Latvia celebrates 104 years of independence

Image of Riga's chocolate-box, UNESCO-listed Old Town, nestling as it does on the banks of the Daugava river.
Image of Riga's chocolate-box, UNESCO-listed Old Town, nestling as it does on the banks of the Daugava river. Source: Darya Tryfanava/Unsplash

Friday, November 18, was Latvia's Independence Day, and marked 104 years since Estonia's neighbor to the south proclaimed its independence.

Latvia declared de facto independence on November 18, 1918, the English-language portal of public broadcaster LSM reports, though it wasn't until January 26, 1921 that the western entente powers approved the new country's existence de jure.

Like Estonia, Latvia also received naval support from Britain's Royal Navy during its war of independence (1918-1920), a conflict which Estonian forces also played a decisive role in, at the June 1919 Battle of Cesis - fought against the military forces of the former German Baltic nobility, the Baltische Landeswehr.

Proclaiming independence was nonetheless not a simple matter, LSM reports, and several rival political forces vied with each other to enter the history books as being responsible for freedom.

It took an extraordinary diplomatic mission to Stockholm and London, carried out by Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics, to help the process move forward, LSM reports, in addition to the independence war.

Friday's events in the capital, Riga, began with an ecumenical service at Riga Cathedral (Rīgas Doms), a wreath-laying ceremony at the Freedom Monument on Brīvības, and the traditional military parade. Head of State Egils Levits gave an address in the evening, when the customary gala performance also took place.

This year's celebrations were fireworks-free, at least in Riga.

Estonia proclaimed its independence on February 24, 1918.

Both countries also mark restoration of independence days, following the end of the Soviet occupation. Latvia's is on May 4; Estonia's, August 20.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: LSM

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