Putin, not the Balts, clinging to the past

By Romas Kinka

Letter to the Editor
Financial Times
May 16, 2005

Daniel Dombey in his article “President’s pit-stop gives Baltics a diplomatic boost” (May 5) quotes the European Commission as saying that the relationship of the countries formerly occupied by the Soviet Union with Russia should be focused on the future, not the past.

Considering the amount of vituperation visited on the Baltic states, and perversely in particular on Latvia whose president did decide to go to the May 9 victory celebrations in Moscow, by the increasingly revanchist Russian authorities, this really is disingenuousness to the point of absurdity. It is not the Balts who cling to the past but President Vladimir Putin of Russia and a good number of his compatriots who mourn the passing of the Soviet Union.

As for the so-called “freedom fighters” who, according to Mr Dombey, enrolled in the German army, I have to say that we use that term only of those Balts who fought a guerrilla war against the Nazi occupiers in 1941-44 and then the Soviet occupying forces into the mid-1950s.

Their struggle, although doomed, was a source of pride and important in fostering national sentiment during one of the worst periods – five decades of Soviet oppression – in the history of the three Baltic nations. That is now behind us.

We wish to go forward and have good relations with our neighbours both to the east and the west, if only we are allowed to do so.

Romas Kinka
Anglo-Baltic Information Consultancy
London E9 7SN