Estonian president Lennart Meri told a news conference in Budapest yesterday that the big power to the east that opposes NATO’s enlargement remains an "evil empire." Without naming Russia directly, Meri observed that the empire, "now a shadow of its former self, never willingly relinquished its hold on anyone, nor does nowadays." He urged newly independent countries of the ex-Soviet Union and the former Warsaw Pact to "adhere to our agreements and uncompromisingly resist the evil empire." Hungarian president Arpad Goencz told the same news conference that Hungary will use its early membership in NATO to speak up for Baltic accession to the alliance. On the preceding day in Budapest, Meri had warned against consigning some countries spheres of influence and called for a continuing enlargement of NATO after the upcoming first round. Estonian foreign minister Toomas Ilves delivered a similar message in a speech to the foreign ministers of the West European Union in Paris yesterday. (BNS, Reuter, May 14. See also Monitor, May 14)
Lukashenko Rejects Russian-Proposed Political Union.