quarta-feira, junho 25, 2014

Agnese: "History is something very fragil and it is not easy to know the real truth"

Now that we live a tumultuous period of instability in Europe because of the problems in Ukraine, Agnese offers us her point of view as a citizen from a country once part of the USSR and shares the tension that exists nowadays in Latvia towards modern day Russia. The process of independence and the big changes in Latvians life from 1991 until now, told in first person here. Just keep reading.

- What are your memories about the transition process after Latvian Independence from the USSR? What did your parents tell you about that period?
I don't have a lot of memories because I was too small, but in my first childhood memories, when I was about 12 years old, Russian friends are present. My mom told me a lot of stories, about misunderstandings with the different currencies or the differences in History books when she was in the school. But the most meaningful is the heavy propaganda that Russia was, and still is, making all the time. Russian times are in a pink memory because everything was done, they were saying us what we had to do in order to not have any Western influence. It was difficult to travel outside USSR territory, but very easy to move inside it. My grandmother never talks about that period because some of their friends were deported to Siberia in the 40's. They didn't want informed people there, so the richest you were, the most possibilities for you to be deported. But it always depends on whom you are asking to, there are people who easily follow the imposed rules, who educate their kids according to the official version of the facts, and this ends up to prevail. I think that History is something very fragile and it is not easy to know the real truth.

 - Do you think that the process is actually finished nowadays? How do you feel as a Latvian with the big presence of Russians [almost 30% of the population] in your country?
Actually, the way our process of independence happened was weird, it was like a theater played by the Government, we are always under someone's wing. Now we have been part of the EU and the UN for almost ten years, so talking about independence is a bit ridiculous. I feel independent of Russia just because now we are part of something else. After 23 years of independence there are fears in Latvia about becoming part of Russia again because of the lack of information about many things, fears about Putin wanting to take the three Baltic states back to Russia again. There have been some problems connected with that, Russian ships and planes entering our territory, and also their huge presence in the country is scaring, they are controlling important things like phone lines and media in some parts of the country. And also what is happening in Ukraine, it is unbelievable, like a shark trying to attack silently. Step by step they are making us closer to a different nationality.

- What is the role of Russia in Latvia? And in the construction of your identity?
Latvian spirit is a big up lately, because of the young people who is trying to spread information and knowledge. We are free people but there are still Russian schools which are still advertising Russia as "our mother". If the teachers are transmitting that and Russian people have a lot of benefits in the country, it is difficult to change things, it is also a matter of education. Their influence from Moscow is huge, in the political life, in the media, everywhere.

- How did you live the entrance of Latvia in the EU in 2004? And the adoption of the euro in 2014? 
I was against the EU because I was afraid to be in the same situation as with Russia. And as we are such a small country, maybe if we weren't part of Europe we would be part of Russia again. Now we can live more freely, with a speech of freedom, and we feel more protected. Being part of the Union brings new choices for the youngsters, everything is happening faster and easier, we can move, travel and work abroad without problems. But I don't believe in the Euro, because we are paying double price for everything. I also think that currency is something that makes our identity as a country stronger and now that we are part of something big we lost it.

- Which is the role of Latvia in Europe today? How the country identifies itself with the European values and identity [human identity respect, freedom, democracy, equality, human rights respect, respect for the minorities]?
There are a lot of immigrants who are finding Latvia as a place where to improve their lives. We were supposed to become members before 2004, but there were not guarantees of stability before. Now we respect European values and rights, it is very easy for us to follow their regulations and rules. I also think that it is important to value Human Being itself and not according to a country, a language or an amount of money. Everyone should have the same rights to receive than the others, European Union should work on achieve equality.

- How things have changed in your country during all these years?
Now people are more open, they are talking more freely because they are not afraid to say what they really think. We have support from the EU to start new businesses and our national confidence is growing. We feel covered because we know that we are not alone. Moreover, there are a lot of money invested to improve the quality of our society. In the 14 years between the independence and the entrance in the EU things were always changing but very slowly, so it is like it didn't exist a before. The bad thing now is that what affects others affects also us, we need to learn to manage it. 

- What book, film and band would you recommend us?
A book: The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton.
A film: Hannah, by Joe Wright.
A band: Austra.

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