The Baltic presidents yesterday issued statements ruling out Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s surprise idea, aired at the May 17 CIS summit, to hold talks with the Baltic presidents regarding the three countries’ admission to the CIS.
Latvian president Guntis Ulmanis said that Latvia’s national interests and its people’s political choice demand integration with European and Atlantic institutions, not CIS membership. Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs said in a weekend press interview that Latvia has "no alternative" to security within NATO, and that Russia’s opposition to Baltic accession to NATO indicates that "Russia wants to keep the Baltic states under its influence." Lithuanian president Algirdas Brazauskas said that national legislation bars accession to post-Soviet and eastern blocs. The country wants to join the European Union and NATO, said Brazauskas, and "we pursue just that and are preparing for it in all seriousness."
Estonian president Lennart Meri said that his country’s people and government have made a final choice by restoring national independence and determining that Estonia’s place is in Europe. Foreign Minister Siim Kallas observed in a Russian press interview over the weekend that the Russian government does not treat Estonia as truly and irreversibly independent, and "the more Russia pursues regional hegemony, the more the smaller countries will seek NATO protection." Kallas expressed concern that Russia may offer to accept NATO enlargement in part of Central Europe in exchange for recognition of Russian influence over the Baltic states. (BNS, Western agencies, May 18-20)
Ukraine Expresses Qualified Support for NATO Enlargement.