Thursday, December 30, 2010

Estonia to Become 17th Member of the Euro Area on January 1, 2011

Estonia to strengthen the euro area

Euro maverick Edin Mujagic writes inter alia:

"Estonia is also a living proof that economic disasters do not have to lead to enormous budget deficits. Disaster is the correct word, as the economy of this tiny Baltic nation has contracted by some 15 percent in 2009 with 2010 not being much better either. But still its government managed to keep the budget deficit at just a tad over 1 percent of its GDP. A remarkable achievement indeed if there ever was one."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NATO has secret plan to defend Baltics: WikiLeaks | Reuters

NATO has secret plan to defend Baltics: WikiLeaks | Reuters

I think that any real dependence by the Baltic states on NATO assistance in the case of any serious future threat by Russia is foolish. That strategy has never worked in the past so why should it work now?

I remember having some arguments with my father about this topic many years ago in the United States, but I am and remain of the opinion that the Baltic states are sometimes their own worst enemy in not adopting newer, more viable strategies for survival, given their geographic position on the world scene.

In the first place, they are where they are, not elsewhere, and their history is marked by the influence of more populous powers at their perimeter: Russia, Germany, Poland, Sweden. Nothing has changed, even if the Baltic states are now within the ambit of the EU. A political union does not guarantee military security.

Secondly, the Baltic states do not have oil or any other natural resource to make them important to NATO and the West. They are only important militarily at the geographic bottleneck that runs from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, which is the main geographic power axis of Europe. It is a theoretical importance.

Thirdly, the Baltic states in their provinciality have not seen fit to unite into a larger unity, which would be helpful for all. I have often stated that a Baltic Union should be created in order to form a stronger, more independent political entity. Such a Baltic Union could remain in the EU, with each of the three Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia retaining their own official languages, and with English functioning as the language of government administration. But my words always fall on deaf ears. Everyone wants to be a king in his own territory, no matter how small that territory may be. The result is that the small, militarily weak Baltic states are always easy pickings for militant, aggressive neighbors.

Fourth, the Russian presence, simply by Russian population, is still enormous in the Baltic states, running to nearly 50% in Latvia (concentrated in Riga and Daugavpils). Given that circumstance, a policy of peaceful coexistence would seem to be the most sensible option, especially given the economic importance of Russia to the Latvian economy, if not by trade alone, then by the sheer presence of so many people of Russian origin in the population.

To put it bluntly, the greatest protection against Russian aggression in the Baltic states is the very presence of that large Russian population. Russia is not likely to attack their own people.

Moreover, the Baltic states are the "Baltic Riviera" to the Russian intelligentia and political oligarchy. When we were in Jurmala just this year, we met a middle-aged woman from Moscow who said she had been coming to Jurmala in the summer since she was a young girl. It was a part of her "culture". And that particular culture is no harm to Latvia, quite the contrary. "Tourists" bring in business and currency, also Russians.

I say that as someone of Latvian origin whose past was greatly and negatively influenced by the Russian occupation of Latvia.

The people of the Baltic states have to learn to put the past behind them and move forward. FORWARD.

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