The American Baltic relationship began on 10 Dec 1918, when the U.S. Senate passed Resolution No. 379 supporting the secession of the Baltic States from Soviet Russia. “All these nations must be free and independent, since the Baltic Sea coast belongs to them, and this makes their independence important for the future peace and freedom of the world. Diplomatic relations between the U.S and Baltic nations were first established on July 28, 1922. After the Soviet invasion of the Baltic countries, Undersecretary of State Sumner Wells on June 23, 1940 issued a declaration which established continued recognition of Baltic independence as official U.S. policy. The U.S. never recognized the Soviet annexation of the Baltic nations. The U.S. reestablished its diplomatic presences in the Baltic countries in 1991. U.S. policy in the Baltic countries seeks to intensify bilateral and NATO cooperation in the global war on terror, promote economic development and social integrations, and support historical reconciliation as well as efforts to combat corruption.
Congressional Resolution H.Con. Res. 153: Russia Doesn’t Belong in G-8
Representatives Christopher Cox (R-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, (HCHS) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), Ranking Member of the HIRC, introduced a bipartisan bill (5/3/05) urging the suspension of Russia’s membership in the Group of 8 nations until the country adheres to international norms and standards of democracy. “Russia has failed to complete a successful transition from communism to free enterprise, and from a Soviet police state to a stable, securely democratic society. Vladimir Putin needs to show that his nations belongs in the same league with the other G-7 members,” stated Representative Cox.
Senator Durbin Introduces Resolution (S. Res. 150) Honoring Victims of Communism
On May 19, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced resolution S. Res. 150 expressing continued support for the construction of the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation plans to construct the memorial near Georgetown University Law Center. Aiding the efforts are the Joint Baltic American National Committee and the Baltic American Freedom League. The project has generated strong support among the people of Baltic countries (Diena 5/24/05).
Russia Signs Border Agreement with Estonia while Putin Lashes at Latvia
After ten years of negotiations and stalling, Russia finally signed the long awaited agreement on the Estonia-Russia border. Under terms of the agreement, Russia obtains confirmation of its possession of two areas that were taken from Estonia and attached to the Russian SFSR during the occupation of Estonia—the town of Iaanilinn (opposite Narva) and the district of Petseri. The areas make up 5% of Estonia’s territory prior to the Soviet occupation.
Latvia’s border agreement with Russia was agreed to and initialed in 1997. The two countries had been expected to sign the treaty on May 10th, but the Kremlin balked after the Latvian government issued a declaration that the Russian authorities believe is designed to leave Russia open to territorial claims, even though the Latvian government has repeatedly declared it has no territorial claims against Russia. At a press conference at Pravda offices, naming a region in Latvia appropriated by Russia during the occupation of Latvia, Putin warned if Latvia demands it be returned, “all they will get is a dead donkeys ears.” Previously, when talking of returning territories the President used expressions such as “soft-boiled boots” and “a big goose egg.” At a EU-Russia ceremony in Moscow, he called Latvia’s “claims to the region” as “idiotic” [no such claim has been made]. The region in question Abrene (now Pytalovo) constitutes about 2% or about 460 square miles of Latvia’s pre-occupation territory. (Pravda 5/23.05, BNS 5/29/05, EDM 5/2/05).
Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine Form Joint Parliamentary Assembly and Peacekeeping Battalion.
(BNS) The Chairmen of the Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian parliaments on May 13 signed a declaration on forming an Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the three countries. The Assembly’s main goals include advancing Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO and the European Union, helping transfer Poland’s and Lithuania’s successful reform experience to Ukraine and other new democracies, and supporting an open admission policy by NATO and the EU for other aspirant countries. The three countries are also about to form a joint peacekeeping battalion. The battalion’s first assignment starts later this year in Kosovo, with Poland and Ukraine contributing 300 troops each, and Lithuania 140 troops to KFOR. The battalion may participate in peacekeeping missions in Moldova and Georgia.
Baltic Countries Best Integrated with World Economy
The Financial Times reports (5/16/05) that outsourcing from the Nordic countries has helped the Baltic stock markets generate strong returns. With the Baltic countries now in the vanguard of euro accession among the new EU countries, they are fast becoming the region that is best integrated with the world economy, writes P. Munter in FT. In practical terms investing in securities listed in the Baltic countries barely differs from buying assets in developed European markets. This is because of a gradual consolidation of the region’s stock exchanges. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the exchange scene remains fragmented, concludes Munter.
Putin Refuses to Renounce the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the Occupation of Baltic Countries
The Kremlin has angrily denied that the Soviet Union ever annexed the Baltic countries. A senior government official, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, rejecting the call from some European officials for an apology to the Baltic countries, insisted that the Soviet Union had taken over the Baltic countries “by mutual agreement rather than force (The Times 5/6/05).” President Putin’s position regarding the Baltic countries has remained constant from the Soviet times, notes Newsweek (5/9/05): “first equating the occupation with ‘liberation,’ demonizing resistance to it as ‘fascism,’ dismissing calls to come to terms with Soviet crimes and colonization as ‘attempts to rewrite history,’ and proscribing such views as disruptive of cooperation between Russia and the West.”
Mr. Putin’s version is simply that in 1918 under the Brest-Litvosk treaty, Russia turned over some territories to Germany which included the Baltic countries. In 1939 under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact the territories, including the Baltic countries, were returned back to Soviet Union. Therefore, “in 1941 the Soviet Union could not possibly have occupied them, inasmuch they were already a part of the U.S.S.R.” (V.Socor, EDM 512/05).
End of WWII in Europe and Baltic Occupation Resolution Passed by European Parliament
The Baltic Times reports (5/19/25) that the European Parliament passed a resolution regarding the consequence of the end of WWII in Europe. The resolution condemns Nazi tyranny and praises the liberation of East European countries from decades of oppression by the Soviet occupation following the war. The resolution passed by a vote of 463 to 49 with 33 abstentions. “For some nations the end of WWII imposed a renewal of the tyranny inflicted by the Soviet Union,” states the 11 point resolution. Tunne Kelem, an Estonian member of the Parliament, said that the EU’s treatment of history was not yet balanced and victims of communist regime still fell into a second [rate] category.”
President Bush Condemns Yalta Agreements
“The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact,” declared President Bush in a speech in Latvia. “Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable,” said the President referring to the 1945 agreements that gave Stalin control of the whole of Eastern Europe (T.Hunt, The Plain Dealer 5/8/05). The Western allies also consented to other unconscionable Russian demands at Yalta such as the “forced repatriation” of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, refugees and others who had escaped Stalin’s tyranny, only to face subjugation and death at his hands, according to the noted historian Jonah Goldberg (The Week 5/27/05). Jacob T. Levy in the New Republic Online states that the President’s statement was a clever warning to Putin that the U.S. would never again consent to Russia’s domination of its neighbors such as Latvia, Ukraine, or Georgia.
President Bush Underscores U.S Commitment to Baltic Countries on His Visit to Latvia
During his visit to Latvia, President Bush unambiguously endorsed the Baltic nation’s view of the outcome and consequences of WWII for these three countries. President Bush called communist rule in Eastern Europe “one of the greatest wrongs of the last century.” He noted the contrast between the end of the war in Western Europe and that in the Baltic region, where a new occupation and “imperial rule” ensued (V.Socor, EDM 5/10/05). The President commended the Baltic people for keeping “a long vigil of suffering and hope during 50 years of oppressive Soviet occupation.” He said the United States has a “binding pledge of alliance” to protect the freedom of the Baltic nations. “In defense of your freedom, you will never stand alone,” the President declared (J.Loven, Associated Press, 5/7/05).
U.S. Senate Urges Russia to Admit the Illegality of Soviet Occupation of the Baltic Countries
On May 19, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S.Con.Res. 35 (previously SCR 32) urging the Russian Federation to issue a clear and unambiguous statement admitting and condemning the illegal occupation and annexation from 1940 to 1991 of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The resolution was introduced by Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and cosponsored by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). A companion resolution, H.Con.Res. 128, introduced in the House by Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), has yet to pass the House. It as been referred to the House International Relations Committee.