Is it time to forget the Baltic Way?

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Journalist and publicist Andrius Užkalnis says that it is not the Baltic Way that made Lithuania an independent country. In the Žinių Radijas radio broadcast he underlined that protests, even the most impressive, are not what Lithuanians need now.

“The Baltic Way was a great thing. I think, at those times, it was a very successful campaign of public relations. It was not the reason why Lithuania and other Baltic countries regained their independence, however, it helped Lithuania a lot. What now seems flawed and dangerous to me – we, Lithuanians, like all kinds of sentimental, sensitive, theatrical things and we very easily slip into them and we leave there all our attention, all our efforts. But the world has changed. Protests, however impressive, are not what we need now. The threat is very real.”

He admits that the word “to forget” is very strong. Probably this is the word which provoked the main reaction to his article:

“Maybe not to forget, but not to pay so much attention to the Baltic Way and not to indulge again in this theory of how wonderful we are, much as we were twenty-five years ago. Now we have a lot of problems and work to do. And the threat is real. If Vladimir Putin plans out another act aggression against the Baltic countries, he will definitely not pay much attention to some protest,” said Užkalnis.

Meanwhile politician Vytautas Bogušis, who once took part in the resistance against the Soviet occupation, says one must not forget history.

“The Baltic Way is a symbol,” he says. “We do commemorate things that will not be repeated in history anymore. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its secret protocols, which deleted Lithuania from the map, are just such a thing. And this is the principal thing. I would even say that this commemoration of the Baltic Way should be in solidarity with Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Moldova or even with Nagorno-Karabakh. The situation is really problematical and complicated there.

“Let’s remember the 1979 memorandum of 45 Balts, signed by Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians. It was also signed by 10 Russian dissidents, including Sakharov, demanding to condemn the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and to withdraw occupation troops from the Baltic States. Then, in 1987, a rally near the Adam Mickiewicz monument. Finally, the Baltic Way in 1989. We cannot forget history and history cannot be rewritten. We can actualize, we can interpret, but it is an accomplished fact,” said Bogušis.

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