Thank you for your warm welcome. Laura and I are very pleased with this trip, our second one to Latvia. I also thank President Ruutel from Estonia, and President Adamkus from Lithuania, for having traveled here.
The Baltic countries have witnessed one of the fastest transformations of history by going from the condition of captive nations to that of members of NATO and the European Union in one decade. Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians have shown that their love of freedom is stronger than the will of an empire. This week, nations from both sides of the Atlantic will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Hitler, who would be the embodiment of evil for the future generations. Men and women rose up against that evil and defeated it. This is what we are going to commemorate.
The Baltic States did not play any role in the triggering of the war. Instead, they were victims of an agreement between two dictators. For most Germans, that defeat meant freedom, but for the whole eastern Europe, it was the end of a war that led to the subjugation of another empire. The end of fascism did not put an end to oppression. The Yalta agreement was negotiated according to the Munich tradition or the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement. However, the United States was not simply contented with accepting the freedom of one part of Europe. The United States never acknowledged the soviet occupation of the Baltic nations and the three flags continued to wave at the diplomatic missions in the United States. The end of the Second World War was only a stage of a broader movement - the development of freedom all over the world. Such movement is spreading nowadays to the Middle East.
We have learned that free nations are peaceful and that freedom can rapidly emerge after a long tyranny and be motivated by patriotism and the support of the traditions or the native language. However, democracy also goes to the defense of the minority rights. You are multiethnic societies and in defending your own identity, you should accept your own minorities. You can be a model for the countries in the region. You already helped Ukraine to count on a visionary leader in the person of Viktor Yushchenko. My country backs the democracy in Georgia and Moldavia and we are working together to democratize Belarus. We defend democracy everywhere as we just did in Western Europe.
Thank you and God bless you.

United States (Department of State)

"President Discusses Freedom and Democracy in Latvia", by George W. Bush, U.S. State Department, May 7, 2005. Text adapted from a speech delivered by the U.S. President during his trip to Latvia.