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President of Latvia urges the Saeima to designate the 17 March as National Resistance Movement Day and establish an Official Language Day on the 15 October


On 1 October, the President of Latvia Egils Levits sent his opinion on changes in the proposed amendments to the Law on public holidays, remembrance days and national holidays to the Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee. President proposes to designate the 17 March as National Resistance Movement Day and the 15 October as Official Language Day.

President underlines that as Latvia enters the second century of its statehood, it is important to bring the focus of our collective memory back on the loyal Latvian resistance movements that opposed occupation and commemorate our heroes who never stopped demanding respect for people’s right to their own state and independence throughout the period of occupation. 

The tradition established by the civic society to commemorate national resistance movements on the 17 March, which is also the day  when, in 1944, Latvian Central Council led by Professor Konstantīns Čakste finished collecting signatures for a memorandum demanding to restore Latvia’s independence de facto and confirming the continuity of the Republic of Latvia and its constitution, Satversme, de iure on behalf of all Latvian people, is why this day should become the national resistance movement remembrance day.

According to the President, national resistance movement remembrance day will become a strong reminder of how important it is to continue to protect the independence and democracy of Latvia even today. National Resistance Movement Day set by the law would be the day when Latvians pay respect and honour their heroes, as well as show support for the continuity of Latvian state through both periods of occupation by totalitarian regimes. It would also be a reminder of everyone’s civic duty to protect Latvia.

On 15 October 1998, Latvia’s constitutionally elected legislature finalised the discussion, which started with the elaboration of Satversme, and adopted the Paragraph 4 of Satversme which states that Latvian is the only official language of the Republic of Latvia. Amendments to Paragraph 4 of Satversme, which provide that Latvian is the only official language, explicitly state that Latvian language is one of the core values of Latvia’s statehood.

By celebrating the Official Language Day on 15 October, we would demonstrate that Latvian as the only official language plays a constitutional role in promoting social cohesion in Latvia and ensuring the continuity of Latvia as a state. It would improve the awareness about the pillars of statehood and consolidate the cultural environment around constitutional identity that unites all people of Latvia.

According to the President, Official Language Day would be a strong reminder to all Latvians living in Latvia and abroad that we have a shared responsibility for preserving, using and furthering of Latvian as our only official language. It should encourage everyone to strive for excellence in mastering Latvian and would strengthen its everyday use of Latvia. By celebrating the Official Language Day on the 15 October, Latvia would highlight the constitutional significance of this day, encourage all people to celebrate it. It would help engage ethnic minorities more actively and bring Latvia closer to a modern, open understanding of Latvian identity on all levels of the society.

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