Estonia and Lithuania must exert every effort to buttress Latvia’s independence, writes Estonia’s former Defense Minister Hain Rebas–currently a professor at Kiel University, Germany–in the December 11 issue of the Tallinn daily “Eesti Paevaleht.” Rebas warns that any setbacks to Latvia’s independence could not fail to adversely affect the other two Baltic states.
Assessing Latvia’s political outlook at this time as “not bright,” Rebas lists the country’s vulnerabilities: (1) an undue degree of dependence on the Russian market and on the transit of Russian exports; (2) the formation of a minority government under Vilis Kristopans, potentially “out of democratic control” and representing in effect the interests of the Ventspils port [outlet for Russian transit trade]; (3) predominance of the Russian-speaking population in Latvia’s cities; (4) disorganization in the military command and the Defense Ministry; and (5) sluggish talks with the European Union.
The three Baltic states’ common goal of joining NATO–“which strategically will decide everything”–presupposes that Latvia not fall out of step with Estonia and Lithuania, Rebas observes. Alluding to the opinion, gaining ground in Estonia, that the country should de-emphasize “Baltic unity” and reorient itself toward Nordic Europe, Rebas’ analysis points out that Estonia’s Nordic option requires a strong Latvia to the south. “Let us move boldly toward Sweden and Finland, but not without Latvia” (Eesti Paevaleht cited by BNS, December 11. For background on the issues raised by Rebas see the Monitor, October 2, 6; Fortnight in Review, October 15).
UKRAINE: CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS INVOLVE HIGH POSTS.