UPDATED: Baltic states: please stop calling us «former Soviet» countries

Take note – story published 7 years and 4 months ago

The ambassadors of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have written to German media asking them to discontinue the routine practice of referring to the three independent, democratic republics as "former Soviet" countries.

The Facebook page of Latvia's embassy in Germany confirms that the ambassador in Germany, Elita Kuzma has signed a letter to news outlet Die Zeit following a recent report, along with her counterparts from Estonia and Lithuania. 

The letter says it is historically and legally inaccurate to refer to the three countries as successor states to the Soviet Union. All three countries were independent from 1918 until 1940 and were then occupied for half a century before regaining their freedom in 1991.

"The Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian ambassadors have sent a joint letter to Die Zeit's online version, asking for the Baltic States not to be called successor states of the Soviet Union because it is not consistent with historical truth and is contrary to international law," accompanying text says.

The letter was sent in the former Prussian capital, Berlin.

You can read the full text (in German) HERE.

It is worth noting that one the series of articles under the banner "The Legacy of the Soviet Union" to which the ambassadors draw the attention of the Die Zeit editors was actually written by Sergejs Potapkins - a member of the Latvian parliament with the opposition Harmony party and a member of the Saeima's Foreign Affairs committee. His contribution does however note that independence was "regained" in 1991.

Germany, which was unified under Bismarck in 1871 from a variety of smaller states and principalities, is not alone in having parts of its media routinely referring to the Baltic states as "ex-Soviet" or "former Soviet".

News outlets in the former Roman and Norman colony of Great Britain, the former Carolingian territories of the Holy Roman Empire and former Grand Monarchy of France, and the former British and French colonies in North America have also been known to do the same thing.

Curiously the tendency is less prevalent in the former Warsaw Pact countries and even in the former Tsarist Empire and former dominions of the Golden Horde to the east of Latvia.

See, it does get a bit silly after a while.

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