Honourable Mr President, excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

Дорогі українські друзі! [Dear Ukrainian friends]

I am delighted to welcome President of Ukraine on his first visit to Latvia.

This visit symbolises the friendship and close ties between our two countries. I greatly enjoyed the productive and insightful consultations we had today, and the shared understanding between us. Latvia’s support for Ukraine’s reform process, Euro-Atlantic integration, territorial integrity and sovereignty remains firm and consistent. You can truly rely on us.

Honourable Mr President,

It gives me great pleasure to see all the positive changes happening in Ukraine. Russian aggression in East Ukraine and Crimean occupation has not deterred people of Ukraine from firmly following their dream of achieving rule of law, democracy and European membership. I am confident their dedication and commitment will bring Ukraine to its goals of restoring territorial integrity and joining the united, prosperous and safe Europe.

Latvia celebrates the 15th anniversary of its EU and NATO membership this year. We have amassed a very valuable experience on our way to European and transatlantic organisations. We have made mistakes and learned our lessons. We have made a lot of progress. We know very well how challenging this is.

European Union must always keep its doors open for countries willing to join it. Countries that have fulfilled necessary criteria and are ready to go further.

EU’s Eastern Partnership is an excellent platform for cooperation with Ukraine, which is currently one of the frontrunners among partner countries. We are happy to use this cooperation framework for giving Ukraine our experience in implementing vital reforms.

Security and defence are  important pillars of any state. Let me once again reaffirm Latvia’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We wish you all the best and plenty of energy for putting an end to Russia’s military aggression in the east and Crimean occupation. You can count on Latvia as your loyal support on the international arena in this regard. We are ready to continue offering injured Ukrainian soldiers rehabilitation in Latvia.

Honourable President Zelensky,

Our nations have shared mutual admiration for centuries. Our artists, poets and even scientists have looked at Ukraine for inspiration. We are proud about numerous prominent Latvians, public figures, musicians and writers, who did a lot of good for Latvia and its people thanks to their ties with Ukraine. For example, the author of our national epic, Andrejs Pumpurs, who was educated at the Odessa officers school in the 19th century. By the way, a plaque honouring Andrejs Pumpurs was unveiled this week in Odessa. And our great linguist, Jānis Endzelīns, studied at the Kharkov University. Kharkov’s music scene also shone brighter for a while thanks to Jurjāns brothers.

A Latvian square was inaugurated in Kiev last week. Our Foreign minister also attended the ceremony. We are looking forward to opening a Ukrainian park in the capital of Latvia soon, too.

Ukrainians in Latvia and Ukraine have also contributed to Latvia’s independence movement in the 1990ies. Refat Chubarov, who later became a member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada and chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, was a prominent member of the Latvian Popular Front who deserves a special recognition. His input in advocacy of Crimean Tatar rights is invaluable.

And I am specially delighted to mention that a true legend of Latvian musical world, composer Raimonds Pauls, met his lovely wife in Odessa in 1950ies. Ainārs Bagatskis, the coach of Ukraine’s National Basketball Team, makes Ukraine’s sporting life more exciting today together with Uģis Krastiņš who leads the Ukrainian National Volleyball Team.

Latvia supports Riga Ukrainian Secondary School. We proud of each and every Ukrainian kid who has grown to be a part of the Latvian society, while maintaining their national language and culture close to their heart.

Mr President, I wish you plenty of energy, wit and courage. You will need it as a president.

Let me raise this glass on my and my wife’s behalf to friendship between Latvia and Ukraine and fruitful cooperation for the good of our people and the prosperity of our nations for many years to come. To you, Mr President, and your good health!

Hail Latvia! Hail Ukraine!

Слава Україні! Героям слава! [Hail Ukraine! Hail the heroes!]