Lithuania, Latvia react to Tallinn events

  • 2007-04-29
  • From wire reports
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said his country supports the position of the Estonian government in its recent moves related to the controversial Bronze Soldier monument, which was removed from central Tallinn Friday morning during two nights of rioting.

Speaking from the Vatican, where he was meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, the president said he was observing the developments in Tallinn with great concern.

The president's press service reported that Adamkus stressed that this exceptionally sensitive procedure of reburying the remains of World War II soldiers was being conducted observing international legal standards and paying due respect to the fallen.

However some Lithuanian politicians on April 28 had expressed fear that the riots that broke out in Tallinn over the removal of the Bronze Soldier monument would spread to Lithuania as well.

"The situation is very bad. What happened is no special provocation. The events are related to a certain interior policy of Russia, political competition. Any method must go to boost popularity. At the time when a peaceful demonstration was taking place in St. Petersburg, ultra-nationalists gathered to a meeting in Moscow. Their leader was making instigations to bomb Estonia down to hell, and the crowd was cheering. That is shocking," the Vakaru Ekspresas daily quotes member of the European Parliament Gintaras Didziokas saying.

In his opinion, Russia's response was inadequate and intolerable.

"They say they are the only fighters against fascists. That is absolutely wrong. But the Estonians are equally stubborn, failing to start a dialog with Russia over the disassembly of the monument. The Russians can really end diplomatic ties, anything can be expected from them. Russia has too much large-sized equity in Estonia, and the economical relations are much better than, say, with Lithuania," Didziokas said.

Chairman of the Lithuanian delegation at the Baltic Assembly Valerijus Simulikas told the Vakaru Ekspresas newspaper that Estonians should have allowed more time for a diplomatic dialog with Russia.

"Estonians ran out of patience. We at the Assembly said that they must proceed via the diplomatic way. But they did not even make up any work group on removal of the monument. They knew the consequences. Now the commotion may jump to the [other] Baltic states. A diplomatic war will go on, and Russians will employ every opportunity. Diplomatic sanctions are possible, too," the member of parliament said.

Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks on Friday denounced the riots that took place in the Estonian capital Tallinn and said such protests were unacceptable in a democratic society.

The minister told BNS that the he had very negative opinion of the latest developments in its neighbor country, saying that "we cannot allow youngsters who have not experienced the World War II use these things to wreak havoc and vandalize".

The minister noted that in the given situation, not only law enforcement authorities, but also integration specialists should be involved in solving the situation to help consolidate society.

Asked whether something similar could happen in Latvia, too, Pabriks pointed out that there are no grounds or reason for such fears. The minister said the duty of any country in a similar situation would be to do the utmost to avert such large-scale unrest.

The ministry notes in the statement, that the "decision to rebury the remains of the soldiers buried by the Bronze Soldier monument is exclusive competence of the Estonian government."

"In a democratic society, any group that disagrees with the government's decisions is entitled to express its opinion, but it must be done in compliance with the law. Acts of vandalism threatening the lives and health of people, as well as damaging and destroying property, have nothing to do with forms of democratic protest," the statement says.