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Address of the President of Latvia, Egils Levits, at the 100th Anniversary Parade of Latvian Border Force in Rēzekne, Monument to the Liberation of Latgale ‘United for Latvia’


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Dear parade participants,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

People of Rēzekne,

I

One of the core elements of any independent a sovereign country is its land with physical borders that separate it from territories of other countries.

Border is a clear frontier where other countries end, and Latvia begins.

National border force is a symbolic expression of our nationhood. It verifies that our state has internationally recognised borders that need to be secured and land the integrity and security of which is constantly safeguarded by border force vigilantly monitoring from its foreposts.

II

Decree issued by Jānis Balodis, Supreme Commander of the Latvian Army on 7 November 1919 on forming of first units of border force is another expression of our unwavering will of Latvian nation to have its own state. It also gave us the confidence needed to win independence in the War of Independence.

Although Bermontians were not yet completely pushed out of Riga yet and large parts of our land were still under external hostile occupation, we began building the external and internal national defence system.

By forming the border force units, government of Latvia gave a coherent and unmistakeable signal that we will put independent Latvia, with its own borders, on the world map and will also create border force to protect.

III

Restoration of border force in November and December of 1991 was yet another confirmation of the de facto restoration of independent Latvia and its return to global community.

Our border force took over the control of national borders and that, more than anything else, served as an assurance. After long period of occupation, we again had borders and our land, and border force was the first one to take it under its control.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank all those who took part in restoring of border force and its operation back then – our first border force officers. They are the ones, fearless and confident in justice, who were the first to arrive on the Latvian border to show that the frontier is where Latvia begins.

IV

Border force ensures integrity of national borders and the front line of defence against any possible military attacks on our country.

Our history is a stark reminder that our Border Force officers have always been ready to pay the high price of their own life to fulfil their sacred duty with utmost diligence.

As we celebrate the centenary of Border Force, we should also pay respect and honour officers of Maslenki post who refused to abandon their position and continued to defend Latvian border from Soviet occupation with guns in their hands to the very end.

There are some who say that Latvia surrendered without a single shot, but we should remind them that our Border Force officers in Maslenki were greatly outnumbered.

Our national occupation resistance movement began on the national border where our Border Guard officers fulfilled their professional duty and their oath.

V

We have significantly strengthened Border Force since restoration of independence. Their technical capabilities, mobility and training system. Border infrastructure has been put in place and the qualification of officers has improved.

However, Border Force is also facing new challenges. Our membership in the European Union (EU) means that our Eastern border with Russia and Belarus is also EU’s external border. We are now responsible for safeguarding a section of the EU’s common border.

Throughout decades Border Force officers have served with high sense of responsibility and readiness to defend the national border and the State of Latvia. It has always been that way.

Today, as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Border Force, we, as usual, feel extremely proud of our fine Border Force officers.

I trust in you. The whole Latvia trusts in you.

God bless Latvia!

07.11.2019. Valsts prezidents Egils Levits piedalās Valsts robežsardzes 100. gadadienas svinīgajos pasākumos

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