Вайра Вике-Фрейберга
Foto: AFI

Президент Латвии Вайра Вике-Фрейберга, выступая вчера на ужине, данном в ее честь королевской четой Швеции, с признательностью вспоминала так называемые шведские времена в Латвии.

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Как агентству LETA рассказали в президентской пресс-службе, обращаясь к королю и королеве Швеции, Вике-Фрейберга кратко напомнила об истории отношений между странами. Она подчеркнула, что с 1621 по 1710 год Рига была одним из центров Шведской империи и реформы, которые проводили здесь шведские власти, во многом имели прогрессивное значение. Так, во времена владычества шведов местные крестьяне начали осознавать свои права, овладевали навыками чтения и письма. Для крестьянских детей открывались школы, в целях распространения протестантства на латышский язык была переведена Библия, а с 1694 года было введено обязательное образование. Этот прогресс был остановлен только поражением Швеции в Северной войне и постепенным завоеванием территории Латвии Российской империей, отметила президент.

Лембергса не услышали

Напомним, что 29 марта мэр Вентспилса Айвар Лембергс заявил журналистам, что направил президенту письмо, в котором высказал свое мнение по поводу взаимоотношений Латвии и Швеции в прошлом. "Не касаясь противоречивой позиции шведского правительства по отношению к Латвии в XX веке, особенно в 1940-1990 годах, хочу отметить ошибочность тщательно культивируемого в учебниках, СМИ и обществе в целом представления о "хороших шведских временах", — говорится в письме.

По словам Лембергса, государственные контакты между двумя странами после восстановления независимости обычно сопровождают позитивные стереотипы, которые превозносят шведский вклад в культуру, образование, хозяйственную жизнь и развитие латвийского народа. "Если такая оценка и правильна, то она может относиться только к одной части Латвии — Видземе, в то время — составной части Шведского королевства. Для других территорий нынешней Латвии соседство со шведами было деструктивным и разрушительным, тормозящим развитие", — пишет Лембергс. По его мнению, сначала нужно оценивать отношения Швеции с Курземским герцогством, которое в XVI-XVIII веках было единственным, пусть и полусамостоятельным, местным государственным образованием. Герцогство практически прекратило свое существование во время нападения шведов в 1658-1659 годах.

"Осмелюсь призвать вас открыто оценить и говорить об исторической роли Швеции в истории Латвии, а также инспирировать решение этого вопроса во взаимоотношениях Латвии и Швеции", — пишет Лембергс. Он призывает Шведское королевство признать деструктивные последствия своих нападений на территорию Латвии в XVII-XVIII веках, а также решить вопрос о возможных компенсациях со стороны Швеции и вернуть Латвии имеющие культурную и историческую ценность предметы, похищенные во время нападений на Курземское герцогство.

Речь президента Латвии (полный текст)

Полный текст речи, произнесенной президентом Латвии на официальном ужине у Короля и Королевы Швеции в честь визита президента Латвии. Публикуется в оригинале.

Your Majesties,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour and an immense pleasure for me as President of Latvia to be in here Sweden on this official State visit. I should like to express our thanks and deep appreciation — my own, that of my husband, professor Freibergs, and that of the entire Latvian delegation, for the outstanding hospitality that we are enjoying here in this royal palace, so rich in traditions and which recently marked its 250th anniversary.

Sweden is a special neighbour of Latvia, as attested by the close contacts between our nations, which have gained in depth, breadth and significance during the past fifteen years, while we were working our way back into Europe after a 50-year forced separation.

Your Majesty,
The contacts between Latvians and Swedes go far back to ancient times, as far back as the beginnings of sea navigation. Vikings made raids and even had settlements on the coast of Courland, and used the Daugava River as a trade route, while the Couronians visited the Viking lands both for plunder and trade. Over time, however, these relations became asymmetrical, with Sweden evolving into a unified kingdom, while Latvian territory remained fragmented and suffered a succession of conquests from neighbouring countries, including Sweden.

Between 1621 and 1710, Riga was one of the Swedish empire’s most important cities, with the largest population, while Livonia became the granary of the Swedish kingdom. The reforms carried out by the Swedish administration were of far-reaching importance. During Swedish rule, the rights and duties of serfs were clearly regulated, the first parish schools for peasant children were opened, book printing evolved and the Bible was translated into Latvian to help the spread of Protestantism. In 1694, mandatory education was introduced for all children, whether from noble or peasant families. This progress was interrupted by the defeat of Sweden in the Great Northern War in 1710 and by the gradual conquest of all Latvian territories by the tsars of Russia during the course of the 18th century. Nevertheless, the momentum of reforms left its mark, since Latvian peasants had acquired a keen sense of their rights along with literacy.

Closer contacts between our two nations became again possible after 1918, this time on completely new foundations — with Latvia now an independent country and a founding member of the League of Nations. Cooperation in the sphere of culture was particularly successful during the period between the two World Wars. Contacts between groups and individuals expanded, largely due to the activities of the Swedish-Latvian Society, which was established in 1925. Latvian children as well as adults become enthusiastic readers of translated Swedish authors and famous artists became known on both sides of the Baltic Sea. During the 1930's, weekly steamer traffic took place between Sweden and the sandy beaches of Latvia, which became favourite vacation spot for many Swedes.

Only a few years later, these same beaches became the departure point for many thousands of Latvian refugees who were fleeing from the menace of Stalin's regime and hoping to reach the security of Sweden as a neutral country. Between Fall 1944 and Spring 1945, some 4500 Latvians managed to make the perilous voyage across the Baltic Sea in small fishing boats, but many others did not live to see the Swedish coast. Over 100 000 others fled West over land and sea, to wind up in the refugee camps of post-war occupied Germany.

After the 2nd World War, the Baltic Sea was divided by the fiercely guarded Iron Curtain, thus splitting Europe into two hostile parts for the next half century. Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union could all of the Baltic Sea rim countries open up to the world. Now, ever since the last enlargement of the European Union in 2004, the Baltic Sea has become once again a sea that joins us in communication. It is also an important and precious part of our common natural heritage, which we need to preserve intact for future generations.

Your Majesty,
It was just fifteen years ago last May 4 that Latvia adopted its Declaration for the renewal of our Independence. In this brief space of time we have managed to re-establish a stable democracy, build up well-functioning government structures, restore private ownership and restructure our national economy according to market principles. Our people have survived major changes and upheavals with courage, dignity and determination. They have patiently supported endless and sometimes painful reforms with the understanding that our only course was to become full and equal partners in the European community of nations and to recover our rightful place in international relations.

Your Majesty,
Throughout this process of change, we have been receiving constant support and assistance form our Swedish neighbours, who have generously shared with us their knowledge, experience and resources. We are grateful to all who have encouraged and supported us in so many different ways. We are proud of what we have managed to accomplish. While fully aware of how much still remains to be done, we look to the future with confidence, for now at long last it lies in our own hands to shape.

We look forward to working, growing and evolving within the fold of the European community, with Sweden as our good neighbour, partner and friend. Latvia is committed to do its part to make the European Union a power to be reckoned with — politically, economically, socially and culturally, a Europe strong enough to face all the challenges posed by an increasingly globalised world.

Your Majesty,
The ongoing processes of globalisation bring with them both opportunities and risks. For smaller nations especially, it will be a true challenge to maintain the uniqueness that distinguishes them from others. Sweden has been an exemplary success in this regard. The country, its people, the names of Swedish brands are well-known and well-respected world wide, and there is at least one such name brand in every field of activity.

In Latvia, the Swedish presence can be felt at every step. Just yesterday, an exhibition was opened in Riga, dedicated to Astrid Lundgren, one of the favourite writers of several generations of young Latvians. Two weeks ago, an exhibition of Scandinavian design was opened in Riga, directly in tune with the year of Swedish design announced by your country. A couple of months ago, we enjoyed a retrospective of Ingmar Bergman's films, and these are but few of the more recent examples.

Latvia for its part is still building its image. It is not just a matter of re-drawing Latvia’s contours on the mental map of Europeans from which it was erased during 50 years of foreign occupation. It is also a matter of dispelling myths and disinformation and of asking for a fair, open and balanced view of history from all of our neighbours.

We would like people in other countries to learn about the beauties of our nature, the richness of our cultural heritage, the skills and talents of our people, the quality of products.

I trust there are people in Sweden who will remember the acclaimed guest performances by the Latvian National Opera, who have seen the exhibitions of young Latvian artists in Stockholm, Eskilstuna and Sollentuna, who have read Swedish translations of Latvian poetry or prose. I trust that in the coming years, we will be getting to know each other better and better.

Once again, may I thank you, Your Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen, as well as the entire Swedish nation for the great honour shown to us and for the gracious hospitality that you have extended to my husband, the Latvian delegation, and myself. I wish you long to reign over your people, and should like to call this toast to your health and happiness Your Majesty, and to the health and happiness of the Royal House of Sweden. I also raise this glass to the prosperous future of our Baltic Sea region and to the enduring ties of friendship between the Swedish and the Latvian nations.

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