Baltic leaders celebrate the Baltic Way anniversary

  • 2009-08-26
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

BALTIC WAY-2: Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian prime ministers (from left to right) – Andrus Ansip, Andrius Kubilius and Valdis Dombrovskis - signed a joint declaration condemning Stalinism and Nazism.

VILNIUS - Lithuania celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Baltic Way. On Aug. 23, 1989, some 2 million people in the Baltic countries linked hands and formed a living chain, stretching from Vilnius through Riga and up to Tallinn. They condemned the Hitler-Stalin secret agreement which resulted in the Soviet occupation of the Baltics. The Balts then demanded freedom and independence. Some 1 million of those in the chain were Lithuanians. On Aug. 23, the three Baltic prime ministers and three Baltic parliament chairpersons took part in the events in Vilnius, which were held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the historic human chain.

At midday, at Gediminas Castle in the heart of Vilnius, where 20 years ago the human chain that united the three Baltic nations started, the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian prime ministers - Andrius Kubilius, Valdis Dombrovskis and Andrus Ansip - signed a joint declaration.
 It reads as follows, "Recalling recent resolutions of the European Parliament and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the prime ministers welcome the initiative to proclaim the 23rd of August as a Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of Stalinism and Nazism."
Later on the same day, the three Baltic prime ministers addressed the people who gathered near the Lithuanian parliament.

"I am convinced that we again can show to the world how consolidation and unity can help us to cope with the current economic crisis and how to become the most modern European region," Kubilius said.
Ansip and Dombrovskis said their speeches in the Lithuanian language. Ansip was especially good at it - his Lithuanian had just a slight accent.
"Together we can. Together with Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, the European Union and NATO," Ansip said.

"Lithuania and Estonia are spiritually the closest countries for us," Dombrovskis emphasized.
Later, they joined Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and all three Baltic countries' parliament chairpersons at the special session of the Lithuanian parliament to celebrate the anniversary.
"The best poster, which I saw in the Baltic Way, was just a one-word poster stating "Enough!", said Vytautas Landsbergis, member of the European Parliament and leader of the Lithuanian independence movement in late 1980s, at the special session of the Lithuanian parliament.
The chain brought change to Europe. "The Berlin Wall did fall [in November, 1989] because of the Baltic Way - the Soviets then were too busy in their own backyard," said German Hans Martin Fleischer, who brought a huge replica of a fragment of the Berlin Wall to Vilnius and to other Baltic capitals.

On the Aug. 23, 2009, in Brussels' Mini-Europe Park, 600 persons, mostly Balts living there, organized a human chain through the entire park at the occasion of the inauguration of a reproduction, at 1/25th scale, of the Baltic Chain which is offered to Mini-Europe by the cities of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. Mini-Europe is an internationally famous park and one of the biggest tourism attractions in Brussels. It has the miniature model reproductions of the most attractive monuments of the 27 member countries of the European Union on show. Roughly 80 cities and 350 buildings are represented.

For the 20th anniversary of the Baltic Way, the cities of Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn provided 200 miniature dolls, which were linked together connecting those cities in Mini-Europe, represented by the Great Coastal Gate and Fat Margaret's Tower in Tallinn, Riga's Freedom Monument and Vilnius University's baroque building complex.