An announcement by member organisations of the World Federation of Free Latvians (WFFL), on the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Seventy-seven years ago, the signing of a secret pact between two powerful countries sealed Europe’s fate and triggered the horrors of the Second World War, which subsequently claimed the lives of more than sixty million people. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, (also known as the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact), signed on 23rd August, 1939, included secret supplementary protocols dividing Eastern Europe between Germany and the U.S.S.R.. This led directly to the illegal Soviet occupation of the three Baltic States which lasted for almost fifty years.
The World Federation of Free Latvians, and our member organisations, stand as more than just a legacy to the illegal occupation of Latvia. The founders of this organization, were Latvians who, in fleeing from Soviet repression, were forced to leave their homes and homeland, but maintained the belief and vision of a free Latvia, and actively advocated against any legal recognition of the Soviet occupation of Latvia.
Providing whatever support possible in the quest for Latvian freedom, the World Federation of Free Latvians sustained these efforts until, as part of the groundswell of the Latvian populace, Latvia finally reclaimed political freedom twenty-five years ago, on 21st August, 1991, to re-join the ranks of democratic European countries. The work of the World Federation of Free Latvians and our member organisations has continued on since then, and we reaffirm our commitment to our current mission: to support the Latvian government and Latvian community in strengthening the Latvian nation and rule of law, and to promote and defend Latvian interests internationally.
Currently, we are faced with a new range of challenges. Recent years have seen an increasingly aggressive Russia rising from the rubble of the Soviet Union, and threatening post-Cold War international stability by encroaching over the borders of neighbouring countries and their sovereign entitlements. We categorically denounce Russian military intervention in the territories of the Ukraine and the practical annexation of the Crimean region, and stand against international recognition of this annexation as being in any way acceptable.
We urge Latvian people and organisations to remind the world of the remorseless crimes committed by a Soviet Russia on neighbouring Baltic countries. We continue to alert the Western world to the dangers of Russian attempts to rewrite history, Russian tactics to destabilise Eastern Europe through social division, military deployment and posturing, thereby threatening international security.
International political developments in Europe and elsewhere in the world, highlight the worrying rise of populism and authoritarian regimes, which leads us to reaffirm our support for democratic, legally based norms that provide international stability.
We call on the government of Latvia, and other member countries of the European Union, to take a firm and united stand in opposition to the threats of an expansive Russia and the renewed threat of terror in many European countries, and we urge a similarly united approach in resolving the international refugee crisis that Europe currently faces. We strongly support the maintenance and continued strengthening of trans-Atlantic ties.
The World Federation of Free Latvians has invested considerable efforts and resources in helping realise the inclusion of Latvia as a member nation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) alliance, and we have grave concerns about some recent pronouncements casting doubt on the important role and collective defence effectiveness of this organisation.
We renew our plea to the Latvian government to recognise concerns about the effective defence of Latvian territory, and to fulfil Latvian obligations under our NATO membership, by immediately allocating a minimum of 2% of Latvian Gross Domestic Product budgeted towards appropriate defence spending. We also urge the governments of all countries to respect and support the collective defence principles of NATO, specifically in relation to the defence of the Baltic countries, should such a threat materialise.
We live in a new world of connected information exchange, with broad implications in the context of security threats. It is with this in mind that we urge all Latvians to be alert and to stand guard in defence of Latvia at all times, in both private and public forums. This is our individual moral duty to our forebears who sacrificed so much in the pursuit of Latvian freedom. It is our obligation to the Latvian nation of today, and for the future.