President Bush urged the Soviet Union Friday to pursue "constructive negotiations" with the elected representatives of the Lithuanian people and "eschew the use of further intimidation and violence" in the Baltic states.
Bush made the statement in a proclamation designating Saturday as "Lithuanian Independence Day" and urged the Soviet Union not to interfere in the Lithuanian independence movement.The president noted that the United States "has never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania and the other Baltic states into the Soviet Union and has consistently supported the Baltic people's right to determine and control their own future."
"On this 73rd anniversary of Lithuanian independence, we reaffirm our support for the just aspirations of the Lithuanian people," he said.
"Their current struggle to assert their legitimate rights through the peaceful efforts of democratically elected representatives compels our sympathy and support," Bush added.
Bush said the Lithuanian people used "the democratic process in what they hoped would be a peaceful, disciplined effort to gain recognition of their right to independence."
"Soviet authorities responded with the use of force," he said, "killing 20 people and injuring hundreds of others.
"The United States has condemned as inexcusable that action against a peaceful and democratically elected government," he said, "and we have called on the elected representatives of the Lithuanian people who have expressed their will overwhelmingly through the nationwide referendum of Feb. 9."