Dinner in honour of the Prime Minister of Latvia
Speech by the Prime Minister of Iceland, Davíð Oddsson,
at a dinner in honour of the Prime Minister of Latvia and his wife, at the Culture House, June 6 2002
I would like to wish the Prime Minister of Latvia, Mr. Andris Berzins, and his wife, Daina Berzina, a heartfelt welcome to Iceland. My wife and I still have fond memories of our particularly enjoyable visit to Latvia, which was characterized by good organization, great hospitality and a warm and pleasant reception everywhere. That experience is the background to this visit, and I hope that the Prime Minister and his wife will find their stay in Iceland both productive and enjoyable.
It has been fantastic to watch the positive developments in Latvia after it regained its independence, when the energy of your nation, its talents and ambition to achieve results were able to flourish. The past ten years have not been a continuous success story, but I am convinced that, later on, the people of Latvia will look back proudly at these years, when the foundation was laid for a flourishing society and solid economy in your country. Relations between Latvia and Iceland are increasing slowly but surely – and are of benefit to all concerned, which is the hallmark of successful business.
Last year, a decade had passed since the Baltic States reclaimed their freedom after decades of Soviet military occupation. The occasion was specially commemorated here in Reykjavík in August last year with the participation of the Baltic Foreign Ministers, at an event which coincided with the tenth anniversary of diplomatic relations between those countries and Iceland.
We Icelanders are honoured to have the people of Latvia for our friends. We admire the great reforms that you have made after such a long period of tyranny and oppression. And we applaud the changes that have taken place in your way of life over an astonishingly short period of time alongside your dynamic participation in international cooperation.
In Iceland, we have taken a particular interest in the efforts of the Baltic countries to become participants in NATO, and we have tried to provide them with the support that we can in order to ensure that these wishes are realized. We consider this important not only for Latvia but for the whole free world. Enlargement entails a historic opportunity for the Alliance to take part in creating a new Europe, and its policy on the enlargement issue is finally taking a clear and unqualified shape. We look forward to the time when we are allies of you and the other Baltic countries in NATO.
Once again I welcome the visit to Iceland by the Prime Minister of Latvia, his wife and their entourage, and I ask all present to rise from their seats and drink a toast to Latvia and the friendship between our nations, past, present and future.