Speech of the President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga
Summit "The Contribution of New democracies to Euro-Atlantic security"
Sofia, Bulgaria, October 5, 2001
Mr.Chairman, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
NATO alliance was formed 50 years ago to defend the values of freedom and democracy against the threat of the totalitarian ideology that managed to extend its tentacles one could force of a half of Europe. That system has now collapsed but dangers to democracy and individual freedoms have not disappeared. Dangers will always remain with us and the necessity to defend them will be with us as well. The NATO alliance has a track record 50 successful years providing peace, security, stability in a North Atlantic region, of providing a strong support for democracies that have been unable to respond to the needs and aspirations to the respective nations, have also been able to provide form, sort of environment that has allowed to become increasingly prosperous and to recover so quickly after the ravages of II World war.
In some parts of Europe, such as Latvia, the ravages of II World War have taken rather longer to be eliminated. We have had 50 years of foreign occupation, we have had 50 years of totalitarian rule. We appreciate so deeply what freedom is, what democracy means, we appreciate the meaning of individual freedoms.
We are committed precisely to the same values that the NATO alliance stands for. We are committed to making every effort and we are doing it step by step in reintegrating in European community of nations to become a part of European Union, to reintegrate in transatlantic community of values that we have cherished even through long decades of our oppression. We are moving ahead step by step, month by month. We have a clear plan, a clear commitment. We are making a progress that is visible. We will continue to do so for a crucial historical next 12 months. We intend to be ready when the time comes, we hope that the alliance will keep its doors open.
Thank you, President Stoyanov, thank you, government of Bulgaria for organizing this conference. I think it is important at this moment in history to remind us that the threats facing democracy, even the tragic events of September 11, remained very actual, it is just our tactics and strategy of meeting them that might be changed. The principles and the needs are not changed what so ever. We are ready to embrace any effort to fight both terrorism or any other threat to freedom and democracy. We are already engaged in collaborative efforts, we would like to do so as equal partners of NATO alliance. Thank you.