Latvia’s 97th birthday was celebrated on 18 November, 2015, with flower-laying ceremony at the Freedom Monument, a military parade featuring Latvia’s National Armed Forces and Interior Ministry’s units, concerts, singing of Latvia’s national anthem and festive fireworks.
«Persecutions and wars have scarred out land and people. Throughout hundreds of years our land was targeted and attacked again and again. Our people nonetheless managed to fight and defend it with blood, tears and suffering. It was the price they paid to ensure we would live in a free country,» – said President of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis at the military parade.
«Latvia and its armed forces have made a big step forward in becoming part of Europe and NATO. We understand very well that it is impossible to protect the independence of one’s country without capable, strong, modern and battle-ready armed forces, who are prepared to put their lives on the line to defend their country’s se, air and land borders, as well as ever town family and person living in the country. Lately our region has experienced big security challenges. Terrible events that transpired in France, Kenya, Lebanon and Turkey in November have reminded us of the threat of terrorism. Our neighbouring country – Ukraine – has experienced military aggression that threatens the security of its borders and Europe’s stability. This shows that we have to be on alert at all time and be prepared to defend our country’s independence, values and people,» – Vejonis continued.
He added: «We should always remember – we are not alone. We have received a great deal of assistance from our allies in military field. Our soldiers have proven in many military exercises and international military operations that they are prepared to defend their own country and any country part of NATO. Our allies know and welcome this as well.»
In her speech, Saeima Speaker Inara Murniece mentioned the year that has passed, reminding that many tragic events had transpired all over the world over the course of the year. At the same time, Murniece mentioned: «Compassion and solidarity with victims of tragic events of 13 November in Paris clearly shows – Europe will not give in to terror and intimidations. The country will remain true to its values. The terrorists’ objective is to sow chaos. Terrorism and violence must not go unpunished – that is Europe’s objective.»
As for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Murniece said the following: «It was a tough lesson for Europe for its irresponsibility». In terms of the effect recent tragic events could have on Latvia, Murniece said: «We have grown in confidence that membership in NATO and the European Union was the right choice for Latvia. We need to go further and increase NATO presence in Baltic States.»
The Saeima’s Speaker also turned to Latvia’s internal political environment, reminding: «It happens that sometimes a country gets sick. Sometimes countries die. It begins from the inside. Fragmentation – political, economic and ethnic – weakens the country. Internal fights of different parties, political circus and mutual score-settling does not benefit anyone. People lose faith in politicians.»