Welles Declaration 80th Anniversary

On the 80th anniversary of the Welles Declaration, the foreign ministers of the United States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania issued a joint statement reaffirming their opposition to Russia’s attempts to rewrite history.

On July 23, 1940, Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles issued a statement which said the United States of America condemned the 1940 Soviet occupation of the Baltic states and refused to recognize the new Soviet governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

The declaration has since become known as the Welles declaration.

In a joint statement on the historic anniversary, Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius and the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized their continuing cooperation and said the countries are working together to safeguard peace and stability through NATO.

“We stand firmly against any attempts by Russia to rewrite history in order to justify the 1940 occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union. The Welles Declaration shows that already in 1940 the free world recognized the Soviet action for what it was – an illegal act of forceful annexation,” the statement states.

Minister Reinsalu said this is a significant example of the long-term close relations between Estonia and the United States and sends a strong message at a time when Russia continues to make systematic attempts to distort history.

“The United States pursued the most consistent policy of non-recognition of the occupation and annexation of Estonia,” said Reinsalu.

“Due to the fact that the USA and several other Western countries did not recognize the occupation of Estonia, our embassies were able to continue operating in the free world. On this important anniversary, we also recognize the Estonian diplomats who stood then, and now stand for, the statehood and sovereignty of the Republic of Estonia.”