Speech of Ambassador of Latvia Kārlis Eihenbaums at the Reception in Ottawa on the occasion of the Centennial Anniversary of the Republic of Latvia.
Latvia at 100.
Ottawa, 31 October 2018.
Good evening! Bonsoir! Labvakar!
My wife Ināra and I, and our son Rūdolfs, who is here visiting your beautiful country, are very happy that tonight you are celebrating my country’s centennial birthday with us here in Ottawa. My thanks to those who have made this event happen.
Special thank you to my friend, and chair of the Canada-Baltic-Nordic Parliamentary Friendship Group, Mr Jamie Schmale MP, for making this event happen here in the magnificent Sir John A. Macdonald Building.
These premises used to be an old bank’s headquarters, and now they host your parliament in its important work for democracy. I think it is very symbolic because both democracy and financial stability are so important in our lives. So for our celebration of Latvia’s centennial there’s probably no better place in Ottawa.
Just a few welcoming words in my native Latvian language:
Īpaši liels prieks ir par Jums, latviešiem, kas ieradušies no tuvuma un tāluma, lai svinētu Latvijas Republikas 100. gadadienu, paldies!
Our Latvian soldiers, the Latvian National Guard Orchestra Saxophone Quartet, are here in Ottawa to bring to you, to your folks in uniforms, and to your veterans, something that we are very proud of in Latvia, and something that is a big part of our ancient roots: music.
So, let’s begin the celebrations with the national anthems of Canada, Latvia, and the European Union.
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.
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 and Latvians are among the supporters of this monument to humanity, and to respect thereof.
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 since 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 it is 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, some of whom 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 hear they want to hear, or what others want them to hear.
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 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.
And having said this, let me ask the Honorable Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, to say a few words. The Minister was just on a visit to Latvia in July with Prime Minister and so whatever he may tell us comes from fresh firsthand impressions.
Thank you, Mr. Minister!
Indeed with Canada and Canadians we are sharing the same values, the same love for freedom and independence in our decisions and decision-making.
At this moment my friend - chair of the Canada-Baltic-Nordic Parliamentary Friendship Group, Mr Jamie Schmale MP would like to greet you too.
Thank you very much for all kind words indeed.
But now, it is time to enjoy the evening. Please taste some of our Latvian specialties. There are home-made rolls with bacon inside, and the world-renowned “Riga Sprats” on rye bread. No Latvian party would be complete without šprotes and pīrādzīņi. You should also be able to find some Latvian liquid delights. Some say these are extremely good if consumed responsibly. We say that Riga Black Balsam is good for everything, almost everything.
I send a big thanks to the efforts of my fellow Latvian Embassy staff in Canada and to our community in Ottawa who worked hard to prepare these traditional treats!
Let me conclude by expressing my appreciation for Latvians in Canada, and Canadians in Latvia, who, are making our countries stronger with their ideas, their energy, and their aspirations. To those who have made our nations stronger.
Thank you! Merci! Paldies!