Despite changes in the Soviet Union, now "is not a time for complacency or weakness," Bush told several hundred people who gathered in Kennebunkport, Me., Sunday for a Lithuanian folk festival.
"True reform" in the Soviet Union, Bush said, would require "restoring the birthright of freedom" to Lithuania, a small nation on the Baltic Sea that has been under Kremlin control for nearly two generations.
To conservatives, Lithuania and its two neighbors, Estonia and Latvia, have been important Cold War symbols since all three were taken over by the Soviets in 1940. And Bush's remarks, playing on those symbols, were in line with the skepticism he has maintained toward the reforms being pushed by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
Bush's stand on the Soviets has been particularly noticeable in contrast with the sometimes-ebullient remarks of President Reagan.
Bush's brief speech at the annual festival of the Lithuanian Franciscan Monastery was his only public statement during a weekend at his summer home in Kennebunkport. In his only other public appearance, Bush accompanied his 87-year-old mother, Dorothy Walker Bush, to Sunday morning services at St. Ann's Episcopal Church, near the family's estate at Walker's Point.