RIGA - Latvia will be strong enough to defend itself in case of danger only if it abided by the principles of the rule-of-law and political responsibility, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis said, addressing the annual meeting of the victims of Soviet political repressions in Ikskile, central Latvia, on Saturday.
The era of the Soviet occupation inflicted immense pain on the Latvian nation, he said. "With the loss of freedom, everything that Latvia and its people had built during the twenty years of independence was destroyed. Latvia was forcefully plucked out of the family of European nations. Once a prosperous and civilized country, it sank into poverty and grew weak because everything was taken away and crushed," the Latvian president said.
Nevertheless, the Latvian spirit withstood even the greatest torment, he stressed. The dream of a free Latvia kept the victims of Soviet repressions alive at the darkest of times and they became a source of inspiration and courage for the next generations to win back Latvia's independence, Vejonis said.
But are the old Communist practices gone for good? "It was customary during the long years of occupation that influence and goodies were distributed among the privileged few in secrecy. Today this practice is no longer acceptable, and we expect the officials to explain their decisions and to take responsibility for what they have said or done," the Latvian president said.
He said that the Latvian people had suffered so much that they fully realized the importance of the rule-of-law. "We all want to see justice done. In Latvia governed by the rule-of-law, people cannot be punished or publicly humiliated only because somebody would gain from this," Vejonis said.
The Latvian president said he would like to quote Lidija Lasmane-Doronina, a Latvian woman, who had become a symbol of national resistance and national awareness. A couple of years ago she had said in some interview: "The main thing is that Latvia is now free and we are no longer being sent off to Siberia. I want to lead an honest life, to tell the truth and to do good. I think that all other people might have similar plans."
"I would like to wish everyone just as simple and sincere things - to be honest, to be true and to do good. I am sure that then we all will succeed," the Latvian president said.
In conclusion of his speech he thanked the victims of Soviet political repressions for their endurance, for not losing hope of returning home one day and for keeping faith in Latvia's freedom and independence.