RIGA – A legal state does not mean that someone can be above the law or set their own standards that do not apply to others. he public is entitled to know what consultations have taken place on the draft law and which interest groups have defended the need for some law or, on the contrary, have delayed the adoption of some law, said Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis in his last address at the Saeima on Thursday.
Vejonis underscored that we have had a historic opportunity to celebrate the first century of the statehood of Latvia. Belief in the future of an independent Latvia and everyone’s readiness to fight for our country is the foundation upon which we have built Latvia and continue to develop it.
The president said that strengthening the security of Latvia has been a permanent priority during his presidency. “Today I can say that we live in Latvia, which is safer than ever,” he said.
Increasing the defense spending to 2 percent of the gross domestic product since 2018 allows us to improve our defensibility and to demonstrate our commitment to the other NATO Member States. The NATO Summit in Warsaw decided to secure NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the Baltic states and Poland in 2016. It gives us confidence that we can rely on our allied support.
“I proposed amendments to the National Security Law to improve the country’s response capacity to potential threats. With those amendments, we have stipulated explicitly that the year 1940 will never repeat. We are ready to respond to threats and defend our country and independence. No order or permission to protect your country is required. Neither the President of Latvia, the Saeima, nor anyone else can prohibit resisting and fighting for Latvia,” said Vejonis.
“In the years to come, security must also be a priority for our country, while taking in a broader picture by strengthening human security, improving public resilience to hybrid threats and focusing on national internal security. To increase faith in our country, we must create confidence that the state takes care of everyone of us by providing state support from early childhood to old age, providing assistance in accidents, protecting our families, homes, cities, and borders from a variety of fears. I expect the Saeima and the Cabinet of Ministers to continue strengthening our security,” said the president.
Vejonis also noted that a robust democratic state and belonging to a united Europe require a change of decision-making culture and a readiness to demonstrate our values by deeds. Justice and the rule of law are a matter of the identity of our country. Latvia is a legal state, and justice is the foundation of Latvia’s existence. “We have neglected our judicial system for too long, and the changes have come to a halt in this domain. Every resident of Latvia expects efficient and fast court protection and a fair court judgment. The state is obliged to provide it,” he said.
Nowadays, we face many challenges in internal and external security, economic security, including a decline in economic growth, gaps in education and healthcare. However, one of the biggest challenges that our country faces is reducing imparity. It begins with an understanding that prosperity is not an economic figure but a real human life. One talks about imparity more and more, but one lacks particular actions and efficient laws that would allow us to reduce imparity in our society.
Our country must provide a better future for the younger generation. It starts with a safe and healthy childhood in a secure and development-facilitating environment. A well-arranged education system is a solid foundation for both patriotic upbringing and the development of brilliant talents in sports, culture, and crafts. There are still many decisions that must be taken and implemented.
The president also noted that there are matters where we must just put a period. We must stop granting non-citizen status to newborn children. We can grant those children the status of a citizen from their birth. We must provide all children with equal opportunities to acquire education in Latvian and to shape a full-fledged future in Latvia.
“Contributing to the benefit of the state and for opportunities of engaging in shaping a better Latvia have no terms of office set. Every individual in a democratic society has many opportunities to be active and to promote change for good. Politicians should set an example in this regard. I am not saying goodbye to you today. I will continue to advocate the values we cherish and to strengthen Latvia henceforth as well,” said Vejonis.