Estonia says Soviet occupation justifies it staying away from Moscow celebrations

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said Tuesday his country is justified in staying away from next week's 60th anniversary celebrations of the defeat of Nazi Germany in Moscow because of the trauma inflicted by five decades of Soviet occupation of the Baltic nations.

Estonia and Lithuania have declined invitations to Moscow on May 9, saying the Kremlin should recognize the Soviet Union's annexation of the three, small Baltic states during World War II. Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga accepted the invitation.

Ansip urged fellow Europeans to understand how the occupation that denied them freedom, democracy, and set back development and economic growth.

"I think Europe has to understand the feelings of the Baltic nations," Ansip said at a news conference in the Finnish capital. "The Soviet occupation ... was a hard time for all the Baltic states and for our people."

Last week, Lithuanian lawmakers passed a resolution calling on Russia to recognize the Soviet annexation saying that defeating Germany did not bring freedom to the Baltic states. "There is no reason to celebrate this victory," the resolution said.

Ansip reiterated that Estonia is ready to sign a border treaty with its huge eastern neighbor, but that Russia had not signaled readiness. Last month, Vike-Freiberga said Latvia too wants a border treaty, but that no timetable had been agreed for signing with Moscow.

During his one-day working visit to Helsinki, Ansip discussed European Union and international issues with his Finnish counterpart, Matti Vanhanen.

Ansip, 48, took office on April 13 after the previous Estonian government resigned following a no-confidence vote in Parliament. It was his first trip abroad as prime minister.


On the photo: Andrus Ansip

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