Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back from the Baltics

Suomilinnen churchNow busy recovering from the last ten days in Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, Parnu, Tallinn and Helsinki. All fascinating places to visit, with some similarities (medieval town centres, dumpling-dominated cuisine) but many differences. Helsinki prices were probably a good transition back to London!

Amazing to think everywhere except Finland was behind the Iron Curtain until only 15 years ago, and yet today these countries are all flourishing as emerging market economies. Estonia in particular has raced ahead since its liberation from the Soviet Union.

Former prime minister Mart Laar thinks that a commission of inquiry is still needed into the massive crimes committed against the Baltic peoples by the USSR. After seeing the twin horrors of the Nazi and Soviet regimes in Latvia, I unfortunately did not have any remaining emotional energy for visits to its sister museums of occupation.

The Allies may have had little choice, but it is still shaming to think that they abandoned eastern Europe to almost 50 years of tyranny at the end of the Second World War. As Churchill acknowledged in 1946: "this is certainly not the Liberated Europe we fought to build".

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