U.S. Lawmakers Warn on Force in Baltics : Soviet Union: Group in Moscow after talks in secessionist states. It says Stalin’s borders can be maintained only by renewal of Stalin tyranny.
A U.S. congressional delegation said Friday that the Soviet Union will have to give up some of its territory unless it plans to use Stalinist methods to retain its independence-seeking republics.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the delegation chairman, said that the momentum for independence has grown so strong in the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which the U.S. lawmakers had just visited, that only repression and military force could keep them in the Soviet Union.
“We believe that the only way to maintain Stalin’s borders would be to adopt Stalin’s tyranny,” Hoyer said, referring to dictator Josef Stalin, who forcibly annexed the Baltic nations in 1940.
“If that were done, it would be a tragedy for all the world and particularly for the people not only of the Baltic states but of all the republics of the Soviet Union.”
Delegation members said they had met with Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin and top Baltic officials to demonstrate that the people of the United States are deeply worried about the violent crackdown by Soviet troops in Lithuania and Latvia last month that killed 22 people.
“The message we delivered to them was that we share their aspirations,” Hoyer said. “We will not forget them nor will our attention be diverted from the human rights issues and the issues of democratization that are present in the Baltic states and at risk in the Baltic states.”
The United States has never officially acknowledged the Baltic states as part of the Soviet Union.
During their three-day trip, the lawmakers visited the capitals of all three Baltic republics, where officials have complained that the United States has not given enough support to their attempts to win independence.
Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis reacted positively to the delegation’s visit but had reservations. “It was very good that they got direct information from our parliament,” Rita Yankauskene, the president’s secretary, said, “but (Landsbergis) did not attach very much hope to the visit.”
Sen. Alfonse M. D’Amato (R-N.Y.) stressed that the crackdown in the Baltic states will have repercussions across the Soviet Union if it is not checked by the democratic forces in the country.
“What is taking place in the Baltic republics is not just a war against the republics--it is not just an attempt to repress the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the people,” D’Amato said. “It’s really a war against all of the republics.”
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) said the crackdown in the Baltic republics must be viewed in the context of the great progress that has been achieved in the Soviet Union under President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
“They are going through a regressive stage of a major revolutionary change,” Lantos said. “The question is how long this regressive period will last and how far it will go. But the overall trend, in the historic sense, is one of the most encouraging phenomena of the century.”
The independence movement in the Baltic states will be rewarded in the end for its determination, he said. “The people in the Baltics are somewhat frustrated,” he added. “But there is little doubt in my mind that it is just a matter of time until they gain their freedom.”
In meeting with Kremlin officials, the American lawmakers expressed their concern that perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) , as Gorbachev’s reform policies are known, may now be on the decline. They warned that the recent improvements in superpower relations, which are connected with the success of the reforms, may be at risk.
“The failure for those two processes to go forward would put at jeopardy the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union,” Hoyer said. “And, if that relationship were put in jeopardy, it would undermine the security of the globe.”
Delegation members were enthusiastic, however, about Yeltsin, the populist leader of the Russian Federation, the country’s largest republic.
“It seems to me that the hopes and aspirations of the people for democracy and freedom are best represented and articulated by President Yeltsin,” D’Amato said.
He invited Yeltsin, who was given a cool reception when he visited the United States in September, 1989, to make a return visit as a guest of the Senate.