The three Baltic parliaments, meeting Saturday in their first joint session in history, asked Soviet troops to leave their region and protested the Kremlin's efforts to block their quest for independence.
The 265 lawmakers, who assembled in the Lithuanian capital, also appealed for the West to include them in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Two weeks ago, Baltic representatives were excluded from the group's Paris summit that was widely hailed as the formal end of the Cold War."The occupation of the Baltic states is the last vestige of World War II," Estonian President Arnold Ruutel said in a keynote speech Saturday.
The address set the tone of the session: harmony among the Baltic republics and what Ruutel called "refusal to submit to the will of the empire."
The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 1940 and annexed them after World War II. The United States and most other Western nations have not recognized the annexation, but they also have not recognized the independence declarations passed by Baltic parliaments earlier this year.
Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis said he will seek further Western recognition by traveling to Canada and the United States, where he is scheduled to meet with President Bush on Dec. 10.
Landsbergis and the other leaders rejected a decree issued by Gorbachev on Saturday annulling the republics' legislation concerning Soviet troops on their territory.
The only note of disharmony in the daylong session was a walkout by 27 lawmakers, mostly Russians, from Estonia and Latvia. They were protesting the declarations passed by the session and the rejection of their proposed resolution on human rights.
"These actions have no juridical basis and are nothing more than the beginning of an open political confrontation with the president of the Soviet Union, undercutting his ability to secure a new Union Treaty of sovereign governments and to build a common European home," said Estonian delegate Vladimir S. Malkovski, a leader of those who walked out.