Baltics celebrate 20 years of independence

  • 2011-08-22
  • TBT Staff

Estonian President Toomas Hendrick Ilves gave an emotional speech during the

TALLINN -- The Baltic states this weekend celebrated 20 years since winning independence from the Soviet Union.

On August 19, 20 and 21, 1991, the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia declared their independence from the Soviet union. On the following day, Aug. 22, Iceland became the first state to officially recognize the three countries.

The restoration of independence came amid the "singing revolution", whereby the countries peacefully protested through song. Independence came almost exactly two years after the "Baltic Way", when people from the Baltics formed a human chain connecting the three countries.

This year Tallinn is hosting the main events to commemorate the restitution of independence.

On Aug. 20, tens of thousands of people turned out at the city's song festival grounds for a massive folk music event dubbed "The Song of Freedom". Estonia's top musicians and international stars took part in the concert.

"In these twenty years we have walked a way that many other states and people have spent a lifetime on," President Toomas Hendrick Ilves said at the event.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also made an appearance by video, where she said that "Today Estonia is a shining example for countries around the world yearning for democracy and economic opportunity."