Washington, 11 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis says senior American officials have assured him that there is no chance that the Baltic countries will be left in an insecure "gray zone" between an expanded NATO and a resurgent Russia.
Landsbergis made the comment yesterday in a speech following meetings this week in Washington with U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Speaking to a luncheon meeting at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, Landsbergis said the United States has not always matched in action the reassuring words of Gore and Albright.
He specifically cited the willingness of the West to agree to Moscow's demands for modifications in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, changes that have allowed the Russian military to move additional forces up to the borders of the Baltic states.
And he noted the unwillingness of the West to treat the Baltic countries just like all other East European states. In Soviet times, Landsbergis said, "Baltic exceptionalism helped us."
Now, he said, any special treatment the Baltic countries receive works against them. Although never members of the Warsaw Pact or enemies of freedom, the Balts are now treated as less desirable candidates for alliance membership than those countries that had been.