On January 27, 2012 at an award ceremony at the Embassy of Latvia, Ambassador Andrejs Pildegovics, on behalf of the President of the Republic, presented the Order of Three Stars to Mr. Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution. Over the years Mr. Talbott has been a true friend and supporter of Latvia.
Following are the Ambassdor's remarks at this momentous occasion:
Remarks by Andrejs Pildegovics, Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia at the award ceremony of Mr.Strobe Talbott
January 27, 2012
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my true pleasure to welcome all of you to the Embassy of Latvia on a very pleasant occasion. We have gathered to honor Mr. Strobe Talbott, an exceptional human being, one of the most prominent and dedicated friends of the Baltic States. Strobe Talbott is widely known world wide as an accomplished American diplomat, analyst and thinker, and of course as the President of the Brookings Institution.
The timing of this ceremony is quite special as well, since in this time of the year we in Latvia commemorate a culminating point in our strivings for freedom-the barricades of January of 1991. January 26 is also a professional day of diplomats. On that day in 1921 the modern Latvian state achieved international recognition by the Allied states.
During his illustrious professional career Mr. Talbott has played a significant role in the fate of the Baltic States. Your professional involvement, objective analysis and principled approach have been crucial in shaping the course of the history in our region. On a number of occasions you demonstrated a very unique ability to see the ultimate limits of the possible, to identify those rare windows of opportunity at the turning points of events and were determined to do the utmost to seize them to the full potential.
Let me mention just a few highlights, milestones in the quite recent history of my nation:
In 1986, when the permafrost of the Cold War had just started to melt, as a TIME magazine journalist you attended the Jûrmala Conference that at that time was one of the first forums between the public figures, intelligentsia, civil activists of the United States and the former representatives of the Soviet Union. This conference, which was held in a still captive Soviet Latvia, became a powerful catalyst of change for the whole Baltic region. I recall vividly the media coverage of this event as well as the stories that my father told me after this first open public exchange on the ground between the Americans, Latvians of the free world and a diverse pool of representatives of the Soviet captive Latvia. The genie of freedom, free discussion, free debate, free associations, free discourse about the Soviet illegal occupation of the Baltic States was released out of the bottle at this gathering. At that historic time you helped to spread the story of the Baltic nations to the wider public of the free world. A few months later, our nations successfully stated our aspirations in a peaceful freedom movement later called the Singing Revolution.
After restoration of independence, during your tenure at the State Department Mr. Talbott was engaged in high level negotiations to remove the former Soviet troops from Latvia. The withdrawal of Soviet troops from the Baltics from the historical perspective was an absolute success that paved the way for the Baltic States to apply to the full-fledged membership in Euroatlantic structures.
Under your leadership the late Ron Asmus together with the Baltic foreign ministers drafted the US-Baltic Charter, the instrument for our preparation for the NATO membership. In 1998, during your visit to Riga I as a press secretary of the Latvian MFA had the privilege to organize your press conference with Baltic foreign ministers. Your open, pragmatic, balanced approach has been very effective, persuasive and motivating. It boosted internal confidence of the Baltic peoples, and reassured that the ultimate goal will be attained. In 2002, ten years ago, at the Prague Summit the Baltic States were invited to join NATO.
In your current position at the helm of the well-respected Brookings Institution, Mr.Talbott has remained committed to the advancement of freedom, democracy and human rights around the world - be it during the Arab Spring, or reset of the US relations with Russia. Mr.Talbott has been continuing a lifelong commitment to building of the modern transatlantic partnership. The recent discussion with the German foreign minister hosted by the Brookings Institution on the future of the euro is the most recent testimony to his strong determination. By the way, Latvia is the closest EU member state that is aspiring to join the Euro as of January 1, 2014.
Let me congratulate you once again. I am glad to state today that our success has been also the success of your endeavors. On behalf of the President of the Republic let me to convey on you the Order of the Three Stars, the highest state decoration of the Republic of Latvia.