Address at commemoration of the Independence Day of the Republic of Lithuania in Helsinki, 14 February 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Lithuania is approaching centenary of her restored historical statehood.
In one year from now we will celebrate that remarkable anniversary of Lituania Restituta – the day when the Council of Lithuania, a body of 20 elected representatives of our nation, which survived more than 100 years of Russia’s conquest and annexation, in 1918 did vote, sign and declare to the entire world that Lithuania is alive again and enters the ranks of new times’ independent European nations.
This declaration should be approved by people’s will, and this did happen as well during the self-sacrificing Wars for Independence.
The Lithuanian strive and declaration appeared a true challenge for all imperial forces around, as on that day, the 16th of February 1918, she denounced all former statehood ties with any other state, like Russia, Germany, and Poland, thus claiming, in contrast to the neighbours, just her national sovereignty over her ethnic lands.
It still had to be proved, not only declared, and indeed, it was proved in the following 16 years of defence and successful nation building until the outburst of World War again. The wise effort of 1920 in Bulduri to build up a dam in the form of “Eastern Entente” from Finland to Ukraine, unfortunately, failed due to the greediness of one of the eventual allies. Everyone between Russia and Germany was left to its own – until the new collapse of European and world peace in 1938-1939.
It came as the Stalin-Hitler conspiracy or “communazi pact”, as it was called by the British media.
Both Finland and Lithuania fell victim of this pact, with that only difference that Finnish heroic Winter War was a tragic success of the bleeding survival, leaving Finland unoccupied, while Lithuania disappeared from the actual political map for the following 50 years.
She stayed free in spirit, and first went on fighting only the guerrilla war in the forests; that was followed by religious and cultural resistance until, from the late 80-ies, through non-violent political parliamentary struggle it became independent again. Our success in the 90-ties gave a chance for others, including Finland, to throw off the yoke of Soviet subordination treaties.
In my father’s old notes I have found one about the Molotov-Ribbentrop deal. That was his evaluation and clear reminder that any Russia will never recognize in soul the fact and right of our independence. All the tzars (an exclusion was several years of Yeltsin’s democracy) used to treat Lithuania as their own. Such reality stance continues. Everything around does depend only on the balance of powers between the democratic world – with us as its part – and fundamentally undemocratic Russia. Probably for long years, if China is not on the move.
The peace remains fragile. We can feel stronger being in NATO and receiving lately concrete Western military support with direct anniversary congratulations of the new President of the United States – to Lithuania as a worthy ally of the US in the challenged process of international security and bargained democracy. But first of all we have to rely on ourselves and on our true friends of historical neighbourhood, like those of our common Baltic destiny with Finland.