Celebration of the 101st Anniversary of Latvia in Ottawa

08.11.2019. 19:49

Ambassador Kārlis Eihenbaums' address at the Reception on 7 November 2019 on the occasion of the 101st Anniversary of Latvia.

Kārlis Eihenbaums, Ambassador of Latvia to Canada

Latvia at 101

Parliament of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald Building, Ottawa

7 November 2019

Good evening! Bonsoir! Labvakar!

My wife Ināra and I are very happy that tonight you are celebrating my country’s one hundred and first birthday with us here in Ottawa — Canada’s lovely capital, that we have been proud to call home for the last three winters.

My thanks to those who have made this event happen.

Special thank you to my friend, the Honourable Senator Peter Boehm, for making this event happen here in the magnificent Sir John A. Macdonald Building for the second time in two years. We love it.

These premises used to house an old bank, and now they host the Canadian parliament in its important work for democracy. We’ve all just had the privilege to observe an important democratic exercise here in Canada: the 2019 federal election for the 43rd Canadian Parliament.

We are lucky to be in democratic countries like Canada or Latvia that enable their people to choose their governance. Our warm congratulations go out to all Canadians, and we are looking forward to continue working closely together to further strengthen our strong partnership, and a common stand for shared values.

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 101. valstiskuma gadadienu, paldies!

 

Dear friends,

So, let’s begin the celebrations with the national anthems of host country Canada, our beloved Latvia, and the European Union we are members already 15 years sung by the Latvian Choir “Atbalss” of Ottawa and Montreal.

***

Dear friends!

On the 18th November, Latvia will have stood as an independent and free state for 101 years.

Today, I would like to mention only a few things, and none of them are about the world-famous Canadian weather… or more precisely: winter.

But seriously, I’m very happy that we’ve finally begun building the monument, “Tribute to Liberty”, here in Ottawa in the Garden of Provinces.

It’s a monument to the victims of the regimes that stole people’s liberty, to the many who suffered, and, of course, to those who were fortunate enough to find their liberty again, here in Canada. This monument is very special for Latvian-Canadians, as it spotlights Canada as a welcoming land of refuge.

This monument is a reminder that the problems we’re seeing crop up on other continents are not just in someone else’s back yard. They’re very much global problems.

I am proud to see that Latvia, and Latvians, are among the supporters of this monument to humanity.

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 is to continue for a few more years.

It is no small task, and Canadian soldiers are serving protectors of democratic values. Canadians are the protectors of an international order that serves as a foundation for peace and stability. Canadians exemplify NATO solidarity in action.

Canadian troops in Latvia — standing shoulder-to-shoulder with soldiers from Spain, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Albania, Czechia, Slovakia, and Montenegro — help make sure that the world is now much safer for everyone.

This enhanced, defensive presence is a strong reassurance to Canada’s friends in Latvia. Not only that, 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’s presence in Latvia is strengthening the trans-Atlantic bond, and is keeping the peace in Europe.

Through its actions, Canada is confirming that it is ready to stand up and fight for common values in the face of those who cannot see distinctions between good and evil. Canada is ready to stand up to 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 machine skilfully muddles the truth so much that even well-educated people become disoriented.

I send a huge thanks to Canadian journalists and publications that weigh their words, study issues at depth, and help us navigate the disinformation. Canadian reporters work hard to get the story straight, and don’t just report on what others want them to hear.

Together, across the board, are united in our resolve to protect alliance territories, and prevent conflict.

Thank you for joining us, and being with us to celebrate our independence — for which a dear price was paid, and is not taken for granted.

We welcome Canada’s contribution to Euro-Atlantic defence, and feel honoured that Latvia is the host country for the Canadian-led NATO battlegroup.

Having said this, I would like to ask the Honourable, Senator Peter Boehm, to say a few words. Senator Boehm is not only one of the most experienced diplomats, but is also a great friend of Europe and Latvia with an extremely extensive knowledge-base and Continental roots.

***

Thank you, Senator!

I believe that we truly share the same values and enlightened decision-making with Canada and Canadians.

Thank you very much for your kind words.

Dear friends,

And now, I would like to invite you to enjoy the evening and taste some Latvian specialties. You’ll find home-made bacon-rolls – speķa pīrādziņi and, my favourite: “Riga Sprats” on rye bread. No Latvian party would be complete without Rīgas šprotes and speķa pīrāgi. We also have klinģeris, a delicious pretzel-shaped cake – something that we usually bake for special occasions like this one.

Once you’re done with those, you should also be able to find a Latvian ‘digestif’ called Riga Black Balsam. It used to be a medicinal drink in the old days, and so we like to think that it’s good for everything… especially when your Canadian winter coat isn’t warm enough.

(You can actually have it as an aperitif as well.)

I would like to say a big thanks to the efforts of my fellow staff at the Latvian Embassy in Canada — Solvita, Katrīna, Inga, and Agris, and their family members, who worked together as “Team Latvia” to bring you this wonderful event; and to our Latvian community in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, especially to Māra and Daina with their teams — who worked hard to prepare these home-cooked treats!

I am glad that Canadian soldiers, the Serenade of Strings of the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces, are here to perform for us tonight. Some of them have visited Latvia, even twice, and witnessed our pride in music — something that is a big part of our ancient roots.

I would like to conclude by expressing my appreciation for Latvians in Canada, and Canadians in Latvia, who, are making our countries stronger with their ideas, energy, and aspirations. Let us raise a glass to all of those who have strengthened our nations.

So let’s get to celebrating, Latvian-style.

Thank you! Merci! Paldies!