Acceptance speech upon receiving the Order of the Three Stars – Celebrating Latvia’s 80 years’ of independence
Mr President, Mr Ambassador, Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of me and my colleagues I would like to express our gratitude and explain how honoured we are. It’s an honour and gratitude that is closely linked to our admiration of the courage of the Latvian people.
We had the privilege to follow, from week to week, the peoples struggle for freedom and independence of Latvia. We met with Latvian singers, dancers, priests, politicians, authors, artists, sportsmen, refugees as well as with their Estonian and Lithuanian neighbours. We saw the descendants from the free Latvia express their commitment to a nation that was truly theirs. We met with a united nation with one goal, to restore freedom and independence of the Latvian republic.
We met with a nation rooted in the European heritage, never yielding to the tyranny of the former USSR.
We saw, we felt and we learned how deep the dream of freedom was anchored in the heart of the single Latvian. It was a political vision as well as the longing to one’s own culture, heritage, society and national identity. It was achieved by nothing else than popular courage and decisiveness.
And we had the privilege to meet and make friends among all these people. We saw an unique and peaceful process for freedom that the world has never seen before. A process that was instrumental for the Europe of today.
I think that far too few Europeans of today recognise the contribution given by the people of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania to the modern Europe. That we today are honoured by the Latvian people and it’s government makes us proud.
The Monday-meetings took place all over the country. At Norrmalmstorg, in the heart of Stockholm, they took place Monday after Monday from the start 19th of March 1990 till the 16th of September 1991. They responded to a genuine and popular support and friendship for our Baltic neighbours. The Monday-meetings was a manifestation of feelings and values that for so long time had been neglected in Swedish foreign policy.
It was a movement of individuals in their only capacity as citizens, a serious and earnest reaction from the civil society, against a lack of morality in the public foreign policy, a frustration that had increased during the decades when saying the truth about Soviet Union was looked upon as a disloyalty against the formal code of Swedish security interests.
It was a spontaneous movement, risen from nothing else than the hearts of all of them who took part. It was no effort, no plight, only a good feeling of a service for human decency, freedom and democracy.
It started with an idea a late Thursday night that became a plan during the Friday morning, which was explained to a surprised secretary that one week after she was employed become to think it was a normal task to assist with the start of popular movements, it was made possible through some phone calls to the colleagues and friends gathered here, supported through the help of among very many others Sture Eskilsson, Anna Hemlin and Mats Johansson, announced on the Monday morning through an editorial letter in Svenska Dagbladet and finally a reality the same day when 300 people met up 12 o’clock, as always.
The Monday movement from then on surfed on the interest and commitment from all sorts of citizens in Sweden. From Monday to Monday. It was fun. It was inspiring. It was dramatic. Sometimes with sorrow for those who lost their life. Many times with joy over song, dance and music. Now and then cold feet’s but always warm hearts.
As I stated, never it was an effort, never a plight. On the opposite, it was one of our most inspiring experiences to have had the privilege to do what we could during a time when history turned to a new and better future. We learned how much that can be achieved with values and moral. We experienced how fast a foreign policy of decades can change in a media society when you have the right on your side, people behind you and cameras in front of you.
Mr President, on behalf of all of us who run the Monday-movement I would like to extend a warm and proud thanks to You, to your government and to the Latvian people for this honour. Thank you.