Estonia, 4 more member states want EU to commemorate victims of Communism

  • 2022-07-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has signed a joint letter by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania to heads of EU institutions in which they underscore that Russia's war in Ukraine calls for greater attention in the EU to condemning the crimes of all totalitarian regimes of the 20th century and commemorating their victims. 

"All of Europe must comprehend what happens if the crimes of totalitarian regimes go unpunished. Russia is repeating the crimes of the Soviet regime every day in Ukraine. While for Western Europe, the end of World War 2 meant peace, for Estonia and other states in our region, it meant new mass killings, deportations and repressions by communist regimes. In order to stop the Kremlin's war machine and to hold war criminals accountable, one must understand the roots of Russian imperialism," Kallas said. 

In their joint letter, the heads of state point out that the background and the roots of the current Kremlin regime ideology represent, in many cases, a reflection of the predecessors of recent Russia -- the USSR and the Russian Empire. Russia has never condemned the crimes of the Soviets and its current leadership openly tolerates and even enthusiastically supports the Soviet legacy.  There is a need to strengthen efforts on the EU level to fight the attempts of Russia to rewrite the history and use the narratives of totalitarian regimes in the context of war against Ukraine, by using legal, political and awareness raising instruments. 

"The democratic world has decisively condemned the Nazi regime and brought to justice its leaders and perpetrators. The bitter lessons of the Nazism and the crimes perpetrated by the regime have become an obligatory part of teaching about the history in our educational systems. At the same time, the memory and knowledge of Soviet crimes have yet to find their rightful place in the consciousness of the Europeans. Today more than ever clear and visionary leadership is needed, to promote the European Remembrance narratives across the whole EU, which in the end should become a part of all member states national educational programs," they said.

The EU is best positioned to take up this coordinated 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 heads of state said.

In the recent years, important steps have been made on the European level by establishing the Platform of European Memory and Conscience. The EU could do more by providing the Platform with necessary political and financial resources, the joint letter reads. The establishment of a Pan-European Memorial for the Victims of Totalitarianism in Brussels would be a very important step in ensuring proper remembrance of crimes committed by totalitarian regimes, including the Soviet one, in our awareness-raising efforts in order to prevent similar crimes and to stop them in Ukraine, and in paying our tribute to the victims.

The joint letter is signed by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.