March 29, 1990 | Backgrounder on Russia
762 March 29,1990 HOW AMERICA CAN HELP BALTIC INDEPENDENCE The Baltic peoples struggle for independence is entering its decisive phase. For now, the spotlight is on Lithuania, where Mikhail Gorbachevs 1 show of force is an attempt to frighten into submission that countrys democratically elected government In the wings, ready to move to stage cen ter, are the independence movements of Estonia and Latvia.
The crisi s in Lithuania is forcing Washington to make some hard decisions about the Baltic states. For a half-century, of course, the United States has supported the restoration of their independence. This support was largely rhetorical and cost little; it had vir tually no effect. Now, the U.S. can make good on its decades of promises and declarations. This the U.S. must do in a firm and direct, but measured way.
At this critical moment in the history of the Baltic republics, George Bush should extend official reco gnition to the new democratic government in Lithuania and tell Gorbachev that Moscow will pay a heavy price if it uses force against Lithuania and the other two Baltic states.
Illegally Annexed. The case for America supporting Baltic independence is overw helming: America never has accepted Moscows rule over the Baltic states. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were independent and sovereign states after their independence was recognized by the Soviet Union in 1920 and by the international community. But as th e result of a secret treaty between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in August 1939 -the infamous Hitler-Stalin Pact the Baltic states were occupied and annexed by Moscow in 1940.This annexation was not recognized by the U.S and the Hitler-Stalin Pact at las t was declared illegal by the Soviet Parliament on December 28,1989 response to the dramatic, exhilarating, and frightening events there. Instead the policies must rest on a foundation of sound principles applying beyond Es American policies to help the Ba l tic republics must not be an ad hoc tonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to all the Soviet nationalities and their desires for independence and self-determination. These are Principle #1: The U.S. supports Baltic independence Principle #2: The U.S. very strongly f avors the peaceful achievement of in Principle #3: The U.S. will impose an appropriate penalty on Moscow if it dependence prevents, by intimidation or force, peaceful independence of the Baltic republics Principle #4: The U.S. will understand sympathetica l ly if the Baltic states must use force to counter Moscows intimidation and force, but the U.S. will not be able to provide help for such Baltic use of force other than American verbal expressions of solidarity and sympathy Principle #5: The U.S. will rewa r d Moscow appropriately for allowing the Baltic republics to become independent peacefully and similarly will reward Moscow for allowing other Soviet nationalities to achieve independence or self-determination peacefully Principle #6: The U.S. seeks no uni lateral gain in the matter of Baltic inde pendence nor does it seek to exploit the matter to harm the Soviet Union.
Translating these principles into policy, the Bush Administration should Warn Moscow not to use force against the Baltic states, making clea r that a crackdown will seriously impair U.S.-Soviet relations. Gorbachev hopes to revive the Soviet economy with help from _the West. Moscow must realize that using force against the Baltics will torpedo such help Grant official recognition to the new de m ocratic Baltic governments once they establish their sovereignty and request U.S. recognition. The U.S should appoint ambassadors to each republic and upgrade the existing Baltic diplomatic missions in the U.S. from legations to full-fledged embassies Ask Congress to exchange parliamentary groups with each Baltic republic. These exchanges could be part of a series of linkages between Con gress and the Baltics new parliaments, which would demonstrate American support for the new democracies, help end their p sychological isolation from the West, and assist their reestablishment of effective legislative powers. Con gress should also invite Lithuanias President Vyautas Landsbergis to address a joint session Include these countries in U.S. foreign aid packages t o Eastern Europe. The Baltic states are part of Eastern Europe, and the U.S. should treat them as such. Even small amounts of U.S. assistance would help them enormously Make Soviet military occupation of the Baltic states a conventional arms control issue. The U.S. and its NATO allies must make clear to Mos cow that an agreement on conventional force reductions will not confer any right on the Soviet Union to station its forces in the Baltic states and also 2 declare that any future negotiations will addres s the issue of the Soviet military occupation of these countries Encourage international organizations; such as the United Nations the International Monetary Fund IMF) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT and such European organizations as t he Council of Europe, to admit the Baltic states as full members The Baltic states are recognized as sovereign countries by much of the international community and deserve to be members of the United Nations just as they were of the League of Nations.The I MF and its sister organization the World Bank pro vide credits to member governments. The GAlT is a broad-based grouping of countries dedicated to removing trade barriers. Membership in each will assist the Baltic states in quickly joining the internation a l economy Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) discuss Baltic independence; The forthcom ing CSCE meeting is being held at Soviet request to review the broad range of political and security issues in Europe. It is the best forum at which to dis cuss the issue of B altic independence as it will be attended by every European country except Albania, as well as the U.S. and Canada. The Baltic states should participate in this meeting on an equal basis with the other European states Press Americas Western allies to take similar actions to support the Baltic states.
The Baltic independence movements offer the U.S. the opportunity to as sist the orderly dissolution of the Soviet colonial empire. With their emphasis on a peaceful and negotiated path to independence, the Bal tic states offer Moscow a chance to address its imperial crisis before it explodes. Their suc cess could be a model for resolving peacefully other phases of what could be the enormously dangerous problem of Soviet decolonization. U.S. support for this pro c ess would strengthen those Soviet leaders who understand that Moscows use of force to suppress the nationalist movements almost surely would lead to disaster and prolonged conflict. Conversely, U.S. and Western inaction regarding the Baltic republics stri v ings for independence would make it easier for those in the Kremlin who would use force to suppress all of the nationalities Insist that this falls session of the Conference on Security and THE ORIGINS OF INDEPENDENCE Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have l o ng and illustrious histories. Although Lithuania was a major power in Eastern Europe in the 16th and 17th cen turies, ruling over territories stretching from present-day Poland to Ukraine each Baltic state has suffered repeated conquests. They became part of the 1 Although common American usage places the before Ukraine, Ukrainians assert that this derives from Moscows claim that Ukraine is a region of Russia, not a nation unto itself 3 Russian Empire when Peter the Great took them from Sweden in the Great Northern War in 17
18. They and the other peoples conquered by Moscow remained a part of that Empire until the disintegration of central authority in the Russian Revolutions of 1917 Independence Recognized. During the Russian Civil War, which broke out in early 1918, several of the subject peoples of the Empire -the Baltic states Finland, Georgia, Poland, Ukraine, and other areas in Muslim Central Asia seized their opportunity to escape and declared their independence from Russia. By 1921, however, Ukrain e and Central Asia and most other states had been reconquered by the Red Army. Poland and the Baltic republics were not. Moscow eventually renounced all claims to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and recognized their full independence in treaties signed on F ebruary 2, August 11, and July 12,1920, respectively. The U.S. recognized all three on July 28,1922.
After independence, these countries managed an uneasy coexistence with their giant neighbor. On August 23,1939, however, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Hitler-Stalin Pact, which divided Eastern Europe be tween them The Pacts secret protocols allotted Estonia and Latvia to Mos cow; Lithuania went to Germany.The Pact was modified in 1940 to give Lithuania to the Soviet Union in exchange for some of Moscows share of recently conquered Poland. The Soviet Union moved quickly to take control of the Baltic states.Treaties allowing Soviet forces to be stationed on their soil were forced on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on September 28, October 5, and October 10,1939, respectively.These were soon followed by outright Soviet military occupation and an o verthrow of the independent govern ments. Rigged elections were held producing communist-dominated parlia ments, which on July 21,1940, voted to request annexation to the Soviet Union.The Stalinist terror then descended with full force in the summer of 19 40, and tens of thousands of people were imprisoned, executed, or sent to the Gulag in Siberia.
Washington responded by extending to the Baltic states its policy of refus ing to recognize the forcible seizure of territory by the fascist powers.This was the origin of the non-recognition policy by-which the U.S. continues to treat the Baltic states as independent and does not officially recognize their incorporation into the Soviet Union.
Brave Resistance. Although the countries conquered by the Nazis and Ja panese were liberated at the end of World War II, the Soviet Union, as one of the victorious powers, kept the territories it had seized.These included Moldavia, western Ukraine, eastern Poland, parts of southern and eastern Finland and, of course, the Bal tic states. Armed partisans in western Ukraine the Baltics, and some other territories, bravely resisted Soviet occupation for nearly two years, but largely were crushed by 1947.
As relations between the West and the Soviet Union deteriorated, the U.S non- recognition policy toward the Baltic states was adopted by other countries. The NATO nations, for instance, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Soyiet takeover of the Baltic states. Even Britain went along 4 with the U.S despite Londons traditional policy of recognizing the authority of whichever government exercises control over a particular territory, which in the case of the Baltic states should have been the Soviet Union. The only Western countries to recognize the Soviet annexation of the Balti c states are Finland and Sweden Complicated Policy. The U.S. non-recognition policy is complicated. On the one hand, Washington refuses to recognize as legal the annexation of these countries into the Soviet Union and continues to grant official status to their pre-war diplomatic legations in the U.S. On the other, Washington offi cially recognizes neither any exile government nor the current governments of these republics.
Each Baltic diplomatic mission in the U.S., known as legations, draws its support pr imarily from the exile communities in the U.S. and abroad. Stasys Lozoraitis, charge of the Lithuanian legation, and Anatol Dinbergs, chargC of the Latvian legation, have their missions in Washington; Ernst Jaakson charge of the Estonian legation, is in N ewYork City THE BALTIC STATES TODAY Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are small in territory and population.
Estonias population is approximately 1.6 million, of which only around one million are ethnic Estonians, with approximately 40 percent of the populatio n now consisting of Russian-speaking immigrants who have arrived since 1940.2 Almost half of Latvias population of 2.6 million is composed of these im migrants. Only 20 percent of Lithuanias 3.7 million people are non Lithuanian, but this minority is grow ing rapidly, doubling in the 1980s. Their combined territories would fit comfortably within Oregon.
The Baltic republics are the most economically advanced region in the Soviet Union; by Western standards they are backward. Their main industries are metall urgy, shipbuilding, and food processing, and are extensively in tegrated into the Soviet command economy.
The integration of the Baltic states into the Soviet economy has im poverished these countries. The Heritage Foundation was told by several Es tonian economists inTallinn that, whereas Estonia and Finland had com parable standards of living in 1940, Finlands now is several times higher than that of Estonia; by some measures Finland is fifteen times higher 2 Russian-speaking need not denote persons eth n ically Russian. Many of the immigrants belong to other Soviet ethnic groups, such as Ukrainians and Armenians.Their use of Russian as a common language is due to the Soviet policy of promoting Russian among ethnically mixed populations. Few immigrants lea rn the local languages in the Baltic republics 5 On March 11,1990, Lithuania changed its name to the Republic of Lithuania from the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Estonia and Latvia are expected to follow in the near future c THE RISE OF THE BALTIC INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENTS Despite severe persecution by Moscow, the Baltic peoples have preserved strong national identities. Increasing concern over the enormous ecological harm caused by Soviet industrial pollution and growing interest in their inde penden t cultures sparked a rapid growth of Baltic nationalism in the 1980s Sparking it too were the mounting numbers of Russian-speaking immigrants sent to the Baltics by Moscow to secure its political control. Between 1940 and last year, approximately 400,000 s uch immigrants made their way to Es tonia.The prospect of becoming minorities in their own countries created a sense of urgency among the native Baltic peoples, feeding the fires of nationalism.
Gorbachevs reforms also spurred Baltic action. He relaxed cen sorship and permitted non-communist organizations to operate more freely. Because they are culturally the closest to the West of the Soviet Unions nationalities and thus more directly influenced by Western ideas, the response to these new freedoms was dee p est and most immediate in the Baltic states. Much of Estonia, for example, receives Finnish television Umbrella Groups. With the relaxation of repression, a number of cultural and environmental organizations were formed in the Baltics. Typically they grou p ed themselves under Popular Front umbrellas. The most well known is 6 the Popular Front in Lithuania, called Sajudis, the Lithuanian word for movement. The Popular Fronts were controlled at first by the Republics Communist Parties, but gradually establish e d their independence and be came increasingly committed to political autonomy for the Baltic states. Non communist and more overtly nationalist organizations such as the Lithuanian Freedom League and the Estonian National Independence Party played im port a nt roles in pushing the debate in these countries rapidly in that direc tion. These organizations openly advocated complete independence from Moscow 7989: Prelude to independence As the nationalist organizations gained momentum throughout last year the dr i ve toward independence accelerated. Despite intimidation by the com munist authorities Sajudis candidates won 36 of the 39 seats for which it com peted in the March 26,1989, elections to the U.S.S.R. Congress of Peoples Deputies The Lithuanian Communist P arty won only four seats.
Lithuanian Freedom League forced the communist government in Lithuania to make radical reforms.The Lithuanian constitution was amended on May 18 to state that Soviet law is valid in that republic only if ratified by the Lithuanian parliament. On that date, the parliament also passed a Declara tion of Lithuanian State Sovereignty proclaiming that Lithuania had been an nexed forcibly by the Soviet Union and had never surrendered its The increasing strength of Sajudis and other organ i zations like the sovereignty 3 A commission established by the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet or parlia ment on August 22 to examine the Hitler-Stalin Pact and its secret protocols ruled that these had been invalid from the moment of their signing and more imp o rtant, that Lithuanias incorporation into the Soviet Union there fore was illegal A law was enacted in Novemberthat restricts Lithuanian citizenship to those who were citizens prior to the Soviet annexation, and to their descendants. Others can apply for citizenship after a ten-year residency.
This was intended to discourage further immigration into Lithuania Gorbachev Rebuffed. Desperate to shore up its rapidly declining popularity, the Lithuanian Communist Party withdrew from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) on December
20. Gorbachev and other senior Soviet leaders rushed to Lithuania to persuade the Lithuanian com munists to reverse their decision They were rebuffed and encountered in the capital of Vilnius a demonstration of 300,000 Lithuanians demanding inde pendence.
Events in Estonia and Latvia followed similar courses. Although estab lished only in October 1988 the Popular Front of Latvia captured three fourths of the seats in the following Marchs elections for the Soviet Congress 3 Lithuania Declares Its Sovereignty, Report on flte USSR, Volume 1, No. 22, June 2,1989 7 of Peoples Deputies. Since only 50 percent of the population is ethnically Latvian this overwhelming victory demonstrated that th e independence for ces embraced even great segments of the large Russian-speaking population.
The Popular Fronts official program was amended on qctober 8,1989 declaring independence for Latvia to be its official goal Two Estonian Parliaments. The politica l situation in Estonia is more com plex than in Latvia or Lithuania Two popularly elected Estonian parliaments now exist, each claiming to represent the republic.The elections this March 18 for the Estonian Supreme Soviet produced a Popular Front-dominate d government committed to independence. But a wholly separate parliament the Congress of Estonia, had been created in non-official elections this February 24; it was organized by a movement known as the Estonian Citizens Committees.
The Citizens Committees were established by a number of parties, the most important of which is the Estonian National Independence Party led by Tunne Kelam. Through enormous effort, the Citizens Committees organized the February 24 elections for the Congress of Estonia, in whic h approximate ly 600,000 out of a population of one million ethnic Estonians participated.
The voting was restricted to those Estonians in the republic and abroad who could prove Estonian citizenship at the time of the Soviet takeover in 1940 or who are de scended from those who were citizens at that time. Those who have come to Estonia since then are considered to have settled illegally as a result of the Soviet occupation. They have been told thatthey will be able to apply for Estonian citizenship at a fu ture date.
Occupation Government. The Citizens Committees maintain that the Republic of Estonia destroyed by the Soviet takeover in 1940 continues to have a legal existence and that the Congress of Estonia now represents it. In addition, they contend that the present political system in Estonia, including the Supreme Soviet, is a creation of the Soviet occupation and is therefore il legitimate. Given the cooperation between the independence forces in both legislatures, it is possible that the new Estonian Supreme Soviet will dissolve itself and recognize the authority of the Congress of Estonia, creating a chal lenge to Soviet authority by dismantling all institutions of Soviet rule in the republic.
The Estonian Supreme Soviet has already taken a step in th is direction passing a resolution last November 12, eclaring Estonias forcible annexa tion by the Soviet Union null and void 4 4 Estonia, Report on the USSR Volume 1, No. 52, December 29,1989 5 Bid. In so doing, it also called into question its own legiti m acy as a creation of that same takeover 8 THE KREMLINS REACTION The Kremlin opposes the Baltic independence movements and threatens reprisals if defiance continues. The Soviet Communist Partys Central Com mittee has warned that continued assertions of Bal tic nationalism could be disastrous and could call into question the viability of the Baltic peoples.
The Kremlin also threatens that independence could bring economic dis aster. During his January trip to Lithuania, Gorbachev said repeatedly that Lithuani a could not survive without access to Soviet raw materials and markets. Indeed all of Lithuanias oil and natural gas come from the Soviet Union, and its industries are tightly integrated into the Soviet economy!
Coupled with Moscows stick has been a small carrot, promising com promise short of independence.Thus the Soviet parliament on November 28 granted the Baltic states economic autonomy, transferring some economic decision-making from Moscow to the republics. Under this arrangement Moscow is to retain control of defense and heavy industries (cement, steel transportation) while the republics would take control of agriculture, con sumer, and construction industries So far, however, Moscow has exploited the legislations ambiguities to prevent the transfer of real economic power to the Baltic states. The Heritage Foundation was told by Ojars Blumbergs chief economic advisor to the Popular Front in Latvia, that his country has had to fight for control over every enterprise promised to it under the economic a u tonomy laws passed by Moscow Moscows Roadblocks. The Soviet government, meanwhile, routinely declares the legislation of the Baltic governments unconstitutional. Example on August 16,1989, the Soviet Congress of Peoples Deputies struck down the election l a w passed by the Estonian Supreme Soviet and ordered it to amend Estonias constitution. Example: despite Article 72 of the Soviet con stitution, which gives each republic an unrestricted right to secede from the U.S.S.R the Soviet Congress of Peoples Deput ies is considering a law to make secession very difficult, if not impossible. The Soviet government also claims that it should be compensated for purported investments in the Baltic economies if the republics secede; Lithuanias bill would be $33 billion.
A greater danger to Baltic independence was created by Gorbachevs as sumption of vastly enhanced presidential powers this March
13. He now can suspend the elected parliaments of the republics and declare a state of emer gency and rule by decree. Thus, to the extent that the Soviet constitution is valid in the Baltic states, Gorbachev now has the legal authority to remove the governments of the Baltic republics and impose rule directly from Mos cow. He used this authority last week when he ordered more Sov i et troops 6 Ann Sheehy, Gorbachevs Arguments Cut Little Ice with Lithuanians, Rept on the USSR,Volume 2, No 6, February 9,1990 9 into Lithuania, and he may use it yet to impose his direct rule over that country BALTIC INDEPENDENCE AND THE SOVIET IMPERIAL C RISIS The Baltic independence movements are part of a broader crisis in the Soviet Union. Of all the problems facing Moscow, including the economic none is more serious than the increasing demands for self-determination by its many subject nationalities. The independence movements in the Baltics are only the furthest advanced of these nationalist forces and have counter parts in Georgia, Moldavia, Ukraine, and among most of the Soviet Unions ethnic groups.
The Ukrainian nationalist organizationRukh did exc eptionally well in the March 4 elections for the Ukrainian parliament, capturing an unexpected 30 percent of the seats. The Supreme Soviet of Georgia declared on March 9 that the forcible Soviet annexation of that country in 1921 was illegal. The Muslim r e publics, especially Azerbaijan, are increasingly defiant of Moscow Moscow understands that the Baltic states moves toward regaining their in dependence are only the first in a series of challenges to Soviet rule by the non-Russian nationalities Important P recedent. An explosive situation is developing as Moscow at tempts to retain control.The temptation to use military force to restore Soviet authority as in Januarys crackdown in Soviet Azerbaijan, likely will grow as the nationalities increasingly defy Mo s cow. Ultimately, this problem can best be solved by granting greater freedom to the nationalities. At a February 5 to 7 meeting of the Soviet Communist Partys Central Committee Gorbachev discussed a possibleTreaty of Union in which economic and political p ower would be decentralized; only sketchy reports of this have been made public? One idea would extend to all of the Soviet Unions fifteen republics the same economic autonomy that has been granted to the Baltic states If the Soviet leadership is serious a bout addressing the nationalities demands for greater self-determination through a new Treaty of Union, a peaceful and negotiated path to Baltic independence could provide Moscow with an important precedent for avoiding the looming violent showdown with i ts subject nationalities.
Although a Soviet military intervention temporarily might crush Baltic in dependence, such force surely.could not be dispatched against all the U.S.S.R.3 nationalities. Explained Sergei Odarich, a leader of the Ukrainian nationali st organization Rukh, on March 21: Against little Lithuania he could still find a pretext to send in troops. But against the [50 million] Uk rainian people, this is impossible.8 7 MOSCOW Offers Republics Freedom Under NewTreaty, The Financial Enies March 2 1,1990 8 Nationalist Party in Ukraine Vows to Push Independence, The Washington Ernes, March 22,1990 10 PROMOTING BALTIC INDEPENDENCE While the U.S. cannot affect the process of Baltic independence directly, it can devise policies aimed at ensuring that i t occurs peacefully. These policies must rest on a foundation of solid principles that include Principle #1: The U.S. supports Baltic independence Principle #2: The U.S. very strongly favors the peaceful achievement of in dependence Principle #3: The U.S. w ill impose an appropriate penalty on Moscow if it prevents, by intimidation or force, peaceful independence of the Baltic states Principle #4: The U.S. will understand sympathetically if Baltic states must use force to counter Moscows intimidation and for c e, but the U.S. will not be able to provide help for such Baltic use of force other than American verbal expressions of solidarity and sympathy Principle #5: The U.S. will reward Moscow appropriately for allowing the Baltic republics to become independent peacefully and similarly will reward Moscow for allowing other Soviet nationalities to attain independence or self determination peacefully Principle #6: The U.S. seeks no unilateral gain in the matter of Baltic inde pendence nor does it seek to exploit t he matter to harm the Soviet Union.
U.S. support for Baltic independence would strengthen the hand of those in the Kremlin who oppose using force against the nationalities.They could argue that the use of force would guarantee a loss of Western support for perestroika and do nothing to solve the underlying problems that are causing the problems in the first place U.S. support for Baltic independence also would signal to Moscow and the nationalist movements that Washington sup ports a peaceful and cooperati ve approach to self-deterrinination, assuming Moscow refrains from using force.
For the U.S. to do nothing while Baltic peoples seek independence would only make matters worse. Gorbachev surely is watching Western actions and statements closely. He surely does not want a rupture in good relations with the West because the economic re v ival of his country depends on Western cooperation. Counseling .Gorbachev that this cooperation will be jeopardized if he represses Baltic independence movements with force should encourage his restraint.To translate the Six Principles into policy, Bush s h ould 4 4 Warn Moscow against the use of force against the Baltic states Washington must make clear to Moscow that a Soviet crackdown in the Bal tics will result in an abrupt downturn in its relations with the U.S. and the West as a whole.This warning shou l d be communicated both publicly and privately by Bush and the Congress. The Administration has been toughening its public signals to Moscow, most notably Secretary of Defense Richard Cheneys March 25 statement that a Soviet military intervention would hav e a significant negative impact on U.S.-Soviet relations a 11 The U.S. should warn Moscow that the use of force against the Baltic states would result in a number of costs to the Soviet Union, especially relating to Moscows attempts to increase economic co operation with the West. Such a warning could give the Baltic states additional leverage against Moscow and encourage the Kremlin to settle this problem peacefully.
Among the costs that Bush should say that he will impose are 1) Postponement of the promise s made at the Malta Summit. These in cluded expanding U.S.-Soviet technical cooperation, lifting U.S. restrictions on export credits and guarantees, negotiating a bilateral investment treaty and supporting Soviet observer status at the General Agreement o n Tariffs and Trade (GATT) talks 2) A call upon the United Nations to condemn the Soviet action in the Bal 3) Suspension of U.S.-Soviet scientific exchanges 4) Opposition to Soviet membership in the International Monetary Fund World Bank and other internati o nal organizations Formally recognize the Baltic states as independent. For half a cen tury, the U.S. has maintained that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were forcib ly and illegally incorporated into the Soviet Union and has demanded that the Soviet Union r estore their independence. It rightly refused to deal with the unelected communist governments of these countries that followed the Soviet annexation. Now that these countries are becoming free and democratic, the U.S. should not ignore their requests for recognition US hulditnpcethree&h~The governments in the Baltic states must be democratically elected the governments formally must declare or reassert their independence the governments must request U.S. recognition.
Lithuania meets all three conditions. The democratic forces under the Sajudis banner won over two-thirds of the seats in the February 24 elections for the Lithuanian parliament. A government headed by President Vytautas Landsbergis, the leader of Sajudis, was established and independence was declared on March 11 by a parliamentary vote of 141 to
0. Requests for Western recognition followed immediately. Estonia and Latvia seem to be following these steps rapidly. In the two republics March 18 parliamentary elections, the Popular Fronts in both republics won amajority of-the seats.
Each has established governments expected to declare formal independence shortly tics just as the U.N. condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Bush Administration has added a fourth condition for U.S. recogni tion: that these governments be in full and effective control of their territory.
This is not unreasonable as long as it is not used as an excuse to avoid recogni tion. The words effective control, however, are ambiguous and should be clearly defined 12 Include these countries in the U.S. assistance package for Eastern Europe The SEED (Support for East European Democracy) Act of 1990, to help Poland and Hungary, will be expanded this year to all of Eastern Europe.This measure has been dubbed SEED II. Independent Estonia, Lat yia, and Lithuania will be part of Eastern Europe and should be entitled to participate in SEED IIs programs as are Eastern Europes other countries.
Among other things, this would make them eligible for loans to private entrepreneurs, give their governments access to credit, and provide them the technical assistance to clean their environment, improve their farm economy and launch small businesses.
The Baltic states especially need assistance establishing centers for busi ness educ ation and managerial expertise.Their future depends on their crest ing a free market economy quickly; yet they have little experience with capitalism and insufficient resources to hire experts from abroad. America can help them establish business schools and take other measures to speed free market reforms. No U.S. assistance, however, should be funneled through Soviet organizations without the consent of the Baltic governments.
These governments, for example, may authorize the U.S. to deal with Soviet ban king, customs, and other organizations Ask Congress to exchange parliamentary groups with each Baltic republic. Congress has a very important role to play in providing symbolic and material support to Lithuania especially if Bush is unable to grant recog n ition to Lithuania in the near future. By exchanging official delegates with the new Baltic parliaments, Congress could demonstrate highly visible American support for the new democratic governments. Such a connection would help to end the psychological i s olation these countries feel and could also be used to provide the new parliaments with assistance on establishing their legislative authority. Congress should also invite President Landsbergis to address a joint session Make Soviet military occupation of the Baltic states a conventional arms control issue. At theVienna talks on an East-West treaty on Conven tional Forces in Europe (CFE the U.S. and its NATO allies should declare that nothing in the agreement implies recognition of any Soviet right to sta tion its forces in the Baltic States, and declare their intention to make this oc cupation subject to any follow-on negotiations on reducin conventional for ces. Soviet forces .in the Baltic region total nearly 200,0
00. Given the official congratulations by Czechoslovakia and Poland to Lithuanias declaration of independence, it is possible that several of Moscows current Warsaw Pact al lies would make a declaration on the Baltics like that ofNATO. U.S diplomats quietly should ask East European governments if they are willing to join the West in issuing such a statement 6 9 The Military Balance, 1989-90 London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, pp. 38-39 13 Press international organizations to admit the Baltic states as mem bers The U.S. should press the United Nations, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GA?T) organization, the International Monetaxy Fund IMF and other international organizations to admit the Baltic republics as full and independent members. The U.S. should encourage th e West Europeans to admit the Baltic states into European and regional organiza tions like the Council of Europe, established in 1948 as an organization of European parliamentary democracies. The Council already has invited the new democracies of Hungary a n d Czechoslovakia to join Press for Baltic independence to be on the forthcoming CSCE con ference agenda. Due to convene this fall, though the date and place are not settled, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) is a gathering of nea rly all the countries of Europe plus the U.S. and Canada.
Convened at Moscows insistence, it will discuss current developments in Europe, like German reunification, expanded economic cooperation, and military security. Added to the agenda should be Baltic independence.The Americans, Europeans, and Soviets could discuss the removal of Soviet troops from Baltic territories, the restructuring of the Baltic states economic ties, and the impact of independence on regional security. Since CSCE in cludes every Eu r opean state except Albania., which has refused to participate the U.S. should insist upon Baltic participation Encourage Americas Western allies to take the same measures. The effects of U.S. support for Baltic independence would be magnified greatly were it part of a united Western effort.This requires Washingtons leadership in supporting the Baltics and coordinating a joint Western response. The U.S also should encourage its allies to link improved economic ties with Moscow to a peaceful transition to in d ependence in the Baltic states. Washington however, should not make its own actions conditional on a united Western front CONCLUSION For half a century, America has pressed the Soviet Union to restore inde pendence to the Baltic republics. And for half a century, these rhetorical demands were easy to make because there was little danger that there would be any need to act on them.
Now, largely through their own courageous efforts, the peoples of Estonia Latvia, and Lithuania have taken the first decisive s teps toward restoration of their independence. They have held democratic elections under often adverse conditions and delivered a solid mandate to their new governments to move toward independence. These governments reflexively and understandably have tur n ed to the West as new members of the international democratic community and requested recognition and assistance. So far, the response has been meek 14 Preventing Force; Moscow is demonstrating its intention to suppress the Baltic states, certainly by hea vy-handed intimidation and possibly by force. It is before force is used that America must move to prevent it.
Gorbachev, almost beyond doubt, prefers to avoid force. Given his desires to improve his image in the West and to secure the benefits of friendlier rela tions, he surely favors economic and political coercion to bring the Baltic states to heel. The new Ba l tic governments are prepared for an extended period of negotiation with Moscow and believe that they can survive the dif ficult times ahead. They are confident that the Soviet leadership ultimately will recognize that there is no alternative to negotiatio n.
It is in the Wests interest that Gorbachev and the Soviet leadership reach this conclusion as quickly as possible.The West can help to even the odds be tween the Baltics and the Soviet Union by coming down clearly on the side of those struggling to achi eve the goals that Western democracies warmly in voke If the West keeps the Baltics at arms length, Moscow is likely to con clude that the West will tolerate a crackdown for the sake of maintaining good relations with the Soviet Union U.S. Leadership. The U. S. role on Baltic independence is critical. No other Western country is likely to offer open support. The U.S. thus should grant formal recognition to the new democratic governments, include the Baltics in U.S. foreign assistance programs for Eastern E u rope, warn Gorbachev that his use of force will torpedo his good economic and political relations with the U.S support the admission by the Baltic states to international organiza tions, raise the issue of Baltic independence at this years upcoming CSCE m eeting, and coordinate a common Western approach on this issue.
The U.S. must formulate a policy that will encourage Moscow and the Soviet nationalities to address the problems of self-determination in a peace ful and negotiated manner To do this, Washingt on should construct a pack age of incentives and penalties for the Soviet Union which clearly lays out the actions the United States is prepared to take to ensure that a cooperative ap proach produces benefits and a resort to force results in substantial costs Pushing A Peaceful Path. With their emphasis on a non-violent and negotiated approach to indepencence, the Baltic republics could serve as an important precedent for addressing the problem of the Soviet nationalities.
By supporting their peaceful str uggle for independence the United States can help to push the process of Soviet decolonization along a peaceful and or derly path. What is at stake is the future of the Baltic republics, the hopes of the other Soviet peoples striving for freedom, and the possibility that the Soviet Union can shed its repressive past and emerge as a responsible and trustworthy member of the community of nations.
Douglas Seay Policy Analyst 15 I February 2, August 11 July 12,1920 July 28,1922 August 23,1939 Sept. 28, Oct. 5 Oct. 10,1939 June-July 1940 July 21,1940 June 22,1941 1944-1947 The Soviet Union recognizes independence of Es tonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, respectively, and renounces all claims on their territory U.S. grants diplomatic recognition to the Baltic republi cs.
Hitler-Stalin Pact signed, dividing the Baltic states and Eastern Europe between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
Moscow forces Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to sign treaties permitting Moscow to station its troops on their territory, respectively.
Moscow replaces independent Baltic governments with communist-controlled Peoples Governments.
Mass deportations of Baltic citizens to Siberia and Soviet Gulag begin.
Peoples Governments in each republic ask for incor poration into the Soviet Union and nationalize all land and industrial enterprises.
Nazi Germany attacks its Soviet ally and occupies the Baltic states.
Baltic forces fight to prevent reincorporation into the Soviet Union, but are defeated by Soviet military.
Scattered resistance last un til 1952 Nov. 18,1988 July 28, May 18,1989 Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania declare sovereignty 16 I March 26,1989 August 22,1989 August 23,1989 November 12,1989 December 20,1989 December 28,1989 February 24,1990 February 24,1990 March 11,1990 March 18,1990 March 25,1990 Democratic forces win majority of Baltic seats in elections for the Soviet Unions Congress of Peoples Deputies.
Lithuanian Supreme Soviet declares Hitler-Stalin Pact and Lithuanias incorporation into the Soviet Union illegal and invalid Two million people participate in the Baltic Way, a human chain stretching fromTallinn through Riga to Vilnius in a demonstration of Baltic solidarity and a popular commitment to independence.
Estonian Supreme Soviet declares 1940 Soviet an nexation to be null and void.
Lithuanian Communist Party votes to separate from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Soviet Congress of Peoples Deputies rules Hitler Stalin Pact illegal and invalid but refuses to strike down the treaties incorporating the Baltic states into the Soviet Union.
Estonian Citizens Committees hold elections for Congress of Estonia which represents the Republic of Estonia destroyed by the 1940 Soviet takeover.
Sajudis candidates sweep elections for Lithuanian Supreme Soviet, winning two-thirds of the seats.
Lithuanian Supreme Soviet forms a government declares independence, and asks for negotiations with Moscow.
Independence forces win elections for Estonian and Latvian Supreme Soviets.
Estonian Communist Party votes to separate from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, after a six month transition 17