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Denmark Plans to Get Balts in NATO

Copenhagen, June 27, (RFE/RL) -- Danish Defense Minister Hans Haekkerup says NATO must give the three Baltic republics security guarantees that go beyond the Partnership for Peace program.

He says that although Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia may not join NATO in its first expansion wave, they should not be left out and, in the interim, must be given some extra protection.

The Danish newspaper Politiken quoted the defense minister's remarks today. Politiken said he made them at a security conference in Washington yesterday.

The newspaper reports that Haekkerup proposed that the NATO Partnership for Peace program open coordinating offices in states that do not come in NATO in the first round. The plan, if implemented, would give the three Baltic states -- and others -- access to NATO planning operations, decision-making and peace-keeping, but stop short of admission to membership.

Politiken says the Danish proposal was met with interest by the United States and other NATO members.

According to the report, Haekkerup maintained Denmark's official position that the Baltic republics eventually must become full members of NATO.

Politiken's report said that the Danish plan will have a positive psychological effect on the three Baltic republics when they, later in the year or early next year, are told that they will not be accepted as NATO members in the foreseeable future.