Dizzy at the pinnacle of freedom

Take note – story published 9 years ago

Latvia marked a quarter century of its restored national independence on Monday, May 4, starting with a vertigo-inducing flag-raising ceremony at the Latvian Television and Radio Tower on Zaķusala, addressed by Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and filmed by helicopter for an afternoon screening to the crowds on Freedom Monument Square.

“The flag is being raised in honor of the Latvian nation, which can still achieve much in the coming years. We have talented youth, people full of enthusiasm, who do their utmost with a full heart and live by true values. May the flag fly for their happiness and inspiration!” proclaimed Straujuma at the unfurling.

Later, at the ceremonial parliamentary plenary session at the National Theatre, where Latvia's first Constitutional Assembly gathered to proclaim independence in 1918, Saeima Speaker Ināra Mūrniece reminded everyone that the time of defending independence has never ended.

“The time of recovering independence is one of human understanding and love. These reciprocal relationships, this strength of spirit, this faith in one’s truth – this is a formidable power that enemies cannot overcome. Today is a time for strengthening this independence. Do we always have enough mutual respect, good will and support for each other? Let it be so – may we think high thoughts and shoot for high goals!,” said the Chairman of the Saeima Presidium on opening a photography exhibit “25 moments”. The series shows frames from the historic day when the Soviet Latvian Supreme Council voted for restoring independence leading all the way up to Latvia’s current Presidency of the Council of the EU.

However, Mūrniece also warned that Latvia was most under threat from the greedy money-worshipping mindset eroding political choice.

“The existence of the state in the people’s interest is under threat from the influence of money upon political parties and power. Recently a long-standing former KGB intelligence officer now representing a Russian mega-concern in Latvia publically stated that if only a hundred millionaires would be elected to Saeima then national development would be guaranteed. But Latvia is a republic. Power belongs to the people, not to a hundred millionaires. And that is only fair,” she said.

While the 368-meter structure, the EU’s highest broadcast tower, may have become the central symbolic post for the unfurling of the nation’s fete, Jelgava was where the National Armed Forces (NBS) and President Bērziņš headed a parade for the people of this town currently celebrating its 750th founding anniversary.

“This is not just a significant anniversary of Latvian independence, but also a troubled time for Europe and the world. The external security situation has changed, making us review many priorities and putting more attention on defense. Latvia’s accession to NATO was historically correct and a decisive move. In the eleven years since our participation in the alliance we have proven Latvia is a dependable partner that can be trusted,” the President said.

“I want to stress that Latvia is no less protected than any other NATO member,” Bērziņš concluded.

On his part Defense Minister Raimonds Vējonis also echoed the warning that the threats of the 21st century are no less real than in all previous centuries and recalled the words of Latvia’s first president Jānis Čakste, who said that diplomatic efforts and treaties are only as binding as the military power available to back them up.

Taking part in the parade were the Home Guard, followed by US soldiers based in Ādaži, then from the Air Force aviation base, the Naval fleet, Defense Academy, Border Guard, State Police College, Jelgava Municipal Police and Sweden’s Armed Forces. Over 50 items of equipment were on display from the Latvian and US armed forces, Border Guard and State Police, while the Special Forces performed a parachute jump and SWAT operation for the public.

The NBS has hosted a parade and public events series on May 4 since 2012 at rotating locations. Next year the NBS will visit the Latgale border town of Krāslava.

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important