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History professor recognized during event at U.S. Embassy in Latvia

July 20, 2012
 LazdaPhoto2web
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with Dr. Paulis Lazda, UW-Eau Claire professor of history.

A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire history professor recently attended an event at the U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia, during which he was recognized in remarks given by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Dr. Paulis Lazda was an invited guest at the June 28 program, which marked 90 years of unbroken state relations between the United States and Latvia. Clinton was on hand to dedicate a street in front of the U.S. Embassy in Riga in honor of former Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles (1937-43), whose 1940 Declaration of Non-Recognition formalized the U.S. refusal to recognize the forced occupation of the Baltic republics by the Soviet Union. In her speech, Clinton recognized Lazda for his effort to honor Welles and for originating the idea of renaming the street in his honor.

 Lazda Photo1web
Attending the ceremony honoring former Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles were Andris Ameriks, vice-mayor of Riga, Latvia; Judith Garber, U.S. ambassador to Latvia; Solvita Aboltina, speaker of the Saeima (Latvian parliament); U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Dr. Paulis Lazda, UW-Eau Claire professor of history; and Edgars Rinkevics, foreign minister of Latvia.
Lazda has researched Welles' career and describes him as a trusted adviser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the individual who, in large part, shaped wartime U.S. foreign policy.

"When the Soviet Union, consistent with its August 1939 secret pact with Nazi Germany, invaded and occupied the Baltic states and proclaimed Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to be part of the USSR, Welles condemned this act of aggression and denied the legitimacy of the Soviet claims," Lazda said, adding that the non-recognition of the occupation remained the policy of the United States and Western democratic governments for the next 51 years until the Baltic states regained de facto independence in 1991.

Lazda worked with the Latvian Foreign Ministry, the U.S. Embassy in Riga, the Riga City Council and the U.S. State Department to not only rename the street but to also organize a formal, public unveiling of the new street name in a ceremony recognizing the importance of Welles' contributions.

For more information, contact Lazda at lazdapi@uwec.edu.

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AH/DW

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