23rd Mar 2018

Parliament chief reminds EU of historical facts on Stalin

  • The newly restored Kurskaya metro station, complete with Soviet insignia on the roof (Photo: SergeyRod)

The Polish head of the EU parliament on Wednesday (14 October) underlined some basic facts about Joseph Stalin at an event held in the context of mounting historical revisionism in Russia.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 23 August 1939, an agreement between Stalin and Hitler, carved up ownership of Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states, saw millions deported and led to the deaths of 760,000 Poles, "many of them children," he said in his speech.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We can never forget those victims for they are a reminder of where we come from, and show us how much we have achieved."

The parliament president portrayed the EU as a guarantee that great powers will no longer make deals over the heads of smaller countries, including on energy security.

"What happened 70 years ago, that large states talked among themselves about the fate of small nations, has been made impossible by the European Union," Mr Buzek said. "When we discuss energy security or the proposed pipelines across the Baltic Sea, the voice of the smallest has to be heard."

The president's reference to Russia and Germany's plan to build a new Baltic Sea gas pipeline bypassing Poland and the Baltic states recalls an informal remark in 2006 by the now Polish foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, that the project is "in the ...tradition of Molotov-Ribbentrop."

A throng of politicians and historians from the Baltic states attended the one day-long EU parliament symposium to hammer home the importance of historical awareness.

The speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, Irena Degutiene, equated Stalinist crimes with Nazi crimes and noted that "the Soviet occupation and Stalinist terror totaled the loss of every third resident of Lithuania."

"We must continue doing the job in order to preserve the historical memory and, particularly, to deepen the knowledge and realisation by our societies (the young generation in particular) of what a large part of our and EU citizens had to go through," she said.

New history for new generation

The EU parliament seminar comes amid a new Russian campaign to rehabilitate the image of Stalin, who oversaw the deaths of millions of Russians but who also helped defeat Nazi Germany.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a World War II commemoration ceremony in Poland last month defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact on the basis that Western countries also made deals with Hitler.

In September, a new Russian handbook for schoolteachers called History of Russia from 1945 to 2008 described Stalin as an "efficient manager" and his occupation of the Baltic states as "entirely rational."

Moscow authorities in August also opened a newly-restored 1950s metro station in the city, complete with Soviet insignia and a plaque saying: "Stalin reared us on loyalty to the people. He inspired us to labour and heroism."

The pro-Stalin campaign has fueled eastern European fears of a new wave of Russian imperialism, following Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008 and its recent attempts to influence the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine.

A US decision to scrap plans for military bases in Poland and the Czech Republic has also raised concerns that Washington is no longer serious about its security promises to former Communist states.


Selmayr case symptomatic, says EU novel author

The controversy over the new EU Commission top civil servant is revealing of what is wrong with EU institutions and how they are blocked by national governments, says award-winning Austrian novelist Robert Menasse.


The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU will be exempted from tariffs, says US minister
  2. Malmstroem: EU 'hopes' for US tariffs exemption
  3. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  4. Italy's centre-right set to share top posts with 5-star movement
  5. Brussels condemns tear gas in Kosovo parliament
  6. Finland pays billionaire €400,000 in EU farm subsidies
  7. 44 leaders sign up for Africa free trade area deal
  8. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  2. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  3. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  4. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  5. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  6. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  7. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  8. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions