Estonian president Lennart Meri and the members of his parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee concluded at their regular monthly meeting yesterday that Estonia’s chances of admission to NATO have declined recently, compared to the first years after 1991; and that NATO currently seems content to let Estonia drift away. Meri and the parliamentarians attributed this dangerous trend partly to US and West European trust in Russia’s democratization. They resolved to redouble efforts toward joining NATO and agreed on the need to sharply increase Estonia’s defense spending. (BNS, September 10)
Latvian foreign minister Valdis Birkavs, on a visit to Denmark, similarly expressed concern over the fact that NATO has postponed consideration of Baltic membership without making arrangements to meet the Baltic states’ security needs during the transitional period ahead. Birkavs pointed to the need for such arrangements to be made before the alliance actually expands into other regions. He noted that only NATO security guarantees could cement Western democracy in the Baltic region, eliminate a potential friction point between East and West, and preclude the outbreak of conflict in the region. (BNS, September 9)
In an attempt to address these concerns, a delegation of U.S. State Department and National Security Council officials began yesterday in Tallinn a tour of the three Baltic capitals. The officials are carrying a draft document on U.S. security cooperation with the Baltic states, short of their early admission to NATO. Baltic officials are likely to explain again that their countries have no alternative to full membership of the alliance.
Georgia Seeking Military Contacts Outside Russian Orbit.