[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 130 (Thursday, July 23, 2020)]
[Page H3697]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                              {time}  0915

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Shimkus) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, in 1939, Hitler's Nazi Germany and Stalin's 
Communist Soviet Union signed a secret agreement to invade and create 
spheres of influence. The Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement allowed Hitler 
to invade the free and sovereign country of Poland, while the Soviet 
Union invaded the free and sovereign countries of Estonia, Latvia, and 
  Eighty years ago today the United States responded with the Welles 
Declaration. Let me read it.
  ``Department of State, July 23, 1940, Statement by the Acting 
Secretary of State, the Honorable Sumner Welles.
  ``During these past few days the devious processes whereunder the 
political independence and territorial integrity of the three small 
Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, were to be 
deliberately annihilated by one of their more powerful neighbors, have 
been rapidly drawing to their conclusion.
  ``From the day when the people of these republics first gained their 
independent and democratic form of government the people of the United 
States have watched their admirable progress and self-government with 
deep and sympathetic interest.
  ``The policy of this Government is universally known. The people of 
the United States are opposed to predatory activities no matter whether 
they are carried on by the use of force or by the threat of force. They 
are likewise opposed to any form of intervention on the part of one 
state, however powerful, in the domestic concerns of any other 
sovereign state, however weak.
  ``These principles constitute the very foundations upon which the 
existing relationship between the 21 sovereign republics of the New 
World rests.
  ``The United States will continue to stand by these principles, 
because of the conviction of the American people that unless the 
doctrine in which these principles are inherent once again governs the 
relations between nations, the rule of reason, of justice and of law--
in other words, the basis of modern civilization itself--cannot be 
  Mr. Speaker, this declaration here refused to recognize the Soviet 
annexation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. This nonrecognition 
lasted 5 decades.
  This declaration enabled the Baltic States to maintain free, 
diplomatic missions. And with this declaration, Executive Order 8484 
protected Baltic financial assets.
  Today, the United States joins Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 
remembering this declaration and recommitting ourselves to peace, 
democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.
  Subsequently, their entrance into NATO and the European Union assures 
them of being part of the family of western democracies.