Estonia denies plan to honour Nazi veterans

Estonia nazi.jpg

Estonia rejects accusations that it plans to honour Estonians who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II as "freedom fighters", as reported by various European media, EURACTIV has learned.

“Estonian government can guarantee, that nobody would be honoured in Estonia for fighting in nazi uniform or belonging to Waffen-SS”, a government spokesperson told EURACTIV.

Last December, the Delfi news website in Estonia reported that the Defence Ministry wants Parliament to consider a bill that would recognise World War II fighters against Soviet troops as Estonian freedom fighters. Attempts to pass such legislation failed in 2006 and in 2010.

Various media, including the UK Daily Mail and Germany’s Tageszeitung, carried this information.

"To cover crimes, committed by Estonian Nazi collaborators, to call their activities "a struggle for national liberation", to justify and glorify them trough law is blasphemous and unacceptable," the Russian Embassy in Tallinn said in a statement.

In fact, such a draft does not exist, there is only a plan according to the coalition agreement of the Government to prepare a draft resolution to recognise people who have fought to restore the independence of Estonia, government sources from Tallinn told EURACTIV.

Estonia’s Ministry of Defence stresses that neither the Ministry nor the government of Estonia "have drawn up nor will draw up a bill that would label somebody a freedom fighter based on the uniform he wore".

"It is true that the Government of the Republic has, in its work schedule, given the Ministry of Defence the assignment of preparing a draft resolution to recognise people who have fought to restore the independence of Estonia," the Ministry writes further.

“The fight against Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes was also a part of the Estonian fight for freedom and the decision of the government to honour the struggle for the restoration of Estonian independence is a natural and unequivocal choice,” the Ministry states.

A number of EU member states of the European Union such as the Czech Republic have approved similar bills to honour their resistance fighters, Tallinn argues further.

The exact wording of the bill is expected to be drafted by spring of this year.

Following the publication of this article, the Estonian Permanent Representation to the EU sent a position paper by the country's Ministry of Defence, which stresses that neither the Ministry nor the government of Estonia "have drawn up nor will draw up a bill that would label somebody a freedom fighter based on the uniform he wore".

"It is true that the Government of the Republic has, in its work schedule, given the Ministry of Defence the assignment of preparing a draft resolution to recognise people who have fought to restore the independence of Estonia," the Ministry writes further.

In its letter, the spokesperson of Estonian Permanent Representation advises that coverage from Delfi should be used carefully.

 

In 1939 the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the secret protocols of which divided Central and Eastern Europe into respective spheres of influence. The same year Germany launched the Second World War with its attack on Poland and the Soviet Union started to fulfil its role by invading Poland from the east, at the same time concentrating large forces on the borders of the three Baltic States and Finland. The Soviet Union occupied Estonia along with Latvia and Lithuania in 1940.

The Soviet occupation was followed by Estonia’s occupation by Nazi Germany in July 1941. In September 1944 Estonia was again occupied by the Soviet Union. Estonia regained its independence in 1991. For the most part Estonians were forcedly mobilised by the totalitarian regimes that occupied Estonia what is against international law.

 

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