In the first official Baltic reactions, Lithuanian foreign minister Povilas Gylys and Estonian Foreign Ministry political director Riina Kionka have commented unenthusiastically on U.S. deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott’s Baltic Action Plan, which the U.S. billed as an enhancement of the region’s security. (see Monitor, September 3) Gylys, grouping the Talbott plan together with Swedish politician Carl Bildt’s proposal for a Nordic-Baltic Partnership for Peace, noted that the Baltic states already have "soft security assurances" but need "hard security guarantees, so that we don’t have to tremble when hearing political statements from certain countries." Kionka observed that Talbott’s initiative reflected the Baltic States’ growing place in U.S. policy planning, but the plan itself contained little that was new; and that the proposed charters to be signed by the U.S. with the Baltic states recall a previous U.S.-Ukraine charter, indicating good relations but falling short of security guarantees. (BNS, September 2 and 5)
The State Department has offered the initiative against the background of NATO’s and Washington’s apparent decision to defer Baltic accession to the alliance. The Baltic states are wary of offers intended as poor substitutes for NATO membership and emphasize that their security requirements rule out any alternative to joining NATO. A senior-level State Department delegation is due in the Baltic states next week with details of the Talbott plan.
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