Dear recipients of the award, ladies and gentlemen,
Today we honour you – the people whose professionalism, public activities and civic contribution has been worthy of the highest praise that our state can give. It is a recognition of everything you have done for the Latvian State and its people.
Ceremony coincides with the 32nd anniversary of our restored independence. We became independent to live again in free and democratic state with the rule of law. And that is exactly the state we have today.
Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians decided to break free from the shackles of the Soviet Union and change the map of Europe three decades ago. Back then, Soviet Union kept going, but people in the Baltic countries had left a deep dent in its ‘impenetrable armour’ of greatness and might.
Soviet Union collapsed shortly after and Latvians, including you, were who speeded up its demise.
People in the Baltics courageously tore down the wall between East and West and solidified their place in the Western world.
Today we see Ukrainians fighting for their right to be a part of this world – its values and laws that we have already grown accustomed to. It is a world of free people, free speech, freedom to live anywhere you like and choose the immediate and more distant future for you country.
Own state is the only way a nation can survive in the long run, and Ukrainians are currently bravely fending off Russian invaders to defend their state.
War in Ukraine will decide the geopolitical constellation of tomorrow. It will determine how Europe will look, drawing the line between democratic West and authoritarian East. That is why Latvia is compelled to help Ukraine in all ways possible – militarily, politically and humanitarily.
We know what freedom, democracy, rule of law and nation state mean.
We know the amount of effort it took us in the past 32 years to build them, and we know that our statehood is a work in progress and will require constant attention.
State is its people. Each generation pushes its country further. Every one of us has the duty to continuously contribute to Latvia’s growth and development. You, dear recipients, are renowned for that.
Today we honour people who have devoted their professional life to making independent Latvia better and tirelessly strengthened civic values.
Today we honour medical workers who bravely and selflessly threw themselves into helping guard public health and safety against the ominous Covid-19 virus.
We honour people in culture and art whose talent and professional skills continue to shape our national culture.
We will present the honours to army troops who have served on international mission, border force and police officers who take care of our national security on daily basis.
We will honour judicial sector experts, researchers, teachers, entrepreneurs, municipal officials, national resistance movement members, historians, regional studies experts and prominent public figures.
Award will also be presented to those who reinforced unity and bond of Latvian diaspora with their homeland for many, many years.
Patriotism and professionalism of each recipient, supported by vast expertise, courage, determination and openness, is indeed worthy of the highest praise and acknowledgement that our country can provide.
As the President of Latvia, and on behalf of the Chapter of Orders, I thank everyone of you for the admirable work you have done – we all acknowledge that here today. You have made Latvia better.
Still, a lot remains to be done. Your desire, knowledge, courage and energy will be indispensable in this process. We also need more mutual respect, support and unity that this will bring.
Let’s work together for better Latvia for us all.
Congratulations and warmest of wishes on this glorious day!