Egils Levits
Egils Levits

Today I would like to symbolically address the members of the Constitutional Assembly.

100 years and three days ago to the date, you, dear elected representatives of the Latvian people, convened the Constitutional Assembly to establish two important insignia for the people and the state. I am talking about the coat of arms and the flag, which together with our anthem embody all the pivotal qualities and self-awareness our nation and national identity has. They represent the road that we have walked and the road ahead of our nation.

National coat of arms depicts the historical Latvian lands and their statehood. Lion comes from Duchy of Kurzeme and Duchy of Zemgale, while griffin represents Pārdauga duchies: Vidzeme and Latgale. With rising sun on top symbolising the growth of Latvia.

Crimson-white-crimson flag of Latvia epitomises the unity of our people and the state.

Marģers Skujenieks, your colleague, once said during the Constitutional Assembly debate of 15 June 1921: ‘This flag has already won the hearts of people.’

And, indeed, crimson-white-crimson flag dates back to ancient chronicles and its colours were used in the first flag of the National Song and Dance Festival. Latvian riflemen used the flag in their battles of the World War I. War of Independence, when we pushed Bermontians and Red Army out of Latvia, was fought under the crimson-white-crimson flag.

Dear members of the Constitutional Assembly,

You decided to weave the essence of our country into our coat of arms and national flag. You gave people symbols that unite in the good and the bad times.

You were the ones who witnessed crimson-white-crimson flag flying proudly above the Latvian homesteads when Latvia surged after the World War I and joined the other European countries as an equal.

Those of you who were not shot dead or tortured to death at soviet camps carried the crimson-white-crimson flag in your heart.

Flag was the symbol of national resistance that continued to fight the soviet power with guns in their arms up until the late 1950s. You hid the flag and kept it safe for the next generations. Despite oppression and sanctions of the occupation era, it flew above the highest towers time and time again. It reminded us that we are entitled to our own state. It gave us strength to restore our state.

Today our crimson-white-crimson flag proudly flies on top of a flagpole at the United Nations headquarters, NATO and European Union institutions.

Dear members of the Constitutional Assembly, dear elected representatives, I want to thank you for all the strength you gave us in the first centenary of our nation! Flag, coat of arms and anthem will always be part of Latvian people, forever more.

God bless Latvia!