The quadripartite U.S.-Baltic Partnership Commission held its first session in Riga on July 8. The forum reviewed progress in cooperation programs, with a focus on economics. U.S. private sector representatives attended the session and made specific recommendations on incentives to investment and trade. The session also drew up guidelines for military cooperation into the next year. The communique confirmed the commission’s goals both to help prepare the three Baltic states qualify for admission to the World Trade Organization, the European Union and NATO, and to improve the national defense posture of each of the three states.
The commission has been created on the basis of the U.S.-Baltic Partnership Charter, signed by the four countries’ presidents in January 1998 in Washington. It includes two functional working groups thus far: an economic and a military group. At this session, Estonia proposed the creation of a regular political consultative mechanism in the same format. Consideration was reportedly deferred. The military track of U.S.-Baltic cooperation, managed by the Pentagon, experiences faster movement compared to the State Department-managed track. A large-scale, U.S.-led military exercise begins in Lithuania today. (BNS, Radio Riga, July 7 through 9)
BELARUSAN FOREIGN MINISTRY RESCINDS ULTIMATUM TO FOREIGN MISSIONS.