PBLA, fraternity back effort to rename Basteja Boulevard

The World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība, or PBLA) and a student fraternity are backing an effort to restore a downtown Rīga street name in honor of pre-World War II Foreign Minister Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics.

The federation and the fraternity Talavija have sent a letter to Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš lending their support to restoring the Meierovics name on Basteja Boulevard, the foreign ministry announced in a March 26 press release. Meierovics was a member of the Talavija fraternity and his son, Gunārs Meierovics, was head of the PBLA from 1990-1993.

Riekstiņš wants Basteja Boulevard—which separates the Old Town district from the Bastejkalns park—renamed to Zigfrīda Annas Meierovica Boulevard, the name the street had from 1929 until 1941.

In February, Riekstiņš wrote to the Rīga City Council asking it to consider the name change. Although many Rīga streets renamed during the Soviet occupation had their pre-World War II titles restored in 1991, Basteja Boulevard did not change. Riekstiņš has said he wants the street renamed in part because this year marks the 90th anniversary of Latvia’s declaration of independence, an event in which Meierovics played a key role. Meierovics in 1918 became Latvia’s first foreign minister and twice served as prime minister. Meierovics died in a road accident in 1925 at the age of 38.

The boulevard runs from Krišjāņa Valdemāra Street on the north to Aspāzijas Boulevard on the south, connecting with the latter at Brīvības Boulevard.

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

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