Skip to comments.Bush says Cold War captivity one of great wrongs
Posted on 05/07/2005 3:20:28 PM PDT by neverdem
Filed at 1:34 p.m. ET
RIGA (Reuters) - President Bush denounced Soviet Cold War rule of eastern Europe as ``one of the greatest wrongs of history'' on Saturday in a jab at Moscow two days before celebrations of the 1945 victory over Hitler.
Bush, visiting Latvia before the ceremonies in Moscow marking 60 years since the end of World War II in Europe, also held up the three Baltic states as examples of democratic reform since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
He said the end of the war brought liberty from fascism for many in Germany but meant the ``iron rule of another empire'' for the Baltic states -- Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- and nations from Poland to Romania.
Bush admitted the United States shared some responsibility for the Cold War division of Europe after the 1945 Yalta accord between Russia, the United States and Britain.
``Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable,'' he said. ``Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable.
``The captivity of millions in central and eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history,'' he said in a speech at Riga's guildhall.
The three Baltic states joined both NATO and the European Union last year.
Bush's visit to Riga has angered Russia by reviving tensions about the Soviet occupation when Moscow is focusing on celebrating the end of World War II, a conflict that cost 27 million Soviet lives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed calls by the Baltic states for an apology for Soviet rule and accused them on Saturday of trying to cover up past Nazi collaboration.
BUSH MEETS PUTIN
The differing versions of history may make for frictions when Bush meets Putin in Moscow on Sunday and Monday.
Putin insists the Red Army was a liberator, not an oppressor, of Eastern Europe.
``Our people not only defended their homeland, they liberated 11 European countries,'' Putin said on Saturday after laying a wreath at a monument to Russia's war dead.
In a recent state of the nation speech he bemoaned the demise of the Soviet Union as ``the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.'' He has also said Washington should not try to export its own brand of democracy.
Bush said Russia's leaders had made ``great progress'' in the past 15 years.
``In the long run it is the strength of Russian democracy that will determine the greatness of Russia and I believe the Russian people value their freedom and will settle for no less,'' he said.
``As we mark a victory of six decades ago, we are mindful of a paradox. For much of Germany, defeat led to freedom. For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire.''
He also held up the Baltics as examples of successful shifts to democracy, a theme he stressed for nations including Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Belarus.
``These are extraordinary times that we're living in and the three Baltic countries are capable of helping Russia and other countries in this part of the world see the benefits of what it means to live in a free society,'' Bush told a news conference.
But Bush did not back pleas by the Baltic countries for an apology from Russia. ``My hope is that we are able to move on,'' he said.
He later flew to the Netherlands where he will spend Saturday night.
The presidents of Lithuania and Estonia will boycott the May 9 ceremonies in Moscow. Georgia's president will also stay away, but Latvia's president will attend.
All three Baltic nations, whose combined population is now about 6 million, were occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 after a pact between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia which divided up spheres of influence in East Europe.
In 1941, German troops occupied the Baltics and remained there until the end of the war when Soviet troops returned and ruled with an iron fist. The collapse of communism enabled the Baltic states to win their independence in 1991.
Bush also urged free elections in Belarus, which shares borders with Lithuania and Latvia, and ruled out any secret U.S deal with Moscow allowing President Alexander Lukashenko to remain in power. ``We don't make secret deals,'' he said.
Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga wrote in the Washington Post on Saturday: ``Russia would gain immensely by ... expressing its genuine regret for the crimes of the Soviet regime.
``Until Russia does so ... its relations with its immediate neighbors will remain uneasy at best.''
But writing in the French daily Le Figaro, Putin dismissed calls for an apology and accused the Baltic countries of trying to justify their own government's ``discriminatory and reprehensible policy'' toward their Russian-speaking populations.
Police detained about 20 protesters from Latvia's big Russian minority after they hurled smoke bombs in a demonstration against Bush.
``Bush is a horror,'' said protest leader Beness Aija. Posters in another demonstration said: ``Stop the war in Iraq.''
But many Latvians welcome Bush. ``It's important to recognize the struggle that our fathers had against communists and the Soviet Union,'' said Ugis Senbergs, a 50-year-old architect.
They were not the same murderes or the Polish people would not have re-elected the communists to power a few years ago.
This was from Reuters. I want to see how the Times writes its own story about Bush's appreciation of the Yalta Conference and its aftermath. They might attribute to FDR's ill health and death two months later. I doubt that they'll mention his administration was infiltrated with commies.
Mr. Mundt: Did you draft or participate in draftng, parts of the Yalta Agreement? Mr. Hiss: I think it is accurate and not an immodest statement to say that I did to some extent, yes.
These are fiery words of earth-shaking courage and conviction.
I just heard on the radio how Bush said FDR, the dems' icon, was partly responsible for agreeing to the outcome of the Yalta Conference. The dems must be livid.
I wish he'd use the same language about the domestic slavery FDR caused with his 'New Deal' and SS and Medicare and Medicaid and whatever other million government agencies we still have to deal with today. FDR deepened the great depression, and nearly destroyed the values of the country with his socialism.
Also, like Chavez, he tried to stack the supreme court.
There was nothing America or the UK could have done to keep the Red Army out of Eastern Europe - Yalta or no Yalta.
Remember, Japan was still fighting us hard in the Pacific - we only engaged a small number of her military in the Island hop war. Also Eastern Europe was not well liked by the Americans - most of Eastern European countries were members of the Axis powers - no American cared to risk their lives to save Hilter's buddies from the Soviets' wrath.
The only nations we really cared for in the East were Poland and the Czech part of Czechoslovakia (the Slovaks were Nazi allies). That is the historical fact without the modern revisionist spin.
I think you are at the wrong party!
These are decisive years in which the US can strengthen ties with Eastern Europe. It should be our first interest to do so. Between Rice and Bush visits there is now a greater possibility for this.
If Roosevelt had taken Gen. Patton's advice, this story wouldn't even be an issue.
Aleksander Kwaniewski is a Polish politician and currently the President of Poland. He was an activist of Socialist Union of Polish Students. He succeeded Lech Wa³êsa as President after winning the 1995 elections. Kwaniewski was elected for his second and final term as president in 2000 (gaining majority of votes already in the first round). He was also a former leader of the left-wing Socjaldemokracja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, an heir to the Polish United Workers Party, and later of the Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (Democratic Left Alliance). He is an atheist.
Alliance of the Democratic Left (Polish: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) is one of the main Polish social democratic political parties. A coalition of parties used this name from 1991 to 1999. It was formally established as a single party on April 15, 1999. Most of the members who established the party in 1999 had previously been members of SdRP (Socjaldemokracja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej - Social Democrats of the Republic of Poland). SdRP and some other socialist and social democratic parties had formed the original Alliance of the Democratic Left as a left-wing coalition just prior to the nation's first free elections in 1991. At the time, the coalition's membership drew mostly from the Polish communist party, the Polish United Workers Party, which ruled the People's Republic of Poland with Soviet support before 1989. An alliance between the SLD and the Polish Peasant Party ruled Poland in the years 19931997.
Bush is so full of sh/t...what a joke.
Sorry for being a kill joy. Not my fault many forget that most of Eastern Europe was part of the Axis powers and no American was going to die to save them after WW2.
Not at all - Most of Eastern Europe was allied to the Nazis - no American was going to fight to save former Nazi allies.
"Bush is so full of sh/t...what a joke."
I know how your statement reads. I'm just wondering if that's what you meant?
Medicare and Medicaid were the courtesy of LBJ's Great Society. I guess you're a youngin. Did you go to public screwl?
Forget about whether anybody wanted to or not. The point has been publicly made by the President that we had a hand in a grave error. His admission shows courage and humility which trumps the rhetoric of Putin, who thinks the breakup of the USSR was a catastrophe.
I couldn't have said it better.
"Not at all - Most of Eastern Europe was allied to the Nazis - no American was going to fight to save former Nazi allies."
I don't think Patton was primarily interested in saving Eastern Europe per se. He wanted to kill the cancer of Soviet Communism before it had a chance to spread any further.
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