Dear Mrs Dzintra Geka!
Children of Siberia, their children and grandchildren!
14 June is a day of mourning. We commemorate the Latvians and foreigners who were forcibly taken to Siberia and other places in Russia in 1941, many of whom never returned to Latvia.
The Latvian state has a duty to remember the victims of foreign powers, to condemn the Communist and Nazi regimes and their crimes. This is enshrined in the Constitution. However, for those of us who have gathered here, as we do every year, this commemoration is, of course, much more than a duty. We are gathered here to honour the lives of these people. This is important from the point of view of our nation's common memory and statehood.
It is also important for ourselves because this history that we are remembering and talking about today is part of our own history - the history of our families and clans. It is a sense of loss for broken and unfulfilled lives, for destinies swept away by the Soviet regime, for injustice and powerlessness in the face of crime.
You in this room know best what it means to defy fate. Your spiritual strength and vitality, your ability to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds, to maintain yourself in the face of very difficult odds, is admired both by present and future generations. And at the same time not to lose the dream of Latvia.
The “Children of Siberia” Foundation does much-needed and invaluable work. You have been collecting and compiling the experiences of the people who went to Siberia for a long time. Evidence of tragedies that must not be forgotten is protected from oblivion. These memories are embedded in the common history of our people and our country, in our common national memory.
Only two institutions - the Latvian Occupation Museum and the "Children of Siberia" Foundation - carry out this work of collecting historical testimonies in a purposeful and regular manner.
This is my last meeting with you as President of the Republic of Latvia. During my presidency, deepening Latvia's historical awareness was always very important to me: the deeper our conscious roots, the stronger we are today in building an independent and democratic Latvia, and the stronger we are in the winds of globalisation.
Your work is an important element of the identity of the Latvian nation. The individual experiences and the time of the occupation for the Latvian nation need to be acknowledged and conclusions drawn from it. I think that to a large extent, we draw these conclusions, but they always need to be recalled. And in your events, these conclusions are always recalled.
The collective survival of our nation depends on the will of many individuals. The fulfilment of the purpose of our nation's existence is our independent, free, democratic state.
This spring, the "Children of Siberia" Foundation published the book "Mothers in Siberia". It is a memorial to Latvian women – mothers, who were deported to Siberia with their very young or older children.
I thank the "Children of Siberia" Foundation, Dzintra Geka and like-minded people for your persistent and fruitful work! I thank you, dear children and grandchildren of the children of Siberia, who are here today! Your work and your experiences are part of the identity and historical memory of all Latvians.
I thank every student who took part in this contest with their written works or drawings, already at this age participating in the formation of the identity of the Latvian nation. It is extremely important to tell this story again and to pass it on to future generations. This is necessary so that people can navigate today, in the reality of their time, and appreciate what we have been given - our independent, democratic Latvian state.
I wish everyone good health and a strong spirit, a confident view of tomorrow!
Let us keep working!
God bless Latvia!