Baltic States Given a Little Hope
Copenhagen, Tony Barber, The Independent (London, England)
The Nato Secretary-General, Javier Solana, yesterday assured Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that the alliance had not ruled them out as potential members, despite vehement Russian objections and doubts in some Western capitals over the wisdom of bringing them in.
"I want to say very clearly now that no country is ruled out and no country is ruled in. We are talking to everybody and we will try to take a decision at the right moment, probably not before the middle of 1997," Mr Solana said in the north Danish port of Frederikshavn.
The Baltic states, anxious for Western security guarantees to consolidate their newly won independence, were dismayed last month when the US Defense Secretary, William Perry, said they were not ready to join Nato. He said a key condition was that each country could come to the defence of its allies if attacked, and they had not acquired that capability. Although stating what most Nato governments regard as obvious, he thought it advisable to play down his remarks later in a letter to the Baltic defence ministries. The letter, released on Wednesday, said: "I underscore that I said, and I believe, that the Balts are fully eligible for Nato membership and I look forward to the day when each country is a member." The issue arouses strong emotions in the Nordic countries, both in Denmark and Norway, which are in Nato, and in neutral Finland and Sweden. Denmark's Defence Minister, Hans Haekkerup, said in an interview this week: "The question of taking in new members is to me basically a moral question. "If new democracies emerge in Central and Eastern Europe, I have a moral problem denying them the same security guarantees that we Danes had in the Cold War. But this guarantee is not to be directed against another country, only against an aggressor." Nato is expected to hold a summit in the middle of next year at which formal invitations to join will be extended to several Central European countries. To balance …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Baltic States Given a Little Hope. Contributors: Copenhagen, Tony Barber - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 11, 1996. Page number: 15. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.