The EU needs to do more to fight Russia's attempts to rewrite history and to understand how the USSR's crimes affect today's atrocities, top politicians in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania said in a joint statement on Friday.
Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine points to the "rise of authoritarianism that neglects and even seeks to destroy the international rules-based order" and is a reminder of the crimes committed by Nazism and Communism, the politicians wrote.
But while the crimes of the Nazis are well known, condemned, and studied the same cannot be said about the Soviets, the group said, and Russia's attempt to rewrite its history needs to be understood as it influences the Kremlin's actions today in Ukraine and elsewhere.
"The memory and knowledge of Soviet crimes have yet to find their rightful place in the consciousness of the Europeans," the five presidents and prime ministers wrote.
"Russia has never condemned the crimes of the Soviets and its current leadership openly tolerates and even enthusiastically supports the Soviet legacy."
The EU now needs to do more to fight Russia's revisionist history "by using legal, political and awareness raising instruments".
"Without an accurate, honest and comprehensive assessment of the past, we will not be able to effectively prevent future crimes on our continent or investigate the current ones in Ukraine," they wrote.
To stand against Kremlin's imperialism, we must know its roots.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) July 22, 2022
We need honest assessment of the past, including communist crimes, to prevent future crimes or investigate current ones in Ukraine.
Letter by https://t.co/jSGUSc3jRN
of Soviet deportations in Estonia pic.twitter.com/63pCAsxEDO
The politicians say a "clear and visionary leadership is needed, to promote the European Remembrance narratives across the whole EU" which should become part of Member States education programs.
"The EU is best positioned to take up this coordinating role, and such a gesture would also be timely and highly relevant, in the light of an unprecedented level of Russian disinformation and misinformation, including on issues of the European history," the address says.
The joint appeal was signed by Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Latvia Krišjānis Karinš, President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda, Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki and President of Romania Klaus Iohannis.
The full statement can be read here.
Editor: Helen Wright