Coming to Grips with History

May 9th will be the mother of all celebrations in Moscow. The victory over Nazi-Germany 60 years ago will be commemorated and the human sacrifices to this end honoured. So far, so good. But some nations will be missing from the party. Two Baltic presidents have decided to stay home, because their hosts are not willing to concede that there is more to the history of WWII’s end than the victory over Hitler. Their peoples had to face half a century of occupation because of a deal struck before the war’s onset by Hitler and Stalin, the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 that divided Eastern Europe between Nazi-Germany and the Soviet Union.

I have to admire the third Baltic president – Vaira Vike-Freiberga from Latvia – who decided to go to Moscow, honouring what should be honoured, and speaking aloud about what should not be hidden. By doing so she demonstrates the strong position her country has obtained as a member of NATO and the EU, and she will be the one riding the high moral ground.

It is a pity that the Russian leadership of today has chosen not to condemn the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that damaged the development of the whole Baltic Sea region for so many years – and still is a source of political pollution threatening to poison relations between neighbors around the Baltic Sea. I find it difficult to accept those who tend to describe the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as only a measure to build up Soviet national security.

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