What remains of the Baltic Way 30 years on?
On the evening of August 23, 1989, roughly two million Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians formed a human chain more than 600 kilometres long that stretched from Tallinn across Riga to Vilnius. Fifty years after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact people in the three states stood side by side in pursuit of freedom and independence in one of the biggest non-violent protests the world has ever seen: the Baltic Way.
A unique sense of unity
The three countries are acting less as a team today, comments Mečys Laurinkus, a witness of the events and active campaigner for the Baltic Way:
“The Baltic Way is a product of Estonia's, Latvia's and Lithuania's joint fight for freedom. A 'copyright' of the three states. And it can hardly be repeated. The decisive component of the Baltic Way was a common sense of unity. How are you supposed to replicate that? ... In the extreme case of a war against a joint enemy we would certainly stand together. But in all other cases, even when they're important, each will pursue their own interests.”
We can feel like adults now
The Baltic states should finally set aside their sense of inferiority, writes Diena:
“The Baltic Way is a symbol of the return of the Baltic states to Europe. ... Have we finally realised that Europe is here and not somewhere far away? ... This is about different living standards, and they are still substantial. In these past 30 years we have climbed out of a deep pit, we can afford much more than before, but the others didn't come to a standstill either. So the gap is still considerable. This is why we must talk about our self-confidence. We have achieved freedom, we have returned to Europe, and now we feel confused. But 30 years have passed - isn't it time we started feeling like adults?”
Luckily Facebook didn't exist back then
Eesti Päevaleht wonders whether it would be possible to stage such a huge demonstration today:
“If Facebook had existed 30 years ago we'd still be living in the Soviet Union. Because slacktivism stifles freedom. If two million Balts had been able to log on to Facebook back in August 1989, how many would have actually come out and taken part in the Chain of Freedom? ... When political developments took an unexpected turn after the elections in March, it seemed unfair to many Estonians. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter comments were full of indignation and asked: 'Where's the protest?' ... Has the digital success story robbed us of our courage and freedom?”