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Tuesday
Sep062016

EANC issues statement regarding misinformation about the Baltic countries and their support to NATO

PRESS RELEASE

September 6, 2016

In light of recent misinformed comments in the press about Baltic participation in and commitments to NATO, and other issues, the EANC finds it important to ensure factual information is presented. 

The status of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as sovereign nations and members of NATO needs to be clearly understood.  They regained independence in 1991 after over 50 years of occupation by the Soviet Union, and joined NATO in 2004.  Estonia is one of only five NATO members that are actually meeting the requirement to spend 2% of GDP on defense.  Latvia and Lithuania are increasing their percentages annually and have implemented plans to meet the requirement by 2020.  All have consistently supported NATO’s force in Afghanistan since 2003 and all have sustained casualties, Estonia at a higher per capita rate than any other contributing nation.

The size and status of the Russian minorities in the Baltic nations are also often misrepresented.  While reports on Estonia have put the percentage of Russians there as high as 40%, the correct number is actually less than 26%.  Latvia and Lithuania are at around 27% and 5% respectively. 

There is a common misconception that in the event of Russian incursion, Russians living in the Baltics may be prone to providing support and forming militias, similar to the way Russia’s aggression in Ukraine unfolded.  While there are still challenges regarding their integration as citizens, studies have shown that while they are interested in Russia due to their ethnicity, Baltic Russians aren’t likely to support any attempts by the Kremlin to advance into the Baltics.  Because of their close proximity to Russia, they can compare living conditions there with their countries of residence and overwhelmingly have chosen to remain where they are.

For more information, contact EANC Washington Director Karin Shuey at karinshueyeanc@gmail.com.