Good evening, Latvia!
On the New Year’s Eve we usually ponder on what we have accomplished in the past year. We take the pleasant memories along and leave all the difficulties in the past. The last minutes of the year full of productive work, unexpected changes and new hopes are passing by. At this point we evaluate what we have accomplished in the past year while also contemplating upon the goals to achieve in the upcoming year.
“Latvia will become proud and wealthy only if we succumb to quiet and ordinary sense of duty”, said Kārlis Skalbe on the first anniversary of our country in 1919. Merely owing to persistent work and a sense of duty towards our loved ones and Latvia we have been able to overcome the hard years of global financial crisis. Tonight with a sense of pride we can say the following: by acting wisely and deliberately the Latvian nation has overcome global financial crisis and has renewed the national economy.
We have a serious reason to look back at what we have achieved with a sense of “accomplished work”. We have arranged our country’s finances. We successfully finished the international credit programme before Christmas and regain our place among those countries that can deal with their financial matters on their own. The next year’s budget deficit steadily complies with the Maastricht criteria. We have accomplished the fiscal consolidation that has so much wearied the society. Yet the renewed financial stability and independence does not mean that we again should spend in excess. This experiment has been tried already in so called fat years and the consequences were heavy and unpleasant. I hope that we have learnt from this crisis and have understood the importance of financial discipline.
Ours now is one of the most rapidly growing economies in the European Union. Latvian GDP this year has grown by approximately 5%. Production has already reached the pre-crisis level, while export exceeds it. Gradually development can be felt in real income growth of the population. In this year’s third quarter salaries grew by on average 3.7% in public sector and by 5% in private sector. Although this is comparatively small increase, nonetheless it is positive one which next year will become even more significant. Unemployment decreases gradually. More than 56 thousand employees will return in the labour market.
The Latvian economy will continue to grow in the upcoming year as well. Hard but in any case significant period has come to at an end in the history of Latvia. All the lessons we ourselves have to take along in the future. Politicians cannot anymore make decisions that in short term period are profitable but in long term period – irresponsible. We have learnt that we can reach results if we concentrate our resources, act rationally and are open to changes. The economy has been restructured, the budged has been arranged and the number of employees working in the public administration has been reduced. We are ready for further development that will ensure well-being to our country. Today our country’s future is more stable than in many other European countries.
Nonetheless there is no reason to immerse oneself in self-satisfaction. In order to ensure stable and long-lasting economic growth in the following years and to avoid another “bubble” we have to work seriously. We have to take also into account the complicated economic situation in the world. The European debt crisis is continuing, the world trade rate is decreasing and uncertainty is remaining as regards the required fiscal consolidation in the majority of economically developed countries.
What we have to do in order to maintain stable growth also in the following years? The main task is to increase the country’s competitiveness. Business environment has to be improved. Productivity of labour must continue to grow. The economic support should be directed to companies’ technological modernization. Resources of the European Union funds should be used effectively not only to rehabilitate the infrastructure but also to support business activities. Already in this year positive indications have been observed. Latvia has become the Baltic leader in “Doing Business” index, which is a significant fact that helps to attract investors.
The upcoming year 2012 will be significant also to the European Union when to great extent its further evolution will be determined. We have to work so that Latvia could be together with those countries that will form the future European core. Latvia has to support even closer cooperation of the European countries. Latvia’s place is neither in the outskirts of Europe nor on its Eastern Bridge but in the European core, which moves Europe forwards. Europe is Latvia’s geopolitical space that unites us due to common perception of values. We are ready together with other countries to renew Europe’s competitiveness and to work in the name of more secure future.
With other European countries we are united owing to respect that we have for other nations’ unique identities. In order to maintain national diversity each European country develops and strengthens its own national identity. This is also the responsibility of Latvia.
Latvia is democratic, judicial, socially responsible and national country. Our country is “united spiritual structure”. “We can request that minorities and Latvians could have some common link and that this link should be in Latvian”, emphasized Kārlis Skalbe in the past century. These words still are topical.
Each Latvian and each Latvian citizen should understand the foundation of our country. The Latvian language as the only official language expresses our country’s democratic and national essence. Representatives of other nations should not and must not be offended to live in Lettic Latvia. Lettic Latvia does not exclude the conservation and strengthening of minority traditions that forms a part of Latvia’s rich cultural heritage.
I invite all Latvian citizens to participate in the forthcoming referendum and to express one’s faithfulness to Latvian national identity and constitutional values. The Latvian language is and will be the background of this identity, as well as our faithfulness to democracy and independence. The referendum must become the testimony that Latvian basic values are important not only to Latvians but also to those many minorities that belong to our native country. United society is a criterion for democratic maturity. This is a significant precondition also for Latvia’s economic growth.
Honourable Latvian citizens!
Tonight I would like to express my gratitude to all Latvian people that with their work and love in the past year have made Latvia stronger.
Latvian country, its well-being, security and identity are issues that we all have in common.
At this moment before the New Year I invite you all to set the Next Year’s goals as regards you personally and as regards Latvia. I invite each Latvian patriot to resolve to accomplish at least one unselfish deed in order to strengthen our country.
I wish you all tonight harmony and love at your home!
Happy New Year!
God Bless Latvia!