Does the Road from Prague to Stockholm Go Through Vilnius?



Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry announced on 14 December 2010 that it was the initiator of a new demand from six East European countries ― Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania  — to Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, that Double Genocide sentiments, and support for effective  criminalization of  the view that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, be incorporated in the new Stockholm Programme before the end of 2010. Less than a week earlier, Lithuania’s president took the same demand with her to a meeting in Brussels.

In the spirit of the Prague Declaration, the letter demanded legal equalization on the grounds that ‘the denial of every international crime should be treated according to the same standards’. Moving from ‘Prague’ to ‘Stockholm’, the demand was still for Nazism and Communism to be regarded in all Europe as a ‘common heritage’.

Also in the spirit of the Prague Declaration, the initiative had been proceeding ‘under the radar’, little noticed by the West, with a little-noticed pre-Christmas joint letter.

There have been reports on Alfa.lt,  Dwworld,  Eubisiness.com,  Euobserver,  Euro.lt,  Isria.com,  Romea.cz, and in this journal.

The letter’s initiator, Lithuanian foreign minister Audronius Ažubalis, has still not apologized for his antisemitic statement in October, accusing Jews of secretly being behind parliamentary efforts to reform citizenship laws. The Jewish Community of Lithuania and the Simon Wiesenthal Center responded rapidly. Lithuania’s parliament in 2010 effectively criminalized the view that Nazi and Soviet crimes do not equally constitute genocide. A member of parliament from the ruling party took out the permit for a neo-Nazi march.


UPDATE OF 21 DECEMBER 2010:

European Commission Says ‘NO’

On this occasion, the rejection by the European Commission was swift. It was first reported on 21 December 2010, in the Guardian, and then widely: BBCEurActiv.com;EuropaLibera.orgJewish ChronicleGlobal Legal Monitor (Law Library of Congress); Publico;  RiaNovosti;  Romania LiberaWall Street Journal, etc.

There were rapid reactions to the rejection of the proposal from the six East European foreign ministers, from the Lithuanian Justice and Foreign Ministers, and  — from theSimon Wiesenthal Center.

European Commission sources speaking off the record have pointed to the January 2010 Montero Report which documented Europe’s diversity on commemoration of totalitarian regimes. In the last days of 2010, the European Commission released its own reply on the subject, dated 22 December, delicately following the Montero Report in turning down the proposals from the group of eastern states on the grounds of there not being ‘a one size fits all’ solution here, as Eurospeak puts it, rather than on substantive ethical or historical grounds.

But the EU’s Justice spokesman Matthew Newman was more direct, telling the  Guardian: ‘The bottom line is, obviously, what they did was horrendous, but communist regimes did not target ethnic minorities.’

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