Presidents of the three Baltic States have issued a statement condemning attempts to misrepresent the events of World War Two on the 75th anniversary of the end of the conflict. Such efforts represent attempts to undermine Europe and NATO, they say.
The joint statement was issued by President Kersti Kaljulaid, and her Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts, Egils Levits and Gitanas Nauseda, in which they honored the sacrifice of all victims and allied soldiers who defeated the Nazi regime and liberated many European countries from occupation, but added that misrepresentation of the events of the war undermines Europe and overlooks the fact that for the Baltic States, liberation in fact meant a new occupation, one which lasted nearly 50 years.
"We underline the importance of truth and justice. Misrepresentation of historical events that led to World War Two and the division of Europe in the aftermath of the war constitute a regrettable effort to falsify history, and question the very foundation of the contemporary international rules-based order," the declaration reads.
The end of the war – celebrated on May 8 or, in the Russian Federation, May 9, did not mean freedom for the Central and Eastern European nations, instead replacing one totalitarian regime with another, as all three Baltic States were forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, the three presidents say.
"The central and eastern part of the continent remained under the rule of communist regimes for almost half a century. The Soviet Union used overwhelming military force, indiscriminate repression, mass deportations and total ideological control to subjugate the Baltic nations," the joint statement continues.
The statement also expressed gratitude to over 60 western countries who never de jure recognized the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Lithuania or Latvia.
"We firmly reject the concept of spheres of influence and insist on the equality of all nations. The imperative of international security requires continuous adherence to international law and agreed on norms, as well as unconditional respect for the territorial integrity of all sovereign states and their right to choose their own security arrangements and enter into unions and alliances," the joint declaration states.
The declaration also noted the importance of NATO for the region and for European stability and democracy.
"NATO remains the foundation of the collective defense of our countries, and the transatlantic link is of vital importance for the future security and stability of Europe. We believe that the western democratic values and unity will ensure the future of the Baltic states and every European nation," the statement continued.
The full joint statement issued by presidents Kaljulaid, Levits and Nauseda is available in English here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte