Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure of mine to welcome all of you today at the Embassy of Latvia. We are gathered here in order to celebrate 95th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia.
It is deeply symbolic that our National Day, 18th of November, comes in a week known for remembrance of the Armistice in Compiegne. For obvious reasons our Republic is a true child of this Peace Agreement that ended the World War One or, the War of Wars, as it is known in history narrative.In those distant days of November 1918, the proclamation of independent state, given the current circumstances, was exceptionally risky and dangerous endeavour. But, it was even more difficult to defend newly established State.
That time Latvia would not succeed without military support of the Allied Powers – Great Britain and France. We would not be able to stand a test of pressure without a shoulder of Estonian and Polish soldiers. That is why today, when the All Veterans Day still echoes on the both sides of the Atlantics, it is a very appropriate moment to thank the governments and military forces of these states for supporting our independence in those very critical days.
That was important then, and that is important today, when our soldiers together are on their duty in Afghanistan or on NATO military exercises like recent exercises Stead Fast Jazz 2013 in the Baltic Sea region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
During these years the United States of America has always stood as a true friend of Latvia. Our relationship, built on non recognition of the Soviet annexation of Latvia and on a solid foundation of shared values of democracy and human rights, is of strategic importance for my country.
I am extremely pleased to note that this year has fully demonstrated a very vibrant and diverse character of these relations. Just few facts to mention :
- The highest political level visit to the US by the President of Latvia to the Baltic-US Summit in August;
- Visit of the Speaker of the Latvian Parliament to the US during US governmental shut down and no meetings cancelled.
- Visits of different line ministers.
- Battletested allied relations in advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan.
- The building the Northern Distribution Network, a critical transit route that provides so needed supplies for the US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
- Promotion of Transatlantic relations, including active advocacy to facilitate conclusion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement.
- Shared interests and joint activities to bring closer to the Transatlantic family countries of Eastern Europe.
These are good indicators of a high political activity between the two states.
The Baltic-US Summit this August gave us a chance to reassess achieved accomplishments and to set priorities for future. Latvia`s success story in dealing with recent financial crisis has been recognized by extending invitation this year to join OECD. Introduction of European Single Currency – EURO from the January 1st next year would place Latvia in a core of European integration. Our relations with the US will benefit from this. Latvia has a strong interest jointly expand trade ties, enhance strategic cooperation with the US to address global security challenges, and advancing democracy and human rights around the world. Latvia and the US are NATO allies, bound by shared transatlantic values and holding common vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace.
We, employees of the Embassy, are looking with great anticipation and excitement towards next few years that do promise to be exceptionally dynamic and event rich for Latvia.
I would like to mention, that those among you that are here today, and many other Americans, who will wish it, will be able to enjoy this dynamism and richness already from the beginning of the next year.
In 2014 Riga, the Capital City of Latvia will be crowned as the European Capital of Culture. The 800 hundred years old lady City of Riga is ready to welcome all visitors. Her charms are recognized by many. The Lonely Planet has recently put the City among the top 5 places in the World that is worth to visit in 2014. For me, believe it, it is impossible to disagree.
Ladies and gentlemen,
May I raise a glass and make a toast for prosperity and wellbeing of the peoples of Latvia and the United States of America!