The research reports reproduced here are the responsibility of the individual authors. Their reproduction does not imply any form of official or unofficial endorsement by NATO. The reports are offered in unedited form, as presented by their authors, with a view to make their findings available to a wide audience.

Enhancing Security of Lithuania and Other Baltic States in 1992-94 and Future Guidelines
Ceslovas Stankevicius
[Back to Index]

Chapter 7. International Assistance and Co-Operation in Consolidating the Security of the Baltic States

Section 1. The Assistance of the Western States in the Withdrawal of the Occupation Forces from the Baltic States

[1] The political assistance of the members of NATO and the other Western states with regard to the withdrawal of the armed forces of the former USSR from the Baltic states was very important and effective. Russia was delaying the negotiations of the military withdrawal from the Baltic states that started in the spring of 1992 under the pretext of technical difficulties. What was needed was some influence from the West that would give an incentive to Russia. On June 4, 1992, the NATO foreign affairs ministers in their Final communiquù of the Oslo meeting urged "to conclude agreements soon, establishing firm timetables for the early withdrawal of the former Soviet troops." The NATO statement also underlined that the presence of the former Soviet armed forces in the Baltic states violated international law. "We are aware of the practical problems for Russia connected with such withdrawals, but these cannot affect the application of the basic principle of international law that the presence of foreign state requires the explicit consent of that state." (1) On June 26, 1992, the Council of the Baltic States addressed the heads of the G-7 with a request to tie their financial assistance to Russia with the process of withdrawal of the armed forces that were illegally stationed in the Baltic states.(2) The statement of the G-7 meeting in Munich on July 7 said that the armed forces that were unlawfully deployed in the Baltic states had to be withdrawn regardless of any economic difficulties.(3) This position was formulated at the G-7 meeting which was also attended by the Russian President, Yeltsin. Without any doubt, this encouraged him to take the political initiative for the immediate pull-out of Russia's armed forces from the Baltic states.

[2] The position of the member states of NATO and the European Union also helped determine the inclusion of Article 15 into the declaration of the Helsinki Summit which demanded that problems inherited from the past, like the presence of foreign forces on the territory of the Baltic states without their agreement, be eliminated by peaceful negotiations, and urged the immediate conclusion of bilateral agreements and timetables for their "immediate, orderly and full withdrawal."(4) The NATO states repeated their unchanging position in the Brussels Final Communiquù, issued by the ministers in December 11, 1992, by which they urged Russia to complete as soon as possible the military withdrawal that had been started. NATO stated clearly to Russia that the military withdrawal "should not be linked with other issues,"(5) and that practical difficulties could not justify the delay of the withdrawal. At the NACC ministers' meetings in Brussels in December 1992, and in Athens in June 1993, it was also stressed that the military withdrawal could not be linked to any other problems or postponed due to technical difficulties on the Russian side.(6)

[3] Trying to encourage Russia to withdraw its occupation forces as soon as possible, NATO countries began sending humanitarian assistance to Russia which would help meet the social needs of the families of the transferred officers. Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin signed an agreement in 1993 which provided for US $ 110 million in assistance for the construction of residences for the officers in Russia.(7) This assistance was also continued after the military withdrawal from the Baltic states was completed. In September 1994, the United States assigned US $ 160 million for re-training and for the construction of officers' residences.(8) In 1994, the United States and Sweden donated US $ 9 million for the clean-up of the territory of the Skrunda radar station in Latvia.(9) Of great importance was the bill that was passed in the US Senate on October 2, 1992, which stipulated that the allotted US $ 417 million in technical and economic assistance could be given to Russia only on condition that it withdrew its armed forces from the Baltic states.(10)

[4] On November 25, 1992, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proposed by the Baltic states on the "Complete Withdrawal of Foreign Military Forces from the Territories of the Baltic States," which was actively supported by the members of NATO. The resolution welcomed the "recent agreements on the complete withdrawal of foreign military forces from Lithuania" and urged the immediate conclusion of agreements, including timetables, for the withdrawal of military forces from Latvia and Estonia. Indeed, the resolution confirmed Russia's international duty to withdraw its armed forces from the Baltic states. By this resolution, the United Nations recognised that the agreements on the timetable and procedures for the military withdrawal made between Lithuania and Russia in September 1992 were complete. Therefore, Russia's subsequent attempts to question the finality of the agreements signed by Lithuania and Russia were without any justifiable foundation.(11)

[5] The North Atlantic Assembly (NAA) also paid continual attention to the withdrawal of the Russian Army, and the Baltic states have been participating in the NAA as associate delegates since 1991. On the initiative of the US Congressman Charlie Rose, President of the NAA, and US Senator William Roth, the NAA drew the Central and Eastern European states, including the Baltic states, into its activities on a broad scale. The Rose-Roth seminar discussed security issues. Russian representatives were also invited to these seminars. At the Rose-Roth seminars, the Danish, Norwegian, and German delegations were particularly active in discussions on the problems of the Baltic states. The first such Rose-Roth seminar was held in Vilnius on December 16-19 and was devoted to the issue of "Baltic Security Requirements." At this seminar, the representatives of the Baltic states underlined the demand for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupation forces from their territory.(12) This was the first broad international discussion on this issue. The question of military withdrawal was discussed in other Rose-Roth seminars. They took place in Riga on April 27-29, 1992; in Copenhagen on September 2, 1992;(13) in Tallinn on October 26-28, 1992; and in Warsaw on May 4-7, 1993. Due to the Rose-Roth seminars, the issues of Baltic security and the withdrawal of all occupation forces were at the centre of continual international attention. In Bruges (Belgium) in 1992, at the annual NAA autumn session, the Danish representative, Hans Haekkerup, prepared a report, "Baltic Security: The New Context," on behalf of the Working Group of the Nordic countries. Together with the Lithuanian representative, he proposed to the assembly a draft resolution, "On Baltic Security: The New Context," which was then adopted. In the resolution, Russia was repeatedly urged to continue the withdrawal of its armed forces from the Baltic region and to make agreements with Latvia and Estonia.(14)

[6] Western political support in the withdrawal of military forces from Latvia and Estonia was concretely expressed through the visit of the American President, Clinton, to Riga, and his meeting with the heads of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia on July 6, 1994. He confirmed that the Russian military withdrawal could not be linked to the issue of Russians' rights as raised by Russia. This visit was a manifestation of the high importance that the United States assigned to the security of the Baltic states. During this visit, the American President announced that the United States was going to give assistance to the Baltic peacekeeping battalion. He also said that the US was going to give US $ 4 million for the dismantling of the Skrunda radar station(15) and an additional US $ 2 million for the closing down of the Paldiski nuclear reactor.(16) During the visit, the American President noted that for fifty years, the United States had not recognised the occupation of the Baltic states, and that it would continue to support them. "We are with you, we shall help you," he said.(17)

Section 2. International Co-Operation and Partnership Facilitating the Development of the Security and Defence Systems of the Baltic States.

[7] Having prepared and submitted to NATO the Presentation Documents for the Partnership for Peace Programme (PfP),(18) the Baltic states embarked on planned and concrete activities within the PfP framework. International co-operation and assistance from the Western states was particularly helpful in developing the defence structures of the Baltic states and training peacekeeping forces. On October 25-26, 1994, a United States delegation led by the Deputy Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ms. Lynn E. Davis, visited Lithuania and thereon Latvia and Estonia. She said that by this visit, the United States was beginning an important dialogue to get a better understanding of the security problems in the region.(19) This visit was also a manifestation of the United States' interests in the security problems of the Baltic states.(20) The issues under discussion were contraband nuclear materials, arms and drugs, the Kaliningrad district, NATO enlargement, and Lithuania's participation in the PfP programme.(21) The United States offered assistance in combating contraband radioactive material, and arms and drugs.

[8] Another important sign of American assistance to Baltic security was the visit of Vice President Al Gore to Tallinn. On March 13, 1995, Al Gore met with the heads of state of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.(22) Al Gore said that the US treated the Baltic states as Central European states and that they would be among those countries considered for NATO membership. The Vice President confirmed Clinton's commitment to support the BALTBAT with US $ 10 million in 1995 and to ask Congress for a further US $ 1.75 million for each Baltic state to finance the PfP programme in 1996. The United States offered the Baltic states to participate in creating an integrated system of civilian and military air space control and navigation, in conformity with NATO standards, which could be later connected to the control system of the Western states.(23)

[9] In Copenhagen, on September 11, 1994, the defence ministers of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom signed with the ministers of the Baltic states a Memorandum of Understanding on the Formation of the 1000-strong Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion (BALTBAT). This document helps to co-ordinate practical assistance of the above-mentioned parties for the training of the Baltic battalion for a three-year period. A Steering Group led by a Danish representative was set up to co-ordinate international assistance. According to the agreement, the United Kingdom committed itself to teach the English language. The Nordic countries agreed to help in the spheres of administration and legal regulation, as well as to teach peacekeeping procedures and actions. The BALTBAT officers and NCO's undergo a six-month course in Denmark.(24) All the countries committed themselves to help with ammunition, supplies, and the organisation of training exercises. The countries that support the formation of the battalion assigned a great deal of material assistance.(25) In Vilnius, on April 20, 1995, a meeting of the BALTBAT supporters was held. Apart from the Baltic states, the representatives of the following countries were present: Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. The supporting countries divided amongst themselves the spheres of responsibility with regard to the battalion's support. The preparation of the battalion is planned to be completed by the end of 1997.

[10] Lithuania takes very seriously its co-operation with the members of NATO and the countries outside the alliance. Lithuania's experience shows that such co-operation brings political, intellectual (knowledge and professional skills), and material benefits. For example, the United States has been conducting the "Military to Military" programme in Lithuania since the summer of 1993; this entails advising the Lithuania's airforce and navy, its border-protection forces, the chiefs of staff, and the Volunteer Service; supplying teaching material; and arranging visits for Lithuanian officers to the United States. The permanent mission of this programme is based in Vilnius. Within the framework of this programme, US $ 0.5 million was allotted in 1994, over forty American military specialists visited Lithuania, and eighteen delegations of the Lithuanian National Defence System visited the United States.(26) In 1995, this programme was allotted US $ 770 thousand.(27) An additional US $ 268 thousand was given by the United States for the training of Lithuanian officers in American military schools.(28)

[11] In the Pentagon, on October 28, 1994, the American Defence Secretary, William Perry, and the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence, Linas Linkevicius, signed a memorandum on co-operation in defence and military relations. This provides for the strengthening and development of co-operation within the PfP framework, as well as bilateral co-operation and implementation of new programmes. The implementation of the memorandum also provides for American international military education and training in Lithuania; the participation of Lithuanian representatives in the programme of the George C. Marshall European Centre for Security Studies (Garmisch, Germany); the adjustment of the American Military Leadership Joint Group Programme to the needs of Lithuania; assistance to Lithuania as a participant of the NATO PfP programme in developing its armed forces so that they are harmonised with those of NATO; bilateral meetings of working groups to discuss matters of defence and regional security; and participation in conferences, seminars, and courses.(29) It also provides for concrete co-operation in military relations.(30) On November 21, 1995, while on a visit to Lithuania, the American Defence Secretary, William Perry, and the Lithuanian National Defence Minister, Linas Linkevicius, signed a treaty between the governments of Lithuania and the United States on security measures to protect secret military information. This treaty allows the two parties to exchange and use military information according to the needs of bilateral co-operation.

[12] Already in 1992, Germany handed over to the Lithuanian National Defence Ministry a considerable amount of equipment and ammunition, and, according to the agreement signed in July 1994, communications equipment.(31) The German Defence Minister, Volker Ruhe, and the Lithuanian Defence Minister, Linas Linkevicius, signed an agreement in Bonn on September 1, 1994, on co-operation in formulating security policy, the creation and planning of armed forces, broad exchange of information at all structural levels in the military sphere, and training of the Lithuanian officers in Germany.(32) Germany is providing the opportunity for Lithuanian officers to study in German military schools and various courses.(33) In May 1994, Germany and Lithuania signed an agreement on mutual assistance in cases of natural disasters and major industrial accidents. The Bundeswehr Verification Centre co-operates with the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence in creating a verification service.

[13] In Vilnius, on August 15, 1994, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom, Michael J. Peart, and the Lithuanian National Defence Minister, Linas Linkevicius, signed an agreement on British assistance in creating a department for analysis within the development programmes of the National Defence Ministry.(34) In Vilnius, on October 5, 1994, the British Defence Minister, Malcolm Rifkind, and the Lithuanian Minister, Linas Linkevicius, signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the National Defence Ministry of the Republic of Lithuania and the Defence Ministry of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on relations and co-operation in the military sphere. The memorandum provides for assistance in training the peacekeeping battalion; English language programmes for officers and NCO's; student exchanges between military schools and academies; and the exchange of experts.(35)

[14] The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence maintains very close relations with the Danish Defence Ministry. The latter gives extensive assistance, especially in training the military corps for peacekeeping operations. In 1994-95, the trained Lithuanian platoons successfully carried out peacekeeping missions within the Danish battalion in Croatia. During a visit to Vilnius by the Danish Defence Minister, Hans Haekkerup, on March 9-11, 1994, an agreement was signed between the Lithuanian and the Danish Ministries of Defence on the development of military co-operation. In Visby (Denmark), on July 7, 1994, the Danish and Lithuanian armed forces commanders signed a separate bilateral "Memorandum of Understanding" on the training of the Lithuanian peacekeeping platoon. Denmark is an especially important partner in training NCO's.(36) The Danish experts and specialists constantly visit Lithuania and consult the officials of the Lithuanian National Defence Ministry and the armed forces on various issues. Denmark also provides various material assistance to the Lithuanian national protection system.(37)

[15] The Lithuanian National Defence Ministry receives friendly assistance from the French Defence Ministry. The French Defence Ministry's experts gave consultations on the drafting of the Lithuanian national security concept. The French teach the French language to the staff and officers of the Lithuanian national defence system, give consultations on various issues, share their expertise, supply teaching material, and organise seminars. In 1993, France donated to the Lithuanian Armed Forces a large amount of military materiel.(38) The French warships visit Klaipeda on a regular basis. In Paris, on May 11, 1994, the defence ministers of Lithuania and France signed an agreement on defence co-operation. The following areas were singled out in the agreement: defence and security concepts; the organisational structures of the armed forces and their reserves; staff administration and management; the training of officers and NCO's; communications and information in the armed forces; and military laws and regulations.

[16] In Istanbul, on September 19, 1995, the Lithuanian and Turkish Governments signed an agreement on contacts and co-operation in military training, technology, and science. It provides for co-operation in research, science and training, technology, and military medicine, all according to specific programmes. It envisages consultations and information exchange, as well as the transferring of surplus equipment. An agreement between the Lithuanian National Defence Ministry and the Defence Ministry of the Kingdom of Norway on contacts and co-operation in the military sphere was signed in Vilnius on August 8, 1994. This agreement singles out co-operation in conscription and training, military education, and military supplies. It envisages the implementation of a range of assistance programmes.(39) The agreements on military co-operation Lithuania have also signed with the Czech Republic (November 12, 1993), and the Republic of Poland (July 15, 1993).

[17] Lithuania maintains very close co-operation in the military sphere with Sweden and receives significant assistance from this country. Sweden prepares Lithuanian naval officers and trains officers for peacekeeping missions. In 1994, three Lithuanians began studying at the Swedish Naval Academy College, with all expenses covered by Sweden. In 1996, another three Lithuanians will begin their naval studies. Sweden and Lithuania are carrying out a programme of co-operation between the civil protection and rescue services. Sweden has also offered assistance to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to install airspace, sea, and land-border control systems, first of all by creating a sea and coast surveillance information centre. The Swedish experts are helping to improve the Lithuanian conscription and mobilisation systems. Sweden renders extensive material aid to the Lithuanian national defence system.(40)

[18] In this rough review of bilateral co-operation, it was not possible to fully discuss either the extent of the assistance of various countries or all the forms of co-operation and assistance. This is a topic for a separate discussion. The Baltic states are creating their security and defence systems from scratch, under difficult economic and social conditions. Until now, Russia has not compensated even one dollar for the weapons, military equipment, and ammunition of the Baltic countries' armed forces destroyed in 1940. Therefore, international co-operation and further Western assistance is indispensable to the Baltic states.

Section 3. Co-Operation Among the Baltic States

[19] In Tallinn on September 13, 1993, the Defence ministers of the three Baltic states signed a trilateral declaration of co-operation in security and defence.(41) This declaration reasserted the common goals of the three states: integration in NATO and the WEU; joint participation in peacekeeping forces; co-operation in airspace, territorial waters, and land-border protection; the harmonisation of weapons and command and communications systems with Western standards; and holding joint exercises. The co-operation of the Baltic states in defence became more active and better planned after the withdrawal of the Soviet/Russian occupation forces in 1994. In Riga, on September 13, 1994, a trilateral treaty was signed concerning the creation and functioning of a joint peacekeeping unit.(42) In Riga, on November 24, 1994, the governments of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia signed an agreement On Co-operation in State Border Protection.(43) This agreement also includes mutual assistance in the use of communication lines.(44)

[20] In Vilnius, on February 27, 1995, the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian defence ministers signed an agreement on defence co-operation. This agreement envisages co-ordination of the activities of the Baltic states in carrying out the PfP programme, the creation of a joint peacekeeping battalion (BALTBAT), and expansion of relations in air, sea, and land-border protection.(45) In Tallinn, in November 1994, the commanders of the armed forces(46) of the Baltic states signed an agreement on the establishment of a joint working group to prepare a common airspace control system.(47) In Vilnius, on February 27, 1995, the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian defence ministers(48) signed an agreement on co-operation in defence and military relations. The agreement provides for the co-ordination of activities in implementing the PfP programme, creating the BALTBAT, and being ready for any possible conflict scenarios in the region. It also envisages the expansion of relations in air, sea, and land-border protection,(49) and the exchange of experience in creating organisational structures for the armed forces, including the volunteer forces, in the legal regulation of the armed forces.(50)

[21] On November 13, 1994, the Baltic Assembly, at its session in Vilnius, adopted a resolution "On Military Co-operation Between the Baltic States," which recommended that the Baltic Council of Ministers embark upon the preparation of a Lithuanian, Estonian, and Latvian defence treaty.(51) This resolution is not binding on the governments. The romantic idea of a military union of the three states has no conceptual basis. In Lithuania, many well-supported arguments were voiced against such a union. The Baltic defence union would not muster sufficient force to defend itself in the case of external aggression. Even discussions about the expediency of such a union could raise certain doubts or ambiguities with regard to NATO membership. Meanwhile, Lithuania's firm and official position is to guarantee its security by membership in NATO. Lithuania seeks NATO membership directly, and not through some intermediary structure. Lithuania's policy rests on the provision of NATO enlargement that each candidate country may seek membership only on an individual basis. Against the background of regional co-operation in NATO enlargement and the integration of Central Europe into this security organisation, any structural separation of the Baltic states from Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic would be detrimental.

[22] The security-enhancing policy of the Baltic states must be based on close co-operation in those fields where preparation for NATO membership can be accelerated, where joint efforts and actions are more effective than individual ones. The lagging behind of one state should not prevent the progress of the more advanced. The areas of and means for military co-operation would be discussed with and co-ordinated by the countries of NATO. Experience has shown that the decision to create a joint peacekeeping battalion was right. The main reason for success was the co-ordination by and the support of the members of NATO. Thus, it is important to continue such co-operation programmes which include all the three Baltic states within the NATO integration process, closely monitored and supported by NATO. One such very important project where the Baltic states also participate is the creation of a common Central European airspace control system, according to NATO standards, and its integration into the Western European airspace control system. A similar protection-and-control system for the eastern borders of the Baltic states with the CIS should be implemented and co-ordinated by the members of NATO and the European Union. The Baltic states should support and participate in implementing the recommendation of the resolution passed by the WEU Parliamentary Assembly on November 16, 1995, stipulating that Denmark, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania establish permanent, joint Baltic Sea forces for border and navigation control, for monitoring and search-and-rescue operations, and for other joint tasks.(52)

 [ Go to Index ]  [ Go to Homepage ]  [ Go to Next Page ]