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Conference in Vilnius commemorates Baltic Way

On 21st  August 2014 Vilnius hosted a conference devoted to the 25th anniversary of events known as the Baltic Way (or Chain) – an initiative which  is little-known in Poland and deserves to be remembered. 

The summer of 1989 marked the 50th  anniversary of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. The inhabitants of the then Baltic republics of the USSR launched a grass-roots initiative  consisting in the creation of a human chain of people holding hands between Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn. Over a distance of more than 600 kilometers some 1.5 million people joined hands – which meant that one-quarter of the entire population of the Baltic republics participated in the project. The chain, which mobilized the population of the region, constituted a protest against Soviet domination  and was a symbolic beginning of the process of regaining independence by the Baltic republics. Though the event coincided with a political thaw in the form of  Gorbachev’s glasnost, it still required considerable courage from the participants.  

In order to commemorate the action of the Baltic republics and to reflect on the condition of present-day Europe, particularly in the context of the events in Ukraine, the Foundation and the Jerzy Giedroyć Polish-Lithuanian  Forum for  Dialogue and Cooperation jointly organized a conference in Vilnius titled: “25th  anniversary of the Baltic Way, the first free elections in Poland and the fall of the Berlin Wall. What to Do with  Freedom? Creation of the New Europe and Future Visions of the 21st Century”.

The conference participants included, among others, Linas Linkevičius (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania), Vygaudas Ušackas (Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to Russia) and  Adam Michnik (Chief Editor of  Gazeta Wyborcza).

Program of conference

25th anniversary of the Baltic Way, the first free elections in Poland and the fall of the Berlin Wall
What to Do with a Freedom? Creation of the New Europe and Future Visions of the 21st Century

21 August 2014, Vilnius

11.00-12.30 Fight for Freedom: The Case of Ukraine

Moderators: Audrius Siaurusevičius (Vilnius) and Adam Michnik (Warsaw)

Participants: Olga Dukhnich (Kiev), Bartosz Wieliński (Warsaw), Audrius Matonis (Vilnius), Ģirts Vikmanis (Riga), Igor Taro (Tallinn), Vygaudas Ušackas (Moscow)

12.30-14.30 Lunch

14.30-16.00 Fight for Freedom: The Organizers of the Baltic Way Remembered

Moderators: Virginijus Savukynas (Vilnius)

Participants: Aleksandras Abišala (Kaunas), Romualds Ražuks (Riga), Aadu Must (Tartu)

16.00-16.30 Coffee break

17.00-18.00 Visions of Europe’s Future

Moderators: Maciej Wierzyński (Warsaw) and Vytautas Bruveris (Vilnius)

Participants: Linas Linkevičius (Vilnius), Adam Michnik (Warsaw), Artjoms Konohovs (Riga), Andriy Portnov (Kiev)