The Baltic States have proved their worth as viable independent states and any attack on their sovereignty would constitute a major disaster; so says Sergey Utkin, researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), an independent research institute based in Moscow.
"The Baltic states have proved their vitality as nations, and states, which managed to find their way into the core group of the EU -- the Eurozone, as well as NATO, thus influencing decisions of these powerful alliances,'' he said.
''This makes the dialogue with the Baltic States more important than it would have been if we talked about a purely bilateral dimension of relations. Any attack on the Baltic states would clearly trigger disastrous scenarios," Utkin, went on.
Acknowledging the existence of larger Russian-speaking populations in Estonia and Latvia in particular, and concerns in Russia regarding the perceived political stance of the three Baltic States, Utkin, who is due to take part in the Lennart Meri Conference in Tallinn in early June, explained that there was nothing new here.
These issues had been on the table for the quarter of a century that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been independent, he went on.
"Over the same timespan, the persistence of these concerns did not prevent any of the Baltic states from trading with Russia and welcoming plenty of Russian tourists. Trade hasno doubt been affected by mutual sanctions lately, but it's still business as usual, as the market always adapts to avoid losing any available opportunities to gain profits,'' Utkin said.
''Stopping the ongoing securitisation [ie. turning the Baltic states into a security issue for Russia - ed.] of Russia's relationship with the Baltics is a genuine mutual interest of nations but it remains to be seen if the politicians will be up for doing this job," he went on.
The IMEMO is a non-profit organisation acting within the Charter of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It publishes an academic journal, 'World Economy and International Relations', and holds an international summit, 'the Primakov Readings', discussing current global trends in the world eceonomy, international politics and security. The Primakov Readings are named after the former Russian Prime Minister, academic and diplomat Yegveny Primakov.
The 12th Lennart Meri Conference entitled 'the Next Hundred Years' is to be held in late May/early June this year with events at Tartu Univesity and the Radisson Blu Sky hotel in Tallinn, and will include speakers such as Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, and retired US Army General David. H. Petraeus.
Backed by the Estonian Ministry of Defence, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NATO and other organisations, and organized by the International Centre for Defence and Security along with the Lennart Meri Foundation, it will reportedly use the occasion of Estonia's 100th anniversary to reflect on lessons of the past both in the regional and the global context, according to the organisers of the conference.
Editor: Andrew Whyte