When Secretary Clinton issued a statement on the 20th anniversary of the protests that led to freeing the Baltic states from Soviet domination, she failed to condemn the current campaign initiated by the Kremlin to rehabilitate Stalin and his pact with Hitler. I can think of no previous U.S. Secretary of State or administration that would have been unconcerned and silent about the Kremlin trying to rewrite the history of WW II and defending Stalin.
It seems that whoever wrote the statement thought that just mentioning the Hitler-Stalin Pact was enough. A direct and strong criticism of the current Russian leadership over a very dangerous attempt to falsify history, which can be used to justify similar aggressive actions against Russia’s neighbors in the future, might have seemed to the State Department officials as inconsistent with President Obama’s and Secretary Clinton’s call for a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations.
I wonder how many more times the Kremlin will have to poke the Obama Administration in the eye before the White House and the State Department realize that silence in this case is not good public diplomacy and goes against America’s interests and values. Such silence is also bad for any chance of a genuine, long-term improvement in bilateral relations. Americans should be helping Russia to set the historical record straight. It would be good for both countries.
Statement on Occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Baltic Way
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
August 21, 2009
Today the people of the United States join with our friends in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to honor the 20th Anniversary of the Baltic Way protests against Soviet domination that inspired so many people around the world in 1989. On August 23, 1989, two million Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians formed a human chain that stretched 600 kilometers across the three Baltic Republics, capturing the world’s attention and advancing the cause of freedom. Because of their courage, August 23 — once infamous as the anniversary of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany that led to the occupation of the Baltics — now stands as a landmark in the struggle for self-determination.
People across the Baltic Republics will commemorate this day through public events including photo exhibits, film festivals, a letter-writing competition, and a motorcycle tour retracing the route of the human chain, as well as through countless private remembrances. They have many reasons to be proud. The same determination and spirit that fueled the Baltic Way protests have helped the Baltic Republics become champions of human rights and democracy. They are valued members of NATO and the European Union and provide leadership around the world.
On this historic occasion, let me reaffirm the commitment of the United States to strengthen and deepen our partnerships with the people and governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Photo Credit: Secretary Clinton met with Latvian President Valdis Zatlers in the Department’s Treaty Room, May 14, 2009. State Dept Photo by Ashley Stanley. Photo posted by FreeMediaOnline.org.