November 18, 1983

Today, November 18, 1983, as Americans of Latvian heritage commemorate the 65th anniversary of the declaration of independence of the Baltic Republic of Latvia, the new Baltic States Service of Radio Liberty will begin its inaugural broadcast to the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The Baltic States Service unites the formerly separate Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian services of Radio Liberty.

Latvian Independence Day is a timely and fitting occasion to begin the operations of the new Baltic States Service division. Latvia, along with her neighbors Estonia and Lithuania, were invaded by Soviet forces in 1940 and still remain under the yoke of Soviet oppression. One of the most insidious forms of oppression continues to be the denial of freedom of speech and access to information.

The people of the three Baltic Republics look to the United States international broadcasting services as their informational lifeline. Radio Liberty, an integral part of the international broadcast network, serves as a surrogate press, providing current information on events which the Government of the Soviet Union has censored and prohibited for use by the media.

The establishment of the Baltic radio division reaffirms United States policy of not recognizing the forcible and unlawful incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the Soviet Union. The new call signal, ``the Baltic States Service of Radio Liberty,'' will reinforce the distinct identities of the Baltic States and separate them from the rest of the Soviet Union.

By uniting the three Baltic services of Radio Liberty, we have enhanced their administrative operations and increased the political and psychological impact of the broadcasts on its listeners. We will continue seeking methods to improve our broadcasts to ensure that the right to know for the Baltic peoples is not blocked by Communist oppressors.

As we note Latvian Independence Day and the establishment of the Baltic States Service, this administration reaffirms its resolve to maintain our commitments to the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in their struggle to regain freedom and self-determination.

Note: On the same day, the White House announced that Radio Liberty would broadcast the President's statement from Munich, Federal Republic of Germany, to the Baltic States and the Soviet Union on November 18.