Today, President of Latvia Egils Levits visited Džūkste, the birthplace of the second president of Latvia Gustavs Zemgals, to take part in an event commemorating the 150th birthday of Gustavs Zemgals. In his address to participants, President Levits noted with pleasure that Džūkste takes great pride in its exceptional son and continues to hone and further his memory: ‘Gustavs Zemgals is one of the most prominent figures in the history of Latvia and Džūkste, and the whole Tukums region, is doing a great job furthering his memory.’
Egils Levits highlighted the role of the former president in creating the state of Latvia. The historical decision to establish the People’s Council of Latvia and proclaim the Latvian State was taken at Gustavs Zemgals’ home. He personally coordinated the proclamation procedures on 18 November 1918 and People’s Council of Latvia from Riga and Liepāja during those critical first six months for the Latvian State. ‘Latvian people did not have their own state on 17 November 1918. Latvians made a huge leap from a nation not having its own state to a nation with its own state, and Gustavs Zemgals was the main source of inspiration for this move.’
President Levits specifically emphasised the importance of Gustavs Zemgals being one of the most respected Latvian statesmen who followed the footsteps of president Jānis Čakste in terms of strengthening democratic traditions, democratic rule and our statehood. ‘Jānis Čakste and Gustavs Zemgals were great changemakers who helped put our country on the right track. Jānis Čakste, the first president of Latvia, established democratic traditions in our country, and Gustavs Zemgals continued to reinforce them as the second president of Latvia.’
President Levits also planted an apple tree at the Gustavs Zemgals memorial as a tribute to the memory of the former head of the state.