Baltic resolution H.Con.Res.267 passes by voice vote
Eestlased Kanadas 21 Dec 2010 JBANCEWR
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JBANC
H.Con.Res.267, legislation congratulating the Baltic nations on the twentieth anniversary of the reestablishment of their full independence, has passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives. Final version of document and transcript of floor debate on H.Con.Res.267 are included below.

Text of H.Con.Res.267, final version
H.CON.RES.267
Congratulating the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 20th anniversary of their declarations on the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union.

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
Whereas the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were occupied in June 1940 by Soviet forces through the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and illegally incorporated into the Soviet Union in August 1940;

Whereas between June and August 1941, the Baltic nations were invaded by Nazi Germany, subject to brutal repression, and occupied as part of the Third Reich before being re-occupied by Soviet forces in late 1944 until they regained their independence in August 1991;

Whereas their forcible and illegal incorporation into the Soviet Union and Third Reich was never recognized by the United States;

Whereas from 1940 to 1991, thousands of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians were executed, imprisoned, or exiled by Soviet authorities through a regime of brutal repression and Sovietization in their respective nations;

Whereas despite the efforts of the Soviet Union to eradicate the memory of independence, the Baltic people never lost their hope for freedom and their long-held dream of full independence;

Whereas during the period of `glasnost' and `perestroika' in the Soviet Union, the Baltic people played a leading role in the struggle for democratic reform and national independence; and

Whereas in the years following the declaration and subsequent restoration of full independence, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have demonstrated their commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and have actively participated in a wide range of international structures, pursuing further integration with European political, economic, and security organizations: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress--

(1) congratulates Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 20th anniversary of their declarations on the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union and commends the significant progress that they have since made, including their membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU); and

(2) calls on the President to continue to build on the close and mutually beneficial relations the United States has enjoyed with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania since the restoration of the full independence of those nations.
Passed the House of Representatives December 7, 2010.

Attest:

Clerk.

Transcript of floor debate on H.Con.Res.267
HONORING 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF BALTIC STATES INDEPENDENCE -- (House of Representatives - December 07, 2010)

---

Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 267) congratulating the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 20th anniversary of the reestablishment of their full independence, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.

The text of the concurrent resolution is as follows:

H. Con. Res. 267

Whereas the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were occupied in June 1940 by Soviet forces through the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and illegally incorporated into the Soviet Union in August 1940;

Whereas between June and August 1941, the Baltic nations were invaded by Nazi Germany, subject to brutal repression, and occupied as part of the Third Reich before being re-occupied by Soviet forces in late 1944 until they regained their independence in August 1991;

Whereas their forcible and illegal incorporation into the Soviet Union and Third Reich was never recognized by the United States;

Whereas from 1940 to 1991, thousands of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians were executed, imprisoned, or exiled by Soviet authorities through a regime of brutal repression and Sovietization in their respective nations;

Whereas despite the efforts of the Soviet Union to eradicate the memory of independence, the Baltic people never lost their hope for freedom and their long-held dream of full independence;

Whereas during the period of ``glasnost'' and ``perestroika'' in the Soviet Union, the Baltic people played a leading role in the struggle for democratic reform and national independence; and

Whereas in the years following the declaration and subsequent restoration of full independence, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have demonstrated their commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and have actively participated in a wide range of international structures, pursuing further integration with European political, economic, and security organizations: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress--

(1) congratulates Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 20th anniversary of their declarations on the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union and commends the significant progress that they have since made, including their membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU); and

(2) calls on the President to continue to build on the close and mutually beneficial relations the United States has enjoyed with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania since the restoration of the full independence of those nations.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Klein) and the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida.

GENERAL LEAVE

Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Florida?

There was no objection.

Mr. KLEIN of Florida. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution that congratulates Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 20th anniversary of their declarations on the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank Representative Shimkus, the gentleman from Illinois, and a good friend of the Baltic people, for introducing this measure today.

In June 1940, Soviet troops occupied the Baltic states under the auspices of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and then forcibly incorporated them into the Soviet Union. The following year, Nazi Germany invaded the Baltic states and illegally incorporated them into the Third Reich.

The Soviet Union re-occupied the Baltic states in 1945 until they regained their independence in 1991. During this period of foreign domination, thousands of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians were subject to brutal repression, exiled, imprisoned and even executed. The United States never recognized the incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union.

I had a chance a few years ago to visit the states with a number of other Members, and we heard directly from the people, the government leaders about their level of appreciation to the United States for taking that position that they were never recognized as Baltic states under the Soviet Union.

This policy gave rise to the principle of legal continuity, which held that they remained de jure independent during the period of illegal occupation.

Furthermore, the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania never relinquished their hope for freedom and democracy. In August of 1989, the world watched as an estimated 2 million Balts--over one-quarter of the total population--formed a 370-mile human chain that spanned the three capitals in a peaceful act of solidarity and defiance of Soviet rule.

Just over 6 months later, in March of 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare independence. Estonia and Latvia followed suit within weeks. All three regained their full independence in late August 1991, which was recognized by the Soviet Union on September 6.

In the intervening 20 years, these states have made remarkable progress in reforming their political and economic systems. They have joined the family of European democracies, become members of NATO and the European Union. Indeed, all three Baltic states are valued participants in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and have worked to build stability and prosperity throughout eastern Europe.

Mr. Speaker, I strongly support this resolution that celebrates an important anniversary of our Baltic allies. I urge my colleagues to join me in recognizing the close relations that our nations have continued to enjoy.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Con. Res. 267, congratulating the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 20th anniversary of their declarations on the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union.

It is hard to believe that two decades have passed since the world witnessed the tremendous events that took place in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. We saw countries in that region emerge from decades of communist brutality to bravely shake off the shackles of Soviet oppression. Those events forever changed the world.

Along with the memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the victory of the trade union Solidarity in the historic election in Poland, of course we recall the inspirational act by 2 million people living in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania who linked hands to form a human chain almost 400 miles long in a peaceful protest against Soviet rule.

After decades of oppressive Soviet occupation, the Baltic peoples remained committed to one day regaining independence and living in freedom. That dream, of course, became a reality in 1991 when the three Baltic nations gained full independence from the Soviet Union. But you know, in those final days leading up to independence, I will never forget being in Vilnius with STENY HOYER and other members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. We were there to stand in solidarity with President Landsbergis who was under an ever-present threat that the Black Berets, the Soviet storm troopers, were poised to take over the Parliament building and to take over the executive branch. They killed people at a TV tower. There was actually a gun turret there. There was a tank.

We went up and visited and to pay our respects to the people who had been slain just days before. I will never forget as the gun turret moved in the direction of our delegation, and especially Don Ritter, who was a member of that delegation, who had the audacity to get too close to the tank. That is how much of a hair trigger the Soviet troops had in Vilnius in February 1991.

Again, I want to thank Mr. Hoyer. He and I and others on that delegation--he was the head of that delegation. We were there like Freedom Riders, being there, physically present, to try to chill any attack on President Landsbergis' government.

But it was the people themselves in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Baltic States, who took it upon themselves to stand up to the tyranny, and they prevailed, as did the others in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. So we rise to congratulate them and to pay our profound respect for their courage in bringing about democracy to those great nations. They are captive nations no more.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, again, I think that when we think back to Eastern Europe from decades ago, the type of place it was under Soviet dominance and occupation, it is a different place today. Those of us who have a chance as Americans to travel to these three countries have seen tremendous change.

We know that the fight that they have, and the respect they have for the United States is strong because we held and stood with them during the time of the Soviet occupation. We appreciate their belief in freedom and democracy. We share that with them.

One little side note: When I was in Lithuania, a number of us were interested in encouraging Lithuania to continue to move forward quickly with Holocaust restitution, which has been languishing for quite some time, and we encourage them to move quickly before many of these survivors perish by natural causes.

But we are here today to celebrate. This is a very big milestone. And of course we ask Members of this body to support this resolution.

I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Klein) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. 267, as amended.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the concurrent resolution, as amended, was agreed to.

The title was amended so as to read: ``Concurrent resolution congratulating the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 20th anniversary of their declarations on the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union.''.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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