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President of the Republic on the 28th anniversary of the Estonian restoration of independence in the Rose Garden of the Office of the President

In the summer of 1979, 45 Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians found themselves unable to use the right to remain silent reserved for each person considered a citizen of the Soviet Union.
A public letter to the general secretary of the UN, East and West Germany and the governments of the countries of the Atlantic Charter became internationally known as the Baltic Appeal.

The appeal demanded public disclosure and annulment of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols. The appeal was scheduled for the 40th anniversary of the pact and was published on 23 August 1979.

All of the signatories were, of course, aware that staying silent would have been safer and less troublesome. However, the Baltic States had been occupied and somebody had to show that time was being counted even here, behind the Iron Curtain and with seemingly tacit acquiescence – 40 years from Molotov and Ribbentrop. Nearly 40 years of occupation.

Four Estonian men gave their signatures – Mart Niklus, Enn Tarto, Endel Ratas and Erik Udam.

And someone still heard, noticed and took this small spark, which showed that the Baltic States had not surrendered, forgotten or given up, and blew it into a flame.

On the evening of 23 August, the Baltic Appeal was already being talked about on the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. The New York Times published it on 25 August.

On 13 January 1983, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in which it called for the United Nations to acknowledge the right of the Baltic States for self-determination and independence and demanded that the question be decided via public vote.

The period that followed the publication of the Baltic Appeal was tough for the freedom fighters. Mart Niklus was arrested in 1980 and Enn Tarto in 1983. Both men were released in 1988.

A year after the Baltic Appeal, the Letter of 40 Intellectuals was published, the authors of which also refused to use their right to refrain from taking a risk, which they, as respectable citizens, had. The repressions that followed were weaker. Ten years after the Baltic Appeal, the number of fearless people had grown so much that we could all stand together to form the Baltic Way.

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