At the intiative of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithanian delegations in the EPP group, 20 Baltic MEPs from five political groups signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressing their appreciation for US policies that never recognized the 1940 annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the Soviet Union.
"It was a crucial political decision that was based on principles of international law and a decision about which the United States can truly be proud", said Tunne Kelam, head of the Estonian delegation in the European People's Party parliamentary group.
On July 23, 1940, acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles declared that "the people of the United States are opposed to predatory activities" that are deliberately annihilating the political independence and territorial
integrity of the three small Baltic republics. As a result, the non-recognition of illegal seizure of foreign territories was applied to the Soviet Union as it had been previously applied to Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy. The US Administration continued to recognize the diplomatic representatives of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for over half a century.
The military occupation and subsequent annexation of Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania was carried out by the Soviet Union on the basis of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact whereby the two dictators, Hitler and Stalin, agreed to divide Eastern Europe between themselves.
"The knowledge that the largest democracy in the world refused to regard the occupied Baltic states as a legal part of the Soviet Union and continued to express official support for the restoration of their independence, became our only source of hope during the dark years of totalitarian dictatorship", concluded Tunne Kelam, who had lived under Soviet rule for 51 years.
In Kelam's words, the US non-recognition policy made the Kremlin more hesitant to fully implement the policy of Russification and the suppression
of national cultures "The occupied Baltic nations were sometimes treated in
a more flexible and cautious way because of the special attention paid to
them by the Western democracies", said Tunne Kelam. "This helped us to
persist and survive until the collapse of the Soviet Empire".
The policy of non-recognition contributed to the restoration of independence of the Baltic states on the basis of their legal continuity in August 1991.
Estonia's story is the subject of a widely acclaimed documentary film, The
The address to Secretary of State Clinton was delivered on July 14 in
Brussels to the Minister Counselor of the US Mission to the EU, Christopher
Baltic MEPs: The US non-recognition policy was our only source of hope.