Attending a NATO seminar on political and military decisionmaking, Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus called for a balanced enlargement of the alliance on both flanks. Endorsing the candidacies of Slovenia and Romania for the southern flank, Adamkus urged NATO to match that move on the northern one by admitting the Baltic states, in the interest of “expanding the zone of security and stability in both northern and southern Europe.” Estonian President Lennart Meri for his part predicted that relations between Russia and the Baltic states would improve, not deteriorate, once the Baltic states are included within NATO’s perimeter. Meri pointed to the example of Poland, which–despite “the painful historic legacy”–no longer faces Russian pressure since its accession to NATO became a virtual certainty. (BNS, June 20 and 22).
The two presidents’ arguments indirectly address short-sighted reservations voiced by some within NATO regarding Baltic membership. Some chancelleries with a “southern” agenda artificially counterpose that to the Baltic states’ bid for membership. Other officials profess concern that admission of the Baltic states would generate tensions with Russia–a line of argument that can only embolden Moscow to raise the rhetorical decibels in the hope of obtaining a de facto veto over NATO’s enlargement.
AMBASSADORS LEAVE BELARUS IN PROTEST.