Presidents Lennart Meri of Estonia, Guntis Ulmanis of Latvia and Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania have each sent messages of congratulations to their Polish, Czech and Hungarian counterparts on the three Central European countries’ admission to NATO (see the Monitor, March 12). The Baltic presidents described this event as a milestone toward the formation of an effective Euro-Atlantic security system. They expressed the Baltic nations’ hope that NATO will continue its enlargement as a dynamic process, and that the alliance’s anniversary summit next month in Washington would mark tangible progress in that direction.
Meri, who is currently in Washington, declared at the National Press Club that a summit which would simply repeat the earlier intentions to admit new countries would generate more questions than answers. He predicted that Russia, even if unhappy with a follow-up round of enlargement, will not offer serious opposition. Adamkus, who is about to visit Washington, anticipated in Vilnius that the three newly admitted countries will firmly support the Baltic case for admission in NATO councils.
Lithuanian parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, just back from Washington, told national radio yesterday that Lithuania has strong arguments for admission–for example, “normal” financing of its military and contiguity with NATO territory, now that Poland has become a member of the alliance. Lithuanian leaders’ statements reflect an emergent perception that their country is somewhat closer than the other two Baltic states in meeting NATO criteria (BNS, March 13, 15; Radio Vilnius, March 15; see Ukrainian and Georgian reactions below.).
UKRAINE WELCOMES NATO AS NEIGHBOR.