Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 192

Addressing a meeting of the NATO Council at the Brussels headquarters, President Guntis Ulmanis detailed Latvia’s efforts to qualify for an invitation to NATO accession talks. Ulmanis cited Latvia’s progress on economic reforms, its recent admission to the World Trade Organization ahead of all post-Soviet countries in Europe (see the Monitor, October 15), liberalization of the citizenship law by referendum, the introduction of effective controls on the eastern border, successful participation in NATO-sponsored joint exercises and peacekeeping operations, and a decision to increase the defense budget to 1 percent of the GDP next year and 2 percent afterward, aiming to catch up with Estonia and Lithuania in this respect.

Meanwhile, in Ankara, Estonian President Lennart Meri remarked during talks with his counterpart Suleiman Demirel that Turkey and Estonia are called upon to function as Euroatlantic “outposts” in the northeast and the southeast, respectively. Meri was cited as envisioning the natural emergence of a “north-south axis” from the Baltic to the Black and Aegean Seas.

Ulmanis in Brussels and Meri in Ankara termed the goal of accession to NATO a “top priority” of both countries’ foreign policies. They urged that NATO’s upcoming Washington summit produce a more definite decision than the last summit in Madrid regarding a timetable and specific measures to enable the Baltic states to join the alliance. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus is taking his country’s case to Washington this week (BNS, Russian agencies, October 16).