On Thursday, 23 July, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Saeima issued a statement, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Sumner Welles Declaration. The declaration, issued by Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles on 23 July 1940, was an exceptional sign of our shared commitment to freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, condemning the forced incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union. The Declaration served as the foundation of the United States’ five decade long non-recognition policy of the Soviet annexation and occupation of the Baltic States, as set out in the statement.
According to the statement, the Welles Declaration set out an international framework for the existence of Latvia de jure throughout the entire period of Soviet occupation and for the following restoration of the statehood of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1991. From 1940 until the full restoration of the Baltic countries’ independence half a century later, the flags of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania continued to fly in Washington, and, as underscored in the statement, our peoples continued to believe in a future in which liberty would be returned and sovereignty restored.
“Today, the Welles Declaration is a topical and important reminder of the need to uphold the principles of international law, which prompts us to oppose any acts of violence, whether they are carried out by force or by the threat of force. The principles of democracy, security, and territorial integrity is something that we shared back in 1940 just as today, and it is our duty to consistently oppose any aggression, refusing to recognise the unlawful annexation of territories taken by force,” says Rihards Kols, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Saeima.
The statement also mentions the United States’ Crimea Declaration of 25 July 2018, which emphasises the United States’ policy of refusal to recognise illegal annexation of territories seized by force. This stance is highly appreciated and fully supported by Latvia, says Kols.
In the statement, the Foreign Affairs Committee also points out that, on the 80th anniversary of the Sumner Welles Declaration, we celebrate independence and pay tribute to the sacrifices made to ensure it.
The statement expresses appreciation for the United States’ significant contribution and invaluable role in strengthening security in Latvia and Europe as a whole. Latvia is proud to be among those NATO member states that commit at least 2 % of their GDP to defence spending, so that, along with our partners, we can fulfil the shared vision of a Europe peaceful, united and free.
Saeima Press Service