President urges a country 'strong in diversity'

In his traditional Independence Day speech at the iconic Freedom Monument in central Riga Tuesday, President Andris Bērziņš provded a summary of the main events of the last twelve months along with an invitation to maintain Latvia as a "unified, indivisible and unwavering self-confident country that wants to be independent and strong in its diversity."

Bērziņš listed events such as the passing of a controversial preamble to the Latvian constitution, Riga's year as a European Capital of Culture, the election of a new parliament and the Zolitude disaster during his oration.

On the subject of Zolitude, which will be marked by a ceremonies on Friday, exactly a year after the roof of a Maxima superstore in Zolitude collapsed killing 54, Bērziņš said: "The Zolitūde tragedy... proved that all our people, regardless of nationality, religion or beliefs, are united and sympathizing with this terrible accident. Unfortunately, the tragedy had to happen for us to understand this."
"This tragic event has forced us to change our way of thinking and attitude towards seemingly mundane but very important things... there is still much to do, so that nothing like this happens again.

The President also touched on the geopolitical situation without mentioning either Russia or Ukraine by name.

"We live in a time when Latvia and the Baltic States are exposed to new historical challenges... there is a lot of conflict in the world including, open warfare and aggression, even in Europe close to our borders.

"Let us be united in Latvia and not tolerate even the suggestion that it might be otherwise," Bērziņš said, reminding his audience that the regions of Vidzeme, Kurzeme, Zemgale and Latgale are all equally important to the existence of the country.

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