Baltikum - en status

Med denne overskrift vil tidsskriftet bringe en status for de tre baltiske republikker med en artikel fra en lette samt vore militærattachéer i området. Den første artikel er et lettisk synspunkt, der er skrevet af direktøren for Det Lettiske Institut for Internationale Forhold, Artis Lejins. Artiklen er skrevet i begyndelsen af april 1994, hvor der atter i den russiske debat havde været stillet spørgsmål ved Letlands selvstændighed.


Latvia's present security question number one
After two torturous years of negotiations Russia and Latvia reached an agreement on March the 15 on the treaty setting the final date on the Russian troop withdrawal from Latvia. The date is August 31 of this year (previously Latvia had demanded that Russian troops must leave by December 31 of 1993). Some 10-12.000 Russian troops are still left in Latvia. Three weeks later, on April the 5, president Yeltsin surprised Latvia, and probably meny Western capitals involved with the Russian troop withdrawal from the the Baltic states, with a instruction that Russia should start negotiations with CIS countries and the Latvian Republic on the establishment of Russian military bases on their territory in order to secure Russia's and the respective country's security, as well as to test new weapons and military technology. Tiiis created an uprour in Latvia which has put the treaty agreement reached with Russia on ice, despite Moscows's protestations that including Latvia in the instruction was "technical mistake". The Russian ambassador in Latvia Alexander Rannich apologized to Latvia and at a press conference agreed that this incident is an international scandal. However, the Latvian government has announced that it awaits an official retraction from president Yeltsin (i.e. on the same level on which the instruction was issued) and demanded a high level meeting of both sides to discuss the situation. The Latvian government is not satisfied with the statement by Russia's foreign minister Andrej Kozirev that neither he nor the defence minister Pavel Grachev were involved in the formulation of the instruction. There has been no explanation to how this "technical mistake" came about and presently contradictory information has been recieved in Latvia on what the Russian foreign ministry intends to do: it has both said that it will detract the instruction with regard to Latvia, and not to do it. Instead it will try to find out how this mistake came about. The leader of the Russian delegation Sergej Zotov has acknowledged that the idea to establish a military base is a "tremendous mistake" and that Latvia appeared in the instruction by mistake.

What is one to make of this situation? Can such mistake occur at the highest level of a superpower with hundreds of years of experience and routine in its relations with foreign contries? On the other hand Andrej Kozirev only few days earlier acknowledged on Russian television that the treaty between Russia and Latvia indeed will be signed and in general there are no human rights violations in Latvia. Is it possible that there is no longer coordination between the highest echelons of power in Moscow on foreign pohcy? If so this is no longer a problem for Latvia alone but for the world in general. One thesis that has been is that the "technical mistake" was a trial balloon to test the will of the Latvian government, but this has to be discarded: the reaction of the Latvian government and people on the question on Russian military bases in Latvia has always been clear, that is, a categorical "no". The experience Latvia has had with Russian bases in Latvia in 1939, which led to the end of Latvian independence in 1940, is a lesson to last for several generations.

As it is the Latvian government will not find it easy to push through the treaty in parliament because in addition to the most welcome final date of the Russian pull-out at the end of August, there are also two objectionable parts of the treaty with regard to the maintenance of the Skrunda early warning ABM site for another four years (with another 18 months allowed for dismantling it) and the residency permits for 22.000-25.000 Russian army veterans and retired military officers. 

In the treaty the Skranda ABM early warning site is designated as a military installation under civilian control. It is a part of the ABM treaty signed between the USA and USSR in 1972. President Clinton was personally involved in reaching a compromise between Russia and Latvia on the number of years the Skrunda site could continue to operate in Latvia until a new facihty built in Russia. Latvia has been promised 10 million dollars by the USA for the immediate dismantling of the huge building that would house the second- generation radar needed to make the base meet modem standards, which still has not been installed. Presently only the first-generation radar at the site is allowed by Latvia to operate for the next four years, as agreed to in the treaty.

If America's involvement in the Skrunda deal can be interpreted to be a "soft" security guarantee for Latvia which could mollify opposition in Latvia to the Skrunda issue, the question of retired Russian military personnel staying in Latvia is a completely different question. Although the majority of these people are army veterans over 65 who will continue to receive their pensions fi'om Moscow, several thousand of the approximately 22.000-25.000 retired military personel are still in the prime of their life, between the ages of 35-55 years. This category of retired personnel can be mobilized by the Russian army and presently one can only guess what they are doing and will do in Latvia. To be sure they will be subject to the laws of Latvia, but on the other hand, Latvia can not do anything in form of not extending their residency permits in order to make them leave Latvia. This part of the treaty is the touchiest point for the Latvian people and the rulling coalition can find it difficult in getting the treaty ratified in the Latvian Saeima (parliament) because of it.

However, as mentioned above because of the April 5 Yeltsin instruction a new political situation has arisen which places into jeopardy the UN and CSCE resolutions on the Russian troop withdrawals from the Baltic states. According to the government, the new situation does not allow for the ratification of the Latvian-Russian treaty. Presently one can only wait on developments in Moscow to see if these can reassure Latvia that this was not "an active measures" ploy to destabilize relations between both countries or a crude attempt to push Latvia back into "the family" (USSR=CIS). 



PDF med originaludgaven af Militært Tidsskrift, hvor denne artikel er fra:
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