Estonia summons Russian ambassador after attempt to justify occupation

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Russian Ambassador Alexander Petrov.
Russian Ambassador Alexander Petrov. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

On Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Ambassador of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Petrov to Estonia in connection with recent statements seeking to portray the occupation of Estonia and its annexation to the Soviet Union as legitimate.

In recent days, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Tallinn has published a series of posts on its social media channels falsifying history.

On July 22, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation released a statement attempting to depict the June coup and the events that followed as voluntary, failing to mention the repressions that took place throughout the period of occupation.

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said Estonia condemns any and all attempts to falsify history. "Russia is attempting to create the impression that legitimacy can be established at gunpoint, that repressions can happen under mutual agreement – which is impossible," he remarked.

Reinsalu said that the Russian ambassador had been called to account on the 80th anniversary of the Welles Declaration.

"This was the document that laid the foundations for the policy of non-recognition that lasted for the entire period of occupation, and which shows clearly that already in 1940 the free world viewed the actions of the Soviet Union as illegal and forceful annexation," he explained.

World War II, which broke out as a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and the occupations resulted in Estonia losing a quarter of its population due to being killed in war, deported, executed or fleeing the country.

The occupation which spanned half a century also had serious demographic, ecological, economic and cultural consequences, the ministry said.

On Thursday morning, in a joint statement Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics, Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius and the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Russia's attempts to rewrite history.

"We stand firmly against any attempts by Russia to rewrite history in order to justify the 1940 occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union. The Welles Declaration shows that already in 1940 the free world recognized the Soviet action for what it was – an illegal act of forceful annexation," the statement said.

Find out more about Estonia's history below.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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