganda skillfully muddles the truth so much so that even well-educated people become disoriented.
My thanks, therefore, goes out not just to Canadian soldiers but also to Canadian journalists, who find Latvia on the map by actually going there. Reporters who weigh their words, and study my country. Writers that work hard to get the story straight and not just hearing what they want to hear; or what others want them to hear.
This is a mission that depends not only on land, sea, and air power, but also in the information space perhaps now more than ever before.
I give thanks from my heart, and I speak not only for myself but for Latvians in Latvia, and for more than twenty thousand Latvians that are living in Canada, most of whom found refuge here in dark times.
This is a country that Latvians like. Polls prove that Latvians in Latvia see themselves as connected with Canada and drawn to it, as a land of promise. And because Canadians are friendly and tough.
And yes, there’s the hockey connection. You know we have a secret weapon now: coaches from Canada. This spring, our world championship team was coached by a Canadian: Bob Hartley from Hawkesbury, Ontario and we did very well. Before Hartley, we had Chief Ted Nolan, and in 2014 we came awfully close to beating you in the Olympics!
Thank you for joining us, and being with us in support of the independence that we all hold dear. This is independence for which a dear price was paid. Independence that should not be treated lightly, or taken for granted.
Your Prime Minister, with his extended delegation during his visit to Latvia just recently in July, showed full commitment to continue the work we started together. We look forward to strengthen it all. Together we are united in our resolve to protect Alliance territories and prevent conflict.
We welcome Canada’s contribution to Euro-Atlantic defence and feel good that Latvia is the host country for the Canadian-led NATO battlegroup.
This trans-Atlantic bond is essential to European defence. There is no substitute for this bond and Canada’s presence in Latvia is strengthening that bond and strengthening the peace in our peace-loving Baltic Sea region.
Thank you! Ačiu! Aitäh! Paldies!