The UN At 70: Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linkevicius debated the Soviet occupation, the restoration of Lithuanian independence, and the Kremlin’s anti-Ukraine rhetoric at the UN

Linas Antanas Linkevicius
Linas Antanas Linkevicius
Linas Antanas Linkevicius
Shown here is Linas Antanas Linkevicius, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, who has consistently supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine during UN Security Council meetings at UN Headquarter in both 2014 and 2015. On February 23, 2015, he reminded members of the Council, that on March 11 this year, Lithuania will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the restoration of independence, the longest we have ever been free in modern times,” and how precious freedom really is. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueras.

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Linas Antanas Linkevicius debated on February 23 at UN Headquarters in New York during a UN Security Council open meeting on maintaining International peace and security as it reflected on the history of the UN, and reaffirmed its strong commitment to the purposes and principles of its Charter. As the UN approaches its seventieth anniversary this year, 80 speakers addressed the meeting called by the President of the Security Council for the month, China. Here’s what the Lithuanian Foreign Minister had to say about 50 years of Soviet occupation, the restoration of Lithuanian independence, and the Kremlin’s anti-Ukraine rhetoric today.

“When the Charter was signed on June 26, 1945 by 50 nations, Lithuania was not among them because of Soviet occupation. While others were celebrating the fall of Hitler’s monstrous regime, and engaging in the creation of a new world order, Lithuania’s future was being hijacked by Stalin’s totalitarian grip.“

“During Stalin’s rule, up to 300,000 Lithuanians were deported, exiled, and locked in Soviet gulags in the most remote parts of Siberia, the Arctic Circle, and Central Asia. Farmers, teachers, public servants, housewives, and entire families were rounded up, barely given time to collect their belongings, and hoarded onto cattle wagons. Many died of starvation and diseases along the way. Most were never to see Lithuania again.”

The Lithuanian Foreign Minister went on to say, “my people were not the only ones affected. At least some 14 million people from various nationalities were sent to Soviet gulags from 1929 to 1953, and 7 to 8 million were deported and exiled to the most remote areas of the the Soviet empire. Induced famine and starvation, including the Holodomor in Ukraine, were used to subdue those Stalin’s regime considered the enemies.”

“While we pay our tribute and respect to sacrifice of the allied forces who defeated Hitler, we also remember all those whose lives were taken by all the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Five decades later, Lithuania broke free from captivity. The singing revolutions of the Baltic States, as they were known at the time, put an end to Soviet occupation and restored the right of our nations to decide our future on our own, without external interference or dictate. “

 

Ban Ki-moon with Vytautas Landsbergis
Shown here is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the right meeting with Vytautas Landsbergis, former Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania during the Secretary-General’s first visit to Lithuania. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

 

(Insert image 570832 of the 570832 ) (photo caption/credit) Shown here is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the right meeting with Vytautas Landsbergis, former Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania during the Secretary-General’s first visit to Lithuania. UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

In addition, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister emphasized too, that In March, Lithuania will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the restoration of independence, the longest we have ever been free in modern times. In the context of Russia’s attempts to rewrite history and reverse the transitions of the 1900s, this 25th anniversary is even more precious.
But he also reminds us that the international community should not lower its guard. too.”

He stated, also, that “the United Nations came into existence in order “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and “to ensure, by acceptance, of principles and the institution of methods, that armed forces not be used, save in the common interest.

Pictured is Vytautas Landsbergis, President of the Supreme Council of Lithuania in September 1991 when Lithuania became a member of the United Nations, along with Estonia and Latvia. Plans are already underway to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Lithuania becoming a member of the UN in 2016. UN Photo/Milton Grant.
Pictured is Vytautas Landsbergis, President of the Supreme Council of Lithuania in September 1991 when Lithuania became a member of the United Nations, along with Estonia and Latvia. Plans are already underway to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Lithuania becoming a member of the UN in 2016. UN Photo/Milton Grant.

What we are seeing in Europe today, however, is Russia’s military might being used in violation of the sovereign rights of states, and in pursuit of neo-imperial ambition which has no place in the 2lst century.”

On the subject of Russia, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister made it clear that it was not for Russia to pressure or wage wars against its neighbors. 70 years after the end of World War II, Russia, who had suffered tremendously from that war should know better than to risk international peace and stability for the sake of redrawing Europe’s borders by violence and force. From eastern Ukraine to Moldova’s Tranistria, to Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, a pattern exists of Russia’s interference in the sovereign affairs of neighboring states.”

“For a year now, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister stated that Ukraine has been under attack by Russian commandos and mercenaries, supported by Russian tanks, heavy weaponry, equipment and supplies. A year ago, as Crimea was being annexed by force and falsehood, Lithuania called for the first Council meeting on Ukraine. and the Council has since held at least thirty meetings on the situation in Ukraine. But nothing has changed on the ground. “

He further stated that “even as we speak, Russian proxies continue to make rubbish of the latest cease-fire agreement, continuing their attacks in blatant violation of the Minsk agreements and UNSC resolution 2201. Russian arms and Russian “humanitarian” convoys continue to flow across the borders into the militants’ hands. The geography of violent provocations is expanding far beyond the cease-fire line, as seen from yesterday’s bomb attack in Kharkiv. “

In his concluding remarks at UN Headquarters in New York, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevicius said: “As we approach the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, all states without exception must recommit unequivocally and clearly to the values enshrined in the Charter, and to the norms and principles of international law. Anything less – and especially attempts to redraw today’s international borders – would be to betray the memory of those who brought us the peace, 70 years ago, at the cost of their lives – and to betray our future as humanity.”

As President Truman said in his address to the San Francisco Conference 70 years ago, “we must not continue to sacrifice the flower of our youth merely to check mad men, those who in every age plan world domination. The sacrifice of our youth today must lead, through your efforts, to the building for tomorrow of a mighty combination of nations founded upon justice –on peace.”

What did the UN Secretary-General have to say at the open debate on maintaining international peace and security as it reflected in the history of the UN? Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations remarked: “The 70th anniversary of the United Nations finds an organization with major achievements to its credit, multiple cases on its agenda, and tremendous opportunities ahead.” As he pointed out: “The UN was founded to prevent another world war and it has succeeded in that. Despite the recurrence of genocide and repeated outbreaks of armed conflicts, the past seven decades would have been even bloodier without the UN. “

“People’s lives are better in other ways, too” said the UN Secretary-General. In most parts of theworld, people are living longer, healthier lives. The empowerment of women, the advance of international law, and the spread of democratic governance have helped to improve our collective well-being.” Ban Ki-moon is now looking forward to the Climate Change Summit scheduled to take place in Paris during December. “Countries must adopt a meaningful and universal agreement on Climate Change” he stated recently.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is shown meeting with Linas Antanas Linkevicius, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is shown meeting with Linas Antanas Linkevicius, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of "Baltic Review" based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body's work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.