Egils Levits
Valsts prezidenta Egila Levita runa augstāko valsts apbalvojumu svinīgās pasniegšanas ceremonijā 2020. gada 21. augustā

Honourable Madam Speaker,

Honourable and dear recipients of honours,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the Riga Castle on this special day, August 21, when we celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of constitutional law ‘On the Statehood of the Republic of Latvia’, and present you the highest decorations of our state.

On this day, 29 years ago, our dear Latvia completed de facto restoration of its independence. Declaration of Independence, adopted on 4 May on behalf of the majority of people, paved the way for regaining full independence on the basis of state continuity principle. And full constitutional identity of Latvian State became a legal and social reality on August 21. We returned to international community and could start rebuilding our state.

Baltic countries became the focus of the whole world three decades ago. There was no scenario where anyone would have described how to break the shackles of 50-year long oppression by an empire. Latvians together with Estonians and Lithuanians had to find the way out themselves and set the precedent for the rest of the world.

Let us not forget that the Baltic Way preceded the fall of the Berlin Wall. Independence of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia triggered the collapse of the Soviet empire. Our courage became an inspiration for liberation movements in Central and Eastern Europe. Map of Europe and the world changed as we regained our freedom.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This not so distant past, which all of you in this room have experienced and been a part of, reminds us of how brave, strong and passionate about Latvia our people are. It reminds us that our nation is capable to take matters in its own hands and decide its destiny when the need arises. Nobody has ever presented independence and freedom to Latvia and its people on a silver platter. We had to fight for it with guns in our hands a hundred years ago, and effectively use non-violent resistance 30 years ago to get it back.

It was possible because everyone knew exactly what we wanted. We wanted to restore our national independence, create a parliamentary democracy. A country that belongs to the Western world.

It became possible because the driver of change, the Popular Front of Latvia, managed to align various different people and institutions that formed its parts around the common goal. Hundreds of thousands of people joined the movement and demonstrated the whole world that free Latvia is what all people want.

It became possible because the whole democratic world supported the approach chosen by the Popular Front: to gradually increase our demands, use non-violent resistance and acquire the power in a parliamentary way. This helped prevent what could have possibly spilled into a bloody conflict with security services of still very powerful occupation regime.

It became possible because people trusted their elected representatives.

It became possible because people never lost the dream of free Latvia. Our parents and grandparents, who had experienced the first period of independence, passed this belief down to next generations. The vision of independent Latvia inspired by members of resistance movement who opposed occupation right after the war and in later decades. The promise of free Latvia forever instilled in our landscape, language and culture.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I feel truly privileged to award the highest state honours to members of the Latvian Popular Front today.

Thank you everyone for making Popular Front into a well-oiled machine, for coordinating this mass movement of the people and ensuring that hundreds of thousands of people come to protests and the Baltic Way organised by Popular Front, thus showing the whole world that Latvia wants to become free!

Two days later, on 23 August, our civic society will gather again to show its solidarity with people of Belarus who are also struggling for freedom and democracy as we speak.

Thank you everyone for keeping our people informed 30 years ago, and those who made sure the story of Latvia’s struggle for freedom makes the front pages and top news of democratic newspapers and media around the world. Thanks to you, Western world went further and, instead of merely supporting us, demanded their governments to respect our choice.

Thank you everyone who risked their safety to protect Latvian boys from being forced to join the occupation army!

Thank you everyone who helped elect members of the Supreme Council who convincingly voted for the adoption of Declaration of Independence on 4 May despite the pressure of the soviet propaganda!

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed a real privilege for me to present these decorations to you today because you devoted the past three decades of your life to deepening of our democracy, rule of law, security and well-being.

Thank you everyone who taught our young generation and those who promoted our science! All the members of the national resistance movement and those who documented the activities of the movement for keeping our historical memory. Thank you to all the soldiers who had joined the international missions! Thank you, firefighters, rescue experts, border guards, police officers for keeping our country and its external borders safe! Thank you everyone who promotes high professional standards in our courts! And all those who protect and preserve the national heritage of Latvia and move our cultural environment forward. Thank you everyone who keeps creating wonderful music! Thank you everyone who helps our economy, innovations, social services and other fields advance!

I am proud to present the Order of the Three Stars, Order of Viesturs and the Cross of Recognition to some of the bravest and most responsible members of our society who have led Latvia towards better future. Each one of you has done their best and all of you deserve equal praise for what you have done.

The names of those who receive honours, your names, will forever remain in the modern history of the restored Republic of Latvia.

I want to thank all of you together and individually for making this possible! Free, independent, democratic nation state of Latvia is our common objective.

On behalf of the President of Latvia and Chapter of Orders, I want to express my sincere appreciation and deepest gratitude to you for all the work you have done. I would also like to wish to enjoy the feeling of being a part of the living history of Latvia that will never fade.

Thank you!

21.08.2020. Valsts prezidents Egils Levits 67 sabiedrības pārstāvjiem pasniedz augstākos Latvijas valsts apbalvojumus – Triju Zvaigžņu ordeni, Viestura ordeni un Atzinības krustu

Valsts prezidents 21. augustā Rīgas pilī pasniedz augstākos Latvijas valsts apbalvojumus 67 izcilām personībām