Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 35

Presidents Lennart Meri of Estonia, Guntis Ulmanis of Latvia, and Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania met in Tallinn yesterday amid uncertainty over the pace and scope of NATO’s enlargement. The presidents issued a joint communique urging NATO to undertake, at the upcoming Washington summit, “clear political and practical steps” toward its enlargement in the Baltic region. The Baltic states expect the summit to demonstrate that enlargement will be a continuous process and will include their region in the following round of talks, the presidents said. They called attention to their countries’ progress in developing multilateral defense and security cooperation with NATO countries and inter-Baltic cooperation on a trilateral basis. They also vowed to continue efforts to improve their defense preparedness according to NATO criteria. The presidents indicated that they would welcome an early invitation from NATO, to Lithuania at least, for membership negotiations (BNS, February 18).

Also yesterday, the United States and Germany made unclear signals regarding their respective immediate intentions. In a satellite interview from Washington, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott tried to defuse Baltic expectations that the April summit could yield a timetable for enlargement or invite countries to membership negotiations. Instead, Talbott fell back on the familiar “open door” formula without backing it up with plans for specific political steps (BNS, February 18). In Moscow, German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping declared that he is discussing with his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeev a “joint initiative on regional security in Europe and the Baltic region.” It was not immediately clear what other countries, if any, are involved in this initiative, or how it relates to NATO’s possible enlargement in the Baltic region. Scharping was in Moscow with the German chancellor, foreign minister and other top figures in Germany’s new, left-leaning government for one-day talks with their Russian counterparts (Itar-Tass, February 18; see also Yugoslavia story in this issue).