Dear Chairperson of the Council, Dear Councillors, Dear Residents of Skaistkalne,
Thank you for this opportunity to visit Skaistkalne and see the church for the first time! Until now, I always thought of how beautiful the Skaistkalne church was. Today I see how beautiful Skaistkalne is, a well-tended, beautiful, small town. It is definitely very pleasant to live here.
Skaistkalne is the southern national border of Latvia as it is the first town in Latvia when coming from Lithuania and vice versa. Why is it important? Because any country begins and ends at the border. There is no borderless state. Hence, the idea of the Baltic Way is that we shall define our borders ourselves. We will determine for ourselves where our country is and what our country is. In this way, we mark our country not only on the map geographically, but also ideologically, politically, and in our hearts. Therefore, I am very pleased to be with you today.
The Baltic Way marked a rapid turnaround in the reconstruction of the Baltic States and the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union simultaneously. The Soviet Union was no longer able to survive and live up to its promises. A few months later, the Berlin Wall also collapsed, which would not have happened without the Baltic Way. Therefore, I thank all those who participated in the Baltic Way then and all of us together for continuing the Baltic Way, because the Baltic Way means commitment and responsibility for our country. At that time, it was our responsibility to rebuild this country, now it is our responsibility to develop and improve it so that our country will be sustainable.
As far as Skaistkalne is concerned, it seems crucial to me stress that preserving local identities and traditions is very essential when preparing for regional reform. Administrative reform may not be planned on the map only. You must know local habits of the people and how they relate to their land. I believe that regional reform is required to meet all the challenges, but the implementation of the reform must incorporate this local element. Skaistkalne is so beautiful that it must live forever.