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Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics sworn in

July 8, 2023

Rinkevics is the first openly gay president in the EU. In his swearing-in speech, the new president pledged to uphold his country's support for Ukraine against Russia.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics (in the picture) meet in Helsinki, Finland on November 9, 2021.
The newly-elected president is the first openly-gay head of state in the EUImage: Jussi Nukari/dpa/Lehtikuva/picture alliance

Edgars Rinkevics vowed to uphold Latvia's support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, as he was sworn in as president on Saturday.

"Russia's war and genocide in Ukraine have created a new, harsh reality," the German news agency DPA quoted Rinkevics as saying. He warned of the threats of "imperial Russia and the [Belarus leader Alexander] Lukashenko regime" against the region, Europe and the whole world.

Latvia's Russian-speaking community divided over war

The speech of the former foreign minister comes days before the NATO summit in Vilnius.

"Latvia will stand for a strong and effective NATO, the European Union, a law-based international order and close cooperation with our friends and allies," he said,

EU's first openly gay president

The 49-year-old has served as the top Latvian diplomat since 2011 and has been a long-term supporter of Ukraine against Russian aggression.

The parliament voted in Rinkevics in May to the largely ceremonial role of president after his predecessor, Egils Levits, decided not to run for a second term. 

That makes him Latvia's first openly gay head of state, and the first openly gay president of an EU member state.

Speaking after being sworn in, Rinkevics  pledged to fight for inclusion and equality in Latvia. 

"Every person in Latvia, its citizens, must feel that they belong, legally protected and safe," the new president said.

rmt/lo (dpa, EFE)