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Baltic States: Congressman Calls For NATO Status

Washington, 30 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - A U.S. congressman has introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for the integration of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the NATO military alliance "at the earliest possible date."

The resolution was introduced by Congressman Gerald Solomon (R-New York) at Tuesday's session and was referred to the International Relations Committee for further study. The measure is what is called a sense of the Congress resolution. It expresses an opinion and does not carry the force of law.

Nevertheless, the resolution has prompted the Russian Foreign Ministry to fax a press release to Washington news organizations today via the Russian Embassy condemning the proposal.

Solomon's measure says the Baltic nations have made great progress toward political and economic liberty and toward meeting guidelines for prospective NATO membership. He says extension of NATO membership to the three countries would make a singular and lasting contribution to stability, freedom and peace.

The congressman says the Baltic states should be invited to the NATO conference in Madrid next July, where the alliance is expected to issue formal invitations to join to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

The Russian Foreign Ministry contends that the introduction of Solomon's measure is a counterproductive step. Russia opposes NATO expansion.