membership is the country’s declared top foreign-policy objective, but Latvia’s Way, the leading party in the new minority government, may be headed in a different direction.
A journalist hired as the party’s spokesman was exposed as the source of a false anti-NATO story, a fabricated “interview” in which NATO Secretary General Javier Solana denigrates Latvia and slights its prospects for NATO membership. Solana demanded, and received, an apology. But the odd affair is not an isolated incident.
During last year’s elections, Latvia’s Way drew support from business lobbies dependent on trade with Russia. Following the election, the party rejected an alliance with pro-West parties with which it could have formed a majority government, in favor of a left-of-center minority coalition that has cut defense spending below levels compatible with NATO membership. The new prime minister recently praised Finland’s relations with Russia as a model for Latvia. “Finlandization” is diplomatic shorthand for the cold-war deal which kept Finland militarily neutral in exchange for Russian non-interference in Finnish internal affairs. That could be the way that Latvia’s Way wants for Latvia.