3 July 2000, Volume 1, Number 23
REGIONALGERMAN SAYS NATO ENLARGEMENT NEEDS RUSSIAN CONSENT.
Walter Kolbow, the state secretary of the German Defense Ministry, said on 19 June in Tallinn that Russia's consent is needed before NATO expands again, BNS reported. The visiting German official said that although Russia has no veto on the process, its opposition to enlargement needs to be overcome before it proceeds: "We must make it clear to Russia that NATO is a guarantor of collective security and has no aggressive plans towards any country." But on 21 June, the German Defense Ministry issued a statement that no country, Russia included, has the right to veto the enlargement of NATO and that Germany would work towards smoothing over Russian objections to further NATO enlargement.
BALTIC SEA MINISTERS MEET IN NORWAY.
Foreign ministers from Baltic Sea region met in Bergen on 21-22 June to discuss expanding cooperation within the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS). They decided to create a faculty for European studies at Kaliningrad University as part of the ongoing effort to integrate the Russian exclave. The position of CBSS human rights commissioner was renamed and redefined as democratic development commissioner. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov asked for the Baltic Sea states' support for Russia's initiative to create a European, non-strategic, anti-ballistic missile system. Ivanov, who had threatened to raise the issue of human rights violations in Estonia and Latvia at the session, did not do so. Nor is there any indication that he raised the issue of the legal status of Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries, as Moscow's "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" on 21 June had suggested he would.
BALTIC PRIME MINISTERS DISCUSS RUSSIA TIES.
Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar hosted his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts in Parnu from 15-16 June. The three prime ministers discussed their relations with Russia and called for better sharing of information on NATO and EU integration, and cooperation in the energy sector, ETA reported. The three also praised the Lithuanian parliament's legislation calling for compensation from Moscow for the five-decade Soviet occupation saying that it was both justified and legal, BNS and Reuters reported. Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar said that as the head of his political party, Pro Patria Union, "we have agreed to support the idea of beginning negotiations on compensation for damages." Lithuania's Kubilius said that there was nothing unique in the decision to seek compensation from Moscow because Germany had paid damages for the Nazi occupations of World War II.
* Thirty-two officers from eight countries made up the first graduating class at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu, Estonia, on 22 June, BNS and ETA reported. The graduates come from Estonia (10), Latvia (8), Lithuania (8), Denmark (2), United States (2), Sweden (1), Germany (1), and Hungary (1). The graduation ceremony was attended by Estonian President Lennart Meri, British First Sea Lord Admiral Michael Boyce, Danish military commander General Christian Hvidt, as well as the defense ministers of Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden. Next year two groups totaling 40 students will study there.
* Russian Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, the head of the international relations department of the Russian Defense Ministry, told the Finnish newspaper "Ilta Sanomet" on 21 June that "some NATO partnership exercises are a mere backdrop to the rehearsing of military actions against Russia." Ivashov cited a recent example where a NATO parachute detachment landing took place in Kristianstad, Sweden, rather than the intended Kristiansand, Norway. Ivashov also said that Finland's links with NATO could endanger Russian-Finnish relations.
* U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) called on his colleagues to take note of the "disturbing statements by Russia" concerning the Baltic states. Durbin called the Russian Foreign Ministry's latest statement about a voluntary entry by Lithuania into the USSR in 1940, "an outrageous rewrite of history." Durbin said, "We thought that the end of the Russian empire would be the end of revisionist history...It is unbelievable that the Russian Foreign Ministry could forget the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact...If Russia has no designs on the Baltic states, it has nothing to fear from their membership in NATO."
* In a recent World Health Organization study rating health care systems in 191 countries, Latvia was ranked at 105, Estonia was ranked 77, and Lithuania 73. The top country for health care delivery was France. Russia ranked 130 and Sierra Leone was in last place at 191.
ESTONIAESTONIA'S ECONOMIC GROWTH TO CONTINUE.
Estonia's central bank raised its projections for the country's economic growth in 2000 to 5.5 percent, citing better than expected first-quarter results, ETA reported 21 June. Bank President Vahur Kraft said that foreign demand is fueling Estonia's economic growth, but he cautioned that there was as yet too little investment by local companies to allow for an economic boom. The central bank on 19 June released first quarter 2000 figures showing that the current account deficit was about 1.5 billion kroons ($91.8 million), or 8 percent of the expected GDP. The trade deficit in the quarter was about 2.5 billion kroons, with exports rising by 47 percent and imports by 38 percent from the same period in 1999, ETA reported. At the same time, direct investments in the period grew by 6 percent, forming about 1.5 billion kroons.
EU PRAISES CHANGES TO ESTONIAN LANGUAGE LAW.
The European Union welcomed recent amendments bringing Estonia's language law in line with international standards and helping to integrate the non-Estonian speaking minority into Estonian society, Reuters reported 20 June. The government of Portugal, which held the six-month revolving EU presidency through the end of June, issued a statement in Lisbon stating, "The EU considers these measures taken by Estonia to constitute extremely encouraging signs of a positive shift in the process of integration." Estonia's parliament on 14 June relaxed the conditions governing the use of Estonian as the official language in the private sector.
MERI REMEMBERS DUDAEV.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Baltic Defense College based in Tartu on 22 June, Estonian President Lennart Meri remembered late Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev and senior officers of the Russian imperial army who had studied in Tartu. Meri said that although Tartu was until 1994 a "closed" military base, it was also a place of enlightenment because of the centuries old university. "According to the Russian Foreign Ministry it was something like a voluntary occupation, if you know what I mean, but it gave to the people of Chechnya their first democratically-elected president, General Dudaev, killed in action," Meri said referring to the recent Russian statement defending the 50-year Soviet occupation of the Baltic states as legal. Dudaev commanded a Tartu-based regiment of Soviet strategic bombers in the 1980s and served as commander of the Tartu garrison in 1990-1991. He is remembered by many Estonians as a Soviet general who supported Estonian independence, BNS reported.
* Estonian energy-sector trade unions told ETA on 21 June that they support the privatization of the country's two largest power stations in Narva to a strategic investor who would preserve work loads and jobs at the plants. Unemployment in the Narva region is already at 25 percent. The power plants need huge investments which only a strategic investor can afford, the unions said.
* Estonian trade unions, employers, and the government opened negotiations on 22 June on raising the minimum wage, BNS reported. The current monthly minimum wage is 1,400 kroons ($84) which is less than one-third of the national average monthly wage.
* Although the European Union has tripled Estonia's quota for dairy exports to the EU as of 1 July, the Estonian dairy industry may not benefit from the increased sales, ETA reported 22 June. In spite of strong lobbying, dairy groups have been unable to get the government to form a state export company for their products. It is estimated that the Estonian dairy industry will lose 250 million kroons ($13.1 million) this year to various middlemen.
* The Estonian government announced on 20 June that it will apply a full visa regime at the Estonian-Russian border crossing stations from 11 September. An agreement has been reached with Russia to grant free visas for certain local inhabitants to ease the requirements of the Schengen visa and document control regime. Estonia and Russia also agreed to begin issuing long-term, multiple-entry visas.
*The Russian Embassy in Tallinn on 19 June issued an unusual statement, ETA reported, calling for an end to the conflict between Russian parties and newspapers in Estonia. The statement says that the disputes in the press have "recently exceeded the limits of decency." The statement warned that the insulting of opponents contributes to a negative image of the local Russians among Estonian authorities and international observers. The daily "Postimees" linked the embassy's statement with the formation of the new Russian Baltic Party in Estonia which seeks to cooperate with ethnic-Estonian citizens and Estonian authorities.
* Estonia's news agency, ETA, faces liquidation, BNS reported on 22 June because it has posted losses of 10.1 million kroons ($607,000) based on a cash flow of 5.9 million kroons. Under Estonia's commercial code, the company may be forced into bankruptcy by 30 June. Eesti Televisoon has also posted losses reaching 43 million kroons on a yearly budget of 150 million kroons. Under the broadcasting law the company's liabilities are not supposed to exceed 10 percent of its annual budget.
LATVIAANONYMOUS GROUP THREATENS LATVIAN CIVIL ORDER.
An unsigned letter sent by a hitherto unknown group calling itself "fighters of democratic Latvia" was sent to several Latvian newspapers claiming responsibility for a recent explosion of a railway track and threatening more explosions if Soviet war crimes suspects are not released, BNS reported 20 June. It said further that "the explosion on the railway was a vital message to the ruling Fascist regime about our patience having run out." It called for the immediate release of Mikhail Farbtukh, Yevgeny Savenko, and Vassily Kononov, charged with war crimes in Latvia. And the letter also featured demands for the legalization of the Communist Party, equal status for the Russian language, and an end to what its authors called the humiliation of Russian speakers. A week ago an explosion ripped up the railway track between Zemitani and Brasa stations on the outskirts of Riga.
LATVIA ACCEPTS EXTRADITION TREATY WITH AUSTRALIA.
The Latvian cabinet voted to accept the Latvian-Australian agreement on extradition under which either party will be required to extradite persons wanted by the other party for the purposes of criminal prosecution, trial, or execution of sentence, BNS and LETA reported 19 June. The Latvian Prosecutor's Office is set to ask for the extradition of Konrads Kalejs, an expatriate residing in Australia who has been accused by Nazi hunters of being a war criminal. Kalejs is suspected of participating in the mass murder of thousands of Jews during World War II.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CONTINUES TO FALL.
According to the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, unemployment in the country continues to decrease, LETA reported on 22 June. As of 1 June there are 103,300 jobless persons or 8.6 percent of the eligible workforce. The figure was 9.0 percent in May. Unemployed women make up 56 percent of the total. A year ago, there were 120,900 persons unemployed in Latvia.
STATE-LANGUAGE LAW REGULATIONS SPARK DEBATE.
Draft government regulations on the implementation of the 1999 state language law have come under public criticism in Latvia's ethnic Russian press, BNS and LETA reported 21 June. "Chas" said that the draft regulations are intended to launch "language discrimination" in the labor market and predicted that numerous non-Latvians will have to quit their jobs due to the lack of Latvian language skills. The paper also suggested that Russian-language newspapers, radio, and television will be threatened with closure because under the draft regulations editors and proofreaders will need "top-level state language literacy." Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, a member of the parliament's leftist parties bloc, said adoption of the regulations might "call people to mass resistance actions."
* President Vaira Vike-Freiberga told Latvian National Radio on 19 June that the most serious problems in Latvian-Russian relations result from Russia's unwillingness to evaluate its own past. She said it was "a sad sight" to see so many residents of Russia still yearning for the return of the former Soviet Union, and she urged the Russian people to begin evaluating their country's past just as Latvia has been "doing for the last 10 years."
* Czech Defense Minister Vladimir Vetchy, on a two-day visit to Riga, reaffirmed Czech support for Latvia's NATO membership aspirations. "Each country has the right to choose [its] security policy model and no country can have the right to influence such choice," he said, according to BNS.
* Latvian Ambassador to NATO Imants Liegis has written to the Prime Minister Andris Berzins urging the government to pay attention to the critical state of the country's defense budget, LETA reported on 20 June. The ambassador wrote that there are "negative consequences" as a result of the Latvian government's initial decision not to raise the defense budget to 1.5 percent of GDP for next year. Liegis also pointed out in his letter that the size of the country's [defense] budget in 2001 will affect NATO's decision on invitations for membership to the candidates. "In talks between Latvia and NATO on all levels," he said, Latvia had promised to raise the defense budget to 2 percent of GDP by 2003, including the 1.5 percent target in 2001.
* The Central Statistical Bureau announced a press conference in Riga on 21 June that a control survey of the national census had uncovered few errors and discrepancies in the census conducted earlier this year.
* LETA reported on 21 June that there are 514,908 non-citizens registered in Latvia as of 1 June. There were 1,775,783 citizens as of that same date. The statistics are from the Citizenship and Migration Affairs Department.
* Latvian authorities registered only one refugee and two additional asylum seekers in the first five months of 2000, BNS reported 21 June. This figure is significantly less than previous years, according to the country's Citizenship and Migration Affairs Department (CMAD). Of the two asylum seekers, one is from Egypt and the other is from Russia. In 1998, Latvia registered 58 asylum seekers and two refugees. Acting CMAD chief Martins Bicevskis predicted at a news conference that the number of asylum seekers will grow again in the future as Latvia gets closer to European Union membership. Bicevskis said that earlier asylum seekers came from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Vietnam trying to get to Scandinavia and Germany, but their numbers have declined as the chances of success to reach these places has dwindled.
* Across Latvia this week residents celebrated the summer solstice and the related Latvian "Midsummer" holidays, LETA reported on 21 and 22 June. In Riga residents celebrated at the traditional "Cheese Day" and "Midsummer Flower Fair" in Riga's Dome Square. Various wildflowers and a wide variety of cheeses dominated the fair. The grand Riga fair dates back to 1901 when Riga celebrated its 700th anniversary; the Midsummer Flower is an old tradition from the Middle Ages when Latvian fishermen and ferrymen celebrated outside of town with bonfires. As a protest to German aristocracy privileges in the first half of the 18th century, the fair was held near the Riga Castle next to the Daugava River.
* Residents of the seaside resort town of Saulkrasti held a demonstration on 21 June to protest the proposed construction of a portion of the Via Baltica highway along the town's railroad trunk line, claiming the highway would artificially divide their town. Environmental protection experts have advocated the construction parallel to the railroad to minimize the damage to the resort area's forests.
LITHUANIAIGNALINA DONOR CONFERENCE MEETS GOAL.
Over 200 million euros ($185 million) were pledged on the first day of an international donor conference in Vilnius for the decommissioning of Lithuania's nuclear power plant at Ignalina, BNS and ELTA reported on 20 June. The bulk of the funding, 150 million euros, was pledged by the European Commission itself, while EU countries, the Nordics, Switzerland, Poland, and the U.S. pledged the remaining balance, totaling 207.8 million euros. DPA reported that Bulat Nigmatulin, deputy minister of the Russian Federation Ministry of Atomic Energy, speaking at the Vilnius donor conference, offered to lease the Ignalina power plant for $300 million per year, saying: "There are no technical grounds for decommissioning the INNP since reactors of this type are safe today." Nigmatulin accused EU officials of "interfering" with Russia's interests in the region because Russia will have a shortage of electricity as its economy recovers. The EU has demanded that all EU candidates agree to close their Soviet-built RBMK reactors before they can be considered for membership. Lithuania supports closure. Meanwhile, Lithuanian Deputy Minister for Social Security and Labor Rimantas Kairelis told the meeting that Vilnius is determined to promote the creation of local jobs for the residents near the plant, BNS reported 21 June. Kairelis said that after the closure of the first bloc in 2005 several thousand people will be left unemployed. At present, 33,700 people live in Visaginas of whom 5,100 are employed at the plant.
LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT SLAMS PUTIN'S FOREIGN POLICY.
The Lithuanian parliament passed a strongly-worded resolution charging Russia with effectively making territorial claims against Lithuania, AP and BNS reported 20 June. The resolution, which passed unanimously 63 to 0 in the 141-seat parliament, was a response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement in Berlin last week that any NATO enlargement which includes Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia would be a security threat to Russia and undermine European stability. The resolution states that Russia, by assuming the right to bloc nations from joining the defensive alliance "looks very much like territorial claims." Parliament speaker Vytautas Landsbergis said during the debate on the resolution that "Lithuania will not give up one of its basic foreign policy goals just because someone threatens us." Members of the opposition parties boycotted the vote. The Russian Foreign Ministry recently stated that the incorporation of Lithuania into the USSR was a voluntary decision leading to heightened Lithuanian concerns that the Russian government is attempting to undermine the 1991 Lithuanian-Russian treaty on bilateral relations. That treaty condemns the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 which laid the foundation for the USSR's occupation of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
PRESIDENT ADAMKUS CRITICIZES PARLIAMENT.
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, in a televised speech to the nation, blasted the ruling conservative party for taunting Russia, Reuters, ELTA and ITAR-TASS reported on 23 June. In the past two weeks the parliament has passed legislation calling on Russia to pay restitution for 50 years of Soviet rule, and assailed Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin's assertion that NATO expansion into the Baltic states endangers international stability. A series of Russian Duma members have denounced the Lithuanian parliament's resolutions claiming they are designed to harm bilateral relations. ITAR-TASS reported that Adamkus called on parliament "not to shake the cornerstone of Lithuania's foreign policy--good relations with its neighbors, first and foremost Russia." Reuters reported that most local politicians support NATO and European Union accession, but Adamkus emphasized that this should not come at the cost of relations with Lithuania's biggest neighbor. ELTA reported that Adamkus had said that the parliament's approach "throws us back to the circle of problematic states unable to communicate constructively with adjacent countries." Commenting on the president's speech, the vice chairperson of the conservative party, deputy Rasa Jukneviciene, speaking for the ruling party, said that "we also think that Lithuania's Euro-Atlantic integration and excellent relations with Russia are compatible policies, until Russia sets them against each other," ELTA reported.
* The Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's office said that it had asked Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine to track down and summon for trial 42 people suspected of taking part in the 1991 Soviet crackdown on Lithuania, Reuters reported 22 June. The Prosecutor-General's office believes that the suspects are living in those countries. Among those accused are former Soviet KGB chief Vladimir Kruchkov and Colonel Vladimir Uskhopchik, recently appointed deputy defense minister of Belarus. Originally 51 people were indicted for the attempted coup on 13 January 1991, but only six were tried and convicted. Their cases are now on appeal in the Lithuanian courts.
* A high-ranking Lithuanian Foreign Ministry official on 19 June expressed the hope that the Russian government would not appoint General Vyacheslav Achyalov to Russia's Security Council, BNS and ELTA reported. Achyalov is suspected by Lithuanian authorities of having been in charge of Soviet airborne troops deployed to Lithuania and being one of the leaders of the failed Soviet coup attempt against the Lithuanian government on 13 January 1991. The official said that if Achyalov is appointed, Lithuania will have to consider it an "unfriendly gesture." In May, Belarus officials appointed General Vladimir Uskhopchik, another indicted leader in the Soviet coup attempt against Lithuania, as deputy defense minister.
* The trial of Nazi genocide suspect Aleksandras Lileikis resumed on 23 June, Reuters, dpa, and ELTA reported, with the ailing defendant appearing in court via video uplink from his bed. Lileikis, 93, was the chief of the Vilnius region for Lithuania's state secret service from October 1939 through June 1944. Lileikis is being tried for collaborating with the Nazi occupation to arrest Jews who were later killed. The trial has been delayed numerous times since its initial session in September 1998 because of defense motions regarding the health of Lileikis. Lileikis suffered a heart attack at the trial's first session. Friday's questioning of the defendant lasted only 10 minutes before the trial was suspended and Lileikis was rushed to the hospital suffering an "acute circulatory failure due to chronic arterial hypertension," said attending physicians.
* The "Linkuva," a Lithuanian refrigerated cargo ship carrying a crew of 18, reported itself in distress on 21 June in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 220 nautical miles (350 km) off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico, after it lost its main engine, Reuters and BNS reported 22 June. Although the captain radioed after a few hours that the engines had again started working, the ship was rolling in heavy storm conditions created by Hurricane Carlotta, a category four storm. U.S. Coast Guard planes and U.S. Navy vessels searched the area over the following days, but found no sign of debris nor survivors.
* The Vilnius City Council on 22 June approved a motion to file suit against the national government for funds the city claims is owed from the national budget, ELTA reported. The city believes that the national government owes Vilnius about 120 million litas ($30 million), citing non-compensation for nationally-ordered, non-funded mandates. The Finance Ministry accused Vilnius of not transferring some 94.1 million litas worth of tax proceeds to the central budget. Vilnius Mayor Rolandas Paksas said that the money was used to pay teachers' salaries.
* Vytautas Sustauskas, the Mayor of Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city, was hospitalized the evening of 21 June after complaining of heart trouble. Sustauskas has sparked controversy for his nativist and anti-Semitic sloganeering. Ambassadors of European Union members are waging an unofficial boycott against the mayor, and Lithuanian national government authorities are limiting their contact with Sustauskas.
* Four centrist parties agreed to cooperate in the upcoming October Lithuanian general elections. Leaders of the Liberal Union, Center Union, New Alliance (Social Liberals), and the Modern Christian Democrats met on 18 June to work out a coordinated plan of action in this already-heated election year. Center Union head Romualdas Ozolas said that each party will enter the elections with its own list for the 70 seats divided by party lists, but the two will coordinate and support each other's candidate in the 71 constituency mandates, BNS reported. Ozolas also said the parties will continue to discuss various cooperation issues, but the parties will retain their identities.
* The value of Lithuanian Telecom shares continued to fall, AP reported 22 June. The price has fallen 12 percent since the initial public offering (IPO) two weeks ago, closing on 22 June at 2.70 litas ($.67) a share. The Lithuanian government netted 641 million litas ($160 million) from the sale of 25 percent of the company's shares, leaving the government with a 10 percent stake in the utility. The government had hoped to earn 1.08 billion litas ($285 million) to help cover its deficit budget and other debts.
* Wojciech Tabisz, director of the energy department of the Polish Ministry of Economics, told BNS on 19 June that construction of high voltage lines between Lithuania and Poland would take time because, in compliance with EU standards, Poland had amended its laws to devolve authority to local government. Tabisz said, "We cannot start the construction of a high-voltage line without prior consent from the local governments." For the last three years, Lithuania has been working on the idea of a power bridge to Poland to export its excess energy to the West.
* Lithuania and Israel signed an agreement on visa-free travel at a meeting in Jerusalem on 20 June, BNS reported. Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, following the signing of the pact, said relations between the two countries are extremely harmonious at the moment, adding that visa-free travel will help the development of economic, cultural, and social ties. The agreement comes into force three months after the two countries inform each other about the implementation of the agreement and will allow Lithuanian and Israeli citizens to stay in the two countries without a visa for 90 days.
END NOTECONTRADICTORY EXPANSIONS
By Paul Goble
NATO expansion and European Union expansion, long assumed to be complementary processes, are having an increasingly contradictory impact on those countries including the three Baltic states which seek to join one or both, on the current members of these two key Western institutions, and on those like Russia which are unlikely ever to get into either.
These unintended contradictions, British defense analyst James G. Sherr concludes in a recent paper released by the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst's Conflict Studies Research Centre, reflect less the different purposes of the two organizations--NATO is a security alliance and the EU is an economic one--than the specific mix of policies they have adopted over the last decade concerning potential new members.
Since the collapse of the Soviet empire, Sherr notes, NATO has done everything it can "to soften the distinction between members and non-members," thereby successfully avoiding the drawing of new lines in Europe its leaders oppose while extending a penumbra of security to countries whose national sovereignty has been at risk.
NATO, Sherr points out, has been willing and able to tailor its relationships with all Partnership for Peace countries, developing close links with some countries like the Baltic states and Ukraine and maintaining somewhat looser ties with the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. And because it is concerned with national defense, NATO has not made fundamental change inside these countries a precondition for cooperation.
Indeed, Sherr implies, this willingness of the Western alliance to accept such diversity in the countries with which it is cooperating has become one of NATO's greatest strengths.
The European Union has taken a very different approach. Sherr notes its main focus throughout this period has been the deepening of the integration of current members. And consequently, it demands that those countries which want to become members transform themselves at home and be willing to impose tighter border controls vis-a-vis their neighbors who can't or won't joint.
In that way, the EU not only draws precisely the kind of lines in post-Cold War Europe that NATO has sought to avoid, but because the accession process takes so long, this EU approach has the potential to dramatically expand the size of the gray zone of political and economic uncertainty between East and West. And that in turn undercuts NATO's approach.
Not surprisingly, these differences between NATO and the EU have had a serious impact on countries interested in joining. Many of their leaders view NATO as the primary source of military security but are increasingly concerned by NATO's efforts to work out a cooperative relationship with Moscow whose policies are the primary reason these countries seek a relationship with the Western alliance.
At the same time, many aspirant countries see EU membership as the primary source of economic well-being. But they are nervous both about the impact of the demands of membership on their own societies and the tariff and visa walls the European Union requires its members erect. Such tight borders will often cut these countries off from traditional partners, even after certain special transitional arrangements are approved.
But because NATO and the EU have such different purposes, few in Eastern Europe accept the notion, often promoted in the West, that the expansion of one is the equivalent of the expansion of the other. Indeed, they are ever more sensitive to the distinctions that either current members or those who oppose both institutions.
At the same time, this distinction is having an impact on NATO and the EU as they exist today. The approach of each of these institutions often undercuts the approach of the other, thereby reducing the effectiveness of both NATO's approach and the common European security and defense policy and exacerbating tensions between the two groups.
And this contradictory impact of the two approaches also has a major impact on countries like Russia which are unlikely to join either, an impact is all the greater because the Russian government does not appear to fully understand the distinctions.
Focusing on NATO's military past, Russian officials have largely ignored its variegated approach and its efforts to avoid drawing lines. And consequently, they have been almost unanimous in opposing the eastward expansion of the alliance, even as the alliance seeks to cooperate with Moscow.
And considering only the EU's economic role, these same Russian officials have largely ignored the tight borders EU membership requires and the impact such borders might have on the Russian economy. And not surprisingly, most of them have welcomed EU expansion both as a substitute for NATO growth, even though EU expansion might hurt some Russian interests more.
As Sherr notes, neither NATO nor EU leaders appear to be fully aware of the impact of such contradictions, but unless they consider them in the near future, both organizations will be helping to create a world in Eastern Europe very different than the one they and the countries of that region say they want.