Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 142

Estonia handed in yesterday in Brussels its official application for full membership of the European Union. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, who had signed the application at the end of last week, told the press that the country meets certain prerequisites for admission better than some EU member countries: it enjoys currency stability (with the kroon pegged to the German mark), a balanced budget, and low internal and external debt. Among criteria still to be met, Vahi singled out social protection for some population groups and accession to a number of international human rights accords. (8)

In Lithuania, President Algirdas Brazauskas acknowledged at a news conference that Lithuania falls short of meeting most of EU’s requirements but that it can not afford to lag behind Latvia and Estonia in applying for full membership. Brazauskas called on the parliament to urgently rescind the constitutional ban on purchase of land by foreigners, to which the EU objects. (9)

Vahi has already tasked his ministers to draw up a schedule for Estonia’s full adaptation to EU requirements for membership and to propose amendments to the country’s legislation in order to harmonize it with that of EU countries. But Estonia may face serious constitutional and security problems if its accession to some of the human rights pacts is construed as requiring the mass naturalization of Soviet-era settlers. Latvia, which may face a similar dilemma, officially applied last month for full membership in the EU Lithuania has indicated that it will submit its official application immediately after the first of the two parliamentary ballots required for the constitutional revision. All three Baltic states have association agreements with the EU since 1994, but many EU countries have yet to ratify those agreements. Germany, Britain, and the Nordic member countries are leading supporters of Baltic membership.

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