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The re-establishment of the state of Lithuania March 11 1990

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Iveta Kazlauskaite

on 4 January 2015

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Transcript of The re-establishment of the state of Lithuania March 11 1990

Steps towards the Declaration of Independence
Demonstrations asking for country's independence: Lithuanians carry Lithuanian flags in the center of capital Vilnius on January 10, 1990.

Steps towards Independence
As the elections to the Supreme Council of February 1990 approached, two political forces took shape in Lithuania, Sąjūdis uniting the consistent supporter of independence and the independent Lithuanian Communist Party (LCP) that in 1989 had declared itself independent from Communist Party of the Soviet Union. 
The Parliamentary elections of February 1990 were the first free and democratic elections in Lithuania since World War II. The people overwhelmingly voted for the candidates endorsed by Sąjūdis, even though the movement did not run as a political party

Act of the Re-establishment of the State of Lithuania
Translation of the Act
Act On the Re-establishment of the State of Lithuania
The Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania, expressing the will of the nation, decrees and solemnly proclaims that the execution of the sovereign powers of the State of Lithuania abolished by foreign forces in 1940, is re-established, and henceforth Lithuania is again an independent state.
The Act of Independence of February 16, 1918 of the Council of Lithuania and the Constituent Assembly decree of May 15, 1920 on the re-established democratic State of Lithuania never lost their legal effect and comprise the constitutional foundation of the State of Lithuania. The territory of Lithuania is whole and indivisible, and the constitution of no other State is valid on it.
The State of Lithuania stresses its adherence to universally recognized principles of international law, recognizes the principle of inviolability of borders as formulated in the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in Helsinki in 1975, and guarantees human, civil, and ethnic community rights.
The Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania, expressing sovereign power, by this Act begins to realize the complete sovereignty of the state
Act of the Re-establishment of the State of Lithuania
The Act confirmed the continuous and unbroken link of the re-established Lithuanian State with the Act of Independence of February 16, 1918, and the Resolution of a democratic Lithuanian Government, passed by Constituent Assembly (Seimas) on May 15, 1920.
With this Act the Council committed itself to carry out the functions of the highest authority, the Lithuanian Parliament, which expressed the will of the absolute majority of population. The Supreme Council terminated the validity of the Constitution of the USSR of October 7, 1977, and the Constitution of the Lithuanian SSR of April 20, 1978, declaring the nominal validity of the Constitution of May 12, 1938, within the territory of Lithuania. The Supreme Council announced that the Constitution of 1938 was in force. This fact signified the continuity of the rights of sovereignty of the Lithuanian State.
The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic was renamed the Republic of Lithuania, and the USSR constitution was declared invalid on the Republic's territory

Although it took almost a year and a half since the declaration re-establishing independence of Lithuania to be officially recognized by both international community and the USSR, but the goal of freedom and independence was nevertheless achieved.
The Declaration of Independence
The newly elected Lithuanian parliament gathered on March 11, 1990 and the "Act on Restoring the Independence of the Lithuanian State" was adopted by the Supreme Council by a vote of 124-0.
According to the Act, "Expressing the will of the people, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania resolves and solemnly proclaims that the sovereign rights of the Lithuanian State, which were violated by a foreign power in 1940, are restored and that henceforth Lithuania is again an independent state"

Signatories celebrating in the Parliament, the night of March 11, 1990.
The re-establishment of the state of Lithuania March 11 1990
The historic event of March 11, 1990

For immediate release: March 11, 1990
Statement by the Press Secretary

The United States has never recognized the forcible incorporation of the independent states of Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania into the USSR. We have consistently supported the Baltic peoples' inalienable right to peaceful self-determination.
The new Parliament has declared its intention to restore Lithuanian independence. The United States would urge the Soviet government to respect the will of the citizens of Lithuania as expressed through their freely elected representatives and expects the government of Lithuania to consider the rights of its minority population.
The United States believes it is in the mutual interest of Lithuania, the Soviet Union, and all CSCE countries to resolve this issue peacefully.
We call upon the Soviet government to address its concerns and interests through immediate constructive negotiations with the government of Lithuania.
We hope that all parties will continue to avoid any initiation or encouragement of violence.”
Although the reaction of the US government was immediate, but the White House expressed its support for independence rather than official recognition of the Republic of Lithuania. This argument can be re-affirmed by the statement made by the President George Bush during a news conference in Washington on March 14, 1990 on a question of the recognition of Lithuania:
"... we want to see the evolution of the control of the territory there.
In some scholarly literature, it is stated that the United States together with other Western countries continuously supported the independence of Lithuania: "the Lithuanian cause was significantly supported by the policy of some nations, the United States in particular, of non-recognition of Lithuania's incorporation into the Soviet Union." (A. Dundzila, 1990). However, the majority of scholars acknowledge the fact that US among other countries did not made attempts to recognize the independence of Lithuania immediately: ''While most Western countries continued to extend dejure recognition to the three states, they also accepted de facto control over these territories by the USSR and, accordingly, most Western countries did not have diplomatic relations with the Baltic states." (Rich, 1993); "Worldwide recognition of Lithuania as an international legal and political actor did not come immediately." (Vitkus, 1996); "Rather than encouraging the devolution of power from Moscow to Vilnius, American efforts appeared to be geared toward maintaining the Soviet system." (Gvosdev, 1995).
Reaction of the USSR
The leadership of the USSR reacted to the re-establishment of the Lithuanian State with extreme antagonism. On March 15, adopted a resolution "Concerning the Decisions of March 10-12, 1990 Adopted by the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR". It pronounced the act declaring Lithuania's independence ""null and void”. Following the resolution, President Gorbachev issued an ultimatum demanding that
“the sovereignty of the USSR be re-established on the territory of Lithuania and that the country abide by the provisions of the Soviet constitution. ”
Following the strong language of both the resolution and ultimatum, which clearly neglected the legality of the Act of Independence, it was clear that the USSR government would start applying political and economic pressure. Beginning with March 13, 1990 the USSR started applying political and social sanctions against Lithuania. From April until June 1990, it imposed an economic blockade. Later, in order to break the will of the Lithuanian people, the government of the USSR began open military aggression.

Reaction of the West
Suspension of Independence
On April 26 President Francois Mitterand of France and Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany sent a letter to Lithuania's President Vytautas Landsbergis. Both leaders said in their letter: "to facilitate the opening of the talks, it would be helpful if the effects of the decisions taken by your Parliament were suspended for a while." The leaders added that the documents adopted by the Lithuanian parliament "would lose none of their validity." In that way, President Mitterand and Chancellor Kohl expressed their willingness to make efforts toward a solution of the Vilnius-Moscow conflict.

Response to the Letter
President Landsbergis promised to carefully study a French-German proposal. The letter from Western leaders was called
"a step forward toward realization of Lithuanian independence."

Pressure on President Bush
On April 27 nine senators attacked sharply President Bush's policy of seeking to maintain good relations with U.S.S.R. during the Lithuanian crisis.

"This is a sellout of freedom, and, to be quite frank, it is sickening. It is unacceptable for the U.S. to enter into a favorable trade agreement with the Soviet Union while it crushes Lithuanian freedom under a jackbook.” - Senator’s Alfonse D'Amato, of New York, speech at the Congress.

"I am appalled at the lack of sensitivity by the White House towards the Lithuanian people as they desperately struggle to reassert independence. To announce an agreement liberalizing trade with the Soviets, two days after the President revealed he would assess no penalty against the Soviets for their bullying of Lithuania is callous and unfeeling in the extreme.” - said Senator’s Gordon J. Humphrey, of New Hampshire., speech at the Congress.

Although the USSR government continued to put pressure and insisted on suspension of declaration as a condition to start negotiations, but the Lithuanian Parliament rejected demand to suspend Lithuania's declaration of independence.
However, as during the US - USSR Summit the trade agreement between the US and USSR was signed, on June 29 the Parliament decided to put a moratorium on its declaration of independence for one hundred days.
The reason is that suspension of independence was the only way to open negotiations with Moscow, as the Lithuanian government did not receive any support from the West, and the country was under economic and political pressure from Moscow.
Soon afterwards, Moscow ended the economic blockade and even showed some interest in the negotiatons.

However, Moscow’s stance became tougher and tougher. The situation reached its critical point when the government of the USSR began open military aggression on peaceful demonstrators on January 13, 1991.

Unarmed Lithuanian citizens, encircling the strategically important objects including the Parliament buildings, guarded them day and night expecting to avoid aggression. In front of the Parliament buildings barricades were set up. Moreover, using brutal force against the unarmed population, Soviet troops stormed the state television and radio buildings in Vilnius

Beginning of International Recognition
Provocative actions of the Soviets lasted until August 21, 1991, when the communist putsch in Moscow failed. After the failure of the putsch, Lithuania became fully independent of the USSR.

Iceland was the very first country to acknowledge Lithuania’s independence that happened on February 11, 1991. Then recognition of Lithuania’s independence was quickly followed by several countries including Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Canada, Poland, Malta, San Marino, Portugal, Romania, Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia.
Recognition of Independence by the USSR
On 6 September 1992, the USSR recognized the Independence of Lithuania.

"We have recognized their independence, and those republics are now separate from the Soviet Union,"

Soviet Foreign Minister Boris N. Pankin said at a Moscow news conference.

On 8 September 1992, a treaty was signed with Russia in Moscow in which it was agreed that Russian troops would be pulled out from the territory of Lithuania by August 31, 1993.
Recognition of Independence by the US
On September 2, 1991, President Bush announces the official state recognition of Lithuania in a press conference.
Primary sources:
Act on the re-establishment of the State of Lithuania, Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Review 4 (1999), available at: http://www.lfpr.lt
Resolution "Concerning the Decisions of March 10-12, 1990 Adopted by the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR"
News conference of Soviet Foreign Minister Boris N. Pankin, 6 September, 1991.
Statement by the The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 11 March 1990.
Announcement of the official state recognition of the Baltic states by President George H.W. Bush in a press conference, 2 September, 1991.
News Conference by the President George H. W. Bush in Washington on March 14, 1990.
Rich, R. (1993) "Recognition of States: The Collapse of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union", European Journal of International Law, Vol. 4 No. 1
Dundzila, A. (1990) "For Independence" Lithuanian Quaterly Journal Of Arts and Sciences, Volume 36, No.2.
Vitkus, G. (1996)
"Lithuanian-Russian Relations in 1990- 1995. A Study of Lithuanian Foreign Policy"
The European Integration Studies Centre
Gvosdev, N. (1995) "The Formulation of an American Response to Lithuanian Independence, 1990"
East European Quarterly
, Vol. 29, No. 1 , Spring
Scholarly literature:
Full transcript