Monday

28th May 2018

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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Macron and Orban defend opposing EU visions

Two models - of deeper integration and liberal values, versus a Europe of strong and illiberal nations - will define voters' choices in the EU elections in 2019.

Analysis

Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget

The Commission wants the next EU budget to prove the bloc has survived Brexit unscathed. However, some net payers disagree. The EU executive plans to put out an overall budget figure of 1.13 to 1.18 percent of EU GNI.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

Opinion

Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach