STATEMENT BY H. E. Mr. VALDAS ADAMKUS, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
Today I have handed over to the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Vilnius my reply to the invitation by President Vladimir Putin to attend on May 9th the celebration of Victory Day in Moscow.
I sincerely thanked President Putin for the invitation. The victory of the anti-fascist coalition against fascism is highly significant for Europe and the entire world. All the nations which suffered the horror and the losses of the Second World War will mark the 60th anniversary of the victory. The Russian people paid a particularly high price for this victory, just like Belarusians, Ukrainians, Jews and other European nations, Lithuanians including. Therefore, I deeply sympathise with their feelings. And time will never obliterate their suffering.
The Second World War inflicted very deep wounds on Lithuania. Occupation, deportation and imprisonment, the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust, concentration camps, forced emigration – this was a most devastating blow by the totalitarian regimes to the Lithuanian nation. Over 350,000 people, one tenth of Lithuania’s population, were imprisoned, deported to the Gulags or massacred in Lithuania. The perpetration of such crimes continued in our country when the cruellest war in the history of mankind was officially over. The name of Lithuania disappeared from the map of Europe for five decades. And we probably would not find a single family in Lithuania who had escaped losses and terror.
Thus, aware of the painful historic experience of our nation and drawing on the discussions among the public, I have decided to stay on May 9th in Lithuania, with my people. Here in Lithuania we will duly honour the heroes of the war and commemorate all victims. And we should no longer deliberate the subject of the most proper place to mark the end of the Second World War.
It is my sincere belief that the people of Russia will understand my decision and that together we will build the future for Europe, open and at peace.
H.E. Mr. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania
Заявление президента Эстонии Рюйтеля:
The Statement of the President of the Republic, March 7, 2005
Dear people of Estonia!
Today I made my decision not to accept the invitation to participate on May 9, this year, in Moscow in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. I have informed the President of Russia Vladimir Putin about my decision by a letter.
The sad and warning historical experience makes us to appreciate the values underlying the trust and respect in the relations between the states, and the protection of which would secure lasting peace in the world and free development of nations.
The Estonia people together with the citizens of other states bow the head commemorating all those millions of people who perished in tragic battles of the World War II against the fascist regime or have lost their lives as innocent victims in the turmoil of war that raged all over Europe.
In this biggest tragedy of the 20th century many nations had to endure grievous sufferings full of sacrifices. The scarifying fight of the people of Russian helped to defeat the Nazi empire that was endangering Europe. Among many states and nations suffering under fascist occupation also Estonia made its contribution to the fight against that regime.
Unfortunately, Estonia did not have a chance to choose freely its future after the end of World War II. We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that after the end of German occupation the chance to restore their own state was forcibly taken away from the people of Estonia. The fate of our people remained to be determined for decades by the conspiracy concluded between the Soviet Union led by Stalin and fascist Germany on August 23, 1939.
As a nation that had severely suffered from the war, also in the time of peace we had to endure executions, deportations and persecution of thousands of people. Those sufferings have touched almost every family in Estonia. Already during the first year of the Stalinist regime, the entire Estonian higher rank officer’s corps, members of the government and many other leaders of our society were systematically executed or sent to prison camps. The Stalinist reign of terror split families and left children without their parents. Tens of thousands of people had to flee leaving behind their relatives and their native homes.
The consequencies of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact reach today’s Estonia. Replacing tens of thousands of innocent native people of Estonia who were deported to Siberia crowds of non-Estonian people arrived to Estonia from all over the Soviet Union. The Estonian prominent cultural figures have pointed out the result of those processes in their address to the UN General Assembly, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
Those are the events that have left a mark in the memory of our people. We know that also people in Russia and elsewhere, where the Stalinist dictatorship reached, suffered under the pressure of the totalitarian regime. We believe that being aware of those experiences would strengthen our common will to leave more secure and liveable world to the generations to come. We have to do everything depending on us to leave the holocaust and holodomor in the past for ever.
I am glad that we had a chance to talk openly about the recent history with President Putin at our last meeting in Moscow. I am convinced that mutually honest attitude towards the history of our people makes it possible to overcome the shades of the past and further develop good-neighbourly cooperation between the two countries.
Estonia has repeatedly confirmed to Russia its readiness and openness to cooperate in mutually interesting fields. For several years already we have been ready to conclude the border agreement with Russia. At the meeting with President Putin we agreed on the signing of that agreement by the prime ministers already in near future. This would confirm the existence of good will and trust for further cooperation between our countries.
The history is often selective and oblivious. For some time now, we have had a broad public discussion on Estonia’s possible participation in the May 9 celebration in Moscow. This topic has caused a wide discussion among politicians and ordinary citizens that has reinforced the functioning of our state as a civil society. I would like to thank all people who participated in that discussion and also for the many letters sent to me on that topic.
In the statements made by our fellow citizens as well as in the letter of the members of the European Parliament to the world leaders, it has been stressed that the end of World War II brought alongside with the victory over fascism also fixation of the Soviet totalitarian regime in Estonia.
The sufferings of the people of Estonia caused by World War II and those of the following years have not yet died away from the memory of the people but we believe in better future and that our free development path is irrefutable. As the Head of the State I have an obligation and a responsibility to support the belief of my people, and I can do it best being together with my people on that day.
I believe that the people of Estonia understand this as well as our partners and allies both in the East and in the West. Having in mind the international importance of the event celebrated in Moscow and the necessity of cooperation between the states, I consider it necessary that the Estonian state would be represented at that event on the level of the prime minister or a member of the Government of the Republic. I have forwarded the relevant suggestion to the Government.