Ambassador John Carwile
July 6, 2022
Good afternoon ministers and excellencies, distinguished guests, friends. Karin and I welcome you to our celebration of America’s 246th Independence Day. It’s been two years since we last gathered – and in much smaller numbers – outside the American Embassy, and I’m glad that we can enjoy a more traditional gathering today. I want to express my gratitude to our sponsors – whose names you see on the screen. I also want to thank the members of the Embassy team (including Chris Merriman and Sophia Ashley) for their hard work in organizing today’s event.
Every year on July 4 (or if you’re in Latvia, July 6), Americans take time to celebrate the ideals set forth in our Declaration of Independence. The belief in self-governance and freedom, the belief that everyone is created equal with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These beliefs have shaped the character of America in every chapter of our long history, especially as we faced challenges such as slavery, civil war, world war, civil rights for all, and foreign and domestic terrorism. These experiences remind us that democracy and freedom must be defended against those who push against the idea of government by the people, for the people.
The United States has made tremendous progress over the last 245 years, illustrating what people can achieve when they enjoy liberty and equality. And I am optimistic about our future accomplishments as men and women of goodwill engage with allies and adversaries to meet the challenges of our time.
The ideas and aspirations that fueled our revolution in 1776 are not unique to Americans. They are the same ideals that led Latvians to fight for their nationhood in 1918, and that drove the people of Latvia to link arms during the Baltic Way in 1989 or take to the Barricades in 1991. They are the reason that our friendship with Latvia is so strong today.
This year, we are celebrating 100 years of diplomatic relations between our countries. Our relationship has endured difficult trials, including the devastation of World War II and the long nightmare of the illegal Soviet occupation. And we have enjoyed remarkable triumphs as Latvians restored their independence and rebuilt their institutions, leading to membership in the European Union and NATO, the most successful and powerful defense alliance in world history.
Today, we are strategic partners, with a shared understanding of the importance of personal liberty, human rights, and economic freedom. We benefit from the vibrant American Latvian community and the longstanding family and personal ties that bind us together. And we share a sobering, clear vision about the threats we face as an Alliance and the importance of our security.
This last point weighs on all of us these days as we witness the valiant Ukrainian people fighting to save their democracy. Russia’s unprovoked, catastrophic invasion of Ukraine threatens all of Europe, as well as the existing world order.
For this reason, NATO members met in Madrid last week and made a historic decision to significantly strengthen NATO’s defense and deterrence capabilities. You will see a more robust, more effective, more combat-credible, more capable, and more determined NATO force posture to defend every inch of Allied territory against any all threats.
You will also see an increased U.S. presence in the Baltics. We want every Latvian to know that the United States’ commitment to our NATO Allies is sacred. You can count on us.
Ukraine’s resistance has been inspiring and effective. But to end this war and ensure that Ukraine emerges victorious, we must continue our unwavering support to Ukraine. We must not tire.
I know my country will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. And I know that Latvia will do the same.
Because Latvians understand from their own history what is at stake. For the same evil that you endured now has a different face, a different location, but it is the same demonizing of others and another detestable strongman whose power is built on lies, coercion, and fear.
I am proud of the friendship that the United States and Latvia have forged over the last 100 years. And I am grateful to all of you here today for your vital role in our Alliance of democracies. With such dedicated partners, I am confident that our friendship will only grow stronger over the next 100 years.