(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Mr. President and First Lady,
Director of the National Library,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting Prince Daniel and me. It is an honour to once again be here at your beautiful National Library.
A week ago, I attended the 400th anniversary celebration of the Swedish National Archives, Riksarkivet, in Stockholm. The documents kept there date as far back as the turn of the eleventh century.
One of the speakers talked about the many Baltic and Finnish historians who come to Stockholm to conduct their research. Just like their Swedish colleagues come here, to the National Library, in order to learn more about our shared history.
Yes, Latvia and Sweden are connected by our past. But also by our future. Not least the future of the Baltic Sea.
Throughout history, our countries have depended on the Baltic Sea – for our livelihood and for our survival. Now, the survival of the sea depends on us.
As an advocate for the United Nations Global Goals, I am encouraged to see the countries around the Baltic joining forces. Working together; not only to save the sea that unites us, but to achieve a sustainable development in our part of the world.
Latvia and Sweden enjoy close relations and there is a frequent exchange of visits. In 2014, my father and mother conducted a state visit to Latvia, and I had the opportunity to visit this library – then newly inaugurated. The year after, I was in Jūrmala, attending the 6th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. In 2016, you, mister President, visited Sweden. And today, it is a great honour for Prince Daniel and me to be here, celebrating Latvia’s centenary.
This year’s celebrations remind us of the importance of learning from history. In order to understand the present, we need to remember the past.
And what could be a better place for that than here, in Latvia’s National Library? A library is so much more than a house filled with books. It is a site of knowledge and information, open and accessible to all; a cornerstone of democracy.
After centuries of struggle and hardship, the Latvian people know that democracy, freedom and independence can never be taken for granted. It must be won. It must be defended. It should be celebrated – today, and all other days.
Once again, thank you for inviting us to take part in your celebration.
Mister President, as a gift from my country to yours, I would like to present you with this copy of “Suecia Antique et Hodierna” [Suecia Antikva ett Hodiärna] - the most renowned architectural and topographical documentation of Sweden during the age of imperial greatness. It was edited by Erik Dahlbergh, governor general of Livonia in the 17th century.
Please accept this gift as a token of friendship in the past, the present and the future.