(This article is also available in Catalan)
On May the first I start walking from the Pikk Hermann tower in Tallinn with the aim of arriving, if my legs and feet do not fail me, at the Gediminas Tower in Vilnius, going through Riga and past its central Freedom Monument on the way. I am doing this, mainly, for everything that I admire about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
I have just finished my work as a project manager of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, where, along with other colleagues, we have spent years explaining to the European public opinion the reasons why Catalonia wanted to organize a referendum on self-determination. It is in this context that, over these last few years, I have met many Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian citizens. In my conversations with them, we saw there were a few particular similarities between the history of the Baltic republics and the political situation in Catalonia, and it is thanks to these conversations that I learned a lot from their history – especially their most recent history.
There are many aspects of their determination to exist as a people which I admire, but as a Catalan that participated in the Catalan Way in 2013 there is one that I find particularly interesting, and it is the great human chain of almost 700 kilometres organized in 1989, whilst they were still living in the Soviet era and without internet or mobile phones. Three nations holding hands together, but alone in front of the rest of the world, overcoming fear and with very few technological resources; coming together for a common desire for freedom, generating a huge sentimental value for the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, which is still alive and well today.
I am walking the Baltic Way, one year before the 30th anniversary of this milestone and during the centenary year of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian declarations of independence, to appreciate the magnitude of that feat on the ground and to learn more about these three countries. I am walking the Baltic Way to learn about the imprint on our current days of the singing revolution and the partisans who hid in the woods to fight against the USSR, to live close-up and experience the digitalization of Estonia far away from the capital city, to find out as much as possible about the work they carry out creating attractive cities while maintaining a way of life close to nature, to discover what the new Skype will be, to inspire myself with their commitment to democracy, anti-totalitarianism and the committed defence of their freedom and identity, while, at the same time, keeping their doors open to a global world. Surely there are many more other interesting aspects unknown to me at the moment which I hope to learn about closely, aspects that would not be possible without the longing for freedom inherent in the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians. I want to get to know all this and I want to explain it, in Catalan and in English, both while walking the Baltic Way through social media, and later in a format that I have not decided on yet. Their message deserves to be heard and read, all over Europe.
I have not come to the Baltic area to talk about what is happening now in Catalonia, it is not the purpose of my trip. I have come to learn and to explain to the world the message of freedom from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania coming from the voices that I meet along the way. Having said that, I will be happy to talk about Catalonia with anyone who asks me, of course.
I would like to speak with Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian citizens, men and women, of all ages and social conditions, living either in villages or cities, to discover the soul of your countries and learn about the Baltic ways towards freedom. If you live close to the 1989 Baltic Way, you can contact me via Twitter or through the contact form on this website. I’m sure you have interesting stories to tell.
In addition to that, by making a quick search on Google, it seems that the 1989 Baltic Way has only been walked by two people so far; the Brit, Ben Nimmo, in 2004, taking 5 weeks, and the Latvian, Aivars Noviks-Grasis, who did it running in 2014 in just 2 weeks. If anyone knows about someone else, please let me know.
I am starting in Estonia, as a personal recognition to the Catalonia support group in the Riigikogu, the Parliament of the northernmost of the three countries, with a special thought for the Estonian MP Andres Ammas, who recently passed away, and was a member of this group.
For you, Andres, wherever you are, and for all the other people from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that I have been lucky to meet.
And for freedom. Vabaduse eest. Par brīvību. Už laisvę