Latvia’s MP speech in Catalonia’s Support

Date: 21.01.2014
Source: Imants Paradnieks

Speech at Parliament’s Foreign policy debates discussing Minister’s of Foreign Affairs annual report on the accomplished and planned activities of the Country’s foreign policy and European Union issues

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Honourable Minister,

Dear Colleagues!

There is another important aspect to which I would like to draw your attention in today’s debate on foreign policy.

Our country’s foreign policy must reflect and respect the most important principle of democracy. It is the principle which enabled us to establish our own state of Latvia – it is the principle of self-determination of nations. It is the fundamental legal basis, the inherent fairness of which determined that the state created by the Latvian people shall be independent and free.

Today, in the Europe of the 21st century, there is a nation that for hundreds of years has confirmed its nationhood by its deep historical and cultural roots, its own language and a unique identity. Much like the Baltic nations in 1989, last September this nation joined hands in the name of a noble and beautiful dream – their own independent state. 1.6 million people formed a living chain of almost 500 kilometres to announce to the world: “We want to realize our basic right – our nation’s right of self-determination.” Even in the Europe of the 21st century there are people who doubt these rights.

I am speaking about the Catalonians, whose democratically elected parliament has announced a referendum on independence on 9 November of this year. The highly-esteemed Georgetown University has named this one of the most important foreign policy events in 2014.

I hope that all my colleagues in the Saeima have received the book entitled Catalonia Calling: What The World Has To Know.

It is important for us to know that the Catalan language is not a dialect of Spanish; it is as different from Spanish as Italian or French is. It is the 9th most widely spoken European language, and the mother tongue for over 7 million Catalonians. The Baltic nations are the best qualified to sympathise with the Catalonian experience. Just as we suffered under the regimes of Stalin and other communist leaders, during the reign of the Spanish dictator Franco the Catalonian were jailed, executed, forbidden to use their native language, and their brightest intellectuals were forced into exile.

Therefore, Latvia must support on principle the Catalonian nation, which expects Europe to understand and respect its democratic desire to determine the future of their nation themselves. Just as it was crucial for us, Latvians, to know back then that we had friends in the world who supported our efforts, it is equally important today for the Catalonians to know that they also have friends – the state of Latvia.

We are not telling them how to vote, for that will be a their choice and theirs alone. However, we must convincingly defend the right of the Catalonians to choose.

If they vote in favour of having their own independent country, then Latvia must immediately recognise it. We cannot be as cowardly as many superpowers that regrettably hesitated to recognise Latvia in 1991. Latvia must be as brave as Iceland, which was the first to recognise the restored state of Latvia. It is our moral obligation and responsibility. The right of self-determination of nations was the basis upon which we founded Latvia, and we must stand with the Catalonian nation on this issue, thus honouring our own history and the founding fathers of our state.

I urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia to strictly adhere to this position in representing our country abroad.

Thank you!

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