Author Archive

What being Latvian means to me

What being Latvian means to me

There are more than six and a half billion people in the world, and most of them have some kind of national identity. Our planet is full of people who call themselves Chinese, French, Venezuelan, South African or Norwegian. All of us have some national identity, although by the 21st century most of us have […]

The peace and pacts of August

The peace and pacts of August

In August, Latvia marks three anniversaries worth noting. On Aug. 11, 1920, Russia signed a peace treaty with Latvia. Nineteen years later, on Aug. 23, 1939, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. This promise of non-aggression between Stalin and Hitler led to one of the bloodiest wars in human history and […]

Once upon a time in the White House

Once upon a time in the White House

Twenty years ago a Latvian prime minister and foreign minister met with an American president in the Oval Office of the White House. It was July 30, 1990, and Latvia was still an occupied country. Why did President George Bush meet with Ivars Godmanis and Jānis Jurkāns a year before Latvia restored its independence, and […]

Latvia: you got to see it to believe it

Latvia: you got to see it to believe it

A few years ago the Latvian Tourism Development Agency ran a promotional campaign called “You Won’t Believe it Until You See It!” which talked about such things as blue cows, flying people and extraordinary singers. If that campaign were still up and running today, the number one topic would no doubt be the turn-around of […]

My vision of Latvia in 10 years

My vision of Latvia in 10 years

Starting with Latvia’s 90th anniversary two years ago, the Latvian Institute asked young people in Latvia to tell us what kind of Latvia they wanted to see in 10 years. We have received over 500 responses from some very bright girls and boys. While talking about the project with a journalist recently, he asked me […]

The Lacplesis is rising from the Daugava

The Lacplesis is rising from the Daugava

Latvia has had its share of joy and sorrow, success and failure, hope and disappointment. In one of Latvia’s most treasured legends a White Knight battles a Black Knight and both plunge into the River Daugava during their struggle. Legend has it that the White Knight, Lacplesis, will someday rise again, bringing with him the […]

Heading into Latvia’s wild blue yonder

Heading into Latvia’s wild blue yonder

Most people don’t know that Latvia has mountains and even fewer know that they are blue. Actually, Latvia has several “blue mountains” on its landscape and even a popular play called “Blue Mountain Marta.” But only one of Latvia’s “blue mountains” can be seen from distant Estonia and is located in the Slītere National Park, […]

The day the sun stands still

The day the sun stands still

Each year, toward the end of June, the sun stands still in Latvia. Actually, it stands still everywhere in the world, because that’s what “solstice” means in Latin — the moment when the sun stops moving in one direction and starts moving in another. What the rest of the world doesn’t know is that the […]

A diplomatic success story, continued

A diplomatic success story, continued

When I was lobbying for Latvia’s independence in the late 1980s, I used to tell Washington politicians that the Soviet and Nazi occupations of Latvia were just a brief 50-year interruption in the history of the Latvian republic. When Latvia’s independence was restored in 1991, I had the honor of joining one Latvian state institution […]

Latvia: the country full of surprises

Latvia: the country full of surprises

In early 2009, a newspaper asked Latvian economists, political scientists, and other experts to predict what might happen in Latvia in the coming year. As could be expected, they offered up a cornucopia of calamities, from national bankruptcy, devaluation of the currency, and worse. Among the prognosticators was Latvian poet Māra Zālīte, who predicted the […]

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