Sanita Osipova speaks about the understanding of freedom in society at a conference dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall
From 7 to 9 November, Vice-president of the Constitutional Court Sanita Osipova attends an international summit “Berlin Wall – 30”, which is dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. An international conference is held as part of the summit – “World without Walls”, in which Sanita Osipova gave a presentation on the understanding of freedom in society after the independence of the Republic of Latvia was restored.
In her presentation, Sanita Osipova shared memories of the events of 1989 in Berlin and Riga as well as of the processes that followed the restoration of the independent State of Latvia, together building a democratic state governed by the rule of law, which respects fundamental human rights, including personal liberty. She underscored that at that time freedom, first and foremost, meant breaking out of slavery and fighting for self-determination as a free state and a free person.
Sanita Osipova explained that, in 30 years, Latvia had done everything to establish a democratic state governed by the rule of law, however, the concept of liberty was often misunderstood still. The freedom of the state, which we gained, unfortunately, did not self-evidently lead to an understanding of the personal freedom in society and, hence, also in the state that is constituted by this society. Many members of society have not developed an understanding of freedom as self-determination, as assuming responsibility for one’s life, tolerance towards the freedom of other persons to self-determination in a way that differs from the one we would prefer. The state cannot know better than the person what he or she needs, otherwise the meaning of democracy would be lost.
As a vivid example of the different understanding of a citizen’s freedom in post-totalitarian society and in older democracy, she mentioned a case heard by the Latvian Constitutional Court regarding the duty to place the national flag, in which the applicant complained of the administrative sanction envisaged for failure to place the national flag in mourning presentation on a certain date (case No. 2015-01-01). The constitutional complaints lodged with the Constitutional Court show what people expect from fundamental rights and the state. First of all, a fair trial, followed by material benefits: allowances, pensions, and property.
Sanita Osipova concluded her speech by underscoring: if we want to enjoy the fruits from the fall of the Berlin Wall, living in a rule-of-law and democratic state, we must all together cultivate respect towards a person as a reasonable and responsible individual with the right to self-determination.
International conference “World without Walls” was one of the three events of the summit focusing on the areas of international relations and economics, security and peace-building, human rights, arts, and culture. Participants of the summit were governmental and diplomatic officials, scholars of law, academics, representatives of the private and public sector, as well as other interested parties.