U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has congratulated Latvia on the 20th anniversary of its restored independence, which the country is marking May 4.
In a text and video message posted on the Department of State’s website, Clinton praised the Latvian Supreme Council’s historic decision on 1990 to formally break away from the Soviet Union. Indepedent Latvia was occupied by the U.S.S.R. beginning during World War II.
“That brave decision was backed by the will of the Latvian people, many of whom risked their lives to make sure that they defended independence,” Clinton said.
Latvia, she said, is an example to other countries.
“Today, your vibrant democracy is an inspiration to countries around the world that are now struggling themselves toward freedom,” Clinton said. “Your efforts to bring peace and stability to places torn by conflict and devastated by disaster are a testament to the spirit of the Latvian people.”
Clinton alluded to challenges Latvia has faced in the past two decades, and noted the country’s membership in the NATO defense alliance and the European Union.
“Rebuilding a nation after five decades of occupation is not easy, but you can be proud of what you have achieved in the last 20 years,” she said. “Membership in NATO and the European Union took patience and persistence, and they were richly deserved.”
Clinton noted the close diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Latvia.
“The United States is honored to call you a strategic ally and a close friend,” Clinton said, “and we look forward to working with you to meet the challenges of this, the 21st century.”
The video message can be viewed here.
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