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You made Democracy real -speech to the 15th anniversary of Estonian Congress

Speech by Gunnar Hökmark, Member of European Parliament and head of the Swedish delegation to the EPP-ED group at the 15th anniversary of the Estonian Congress in Tallinn Saturday 2005-03-12

The Estonian Congress was a remarkable creation. It established a framework for a free and democratic Estonia parallel to the soviet structures of socialism and suppression. You had by the Estonian Congress the vision of democracy and independence transformed into the same reality where the real socialism step by step was losing the little credibility it might have had.

It’s like in science fiction movies where people from a spaceship are beamed down to a planet or transformed from one dimension of reality into another one. The Estonian Congress made reality of what in science fiction and advanced physics is named parallel dimensions. It made democracy visible and real in a society where dictatorship was totalitarian. And by establishing real democracy parallel to the institutions of communism you defeated the dictatorship by peaceful and democratically means. And so you changed the history of Estonia as well as the modern European history.

Never have we seen an empire like the Soviet one fall down during a number of weeks without war and without the losses of human life’s in big numbers. But it happened here in Estonia, as well as in Latvia and Lithuania. The visions and dreams about democracy and freedom have been transformed here into reality parallel to the transformation of Soviet Union from one of the world’s most powerful states to a phenomenon of the past, a Flying Dutchman of evilness.

There were always a number of people either preaching the ideological and moral supremacy of socialism or excusing the brutality and the suppression.

In the West of that time there where those – as the Swedish minister of Foreign Affairs – who denied even the fact that Estonia together with Latvia and Lithuania was occupied countries, and those- like the Swedish prime minister – who claimed that socialism anyway, in spite of it’s democratic shortcomings was an efficient economical system, just as good to deliver welfare and prosperity as any capitalistic country.

And there were those – like the Swedish deputy foreign minister – who argued that the Baltic people didn’t want sovereignty and political independence, just more of cultural identity and that due to the Helsinki Agreement and international law there were no place and no opportunity to ask for anything more.

And there were those who never talked about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as countries with their own identity but always abut of The Baltic region as a part of Soviet Union or preferred the Soviet expression the Baltic states, as their natural identity was to be states of Soviet union.

And after the fall of the Soviet Union there were those, in the old East and in the Old West who claimed that there should be no big changes in the economical system because it was important to build the new society upon the social progress of socialism. They launched the concept of socialism with a human face as they had never looked in to the eyes of socialism. There is no human face of a system that neglects the individual and forces women and men to obey to the power of their rulers.

And still today the people of Belarus and Ukraine are suffering of their advice. Those who would like to look at what emerged from the idea of socialism with a human face can take a look in the eyes of mr Kuchma or mr Lukachenko.

And we can learn one thing from the modern history of Europe. You were right and they were wrong.

When they sad the Baltic countries not were occupied they were wrong.

When they claimed planned economy to be just as efficient to deliver welfare and prosperity they were wrong.

When the told people that it was not possible due to international law to ask for the independence for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania they were wrong.

When they argued that the calls for independence only were about cultural identity they were wrong.

When communists of all sorts claimed there was a moral or legal legitimacy of the occupation they were wrong.

When they advocated the moral idea of socialism they were so wrong.

My friends, we are living in a free and open Europe thanks not only to the fact that they were wrong and we were right. It is thanks to the fact that we won and better than that, they lost!

Parallel in time with the first Estonian Congress I and some friends of mine –Peeter Luksep, Andres Küng and Håkan Holmberg – started the Monday movement in Sweden in support of Baltic independence.

We wanted to oppose all those who excused the occupation and neglected the existence of our Baltic neighbours with the help of the myths and the wrongs I just mentioned. Our aims were four.

• We wanted to make clear that the courageous and decisive peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania got the message that you were not alone. You belong and belonged to the Europe of us all, you were a part of the European identity and the European identity was a part of you. Never should we accept that people standing up for their freedom should be forgotten however high the Iron Curtain was.

• We wanted to make clear to Soviet Union that you were not alone. Never should they be allowed to fight down democracy with people in the West looking away as if it was raining. Never should they be allowed to proceed with their crimes to humanity without suffering any political cost, without the reactions from free societies. .

• We wanted to highlight the identity of our brother nations so as to get people to understand that this was not a grey mass of people in the Soviet Union. These were European nations with a European identity belonging to the home of Europe.

• We wanted to establish a platform for defending the cause of Baltic independence and to make it a regular opportunity for Baltic politicians, intellectuals, artists, school classes, choirs to voice their belief in independence and a future in Europe. We wanted to present the identity, the culture and the people of three different countries, to make clear to each and everyone that our neighbours on the other side of the Baltic Sea were three different nations with their national heritage rooted in the ideas of Europe, that they had the same moral and legal right to independence and freedom as any other nation.

We wanted to present this to the Swedish people and to Swedish politicians in order to dismantle the political myths that were used against the Baltic peoples and we wanted international media to see and recognize that now was there freedom in the air, nations to be reborn and a new Europe to come. In thirty different places the Monday meetings took room. At Norrmalmstorg in the middle of Stockholm we gathered up to 10 000 people when the struggle for independence was most crucial. And you stood firm.

I´m so proud to have met so many of those who did it, I feel honoured to be a friend of personalities that risked their lives for a free and peaceful Europe. We do all owe you a lot and if we contributed only a little when you created democracy we are happy that we had the privilege to stand close when history changed.

My dear friends, they were wrong and we were right. And to the benefit of Europe we won and they lost. That’s how our Europe of freedom and peace came to be!