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Baltic States: Russian Proposal To Remain Non-Aligned Is Rejected

Riga, 12 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Officials from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have rejected a plan put forward by Moscow that they abandon their drive for NATO membership and remain as non-aligned nations.

Vygaudas Usackas, the head of the political department at the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, said in rejecting the Russian offer that NATO membership for his country would actually work to further bilateral ties with Moscow.

Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs told reporters in Riga that his country desire to seek NATO membership was not intended as a threat to Russia.

The Estonian Foreign Ministry also emphasized its wish to join NATO was not meant to threaten Russia. A Foreign Ministry spokesman told DPA that Estonia was pleased that Moscow was considering "long-term cooperation and is ready to clearly formulate its goals."

The Russian suggestion came in a draft policy for long-term relations with the Baltic states, released by the presidential press service today.

Yesterday, Russian Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said Moscow sought good-neighborly relations with all three states, but warned NATO membership would be serve as a "barrier" to furthering ties.