Did Latvia exist before 1991
25 years agoLatvia declares its independence from Moscow
"It is time for the junta to be overthrown and to be thrown in the heap of history."
Europe breathed a sigh of relief when Boris Yeltsin predicted a swift end to the coup against President Gorbachev on August 20, 1991. In Riga, Latvia, the Supreme Soviet seized the opportunity. One day later, on August 21, the ex-communist Anatoly Gorbunov signed the "Constitutional Law on the Status of the Latvian Republic" as the nominal head of state.
"Latvia is an independent, democratic republic in which sovereign power emanates from the Latvian people and whose international legal status is determined by the Constitution of the Latvian Republic of February 15, 1922."
"They did not declare independence, they declared the restoration of independence."
Andrejs Urdze had been a representative of the citizens' movement "Latvian People's Front" since 1988 and then of the Republic of Latvia in the Federal Republic:
"You followed up on the old constitutions, you followed up on the old legislation, and that also with regard to citizenship law."
In 1939 Hitler and Stalin had divided Eastern Europe among themselves, in 1940 the Baltic states were forced to join the Soviet Union. Illegal and therefore void - at least from the perspective of the Latvian Popular Front. It was founded in the summer of 1988 with the aim of supporting Gorbachev's glasnost policy.
"In the course of 1989 the situation worsened, and you noticed that there was no other way. You could not feel any accommodation, and then it was clear that at the end of 1989 the slogan was quite clearly: independence."
On August 23, 1989, two million Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians demonstrated with a human chain across the Baltic States for their independence.
On May 4, 1990, the Supreme Soviet declared the restoration of independence and the renaming of the Latvian Soviet Republic to the Republic of Latvia. Andrejs Urdze:
"Then there was a big manifestation on the banks of the Daugava, and there were tens of thousands of people and the politicians were talking and everyone was beaming with joy and the same day two hours later the tanks drove there. On the one hand, independence was declared, but at the same time the Soviet power was showing : 'We are still the masters here in the country.' "
Skepticism about independence
But not only Moscow is skeptical about the independence of the Baltic States.
"For Kohl, only Gorbachev and Russia were valid. Kohl was always against supporting the Baltic states in any way, the separation, on the contrary."
In Europe there is fear of the collapse of the superpower Soviet Union. But there is a man in Moscow who is driving this disintegration. Like the Balts, the President of the Russian Parliament Boris Yeltsin declared the sovereignty of his republic in 1989, he too mobilized nationalism, memories of injustices suffered and democratic ideals in the power struggle with the Soviet headquarters. Yeltsin is the Baltic's most important ally. On August 21, 1991, he took over the helm in Moscow.
"Wednesday was the end of the coup, on Friday we were with the former Prime Minister of Lithuania Prunskiene at Genscher's, where after 15 minutes we said: 'It makes no sense.' He was still so negative, his hands were tied. But then two days later Yeltsin on the Russian side, as President of Russia, officially recognized the Baltic states. "
A statement with political power
Yeltsin's statement gives the declarations of the Baltic parliaments state political power and the West the opportunity to proclaim historical events. Foreign Minister Genscher on August 27, 1991:
"That is why we want to resume our relations with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania now that it has become possible."
Not the end of all worries
25 years after these historic events, Latvia is a stable democracy, a member of the EU and NATO. The small Baltic country has also lost a quarter of its population in these 25 years. The lack of economic prospects is forcing young Latvians in particular to emigrate, the birth rate is low and the suicide rate is high. The political hopes of the independence movement have been fulfilled. But the Latvians had to learn quickly that this did not mean the end of all worries.
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