August 22, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, we congratulate the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 25th anniversary of The Baltic Way. Today, we remember that as many as two million people joined hands on August 23, 1989 to form a human chain spanning nearly 400 miles from Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius. This impressive, peaceful demonstration of courageous people—men and women, young and old—was organized as a rebuke to the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which led to the occupation of the region by the Soviet Union. The United States never recognized the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which lasted from World War II until restoration of independence in 1991.
The Baltic Way was a remarkable moment in history that illustrated the desire for freedom and democracy and set the stage for the fall of the Berlin Wall just two months later. The Berlin Wall divided people, but the Baltic Way united them and inspired hope for a new era.
In the years that followed the Baltic Way and the end of the Cold War, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania demonstrated an impressive and successful transition to democracy that serves as a model for all states in transition today. The Baltic States are valuable members of key international organizations, including the European Union, NATO, and the OSCE. They are sharing their expertise in democracy and development with other states in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and elsewhere.
The United States values our partnership and the deep bonds of friendship with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. We further reaffirm our enduring commitment to their security.
On this special day, the United States sends heartfelt wishes to the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as we continue to work together to create a better future for all people, in the spirit of the peaceful and innovative Baltic Way.