Baltic Assembly chairman Arnold Ruutel has called for the creation of a regional security organization beginning with an Estonian-Latvian-Lithuanian Security Council, which would develop into a military alliance of the three countries. The responsibilities of the alliance would include securing the three countries’ borders with Russia and Belarus, conducting joint exercises, creating a joint rapid-deployment force, and jointly procuring weapons. Ruutel stated that the West European Union (defense arm of the European Union) supports the idea and, furthermore, envisages a wider Baltic Sea security organization that would include Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Poland. Neither of the two groupings are seen as alternatives to NATO; they would serve to pave the way for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to join NATO, Ruutel said. (BNS, January 17)
The Baltic Assembly — the interparliamentary body of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia — and Ruutel himself last year called for the formation of a security alliance of the three Baltic States. The idea was looked on with disfavor by the U.S. and was not supported by the Lithuanian government; thereupon the Estonian and Latvian governments also distanced themselves from it. However, U.S. and NATO irresolution and confusing signals regarding their plans for this region are bound to generate proposals for stop-gap measures to buttress Baltic security pending the three states’ desired accession to NATO. Support from the WEU adds to the plausibility of a Baltic alliance.
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