HC Deb 29 January 1991 vol 184 cc788-9
Q2. Mr. Hunter

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a further statement on the Soviet Union's handling of the Baltic states and their bid for independence.

The Prime Minister

We have made our concern known very clearly to the Soviet authorities, in particular about the actions of Soviet troops in Vilnius and Riga and their tragic consequences. We believe that the Soviet authorities should withdraw their troops and negotiate with the elected authorities in the Baltic states on their aspirations.

Mr. Hunter

In the light of the Soviet Union's oppressive policies in the Baltic states, will my right hon. Friend confirm that one of the factors that will determine future United Kingdom aid will be the Soviet Union's acknowledgement of the Baltic states people's right to self-determination?

The Prime Minister

We have always supported the right of the people of the Baltic states to decide their future status through negotiation with the Soviet Union. That will continue to guide our policy in the future.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing

Is the Prime Minister aware that President Landsbergis will host a conference entitled "a free Lithuania in Europe" between 7 and 16 February in Vilnius and that, concurrent with that, he will conduct a national poll to establish changes within the constitution of the state of Lithuania? Does the Prime Minister agree that such a conference would be an ideal opportunity for an all-party delegation from the House to visit the Baltic states to see what is happening? Will the Prime Minister consider such a delegation?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her suggestion. That is a matter for hon. Members, not for me.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my right hon. Friend make it perfectly plain to the Soviet authorities that aid to the USSR as a unitary state is conditional on the maintenance of human rights and democratic freedoms within the constituent republics as they now are?

The Prime Minister

I have previously done that, as my hon. Friend will know. I must add that, over the past few years, we have invested a great deal of time and effort, as has the United States, in improving the relationship and atmosphere with the Soviet Union. I hope that we can suspend judgment on some activities until we have further information. What appears to be happening in Vilnius and Riga is quite unacceptable, but I hope that we can suspend judgment until we see matters more clearly. Yet again, we make it clear to the Soviet Union that our support for Mr. Gorbachev is support for him and his reforms, not for repression.

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