A delegation of U.S. State Department and National Security Council officials has completed a week-long tour of the Baltic capitals to present the Baltic Action Plan, drafted under the guidance of Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and meant to alleviate the Baltic states’ security concerns following the decision to postpone consideration of their admission to NATO. After hearing the U.S. presentation, the Baltic leaders emphasized the plan cannot become an alternative to or substitute for NATO membership. The U.S. officials said the plan needed to be discussed and possibly revised.
Baltic leaders countered with proposals of their own for avoiding the emergence of a security vacuum in the region during the phase of NATO’s enlargement in other regions. Estonian president Lennart Meri presented a plan for developing NATO’s Partnership for Peace into a Partnership for Security. Latvian president Guntis Ulmanis told the U.S. delegation that the Baltic Action Plan should stipulate the Baltic states’ early admission to NATO as a requirement of their and Europe’s security. Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs proposed, via Denmark, that countries aspiring to NATO membership be included in the work of NATO’s main committees dealing with enlargement issues; and he presented 11 points to be worked into the Baltic Action Plan. Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry said his country still wants admission to NATO as a full member along with the other Baltic and Central European countries. (BNS, Western agencies, September 11 through 16)
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