On Friday, August 23, everyone is invited to join their hands in a symbolic human chain and re-enact a unique historical event "The Baltic Way," that took place in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania three decades ago. The reenactment is organized by the three Embassies, the Joint Baltic American National Committee and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and will take place on the West Lawn in front of the U.S. Capitol.
On August 23, 1989, more than 2 million people, or 25% of the entire population of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, joined hands in a chain that spread almost 400 miles, a similar distance as from Washington D.C. to Boston. The people joined hands in a peaceful protest against the Soviet occupation that had began in 1940.
The commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way at the U.S. Capitol is aimed at celebrating the shared values of freedom and democracy. The event will also reaffirm the importance of the transatlantic bond and will remind the key role played by the United States for the cause of freedom in Europe. The US policy of non-recognition of the Soviet occupation, alongside the efforts of the Voice of America, helped many nations behind the Iron Curtain to keep the hope of freedom alive.
Embassy representatives will open the event at 1 pm on August 23. The ceremony will convey the spirit of 1989 revolutions of freedom and the symbolic human chain will be formed. We encourage people of all nationalities and backgrounds to take part. After the event, the participants are invited to an informal gathering at Biergarten Haus, 1355 H St, NE.
"The spirit of the Baltic Way still resonates in our countries today. This remarkable event is important to the history of freedom as such, and reminds us that the belief in freedom and the unity can perform miracles, even in the darkest hours of occupation. We are looking forward to celebrate this significant date together with our close friends, American people," noted Ambassadors of the three Baltic countries Jonathan Vseviov (Estonia), Andris Teikmanis (Latvia), and Rolandas Kriščiūnas (Lithuania).
The original Baltic Way was organized to mark the 50th anniversary of the so-called Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. On August 23, 1939, Nazi Germany’s foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Union’s foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov signed a Nazi-Soviet neutrality Pact. The Pact had a secret protocol added to it, which defined the spheres of influence, leaving the three Baltic countries for Stalin's forcible incorporation into the Soviet empire.
In 2019, the transatlantic community celebrates the 30th anniversaries of the Baltic Way, the freedom revolutions in Europe, as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Artūrs Saburovs, Third Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Communications, arturs.saburovs[at]mfa.gov.lv, 202-328-2874.
Latvia celebrates its centennial in 2018 in the period of several years – 2017 to 2021. The main message of the celebration is “I am Latvia” emphasizing that the greatest asset of Latvia is its people who with their work are creating present day Latvia and together with the next generation are setting the foundation for the future. Baltic Way 30 in Washington DC is part of the Centennial of Latvia public diplomacy programme.