Ambasssador John Carwile
January 13, 2023
Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga
Mr. President, Mr. Minister, Mr. Fly, distinguished guests;
I am pleased to join you tonight for a celebration of freedom – the freedom to speak one’s mind, the freedom to hold our leaders accountable, and the freedom to tell the truth.
For more than seven decades, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty have provided independent, fact-based reporting to audiences in places where a free press is under threat and disinformation is pervasive.
If you grew up in Latvia, you and your parents and grandparents know their work well. During the darkest days of Soviet occupation, Radio Free Europe helped the people of Latvia stay connected to the world outside the Iron Curtain and to learn the truth about the authoritarian regime that sought to extinguish your hopes for freedom.
That history makes tonight’s celebration especially meaningful. Latvia rejected the lies and brutality of the Soviet occupiers and reclaimed its rightful place as a free democratic state. Now Latvia is serving as a host for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalists as they continue their vital work of delivering accurate, credible information to audiences who are fed lies and disinformation by their own governments.
I want to commend the Government of Latvia for supporting this endeavor and for welcoming journalists from Russia, Belarus, and elsewhere to continue their work.
This support contributes to our collective security and response to Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. RFE/RL journalists, and many other journalists who were forced to flee Russia and Belarus, are beacons of truth in the sea of disinformation and lies that dominate the Russian-language information space.
The United States condemns the Russian and Belarussian government’s targeting and harassment of journalists. In partnership with Latvia and our allies in Europe, we will continue to support the efforts of these journalists to provide Russian-speaking audiences with truthful information about the Kremlin’s brutality in Ukraine and government repression in Russia and Belarus.
Finally, to all the journalists in the room, whether you report the news in Latvian, Russian, English, or another language…you have my gratitude. As Ambassador, I have seen your skill and dedication first-hand, whether I was answering one of your interview questions or watching one of your dispatches from a war zone. Your tough questions sometimes make leaders uncomfortable, but we know it is your job to ask these questions. You are an indispensable ingredient in a strong and healthy society that values freedom and the rule of law. Thank you for your work.