Honourable President Vējonis,
Esteemed Mayor Rāviņš,
Inhabitants of Jelgava,
Our first president Jānis Čakste is one of the core symbols of our statehood and democracy. For us he will always remain the role model of a statesman, an opinion leader for his peers and a political ‘golden standard’ for further generations of Latvian politicians.
President Čakste was an international scale democrat. His ideas and work belong to a wider evolution of European and global democratic thought.
By glorifying President Čakste’s each year on 14 September, we honour one of our remarkable founding fathers and celebrate our democracy. It has become a tradition to honour President Čakste and nurture memories of him as part of our statehood and democracy.
It is no coincidence that today, on birthday of Jānis Čakste, we have gathered in Jelgava. Jelgava is where President Čakste comes from. This is where he became a statesman and our democratic leader.
Jānis Čakste is Jelgava-schooled. After studying in Moscow, Jelgava is where he started his career. Jānis Čakste worldviews and experience come from his years of practicing law and civic activism with various organisations based in Jelgava.
Jelgava elected him as its representative to the Russian Empire’s first elected body, the State Duma, where he represented Latvians. After proclamation of the republic, he was invited to leave Jelgava and become the leader of newly founded state of Latvia and the People’s Council of Latvia.
President Čakste was a true democrat. His personal and civic beliefs were based on democratic values he never betrayed.
After proclamation he encoded these values into Latvian national politics and constitutional framework of the new state, Satversme.
During his tenure as the President of the People’s Council of Latvia and Constitutional Assembly of Latvia, Jānis Čakste helped to establish the parliamentary system and develop parliamentary routines that we know today. And it was Jānis Čakste who suggested that Latvia should choose parliamentary democracy, a parliament-centred political system, out of all forms of democracy.
Jānis Čakste consistently enforced these values and shaped Latvia as a democratic country governed by the rule of law in all his capacities and personal endeavours. He believed in democratic principles not only as a politician, but also as a lawyer who had high regard for the relationship between democracy and the rule of law. Modern democracies cannot existing with the rule of law. Democracy and rule of law are entwined.
President Čakste’s political legacy demands a lot from the next generations which must maintain these values and make Latvia a democracy with high standards of rule of law.
Latvia is our common project, common responsibility and common purpose. All people of Latvia share equal responsibility for our democracy, and everyone is free to engage in shaping better Latvia in the future. And, as Mayor already mentioned, civic society plays a major role in that.
Life of President Čakste is an inspiring example of how to do things best. Serving your profession, active participation in various organisations and other associations, political parties for the benefit of all, and readiness to devote yourself to growth of your nation is the key to successful development of your country.
Let us honour the 160 years since birth of Jānis Čakste. Let us celebrate and appreciate the values he purported and embedded in Latvia. Let us all work for strengthening of democracy and rule of law in Latvia. May Latvia live forever!