To celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the Baltic States, the Embassy of Latvia, the Embassy of Estonia and the Embassy of Lithuania in collaboration with the Capital Chamber Choir organized a Baltic choral music concert at the National Gallery of Canada on 23 October 2018.
Speech of Ambassador of Latvia Kārlis Eihenbaums:
Good evening! Bonjour! Tere! Labadiena! Labdien!
Personally, I like celebrations, and I hope you do too. I like them even more if we have the chance to present something where we are at our best — our culture and especially choral music.
It feels good to be here with a great audience like you and with a solid wall of singers. There are many types of walls and, usually, they are not neither effective, nor well-intentioned. We do not want to build new walls; we are actually good at taking them down.
The type of wall I referred to in the beginning was as a symbol of stability and necessity to protect yourself. With a wall of songs for the ages, we built our protection against those who wanted us to disappear, or wanted us to be their slaves. With a phenomenon known as the ‘singing revolution’ – in the late eighties and early nineties of the last century in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – we regained our independence, our respect, our nation-states, and more importantly: our dignity. With songs, we awoke as people, and as nations. With songs we stood firm as human wall against unseen evil and hypocritical lies. We call it the
Our songs, our humanity, and our values were stronger than the minds and deeds of those who did not understand the lessons of history. And they still are.
Tonight, our wall is the Capital Chamber Choir from Ottawa and they are linking our deep-rooted Baltic singing tradition with you, with Canada. By the way, our folksongs, folk melodies, and, over all, our song and dance festivals are UNESCO-recognised as a world heritage.
Dear Friends, it is very touching to be here, to speak, and to represent my country in this special centennial anniversary. We are proud to be 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 Ottawa to celebrate with us.
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.
Today, I would like to mention only a few things.
I am happy that we started building a monument called “Tribute to Liberty” here 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, to the many who suffered, and to those 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 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, which will continue for at least the next five years.
Your soldiers, Canadians, are protectors of democratic values and you all bear these values 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 that it is 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 skilfully 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 listening what they want to hear, or what others want them to hear.
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.
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 strengthening all of it. 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.
Canada’s presence in Latvia is strengthening the trans-Atlantic bond, and keeping the peace in Europe.
Thank you! Merci! Aitäh! Ačiu! Paldies!