RIGA - The nation's determination and bravery on the barricades made January 1991 a turning point, President Egils Levits stressed at an online conference marking the 30th anniversary of the 1991 barricades in Riga.
According to Levits, the 1991 Barricade Days also proved decisively that international recognition of Latvia and the other Baltic countries' independence was just a matter of time, as the President Chancery's representative Justine Deicmane told LETA.
"The 1991 Barricades' message to future generations is laconic and clear: 'If you want to live in your own country, be prepared to defend it." Defend it in a way and with what means are available and feasible at the moment," said Levits.
The only possible way to defend the newly regained independence of Latvia was non-violent resistance and readiness to start a campaign of civil disobedience of the whole nation should the authority of the Soviet Union president be established in Latvia.
Levits emphasized the important role that Latvian communities in the United States, Canada, England, Germany, Sweden, Australia and elsewhere played in the events leading up to the regaining of the Baltic countries' independence. During the Barricade Days, leaders of the Western superpowers warned the Soviet Union to refrain from violence. This created a fragile but insufficient counterweight to Soviet aggression, as evidenced by the civilian casualties in Vilnius and Riga, the president said.
In Levits' opinion, the Barricades symbolize the nation's will to protect the country, and the president emphasized several actions that were important for the protection of the country today. Referring to the introduction to the Constitution, Levits said that the duty of the Latvian people is to maintain a strong national will in order to be able to defend Latvia's independence and democratic state system against internal and external threats, if necessary.
"In order to strengthen the country's security against external threats, Latvia's participation in the collective security system must be convincing both in its commitment and investment. This applies both to the defense budget and strengthening our army's capabilities, as well as to our participation in international military and peacekeeping missions," said the president.
"It is in our interest to strengthen NATO in general and its European pillar in particular. Latvia takes its membership in NATO very seriously. NATO can rely on us, and we can rely on NATO," Levits emphasized.
The president also said that there were several negative aspects affecting people's national will. One of them is purposeful disinformation, which denies the obvious - the success of the Latvian state in 30 years. Disinformation needs to be countered by true facts, but this is not enough - disinformation, false news and conspiracy theories will continue to exist as long as there is demand for them, Levits said.
In conclusion, Levits thanked all those who were on the barricades thirty years ago to protect their country. He also thanked those who, one way or another, contributed to keep the barricades in place. "It is thanks to these people that today, thirty years later, we live in a free and democratic state of Latvia," said Levits.