Gunārs Meierovics dies in Rīga at age 86

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

Gunārs Meierovics, 1920-2007.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

2 thoughts on “Gunārs Meierovics dies in Rīga at age 86

  1. Gunars Meierovics deserves a place of honor alongside his father in the history of Latvia’s nationhood. I would even go so far as to characterize Gunars as Latvia’s de facto foreign minister in exile between 1950 and 1991. During that time he was the guiding light and chief strategist for all refugee Latvian organizations engaged in keeping the flame of Latvian independence alive. He was one of the founders of ALA and PBLA in the 1950’s and while many served these organizations with dedication and honor in the ensuing years, Gunars Meierovics dedicated his life to them.

    One of his greatest achievements was uniting US Latvian, Lithuanians and Estonians in forming the Joint Baltic American National Committee – JBANC. JBANC is and remains the most influential, respected and accomplished Baltic lobbying group in Washginton D.C. Gunars understood that 1 million Baltic-Americans were much more effective in lobbying Latvia’s interests than 100,000 Latvian-Americans. Gunars always fought for Baltic unity, and also enlisted the cooperation and support of other Captive Nation organizations throughout the United States. He was well known and highly respected in all the halls of power in Washington, from the White House and State Department to the US Congress. He was a valued friend and colleague to the diplomats in exile that ran all three Baltic diplomatic missions in the US during the Cold War years. And he was a source of information and inspiration to the young Baltic-Americans who joined the crusade for Baltic independence.

    Gunars Meierovics is a true hero – a patriot, a diplomat and a Latvian who lived his life for his country. I am very proud to have known him and worked with him. Vieglas smilts Gunar!

    Ojars Kalnins

  2. The Baltic Chain meant that we literally all held hands at one point, but most of the rest of the time, it has been a journey side by side – we Estonians alongside you Letts, and of course our Lithuanian friends. Side by side, first down the refugee road and then later only to return, after having been blown every which way by the four winds. It has been a traumatic journey, one we would not have embarked on of our own volition, but it has been tempered and softened by the privilege of getting to spend time in the presence of men and women of stature in the Baltic diaspora. Three battered underdog countries proved capable of producing aristocrats despite the odds. Thanks for having been a dignified and apt spokesman and a good example. Condolences to Ingrida and kin.

    Tolkien wrote:

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of all that I have seen,
    of meadow-flowers and butterflies
    in summers that have been;

    Of yellow leaves and gossamer
    in autumns that there were,
    with morning mist and silver sun
    and wind upon my hair.

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of how the world will be
    when winter comes without a spring
    that I shall ever see.

    For still there are so many things
    that I have never seen:
    in every wood in every spring
    there is a different green.

    I sit beside the fire and think
    of people long ago,
    and people who will see a world
    that I shall never know.

    But all the while I sit and think
    of times there were before,
    I listen for returning feet
    and voices at the door.

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