The Nordic Council is the official body for formal inter-parliamentary co-operation among the Nordic countries. Formed in 1952, it has 87 representatives from Denmark, Iceland and Sweden as well as from the autonomous areas of the Faroe Islands and the Åland Islands; the representatives are members of parliament in their respective countries or areas and are elected by those parliaments. The Council holds ordinary sessions each year in October/November and one extra session per year with a specific theme. In 1971, the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental forum, was established to complement the Council; the official and working languages of both the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers are Danish and Swedish, which comprise the first language of around 80% of the region's population and learned as a foreign language by the remaining 20%. The Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers are involved in various forms of cooperation with neighbouring areas, amongst them being the Baltic Assembly and the Benelux, as well as Russia and Schleswig-Holstein.
During World War II, Denmark and Norway were occupied by Germany. Following the war, the Nordic countries pursued the idea of a Scandinavian defence union to ensure their mutual defence. However, due to its Paasikivi-Kekkonen policy of neutrality and FCMA treaty with the USSR, could not participate, it was proposed that the Nordic countries would unify their foreign policy and defence, remain neutral in the event of a conflict and not ally with NATO, which some were planning at the time. The United States, keen on getting access to bases in Scandinavia and believing the Nordic countries incapable of defending themselves, stated it would not ensure military support for Scandinavia if they did not join NATO; as Denmark and Norway sought US aid for their post-war reconstruction, the project collapsed, with Denmark and Iceland joining NATO. Further Nordic co-operation, such as an economic customs union failed; this led Danish Prime Minister Hans Hedtoft to propose, in 1951, a consultative inter-parliamentary body.
This proposal was agreed by Denmark, Iceland and Sweden in 1952. The Council's first session was held in the Danish Parliament on 13 February 1953 and it elected Hans Hedtoft as its president; when Finnish-Soviet relations thawed following the death of Joseph Stalin, Finland joined the council in 1955. On 2 July 1954, the Nordic labour market was created and in 1958, building upon a 1952 passport-free travel area, the Nordic Passport Union was created; these two measures helped ensure Nordic citizens' free movement around the area. A Nordic Convention on Social Security was implemented in 1955. There were plans for a single market but they were abandoned in 1959 shortly before Denmark and Sweden joined the European Free Trade Area. Finland became an associated member of EFTA in 1961 and Denmark and Norway applied to join the European Economic Community; this move towards the EEC led to desire for a formal Nordic treaty. The Treaty of Helsinki outlined the workings of the Council and came into force on 24 March 1962.
Further advancements on Nordic cooperation were made in the following years: a Nordic School of Public Health, a Nordic Cultural Fund, Nordic House in Reykjavík were created. Danish Prime Minister Hilmar Baunsgaard proposed full economic cooperation in 1968. Nordek was agreed in 1970, but Finland backtracked, stating that its ties with the Soviet Union meant it could not form close economic ties with potential members of the EEC. Nordek was abandoned; as a consequence and Norway applied to join the EEC and the Nordic Council of Ministers was set up in 1971 to ensure continued Nordic cooperation. In 1970 representatives of the Faroe Islands and Åland were allowed to take part in the Nordic Council as part of the Danish and Finnish delegations. Norway turned down EEC membership in 1972 while Denmark acted as a bridge builder between the EEC and the Nordics. In 1973, although it did not opt for full membership of the EEC, Finland negotiated a free trade treaty with the EEC that in practice removed customs duties from 1977 on, although there were transition periods up to 1985 for some products.
Sweden did not apply due to its non-alliance policy, aimed at preserving neutrality. Greenland subsequently has since sought a more active role in circumpolar affairs. In the 1970s, the Nordic Council founded the Nordic Industrial Fund and the Nordic Investment Bank; the Council's remit was expanded to include environmental protection and, in order to clean up the pollution in the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic, a joint energy network was established. The Nordic Science Policy Council was set up in 1983 and, in 1984, representatives from Greenland were allowed to join the Danish delegation. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Nordic Council began to cooperate more with the Baltic states and new Baltic Sea organisations. Sweden and Finland joined the European Union, the EEC's successor, in 1995. Norway had applied, but once again voted against membership; however and Iceland did join the European Economic Area which integrated them economically with the EU. The Nordic Passport Union was subsumed into the EU's Schengen Area in 1996.
The Nordic Council became more outward-looking, to the Arctic, Baltic and Canada. The Øresund Bridge linking Sweden and Denmark led to a large amount of cross-border travel, which in turn led to further efforts to reduce barriers. However, the envisioned tasks and functions of the Nordic Council have be
The Schengen Area is an area comprising 26 European states that have abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy; the area is named after the 1985 Schengen Agreement. 22 of the 28 EU member states participate in the Schengen Area. Of the six EU members that are not part of the Schengen Area, four—Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania—are obliged to join the area, while the other two—Ireland and the United Kingdom—maintain opt-outs; the four European Free Trade Association member states, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, are not members of the EU, but have signed agreements in association with the Schengen Agreement. Three European microstates—Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican City—are de facto part of the Schengen Area; the Schengen Area has a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square kilometres. About 1.7 million people commute to work across a European border each day, in some regions these people constitute up to a third of the workforce.
Each year, there are 1.3 billion crossings of Schengen borders in total. 57 million crossings are due to transport of goods with a value of € 2.8 trillion each year. The decrease in the cost of trade due to Schengen varies from 0.42% to 1.59% depending on geography, trade partners, other factors. Countries outside of the Schengen area benefit. States in the Schengen Area have strengthened border controls with non-Schengen countries; the Schengen Agreement was signed on 14 June 1985 by five of the ten EEC member states in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg. The Schengen Area was established separately from the European Economic Community, when consensus could not be reached among all EC member states on the abolition of border controls; the Agreement was supplemented in 1990 by the Schengen Convention, which proposed the abolition of internal border controls and a common visa policy. The Agreements and the rules adopted under them were separate from the EC structures, led to the creation of the Schengen Area on 26 March 1995.
As more EU member states signed the Schengen Agreement, consensus was reached on absorbing it into the procedures of the EU. The Agreement and its related conventions were incorporated into the mainstream of European Union law by the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, which came into effect in 1999. A consequence of the Agreement being part of European law is that any amendment or regulation is made within its processes, in which the non-EU members are not participants; the UK and Ireland have maintained a Common Travel Area since 1923, but the UK could not accept abolishing border controls and was, granted a full opt-out from the area. While not signing the Schengen Treaty, Ireland has always looked more favourably on joining but has not done so to maintain the CTA and its open border with Northern Ireland; the Nordic members required Norway and Iceland to be included, accepted, so a consensus could be reached. The Schengen Area consists of 26 states, including four. Two of the non-EU members and Norway, are part of the Nordic Passport Union and are classified as'states associated with the Schengen activities of the EU'.
Switzerland was allowed to participate in the same manner in 2008. Liechtenstein joined the Schengen Area on 19 December 2011. De facto, the Schengen Area includes three European micro-states – Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City – that maintain open or semi-open borders with other Schengen member countries. Two EU members – Ireland and the United Kingdom – negotiated opt-outs from Schengen and continue to operate the Common Travel Area systematic border controls with other EU member states; the remaining four EU member states – Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania – are obliged to join the Schengen Area. However, before implementing the Schengen rules, each state must have its preparedness assessed in four areas: air borders, police cooperation, personal data protection; this evaluation process involves a questionnaire and visits by EU experts to selected institutions and workplaces in the country under assessment. The only land borders with border controls between EU/EEA members, are those of Bulgaria and Romania, the one at Gibraltar and those at the Channel Tunnel.
States which are not members of the Schengen Area but still have open borders with the area: Notes Although Cyprus, which joined the EU on 1 May 2004, is bound to join the Schengen Area, implementation has been delayed because of the Cyprus dispute. According to former Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Lillikas, "strict and full control based on Schengen will create a huge tribulation on a daily basis for the Turkish Cypriots" of Northern Cyprus, it is unclear if this control is possible before the resolution of the dispute; the British Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, a British Overseas Territory, outside the EU, will need "other handling and mechanisms" when/if the UK leaves the EU. Akrotiri and Dhekelia has no border control to Cyprus, but has its own border control at its air base; as of 2018 no date has been fixed for implementation of the Schengen rules by Cyprus. Cyprus has less potential benefit from an implementation of Schengen, for it has no land border with another EU member.
While Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU on 1 January 2007, are legally bound t
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian and Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of its governing Communist Party from 1985 until 1991, he was the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, he adhered to Marxism-Leninism although by the early 1990s had moved toward social democracy. Of mixed Russian and Ukrainian heritage, Gorbachev was born in Privolnoye, Stavropol Krai to a poor peasant family. Growing up under the rule of Joseph Stalin, in his youth he operated combine harvesters on a collective farm before joining the Communist Party, which governed the Soviet Union as a one-party state according to Marxist-Leninist doctrine. While studying at Moscow State University, he married fellow student Raisa Titarenko in 1953 prior to receiving his law degree in 1955.
Moving to Stavropol, he worked for the Komsomol youth organisation and, after Stalin's death, became a keen proponent of the de-Stalinization reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. He was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee in 1970, in which position he oversaw construction of the Great Stavropol Canal. In 1974 he moved to Moscow to become First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet and in 1979 became a candidate member of the party's governing Politburo. Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief regimes of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, the Politburo elected Gorbachev as General Secretary, the de facto head of government, in 1985. Although committed to preserving the Soviet state and to its socialist ideals, Gorbachev believed significant reform was necessary after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, he withdrew from the Soviet–Afghan War and embarked on summits with United States President Ronald Reagan to limit nuclear weapons and end the Cold War.
Domestically, his policy of glasnost allowed for enhanced freedom of speech and press, while his perestroika sought to decentralise economic decision making to improve efficiency. His democratisation measures and formation of the elected Congress of People's Deputies undermined the one-party state. Gorbachev declined to intervene militarily when various Eastern Bloc countries abandoned Marxist-Leninist governance in 1989-90. Internally, growing nationalist sentiment threatened to break-up the Soviet Union, leading Marxist-Leninist hardliners to launch an unsuccessful August 1991 coup against Gorbachev. Out of office, he launched his Gorbachev Foundation, became a vocal critic of Russian Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, campaigned for Russia's social-democratic movement. Considered one of the most significant figures of the second half of the 20th century, Gorbachev remains the subject of controversy; the recipient of a wide range of awards—including the Nobel Peace Prize—he was praised for his pivotal role in ending the Cold War, curtailing human rights abuses in the Soviet Union, tolerating both the fall of Marxist–Leninist administrations in eastern and central Europe and the reunification of Germany.
Conversely, in Russia he is derided for not stopping the Soviet collapse, an event which brought a decline in Russia's global influence and precipitated economic crisis. Gorbachev was born on 2 March 1931 in the village of Privolnoye, Stavropol Krai in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union. At the time, Privolnoye was divided evenly between ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians. Gorbachev's paternal family were ethnic Russians and had moved to the region from Voronezh several generations before, his parents named him Victor, but at the insistence of his mother—a devout Orthodox Christian—he had a secret baptism, where his grandfather christened him Mikhail. His relationship with his father, Sergey Andreyevich Gorbachev, was close, his parents were poor. The Soviet Union was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party, during Gorbachev's childhood was under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Stalin had initiated a project of mass rural collectivisation which, in keeping with his Marxist-Leninist ideas, he believed would help convert the country into a socialist society.
Gorbachev's maternal grandfather joined the Communist Party and helped form the village's first kolkhoz in 1929, becoming its chair. This farm was twelve miles outside Privolnoye village and when he was three years old, Gorbachev left his parental home and moved into the kolkhoz with his maternal grandparents; the country was experiencing the famine of 1932–33, in which two of Gorbachev's paternal uncles and an aunt died. This was followed by the Great Purge, in which individuals accused of being "enemies of the people"—including those sympathetic to rival interpretations of Marxism like Trotskyism—were arrested and interned in labour camps, if not executed. Both of Gorbachev's grandfathers were arrested—his maternal in 1934 and his paternal in 1937—and both spent time in Gulag labour camps prior to being released. After his December 1938 release, Gorbachev's maternal grandfather discussed having been tortured by the secret pol
The Visegrád Group, Visegrád Four, or V4 is a cultural and political alliance of four Central European states – the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, that are members of the European Union and NATO – for the purposes of advancing military, cultural and energy cooperation with one another along with furthering their integration in the EU. The Group traces its origins to the summit meetings of leaders from Czechoslovakia and Poland held in the Hungarian castle-town of Visegrád on 15 February 1991. Visegrád was chosen as the location for the 1991 meeting as an intentional allusion to the medieval Congress of Visegrád in 1335 between John I of Bohemia, Charles I of Hungary and Casimir III of Poland. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia became independent members of the group, thus increasing the number of members from three to four. All four members of the Visegrád Group joined the European Union on 1 May 2004; the name of the Group is derived, the place of meeting selected, from the 1335 Congress of Visegrád held by the Bohemian and Hungarian rulers in Visegrád.
Charles I of Hungary, Casimir III of Poland, John of Bohemia agreed to create new commercial routes to bypass the city of Vienna, a staple port, to obtain easier access to other European markets. The recognition of Czech sovereignty over the Duchy of Silesia was confirmed; the second Congress took place in 1339, where it was decided that after the death of Casimir III of Poland, the son of Charles I of Hungary, Louis I of Hungary, would become King of Poland provided that Casimir did not have a son. From the 1500s, large parts of the present-day countries became part of or were influenced by the Vienna-based Habsburg Monarchy, until after the end of World War I and the dissolution of the Habsburg-ruled Austria-Hungary. After World War II, the countries became satellite states of the Soviet Union as the Polish People's Republic, the Hungarian People's Republic and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. In 1989 came the Fall of the Berlin Wall and after the Fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, by 1990, the three Communist People's Republics ended.
In December, 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. In between, the Visegrád Group was established on 15 February 1991; the group was referred to as the Visegrád Triangle prior to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. All four nations in the Visegrád Group are high-income countries with a high Human Development Index. V4 countries have enjoyed less steady economic growth for over a century. In 2009, Slovakia adopted the euro as its official currency and is the only member in the Group to do so. If counted as a single nation state, the Visegrád Group would be the fifth largest economy in Europe and the 12th largest in the world. Based on gross domestic product per capita estimated figures for the year 2018, the most developed country in the grouping is the Czech Republic, followed by Slovakia and Hungary; the average GDP in 2018 for the entire group is estimated at around USD 32,500. Within the EU, the V4 countries are pro-nuclear power, are seeking to expand or found a nuclear power industry.
They have sought to counter what they see as an anti-nuclear power bias within the EU, believing their countries would benefit from nuclear power's zero emissions and high reliability. The economy of the Czech Republic is the group's second largest. Before the Second World War, Czechoslovakia was one of the most advanced countries in the world. However, the subsequent 41 years of socialism with communist leadership had a significant impact on the country's economy. Since the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993 the Czech Republic has transformed itself into a free market economy. Today, the Czech Republic is a industrialized country and is, according to the World Bank, one of the world's thirty most developed countries; the principal industries in the Czech Republic are machinery, chemical industry and food processing. Other major industry sectors are energy and retail; the arms and glass industry are less important, however they have a long tradition in Bohemia.
Industry accounts for 35% of the Czech economy. The Czech Republic is the second biggest producer of cars per capita; the main producers are Škoda Auto, Peugeot-Citroen and Hyundai. Other major companies include ČEZ, Škoda Works, Tatra, ArcelorMittal, PPF Pilsner Urquell Aero. Hungary has the group's third largest economy. Hungary was one of the more developed economies of the Eastern bloc. With about $18 billion in foreign direct investment since 1989, Hungary has attracted over one-third of all FDI in central and eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union. Of this, about $6 billion came from American companies. Now it is an industrial agricultural state; the main industries are engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical and food industries. The services sector accounted for 64% of GDP in 2007 and its role in the Hungarian economy is growing; the main sectors of Hungarian industry are heavy industry (mining, machine and s
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred on 26 December 1991 granting self-governing independence to the Republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was a result of the declaration number 142-Н of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union; the declaration acknowledged the independence of the former Soviet republics and created the Commonwealth of Independent States, although five of the signatories ratified it much or did not do so at all. On the previous day, 25 December, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and final leader of the USSR, declared his office extinct and handed over its powers—including control of the Soviet nuclear missile launching codes—to Russian President Boris Yeltsin; that evening at 7:32 p.m. the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the pre-revolutionary Russian flag. From August to December all the individual republics, including Russia itself, had either seceded from the union or at the least denounced the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR.
The week before formal dissolution, eleven republics signed the Alma-Ata Protocol formally establishing the CIS and declaring that the USSR had ceased to exist. Both the Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the USSR marked the end of the Cold War. Several of the former Soviet republics have retained close links with the Russian Federation and formed multilateral organizations such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, Eurasian Economic Community, the Union State, the Eurasian Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union to enhance economic and security cooperation. On the other hand, the Baltic states have joined the European Union. Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo on March 11, 1985, three hours after predecessor Konstantin Chernenko's death at age 73. Gorbachev, aged 54, was the youngest member of the Politburo, his initial goal as general secretary was to revive the Soviet economy, he realized that doing so would require reforming underlying political and social structures.
The reforms began with personnel changes of senior Brezhnev-era officials who would impede political and economic change. On April 23, 1985, Gorbachev brought two protégés, Yegor Ligachev and Nikolai Ryzhkov, into the Politburo as full members, he kept the "power" ministries happy by promoting KGB Head Viktor Chebrikov from candidate to full member and appointing Minister of Defence Marshal Sergei Sokolov as a Politburo candidate. This liberalization, fostered nationalist movements and ethnic disputes within the Soviet Union, it led indirectly to the revolutions of 1989, in which Soviet-imposed socialist regimes of the Warsaw Pact were toppled peacefully, which in turn increased pressure on Gorbachev to introduce greater democracy and autonomy for the Soviet Union's constituent republics. Under Gorbachev's leadership, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1989 introduced limited competitive elections to a new central legislature, the Congress of People's Deputies. In May 1985, Gorbachev delivered a speech in Leningrad advocating reforms and an anti-alcohol campaign to tackle widespread alcoholism.
Prices of vodka and beer were raised, intended to discourage drinking by increasing the cost of liquor. A rationing program was introduced, where citizens were assigned punch cards detailing how much liquor they could buy in a certain time frame. Unlike most forms of rationing, adopted as a strategy to conserve scarce goods, this was done to restrict sales with the overt goal of curtailing drunkenness. Gorbachev's plan included billboards promoting sobriety, increased penalties for public drunkenness, censorship of drinking scenes from old movies; this mirrored Tsar Nicholas II's program during the First World War, intended to eradicate drunkenness in order to bolster the war effort. However, that earlier effort was intended to preserve grain for only the most essential purposes, which did not appear to be a goal in Gorbachev's program. Gorbachev soon faced the same adverse economic reaction to his prohibition; the disincentivization of alcohol consumption was a serious blow to the state budget according to Alexander Yakovlev, who noted annual collections of alcohol taxes decreased by 100 billion rubles.
Alcohol sales migrated to the black market and moonshining became more prevalent as some made "bathtub vodka" with homegrown potatoes. Poorer, less educated Soviets resorted to drinking unhealthy substitutes such as nail-polish remover, rubbing alcohol, or men's cologne, resulting in an additional burden on Russia's healthcare sector due to the increased poisoning cases; the underlying purpose of these reforms was to prop up the existing command economy, in contrast to reforms, which tended toward market socialism. On July 1, 1985, Gorbachev promoted Eduard Shevardnadze, First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, to full member of the Politburo, the following day appointed him minister of foreign affairs, replacing longtime Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko; the latter, disparaged as "Mr Nyet" in the West, had served for 28 years as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Gromyko was relegated to the ceremonial position of Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, as he was considered an "old thinker".
On July 1, Gorbachev sidelined his main rival by removing Grigory Romanov from the Politburo and he brought Boris Yeltsin and Lev Zaikov into the CPSU Central Committee Secretariat. In the fall of 1985, Gorbachev continued to bring more energetic men into government. On September 27, 55-year-ol
The Singing Revolution is a used name for events between 1987 and 1991 that led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia and Lithuania. The term was coined by an Estonian activist and artist, Heinz Valk, in an article published a week after the 10–11 June 1988, spontaneous mass evening singing demonstrations at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. After World War II, the Baltic states had been incorporated into the USSR after military occupation and annexation first in 1940 and again in 1944. Mikhail Gorbachev introduced "glasnost" and "perestroika" in 1985, hoping to stimulate the failing Soviet economy and encourage productivity in the areas of consumer goods, the liberalisation of cooperative businesses and the service economy. Glasnost rescinded limitations on political freedoms in the Soviet Union which led to problems within the non-Russian nations occupied in the build-up to war in the 1940s. Hitherto unrecognised issues kept secret by the Moscow government were admitted to in public, causing dissatisfaction within the Baltic states.
Combined with the war in Afghanistan and the nuclear fallout in Chernobyl, grievances were aired in a publicly explosive and politically decisive manner. Estonians were concerned about the demographic threat to their national identity posed by the influx of individuals from foreign ethnic groups to work on such large Soviet development projects as phosphate mining. Access to Western émigré communities abroad and in Estonia, informal relations with Finland and access to Finnish TV showing the Western lifestyle contributed to widespread dissatisfaction with the Soviet system and provoked mass demonstrations as repression on dissidents, religious communities and ordinary consumers eased towards the end of the 1980s. Massive demonstrations against the Soviet regime began after widespread liberalisation of the regime failed to take into account national sensitivities, it was hoped by Moscow that the non-Russian nations would remain within the USSR despite the removal of restrictions on freedom of speech and national icons.
However, the situation deteriorated to such an extent that by 1989 there were campaigns aimed at freeing the nations from the Soviet Union altogether. The Soviet government's plan to excavate phosphorite in the Lääne-Viru County with catastrophic consequences for the environment and society was revealed in February 1987; that started the Phosphorite War public environmental campaign. The MRP-AEG group held the Hirvepark meeting in the Old Town of Tallinn at the anniversary of Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1987, demanding to disclose and condemn its secret protocol; the "Five Patriotic Songs" series by Alo Mattiisen premiered at the Tartu Pop Festival in May 1988. In June the Old Town Festival was held in Tallinn, after the official part of the festival, the participants moved to the Song Festival Grounds and started to sing patriotic songs together spontaneously; the Baltic Way, a human chain of two million people, spanned from Tallinn to Vilnius on 23 August 1989. Mattiisen's "Five Patriotic Songs" were performed again at the Rock Summer festival in Tallinn held on 26–28 August 1988.
The Song of Estonia festival was held at the Song Festival Grounds on 11 September. Trivimi Velliste, Chairman of the Estonian Heritage Society, first voiced the public ambition to regain independence; the Supreme Soviet of Estonia issued the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration on 16 November. The Singing Revolution lasted with various protests and acts of defiance. In 1991, as Soviet tanks attempted to stop the progress towards independence, the Supreme Soviet of Estonia together with the Congress of Estonia proclaimed the restoration of the independent state of Estonia and repudiated Soviet legislation. People acted as human shields to protect TV stations from the Soviet tanks. Through these actions Estonia regained its independence without any bloodshed. Independence was declared on the late evening of 20 August 1991, after an agreement between different political parties was reached; the next morning Soviet troops, according to Estonian TV, attempted to storm Tallinn TV Tower but were unsuccessful.
The Communist hardliners' coup attempt failed amidst mass pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow led by Boris Yeltsin. On 22 August 1991, Iceland became the first nation to recognise the newly restored independence of Estonia. Today, a plaque commemorating this event is situated on the outside wall of the Foreign Ministry, which itself is situated on Islandi väljak 1, or "Iceland Square 1"; the plaque reads. Some other nations did not recognise the annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union. During the second half of the 1980s as Mikhail Gorbachev introduced glasnost and perestroika in the USSR, which rolled back restrictions to freedom in the Soviet Union, aversion to the Soviet regime had grown into the third Latvian National Awakening, which reached its peak in mid-1988. In 1986, it became known to the public that the USSR was planning to build another hydroelectric power plant on Latvia's largest river Daugava, that a decision had been made to build a metro in Riga. Both of these projects planned by Moscow could have led to the destruction of Latvia's landscape and cultural and historical heritage.
In the press journalists urged the public to protest against these decisions. The public reacted and in response the Environmental Protection Club was founded on 28 February 1987. During the second half of the 1980s the Environmental Protection Club became one