Presidents Lennart Meri, Guntis Ulmanis, and Algirdas Brazauskas signed with President Bill Clinton in Washington on January 16 a "Charter of Partnership among Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the U.S." The Charter, which took more than a year to negotiate, is a political document that does not entail any security guarantees or other binding obligations, and is not subject to parliamentary ratification. At the same time, the Charter solemnly recognizes the Baltic states’ historic ties to the Western world and their aspirations to join NATO and other Western institutions.
Recalling Baltic contributions to Western civilization, from the Hanseatic traders to the Baltic diasporas in the U.S., the Charter declares the strong interest of the U.S. in the independence of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and defines their security as an integral element of Euroatlantic security. The U.S. pledges to support the Baltic states’ efforts to qualify for full membership in Western political, economic, and security institutions, specifically including NATO. One key provision envisages consultations in the event that one of the Partners perceives its territorial integrity, independence, or security to be threatened or at risk. The U.S. reaffirms its policy of supporting the BALTSEA, BALTRON, BALTBAT, and BALTNET security projects as part of multilateral efforts to enhance Baltic security. A Partnership Commission will meet periodically to review progress toward meeting the goals of the Charter. (BNS, January 17) The document entails a clear U.S. commitment to support Baltic accession to NATO in a follow-up round of enlargement.
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