Gunārs Meierovics, son of Latvia’s first foreign minister, Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics, and a tireless worker for Latvian independence during his years of exile, died Feb. 11 in Rīga, according to the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība, or PBLA). He was 86.
Born May 12, 1920, in Rīga, Meierovics studied at the University of Latvia and the Baltic University in Germany, where he was a war refugee. He emigrated to the United States, where he worked in the U.S. Department of Defense.
He spent many years involved with the American Latvian Association and the PBLA. From 1990-1993, Meierovics was chairman of the PBLA. He also led the Latvian Freedom Fund (Latvijas brīvības fonds).
He was elected to Latvia’s first postwar parliament, the 5th Saeima, as a member of the Latvijas ceļš (Latvia’s Way) party. Meierovics was then named state minister of Baltic and Nordic Affairs in the government led by Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs. He failed in 1993 in his bid to be elected president of Latvia.
From 1997-1999, Meierovics was president of Eiropas kustība Latvijā (European Movement – Latvia), a nonprofit organization that works to educate Latvian residents about the European Union. He remained its honorary president up until his death.
In 2001, Meierovics received the PBLA’s top honor.
Meierovics died after a prolonged illness, according to Latvian media reports.
Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks is among those who have expressed condolences to Meierovics’ family, including his widow, Ingrīda.
“Latvia,” said President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, “bids farewell to a son who truly loved his fatherland, who lived a long and rich life, who traveled the difficult road of the refugee, but always with thoughts and concerns for his country and his people, with love for his Latvia and the Baltics.”
Funeral details have yet to be announced, but services are to be in the Dome Cathedral and Meierovics is to buried in the family plot in Meža kapi.
Gunārs Meierovics, 1920-2007.
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