President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma said in her welcoming speech at the festive sitting of the Saeima of Latvia: “It is my great pleasure and honour to deliver a welcoming address on behalf of the Parliament of Estonia – the Riigikogu – at the festive sitting of the Saeima on this historic day. Allow me to convey most sincere congratulations of the Estonian people on the occasion of today’s celebration!”.
One may say that 20 years is not sufficiently long to celebrate something. And yet, we are talking about one generation and the time-span of our previous independence period. “Today, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s future stands on a much stronger foundation and is more integrated than ever, through membership in the EU and NATO,” stressed the President of the Riigikogu.
Ergma quoted the distinguished politologist Arend Lijphart who has said that a measuring pole of a steady democracy is 20 years of unwavering functioning. Today, exactly 20 years ago, independence was restored in Latvia and on 4 May the declaration on “Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia” was adopted.
Ergma recalled that, prior to that, on 11 March, Lithuania had adopted a historical declaration on the Lithuanian state independence. On 30 March 1990, the Estonian Supreme Council clearly stated that Estonia was an occupied state, which desires to restore its independence. Already more than a year before the events that took place in Moscow in August, the three Baltic States had declared their firm intention to restore full independence. “And when the Baltic States are spoken about as disintegrators of the Soviet Union, then there is a large amount of truth in it,” noted Ergma. She set up a rhetoric question: “Why did our states go the way of democracy differently from many of those who shared our fate in the former Soviet Union?”
“The reason is very simple: it was the wish of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania because no movement or political party can lead a state to the way of democracy without the support of people,” stressed the President of the Riigikogu. Today we know that restoration of independence was a process, just as gaining of independence, through many decisions and deeds. One should not underestimate any of those steps taken, without which we would not have arrived at our destination, stated Ergma.
In her words, recent years have been a serious trial for our states. The financial and economic crisis has hit all of us hard. “The last year in Latvia will be remembered by people because of its hardships and trials, but the determination by which you have proved that you will not be broken regardless of external pressure and internal difficulties, has gained international recognition. No doubt, it was a very difficult year, but we believed that Latvia will not give in,” said Ergma.
The President of the Riigikogu stressed that Estonia has been one of the firmest supporters of Latvia and will remain as such in the future. Ergma congratulated Latvia and wished tenacity and continuing determination in reaching the objectives set before both our countries.
The Riigikogu Press Service