WASHINGTON – The United States Senate passed a resolution marking the tenth anniversary of freedom from Soviet rule for the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – introduced by Helsinki Commission Chairman Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO).
“The Senate has duly recognized the bold accomplishments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since the restoration of full independence from the former Soviet Union,” Chairman Campbell said. “The people of the Baltic countries broke away from the oppressive regime of the Soviets and mounted successful efforts to build democracies. Other nations of the former (de facto) Soviet Union should look to the Baltic States as an example in leadership.”
“The successful return of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the community of free and democratic nations is a testament to the commitment and perseverance of the Baltic people in overcoming the legacy of brutal Soviet rule,” Campbell added.
The Senate unanimously adopted Concurrent Resolution 34 yesterday. Campbell noted the timely passage of the resolution during the United States’ commemoration of Captive Nations Week. President George W. Bush has called for the 21st Century to become the “Century of Democracy.”
Senate Concurrent Resolution 34 congratulates Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the tenth anniversary of the end of their illegal incorporation into the Soviet Union. In 1940, the three sovereign Baltic nations were forcibly annexed to the Soviet Union through a secret deal between Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
Seized by Hitler during World War II, the Baltic States were forced back under the repressive Soviet yoke from the end of World War II until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Throughout this period, the United States never recognized the illegal incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union and maintained formal diplomatic relations with the legitimate representatives of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in exile.
The resolution further calls upon the president “to continue to build the close and mutually beneficial relations the United States has enjoyed with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania since the restoration of the full independence of those nations.”
“This resolution recognizes the struggle of the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania against Communist oppression in the past, as well as the great strides they have made over the past ten years,” Campbell said. “Since they have regained their freedom, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have demonstrated their commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law while pursuing further integration into European political, economic and security organizations.
Chairman Campbell expressed appreciation for the efforts of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden (D-DE) and Ranking Republican Member Jesse Helms (R-NC) to get this resolution out of committee and onto the Senate floor.
The resolution enjoyed bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by Helsinki Commissioners Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) and Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH).
Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) has introduced a similar measure in the House of Representatives.
The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.