Office of the President
Republic of Lithuania
November 21, 2008
Dear People of Ukraine,
Today as we remember the suffering and the tragic fate of millions of people in Ukraine, we bear witness to the power of human and national memory. This memory does not allow to conceal, distort or forget the cruel actions and policies of totalitarian regimes and their crimes against humanity. We will never forget the genocide that killed tens of millions of people in Europe and worldwide: the brutal Soviet policy that doomed hard working Ukrainians to famine seventy five years ago, and Communist repressions against the peaceful inhabitants of the Baltic States, Hungary, Poland, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Russia, and many other countries.
Historical truth always finds its way in defiance of hindrances and prohibitions. The Stalinist and Soviet crimes against humanity concealed for long decades are now well known and deplored by many nations.
In 2003, representatives from different parts of the world issued a joint declaration at the United Nations remembering the victims of the Holodomor. In 2005, the Seimas of Lithuania condemned the genocide in Ukraine. Last year, UNESCO adopted a resolution on the Holodomor and its horrific consequences, and this year the European Parliament paid tribute to those who were starved to death by the Great Famine.
The people of Lithuania identify themselves with the people of Ukraine in their painful memories of Soviet totalitarian crimes. We too experienced Soviet repressions and brutality: mass deportations and the killing of innocent people that decimated one fourth of Lithuania’s population. Next year we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the shameful Nazi-Soviet deal: the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols. After the two totalitarian regimes partitioned Europe, Lithuania – like many other European countries – was invaded and occupied. However, despite long decades of deception and Soviet propaganda, the memory of the Lithuanian nation – passed on from generation to generation – had kept our love of freedom and spirit of independence alive throughout the entire period of occupation. After long years of oppression we restored independence and made a free choice for Euro-Atlantic integration.
Today we strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the resolve of its people to build their future in the family of democratic nations. Today we say with strong commitment: “Nobody can take away the right of an independent European state to choose its path of freedom and security.” We are ready to share the historical memory of our nations with the world: the memory of Ukraine’s deep cultural roots in Europe, the sacred memory of Ukrainian freedom fighters, and the painful memory of Stalinist atrocities to suppress freedom and liberty.
The contemplation and spread of historical truth is not directed against a specific nation or country. Saying the truth means identifying and condemning the crimes of totalitarian regimes. Therefore, I believe that a time will come when nobody will ever attempt to deny the cruelties of the Soviet regime unleashed in Ukraine and claim that 25 thousand people were starved to death per day by a mismanaged economy or poor harvest. The Nazi and Soviet-committed crimes against humanity, casting a long and deep shadow on the history of the 20th century Europe, will be equally condemned and their victims remembered and commemorated. It is the last indispensable precondition for Europe’s moral and spiritual unity on the road towards mutual openness and genuine solidarity among the nations.
In the name of our fallen parents, brothers and sisters, in the name of those who fought for the independence of our countries, in the name of our future and the future of our children, we have to preserve and spread that memory of our shared past. We must raise our own and global awareness, deepen respect for human life and dignity. It is the only way that we will stop the spread of totalitarian ideologies and prevent such experiments with nations and people like the Holodomor from ever happening again.
H.E. Mr. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania
© Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania