Reflections on Baltic Cooperation
In his article, the author looks at the cooperation between Baltic states from its very beginning – the end of World War I, pointing out the possibility of the emergence of even five Baltic states, who would have included also Poland and Finland. Yet, actual Baltic cooperation was not born at that time because the above countries sensed their interests and risks too differently. As a result, in World War II they all had to pay a very high price. The author asks whether this was an inevitable fact.
The article provides an overview of the birth of the Baltic Assembly33 as a 60-member interparliamentary body of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It is stressed that the Assembly was born in the process of liberation from the Soviet yoke – as a fruit of common suffering – at the time when the final result of the fight was far from being clear. Exactly for this reason the birth of the Baltic Assembly must be seen as an essentially important achievement of the three peoples and countries.
The author gives an overview of the main emphases of the sessions of the Assembly and its important documents. He highlights the fact that especially at the outset the central issues were related to security policy objectives – first and foremost to a quick withdrawal of Russian troops from these countries.
Yet, security policy has not lost its importance also in the present activities and statements of the Baltic Assembly. The author asks wherein exactly lies the deepest meaning of Baltic cooperation. And he answers himself: most important is undoubtedly existential cooperation – the common struggle for survival. Certainly, this is not merely a military or security policy related struggle, but also an economic, social and cultural one.
It is unimportant whether Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania see themselves as belonging to eastern, northern or central Europe. It is essential that they are able to face together the challenges of the future and find allies.
Trivimi Velliste, born 1953, English philologist and psychologist, University of Tartu 1971. Work: journalist at the cultural paper Sirp ja Vasar 1976-87, one of the initiators of the heritage movement and first chairman of the Estonian Heritage Society 1987-91, deputy chairman of the Estonian Committee 1991-92, Minister of Foreign Affairs 1992-94, Estonian ambassador to the UN 1994-98, member of the Constitutional Assembly, member of the VII and IX Riigikogu, vice-chairman of the state defence committee and head of the Estonian delegation to the Baltic Assembly.