On January 13th, 1983, the European Parliament adopted its first resolution in support of the Soviet-occupied Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.
The historic stand of the European Parliament was a reaction to the “Baltic Appeal,” the courageous public initiative by 45 Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians of August 23, 1979 (supported by several Russian dissidents), which urged the United Nations and democratic governments of the West to support the aspirations of the Baltic nations to restore their independence.
Three independent Baltic States, members of the League of Nations, were occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union in June 1940 as a direct result of the infamous Stalin-Hitler pact, concluded on August 23, 1939, dividing the mutual zones of interest between Nazi Germany and totalitarian Soviet Union in the eastern part of Europe.
The European Parliament’s resolution was drafted by Otto von Habsburg, a member of the Political Affairs Committee. This was the second attempt to pass such a resolution. The first attempt by the British MEP Alan Tyrrell at the beginning of 1980 became the casualty of political controversies and high-level Soviet pressure behind the scenes.
In fact, the European Parliament turned out to be the only international body to react to the desperate message from the Baltic freedom fighters, who by then had almost all been arrested.
The European Parliament condemned the occupation of the formerly independent and neutral Baltic States by the Soviet Union, pointing out that the Soviet annexation had not been recognized as legal by the United States of America and the democratic states of Europe. The resolution also reminded Moscow that the 1920 peace treaties which Soviet Russia had signed with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania included the promise to guarantee peaceful relations as well as the territorial integrity of those nations.
The 1983 resolution drew attention to the long fight by Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians for their freedom from Soviet occupation and to the deportations and arrests of hundreds of thousands of Baltic nationals since 1940.
The members of the European Parliament called on their Foreign Ministers to reach a favourable consensus on the demands of the 1979 “Baltic Appeal” and to submit the issue of the Baltic States to the UN Decolonisation Subcommittee.
“The plight of the peoples of these states should be the subject of review during the conferences to monitor implementation of the Helsinki Final Act”, stated the resolution.
The resolution was adopted by a roll-call vote with 99 MEPs voting for, 6 against and 7 abstaining.
The position taken by the large majority of the European Parliament in support of the occupied Baltic nations had crucial political and moral importance in strengthening the hopes of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians to achieve the restoration of independent statehood and confirmed their understanding that united free Europe cared about them.
Only four years later, in 1987, peaceful political mass movements surfaced in all three Baltic States, advocating for full political freedom from the Soviet Union which was achieved in 1990/91. 21 years after the EP resolution, in 2004, the elected representatives of newly free and democratic Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined their colleagues in the European Parliament.
Let us cherish this historic anniversary together as a significant and far-sighted contribution to European solidarity and to the building of our common history.
Baltic members of the European Parliament:
Laima Liucija Andrikiené