The presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on Thursday condemned Russia’s attempts to falsify history by playing down Moscow’s role in "unleashing" the Second World War and Soviet crimes in occupied Baltic countries.
On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, the leaders of the Baltic countries issued a joint statement warning that distorting history posed a threat to the rules-based global order.
“The distortion of historical events that led to the unleashing of World War Two and the division of Europe after the war constitutes a regrettable attempt to falsify history and call into question the foundation of the modern rules-based global order,” the declaration said.
Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda told BNS that Russia had intensified the implementation of its “programme of historical revisionism”.
This was particularly evident from Moscow’s attempts to justify its role in the signing of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which entailed the division of Central Europe into the spheres of influence between the Soviets and the Nazis, and its behaviour when occupying Poland and the Baltic countries, according to Nausėda.
“One of the purposes of our joint statement is to draw attention to the fact that history cannot be rewritten and there are no statutes of limitation applicable in this respect. History is history and facts are facts,” said Nausėda.
Attempts by politicians to misinterpret historical facts lead to wrong political decisions, according to the Lithuanian president.
“Whenever politicians attempt to change the results of assessments made by historians, this always ends in erroneous theories, erroneous assessments, which then lead to erroneous actions,” he said.
Meanwhile Latvia’s President Egils Levits said that “the falsification of history is a kind of hybrid war”.
“Russia is trying to falsify the history or to disinform about the real situation,” he said in an interview with BNS.
“In particular about the beginning of World War Two and that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were friends and collaborated with each other in order to occupy both Poland and also, on the Soviet side, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and parts of Romania,” said Levits.
“I think this is necessary to know in order to really and realistically appreciate the Second World War. And if we are not speaking about the beginning of this phase of the [war], then, of course, it means a falsification of the entire war”, he added.
According to the Latvian president, a common approach to history is an important part of the process of political unification of Europe, and the European Parliament may play an important role.
“After WW2, our part of Europe had a different history than the western part of Europe and we need to create common European consciousness,” Latvia’s president said.
“So we are still at the beginning of the process. It will take some time. But our nations are actively participating in the events and in the process of creating a common European history,” he added.
“And within this common European history, an ordinary place should also be given to the historical experiences of our nations, of Baltic nations, of Poland and other nations, which were politically liberated only 45 years after WW2,” said the Latvian president.
The leaders of the three Baltic countries paid tribute to the sacrifice of all victims and allied troops who defeated the Nazi regime, but also emphasised that the end of WW2 had not brought freedom to Central and Eastern European countries.
“The Soviet Union used huge military force, indiscriminate repressions, mass deportations and absolute ideological control in order to subjugate the Baltic nations,” the declaration said.
Also, the presidents of the three countries firmly rejected the “concept of the spheres of influence” and emphasised the importance of NATO in ensuring security and stability in Europe.
The declaration can be found here.