Honourable Speaker of the Saeima,
Honourable Prime Minister,
Honourable members of the Saeima,
Dear residents of Latvia and friends of Latvia,
We are proud to live in a democratic and free country. It is a great value, opportunity and responsibility to build, develop and protect our Latvian state. Our Latvia is one and at the same time everyone's own. It is not homogeneous. It tends to be contradictory and changing, sometimes influenced by external circumstances.
During my presidency, I will stand up for a modern and strong Latvia, for a legal and just Latvia, for the well-being of the people, for an inclusive and respectful society. And we can all achieve this by working together.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Latvia is a sovereign, free and democratic country. But it must be legal and just to all. Every person and citizen in Latvia must feel that they belong, legally protected and safe.
The state must be both legal and fair, and not just in the abstract, but also in concrete situations. The state cannot function solely from the perspective of force or legal formalism. Every public official must change his or her attitude and legal consciousness – we must stop obsessing over process, instructions and paragraphs and focus on results and support for our fellow human beings.
The fight against corruption, crime and cartels must be a national priority. At the same time, we need to understand why one high-profile criminal trial after another that is loudly launched fizzles out and why one verdict after another raises more questions than it answers. A strong and independent judiciary that acts fairly and explains its decisions, and professional and efficient law enforcement are essential for strengthening the democratic foundations of the country. Enforcement of judicial decisions at any level - from the Saeima to the municipality - should also be a matter of course, regardless of our personal opinions.
Freedom of expression and media are the backbone of democracy. It is particularly important to emphasise this now, when we are fighting Russian propaganda and hate speech. It is in the interests of our unity to stand up for editorially independent public and private media, thereby helping to combat disinformation and fake news.
In Latvia, the rights of every person must be respected and protected in accordance with the highest human rights values and standards. I am ready to work closely with the legislature, the executive and the judiciary to achieve these goals.
Honourable Members of the Saeima,
Russia's war and genocide in Ukraine have created a new, harsh reality. The world, Europe and our region are threatened by imperial Russia and the Lukashenko regime. There is and will be no time for mistakes in our country's foreign policy. We will have to act quickly, decisively and wisely.
Latvia's foreign and security policy will remain unchanged - Latvia will stand for a strong and effective NATO, European Union, international order based on the rule of law and for close cooperation with our friends and allies.
We will continue to support the heroic Ukrainian people in their struggle for freedom until Ukraine's final victory. We will continue to fight against Russian imperialism and its evil world ideology. Today I would like to thank once again all those Latvian patriots who selflessly help Ukraine and do not tire in their work. In this way, you are also strengthening our country.
The internal security of a country is just as important as its external security. We must move away from the division between external and internal security and realise that national security is indivisible. Only equally strong National Armed Forces, State and municipal police, Border guards and civil defence system with professionals loyal to the country will guarantee the resilience of the country. I would like to thank our soldiers and national guards, policemen and border guards, firefighters and rescuers, and the staff of the national security institutions for their selfless and professional service in particularly difficult circumstances. Your daily work is what makes our country strong and secure.
The Saeima and the government have taken a significant step by increasing funding for national defence and allocating resources to the internal affairs system, and we understand that this work will have to continue. We know the essential tasks that urgently need to be done: the development of a high-quality national defence service, the creation of an infrastructure to host our NATO allies and the construction of the country's eastern border. At the same time, it is essential that every euro is invested effectively. Bureaucratism, inaction, waste and corruption in the area of national security, especially in a hybrid war, are tantamount to high treason. We must treat it with the utmost intolerance.
As the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Chairman of the National Security Council, I am ready to work closely with the Saeima and the government to strengthen our national security.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The competitiveness of our economy and the well-being of our people are both an issue of the country’s future and security.
We have long made the right diagnoses, it is just the treatment that is failing. We need to come together and work together, not against each other. Our big problem is demography. Benefits alone are not enough to promote births. We need to invest in quality education, healthcare and affordable housing for families. And all this must be done not in isolation, but as a package. We know all this, we are skilled at writing plans, strategies and visions. But at some point, these plans must also be implemented.
Latvia's competitiveness depends on creating new and ambitious opportunities for Latvia's export-oriented companies, especially in high value-added sectors. Our competitiveness also depends directly on the country's performance in business, science, education and innovation. This is the only way to consolidate our position as a prosperous, strong and modern country that is an active participant in international politics.
We need to create a clear energy policy - for business development and to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal. Entrepreneurs need to know an open and direct energy strategy - where and how the country sees opportunities to invest, what the energy resources will be and how much this energy will cost.
We need to work on the availability of infrastructure that enables fast mobility, smart technologies and cost-effective and innovative solutions.
Finally, inequality is a significant problem, both social and in terms of regional development. The social divide in our societies is too great. When making decisions, let us remember how they will affect each individual and also how they will help to bridge this gap.
We need to achieve development across the country that reduces regional inequalities. This involves investing and stimulating development in rural areas, providing infrastructure, job opportunities and public services.
The President has no direct executive powers, but I am ready to promote dialogue between decision-makers and business entities, to work with investors and to promote our country's export capacity. All this must be done together with local authorities and non-governmental organisations.
I would like to make a special appeal to you. From this podium, I have called on you not to be afraid to dream and sometimes to break the glass ceiling. Your dreams of today are the future of Latvia.
For many of you, your parents and grandparents have laid the path and foundation for your future lives. Latvia is their home. Thanks to their support, you are the ones who will shape our country in the future. Of course, there are many opportunities in the world and we must seize them. Especially when you are young. It is unacceptable for young people to leave their country because the labour market demands to speak Russian. It is unacceptable that young people choose other countries because, for various reasons, they do not feel heard to and supported in Latvia. It is our duty as politicians to make Latvia your home. I hope that we will be able to talk and that your ideas, your contribution will become the basis for Latvia's future!
Dear people of Latvia,
More than 200 years ago, the pastor of Rūjiena, Gustavs Bergmanis, said that Latvia is not a valley of sorrow - Latvia is a garden of paradise. These words of his were quoted by President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga from this very podium 24 years ago.
This is the responsibility of every generation. This is our time to work so that our children and our children's children want to live in this garden.
I would like to thank the Saeima once again for the trust it has shown in electing me as President of the Republic of Latvia. I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to President Egils Levits for his work for the good of our country. I would also like to thank the many residents of Latvia, foreign leaders and diplomatic representatives for their congratulations and good wishes.
All of us - members of the Saeima, ministers and the president - are here to work together for the good of Latvia. Let us seek common ground by discussing issues honestly and finding solutions, but let us not shy away from open exchange of views. Latvia is our responsibility and our duty. At times when we are depleted and pessimism overwhelms us, let us remember how much the Latvian people and our ancestors have achieved. I would like to thank my predecessors in this office, statesmen and women, for what they have done!
Latvia is brighter and more beautiful these days. The 150th anniversary of the Song and Dance Festival is not just a great music and dance event. It is a reminder to ourselves of those generations, those many men and women of Latvia, the youth of Latvia, who started the path of self-awareness, awakening and statehood of our nation through song.
The tradition of the Song and Dance Festival is also a source of inspiration in today's Latvia. This tradition is a good encouragement to look beyond the noise of everyday life, to discard the irrelevant and to see above all what is important - the meaning of existence of our country.
The people of Latvia are the meaning and wealth of our country. These are the citizens of Latvia who want to live, work and develop in a free, democratic and safe country. Our people, irrespective of their nationality, religious or political beliefs, are the main asset of the Latvian state. And these are not loud or pathetic words. These are people who live and unite around the idea of Latvian statehood. They respect and honour the Constitution. These are all people who speak and respect the national language - Latvian. And above all, they love and are proud of their country, Latvian people.
I wish that in our everyday life we will be as united, close-knit and bright as today! Only together we can make Latvia strong, modern, just and safe!
God bless Latvia!