On 26 January 2021, we shall celebrate the centenary of the international recognition of the Republic of Latvia de iure. On this very day 100 years ago, Latvian diplomats succeeded in gaining recognition from the Supreme Council of Allied Powers, namely, those countries which had emerged victorious from World War I, known as the “Entente” – Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, and United Kingdom – which together reached the decision to grant Latvia de iure recognition. Achievement of international recognition represented the completion of a very rigorous and complicated process of building a Latvian state. In the period between the world wars, 26 January was a national holiday celebrated in individual Latvian families and wider society.
To highlight the importance of de iure recognition, the Bank of Latvia (Latvijas Banka) has released a limited edition 2 euro commemorative coin dedicated to the 100th anniversary of de iure recognition, and the postal service of Latvia (Latvijas Pasts) has produced a stamp and an first day cover dedicated to the anniversary. On 21 January, in a video-conferencing format, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, symbolically accepted both gifts.
To inaugurate the celebration, on 20 January, the State Secretary of the Latvian Foreign Ministry, Andris Pelšs, in an online ceremony, conveyed a gift from the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic missions to the National Library of Latvia on the occasion of the de iure centenary – books with personalised messages for the People’s Bookshelf.
Paying tribute to Latvian diplomats and their efforts to secure recognition of their country on 26 January 1921, a “De iure Room” was unveiled at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Recognising his highly professional performance, an award for lifelong contributions in support of the foreign policy of the Latvian state has been bestowed on Ambassador Mārtiņš Virsis. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs award for lifelong contribution was established in 2019 and first presented to Ambassador Aina Nagobads-Ābols.
On 24 January, on the eve of the anniversary of Latvia’s de iure recognition, as is customary, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will lay flowers on the graves of Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics, Jānis Čakste and Gunārs Meierovics at Meža Kapi (Forest Cemetery).
The centenary of diplomatic relations with countries that have been Latvia’s long-time friends and allies will also be celebrated this year: their support was important both in 1921 and for the restoration of independence in 1991. On 26 January, resident ambassadors to Latvia will sign the Foreign Ministry’s Guest Book. Each ambassador will receive a gift – a commemorative stamp on its first day cover and the coin commemorating the centenary of Latvia’s de iure recognition. The flags of the five Entente states – Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan – will be flown in front of Riga Castle.
On 26 January, Riga Castle will also be hosting a festive event devoted to the centenary of Latvia’s de iure recognition with participation of senior officials of state and government. Live streaming in Latvian and English will be available on the LSM portal starting at 14.00. Video greetings on the centenary of Latvia’s international recognition from senior officials of the former Entente countries will be screened during the event. It will also be possible to watch a series of videos produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to commemorate the historic anniversary, and a video on the story behind Latvia’s international recognition.
In addition, the Foreign Ministry has announced a video competition for youth on what a 21st century diplomat should be like. The authors of the best videos will have an online conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and receive prizes.
On the occasion of the anniversary, a brochure titled De iure 100 has been published and will be available online in Latvian, English and French.
In addition, the media will be sent visual materials related to Latvia’s international de iure recognition centenary prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A gallery of photographs featuring the events held to celebrate Latvia’s international de iure recognition will be available on the MFA Flickr account at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/latvianmfa
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