European Parliament Perpetuates Baltic Way

Created: 2013-06-29 04:04 EST

Category: World > Europe

Almost 25 years after the Baltic Way, also called the “Singing revolution”, took place in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, it is commemorated at the European Parliament in Brussels. Let's take a look.

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The Baltic Way was the biggest protest in the Soviet Union.

Two-million people created a 600-kilometer-long human chain spanning three Baltic countries, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, on August 23, 1989.

They joined hands and sang together to demand independence from the Soviets.

It marked the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which divided Europe and led to the occupation of the Baltic States.

The Baltic Way Ally in the European Parliament in Brussels was opened this week to commemorate the event.

[Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania]:
“25 years ago, Baltic countries were able without any Internet to gather 2 million people on the road, hand by hand, with open minds and very warm hearts, saying, ‘We want freedom! We want independence! And we are doing this peacefully’.”

Member of European Parliament from Estonia, Tunne Kelam, had taken part in the Baltic Way.

He and many others had refused to recognize the agreement between Stalin and Hitler on the division of Europe.

[Tunne Kelam, Member of the European Parliament from Estonia]:
“To overcome the fear, people came together and started to sing together patriotic songs. And the biggest act of this ‘togetherness’ was two-million people joining hands for 600 kilometers—a living human chain. And I think this was the most important breakthrough into international media. The message of the Baltic nations that they have decided to become free once again.”

The Baltic Way had attracted the attention of international media.

[Janis Skapars, Former Chairman of the Latvian Popular Front]:
“It was important for us to show the world that it was imperative for our nation to have its freedom and independence. After the Baltic Way, all over the world—in the U.S., Canada, Europe—there were pictures published in the main newspapers, there were TV reports.”

Later the secret clauses of the pact signed before the Second World War were publicized, proving the Baltic countries to be occupied territories.

In 1991, after a coup in Moscow, Baltic countries were proclaimed independent states.

Kelam shares his experience for those still oppressed around the world.

[Tunne Kelam, Member of the European Parliament from Estonia]:
“For me, the start was to fight for my human dignity, for my integrity as a person. And this was experimenting and we did not know what will happen. It was a risk, of course, but nothing can be achieved without taking risk.”

The Baltic Way Ally is hoped to serve as a reminder of human rights, democracy and sovereignty—for each to be protected without compromise.

NTD, Brussels, Belgium