Tuesday

26th Sep 2017

Lithuania gets EU backing for confrontation with Communist past

  • A Stalin-era propaganda poster - Soviet crimes are still taboo in some countries (Photo: wikipedia)

A strong promoter of shedding light on the crimes against humanity committed under the Soviet occupation, Lithuania on Friday managed to get the political backing of the other 26 EU member states for measures aimed at educating the public about all totalitarian regimes in Europe.

"We were active in promoting the question of crimes of totalitarian regimes, because it is also important for us to know what has happened in other countries," Lithuanian justice minister Remigijus Simasius told this website on Friday (10 June).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

According to Simasius, the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes in Libya, Syria and "not so long ago, Bosnia" make it even more important that there is an accurate account of crimes committed by the Soviet and the national communist regimes in eastern Europe.

The document, agreed Friday by EU justice ministers, refers only once to Communist and Nazi crimes with Simasius admitting that there was a "lengthy discussion" on the exact language around the different totalitarian regimes.

"There are many reasons why. In some countries it was for a long time politically incorrect to speak about Soviet crimes, because of the heritage of World War II, when the Soviet Union was an ally of the West."

But for Lithuania, as well as the other two Baltic states - Latvia and Estonia - liberation from the Nazi occupation soon became "another occupation" as they were annexed to the Soviet Union. Mass deportations, imprisonments on political grounds and summary executions affected hundreds of thousands of people in the three small countries.

"It's strange, from our perspective, that we don't have any international courts to deal with these crimes. But at least it is accepted, at an EU level, for countries to prosecute and sentence people guilty of such crimes."

In concrete terms, the EU declaration is "quite general, but it is a clear political statement which gives the European Commission and national governments some guidelines on how to deal with the memory of totalitarian regimes," the minister said.

According to the EU council conclusions, "a fair treatment of the victims of every totalitarian regime as well as a proper prevention of such crimes should be assured."

When it comes to the denial of crimes committed under Communist regimes, ministers refrained from equating penalties with those for denying the Holocaust and said that "national circumstances and legal traditions, as well as freedom of expression" should be taken into account.

Article 7 not mentioned in Poland probe update

While Polish president Andrzej Duda proposes amendments to further increase political control over the judiciary, EU ministers voice support for the rule of law, but make no mention of the Article 7 sanctions.

Analysis

Merkel-Macron: An EU motor in the making

Merkel's re-election is expected to revive the Franco-German EU motor, but the German leader and France's new ruler are still searching for a common vision.

EU 'embarrassed' by Catalan 'taboo'

Faced with the growing tension between the Spanish and Catalan governments, the member states and EU institutions would prefer not to get involved.

Spain arrests Catalan officials

Armed Spanish police have arrested Catalan officials and seized ballots for an independence referendum, prompting appeals for EU help.

EU countries cool on Juncker's ideas

There was not much enthusiasm voiced in EU countries after Juncker unveiled his grand ideas about a single EU president and a larger eurozone. Dutch PM Rutte suggested seeing an eye doctor.

Juncker calls for united EU under one leader

The Commission president wants his position to be merged with the presidency of the European Council, and for all EU states to be in the eurozone and Schengen by 2019, post-Brexit.

EU hopes German elections lead to 'better Europe'

Jean-Claude Juncker's right-hand man suggested a favoured form of coalition by tweeting a Jamaican flag, the symbol of a government with the christian-democrats, the liberals and the Greens.

EU 'embarrassed' by Catalan 'taboo'

Faced with the growing tension between the Spanish and Catalan governments, the member states and EU institutions would prefer not to get involved.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel