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Sweden apologises to Baltics over Soviet era

Sweden owes its Baltic neighbours a "debt of honour" for turning a blind eye to post-war Soviet occupation, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told his counterparts on Monday.

During a ceremony in Stockholm attended by the prime ministers of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, Reinfeldt spoke of "a dark moment" in his country's history.

"Sweden was among the first countries to recognise the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries" in 1944, he said at a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the three countries' independence.

In 1945, Stockholm extradited to the Soviet Union around 170 soldiers from the Baltic countries who had fled the Red Army and found refuge in Sweden.

"The extradition of the Balts is a dark moment in Swedish foreign policy," Reinfeldt said.

He said that Sweden had long ignored its Baltic neighbours and urged for post-independence relations to continue strengthening.

"For decades, Sweden did not acknowledge Baltic suffering," the conservative prime minister said.

"I hold in my hand a Swedish school book used during the 1980s. It makes no mention at all of the destiny of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after the Second World War. Not one word," Reinfeldt said.

"In fact, it is hard to find any reference to the fact that there had ever been any Baltic countries. This was the reality when I went to school," the 46-year-old leader said.

"Sweden has a debt of honour to the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We owe it to ourselves -- and we owe it to the Baltic peoples -- to remember the past, but also to build a common future," he added.

Latvia's Valdis Dombrovskis, Lithuania's Andrius Kubilius and Estonia's Andrus Ansip thanked Sweden for the assistance it has given their states since independence.

The ceremony was held at a Stockholm square where dozens of meetings known as the "Monday meetings" were held in 1990 and 1991 to support the Baltics' efforts to regain independence.

The three states organised a human chain in 1989 in which two million people joined hands, linking the Baltic capitals, against Soviet rule.

The landmark protest started a sequence that eventually led to the three nations' independence by 1991.

Last Updated (Monday, 15 August 2011 17:53)

 

Comments 

 
#10 2011-11-15 14:14
"In 1945, Stockholm extradited to the Soviet Union around 170 soldiers from the Baltic countries who had fled the Red Army and found refuge in Sweden."

Of course, no one mentions that these soldiers fought for the Nazis...

I don't say that this fact justifies the extradition but we know that sad things happen in war, especially if you are in the losing team and if you're a killing people for the sake of national socialism you shall not expect people to be nice to you.
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#9 2011-08-17 02:07
To Vilius: Well, you are a local Iithuanian and can't be blamed for your ignorance. The fact is that the Soviet Union forcibly occupied Lithuania - and the Swedes wiped Lithuania out from their history books. It was perfect for the Russian occupiers. They also gave the gold to them, and just in general acted perfectly as far as the Sovs were concerend - altho Lithuania is only just across the Baltic Sea, Sweden's neighber.
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#8 2011-08-16 20:07
Quoting Thanks, Sweden!:
the comment web link
was this: http://www.lettia.lv/en_a_baigais-gads.html
or just Google:
Horrible Year, 1940-1941
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#7 2011-08-16 20:05
Thanks to the Swedish Moderates (conservatives) and the King! It is very important for citizens of the Baltic states to receive their support on this issue.
They are decent people and had already apologized to the Baltic states for extradition of their soldiers (Baltutlamninge n).This can not be said about the Swedish Left, though. In the comment web link you may find horrifying details of the Soviet occupation of Latvia. It actually took place already in June 1940 actually, and not in 1944.
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#6 2011-08-16 14:14
Äntligen! Bra Fredrik. Det var inte en dag för tidigt
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#5 2011-08-16 12:35
Ohh, you slit your own Baltic Brother's throats. Yikes..
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#4 2011-08-16 00:54
Good move finally. Now Sweden must account for all assets, gold, bank accounts, real estate,industri al companies owned by Balts that were turned over to Moscow afterWWII. Restitution for private property lost should be given to those who were robbed by this move after WW2. Those who were turned back to the Russians should be accounted for as well.
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#3 2011-08-16 00:25
Thank you to Sweden for its rather belated apology. I was born in Washington, DC to Latvian parents whose families both barely escaped the Soviet Russian occupation and desecration of Latvia. I am proud to be a citizen of the USA. The USA never acknowledged the illegal occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union. I hope that the Latvians will remember the horrors and consequences of the Soviet Russian occupation as they cast their votes for a new Latvian parliament on Sept. 17.
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#2 2011-08-15 21:24
That's really nice :) But to be honest, I've never heard about all this recognition of occupation and extradition thing before. Probably our own (Lithuanian in my case) textbooks aren't that comprehensive on the topic either.
Anyway, best wishes from the other side of the sea.
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#1 2011-08-15 21:07
Better late than never...
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