CARRUNG THE MILLSTONE: The burden of maintaining freedom lasts a lifetime, said Solvita Aboltina.
RIGA - In her special address to parliament on May 4, marking the 22nd anniversary of the Declaration of the Renewal of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, Saeima Speaker Solvita Aboltina emphasized the role Latvia’s minorities had in helping to regain independence, who stood side-by-side with Latvians during the Barricades, as well as fought side-by-side with Latvians during the fight for freedom in the first half of the 20th century, reports LETA.
“Everybody fought together in the freedom struggles for Latvian statehood. There would have been no Latvian state without the support of the ethnic minorities and their involvement in defending the new state. Also in January 1991, people of Latvia representing various ethnicities – Russians, Lithuanians, Poles, Jews – answered the call of the Popular Front and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Latvians at the Barricades because they shared the idea of a better Latvia. That helped us to win the struggle,” the Saeima speaker said.
“Twenty-two years ago, the adoption of the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia truly changed the history of our state. It clearly announced to the entire world the decision of the people; it was a bold venture and a matter of historical justice and future existence. It was accomplished by all of us together – members of the Supreme Council, activists of the Popular Front, special volunteer guards, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, all patriots of Latvia,” Aboltina added.
She said that this period was followed by the Barricades, which were times of fear and desperation. “There were also attempts to take away the faint scent of freedom which had just filled the air.”
“But our perseverance, defiance and the events of August 21, 1991 fortified the ideas contained in the Declaration of Independence about the Republic of Latvia as an independent and sovereign state and also legally restored our freedom,” Aboltina said.
The Saeima speaker said that it is crucial for Latvia to be a democratic state based on the rule of law so that its people may enjoy all the rights and freedoms they deserve. “However, democracy does not mean that everything is allowed. It definitely does not allow us to play an easy game with fundamental values. Even in a democracy there are issues where no compromise is possible.”
“I am also deeply convinced that all those who feel that they belong to Latvia, regardless of their ethnic identity, voted against the second state language in the referendum. The many minority organizations and cultural associations with whom I meet and cooperate assured me of this. All of us together are the nation of Latvia in which everybody wants to live together with people belonging to this country. To live together and to know that this country matters not only to me alone, but also to many others,” the Saeima speaker said in her address.
Aboltina said that the millstone of freedom has to be carried day-by-day throughout one’s lifetime, for it is the most precious, albeit the heaviest burden. “Since May 4, 1990, each patriot, each and every one of us, has to keep carrying it. You cannot cast off your freedom; you cannot collapse under its weight or complain about how heavy it is.”
“Just as in the past, when we regained our independence, the making of crucial decisions still depends on the unity of political parties, the desire of our people to become involved and the idea of statehood in their hearts,” Aboltina added.
“As we celebrate May 4 and the 90th anniversary of the Constitution, I call on you to once again acknowledge our foundations – a state in which the people of Latvia, citizens of Latvia of all ethnicities, govern themselves in a democratic manner, a state which is the only place where we can protect, cherish and develop the Latvian language and culture,” she said.
At the end of her address, Abotlina said that the state of Latvia is not merely its borders, Constitution, flag and governmental institutions. “First and foremost, the state of Latvia is composed of people who share a common history, culture, language, enduring values and a vision for the future. Our state was born under the sign of victory, and it is our duty to keep on proudly carrying our most valuable treasure – our free and independent Latvia.”