Polish FM at Latvian-Soviet peace treaty centenary

Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz on Tuesday attended centenary celebrations of the 1920 peace treaty between Latvia and the Soviet Union in the Latvian capital Riga.

Present at the ceremony in Riga Castle were, among others, Latvian President Egils Levits and Prime Minister Arturs Karins, and the foreign ministers of Estonia and Finland.

President Levits recalled that the 1920 treaty sanctioned Latvia's independence, but was broken by the Soviets by their 1940 invasion of Latvia. He added that one of the treaty's biggest effects was the retainment by the Latvians of their own language. He also stated that - in accordance with Latvian law - the treaty is still in force.

During a panel debate accompanying the ceremony, the Polish Foreign Minister stressed that the Latvian-Soviet treaty was an event of major importance for the entire region. He also recalled Poland's forthcoming observations of the 100th anniversary of the so-called Battle of Warsaw, in which Polish forces stopped the Red Army’s advance on Europe.

Mr Czaputowicz also said that Poland and Latvia are currently facing similar challenges, including today’s Russia’s policies and the attempt to “distort history.” “Since then [when the treaty was signed - 1920] so much hasn’t changed - geopolitics are still dominant in the region, challenges are changing, now it is not Soviet Russia, it is Putin’s Russia,” the Polish FM said. He also added that the countries of the region should be united “in supporting their neighbours such as Belarus,” referring to the protests which have erupted in the country after Sunday’s presidential election.

The Latvian-Soviet peace treaty was signed on August 11 1920, reaffirmed on February 5 1932, and in 1934 extended until 1945. However, the Soviet Union violated the agreement in 1940, when it invaded and occupied Latvia.