Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 165

The Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, their counterparts from Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria, and Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin conferred in Vilnius on September 5-6 on the subject of "Peaceful Coexistence and Good Neighborly Relations as Guarantees of Security and Stability." Lennart Meri, Guntis Ulmanis, and Algirdas Brazauskas strongly reaffirmed their countries’ aspirations and sovereign right to join NATO. They also described that choice as fully compatible with good neighborly relations with Russia. Chernomyrdin restated Moscow’s objections to Baltic membership in NATO and again offered Russian security guarantees as part of a regional pact — a proposal known to be unacceptable to the Baltic states.

Belarusan president Alyaksandr Lukashenka faced criticism for his domestic policies from virtually all the leaders present, with the exception of Chernomyrdin. Leonid Kuchma emphasized functional cooperation among the countries of the Baltic and Black Sea regions and proposed the holding of a summit conference of those countries next year in Crimea. There was no concluding statement or joint communique. In an as yet unclarified incident, Lithuanian security arrested seven Lithuanian Home Guard officers on charges of plotting to assassinate Lukashenka, then released them for lack of evidence. (BNS, Russian and international agencies, September 5-6)

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