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USIS Washington 
File

16 January 1998

FACT SHEET: U.S.-BALTIC RELATIONS

(Fact sheet issued by White House January 16) (1540)



(The following fact sheet on U.S.-Baltic Relations was issued by the
White House following the signing of the U.S.-Baltic Charter of
Partnership January 16, 1998.)


THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

January 16, 1998



FACT SHEET



U.S.-BALTIC RELATIONS



President Clinton met today with Presidents Lennart Meri of Estonia,
Guntis Ulmanis of Latvia, and Algirdas Brazauskas of Lithuania to
discuss the strengthening of U.S.-Baltic relations and mutual efforts
to advance the integration of the Baltic states into the European and
transatlantic communities.


The Baltic Presidents also met this week with senior Administration
officials including Secretary of State Albright, Treasury Secretary
Rubin, Attorney General Reno, FBI Director Freeh, and Deputy Secretary
of Defense Hamre. During these meetings, they signed several
agreements and held consultations that will give new dynamism to
cooperation with the three countries on a variety of economic and
security issues. The visit has helped expand mutual trade and
investment, advanced cooperation on defense matters, and launched new
initiatives on combating organized crime.


The centerpiece of the visit was the signing of the Charter of
Partnership. The charter is a political statement of principles that
will guide the deepening of mutual cooperation and advance common
objectives into the 21st Century


U.S. Interests



For over fifty years, there was a bipartisan consensus on maintaining
a strong policy of non-recognition of the forcible incorporation of
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the former Soviet Union.


Since they regained their independence in 1991, the United States has
played a critical role in helping these states implement democratic
and free market reforms and strengthen their security and sovereignty.


The Charter recalls this history, and underscores that the United
States has a "real, profound, and enduring" interest in the security
and independence of the three Baltic states. This is because, as the
Charter also notes, our interest in a Europe whole and free will not
be ensured until Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are secure.


The Charter of Partnership



The Charter has the following elements:



It begins with expressions of commitment by the four governments to
shared principles and a common vision for a secure, prosperous, and
undivided Europe. The Charter makes clear that Baltic integration into
the European and transatlantic communities is a part of this vision
and that they will not be left out or discriminated against due to
factors of history or geography. It also notes how U.S.-Baltic
cooperation will contribute to the integration of the Baltic states.


In that context, the Charter notes the shared goal of Baltic
integration into European and transatlantic institutions, such as the
European Union, OSCE, the World Trade Organization, and NATO.


On NATO, the Charter recalls the Madrid Summit Communique language and
notes that the United States welcomes Baltic aspirations and supports
their efforts to join NATO. It also reaffirms U.S. policy that NATO's
partners can become members as each aspirant proves itself able and
willing to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership,
and as NATO determines that the inclusion of these nations would serve
European stability and the strategic interests of the Alliance.


The Charter does not pre-commit the United States to Baltic membership
in NATO. So, too, the Charter does not offer "back-door" security
guarantees. The Baltic governments understand, and have said so
publicly, that such guarantees can only come through NATO membership.
The Charter is not an alternative to NATO membership, nor is it an
effort to regionalize the security of the Baltic states.


The Charter affirms a shared commitment to promotion of harmonious and
equitable relations among individuals belonging to diverse ethnic and
religious groups. The parties affirm their desire to develop close,
cooperative relationships among all the states in Northeastern Europe.


The Charter takes note of the progress of existing bilateral working
groups with each Baltic government on security and military affairs,
and establishes new bilateral working groups on economic reform,
trade, investment, and related fields. Each year these groups will
review progress on bilateral objectives and set the agenda for the
year ahead.


The Charter also establishes a "Partnership Commission," headed by the
Deputy Secretary of State, to review annually the activities of the
bilateral military and economic working groups.


Implementation Already Under Way



Reflecting the Charter's character as a living document, many elements
of the document are already being implemented. During the visit of the
three Presidents, several new agreements and initiatives were also
launched.


Economic Cooperation



Over the past six years, the United States has provided the Baltic
states with over $136 million under the Support for East European
Democracy Program (SEED) to advance fundamental economic and political
reforms. In 1994, the United States established the Baltic-American
Enterprise Fund, capitalized at $50 million, to promote the growth of
small and medium-sized businesses in these countries. More than 400
Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in the three countries
since 1992. There are presently 128 volunteers working on a variety of
projects, including English language training and advising small
entrepreneurs in business practices.


As these countries have made great strides in their economic
transformation, our assistance programs are coming to an end. New
elements of this relationship have been launched:


Baltic-American Partnership Fund: Today, the President announced the
establishment of a $15 million Baltic-American Partnership Fund. In a
unique public-private partnership, this endowment will be established
with equal contributions from the U.S. Government and the Soros Open
Society Institute. The Fund will be chartered to promote the further
development of non-governmental organizations and civic society in the
Baltic states.


Double Tax Treaties: On Thursday, Secretary Rubin signed tax treaties
with all three Baltic governments. The treaties foster trade and
investment by removing significant tax barriers for U.S. firms doing
business in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.


Bilateral Investment Treaties: On Wednesday, the U.S. Trade
Representative, Charlene Barshefsky, signed a Bilateral Investment
Treaty with Lithuania. Bilateral investment treaties were previously
signed with Estonia and Latvia. These treaties guarantee the right to
invest on terms no less favorable than those accorded to domestic or
third country investors, in most cases, and guarantee certain
transactions. With their reciprocal market-opening commitments, these
accords provide a strong basis for trade and investment relations with
the Baltic states.


WTO Membership: The United States strongly supports accession of the
Baltic states to the World Trade Organization on appropriate terms,
and hopes to complete the three separate negotiations under way this
year.


Security Cooperation



The United States has greatly expanded its security and military
assistance with the Baltic states. By the end of fiscal year 1998,
they will have received over $29 million under the President's "Warsaw
Initiative" security assistance program, which helps members of the
Partnership for Peace enhance their capabilities and ability to work
with NATO. In addition the Baltic governments received over $14
million in equipment and services to develop the Baltic Peacekeeping
Battalion, elements of which are serving with NATO and SFOR in Bosnia
today. A U.S.-sponsored Regional Airspace Initiative, various military
education and training programs, and close cooperation with
counterparts in the Michigan, Maryland, and Pennsylvania National
Guards have also contributed to the development of their armed forces.


The United States has provided approximately $8.5 million for the
demolition of the former Russian large phased-array radar at Skrunda,
Latvia, and $2 million for the clean up of the former Russian nuclear
reactor facility at Paldiski, Estonia.


Justice and Law Enforcement



Through the Law and Democracy Program, the United States is helping
these three countries and other emerging European democracies to
develop their judicial systems and combat crime and corruption.
Various SEED-funded programs and other efforts have assisted the
Baltic states in improving their customs, banking regulations, and
police training. Our cooperation with the Baltic states in the area of
law enforcement is growing in other ways.


Mutual Legal Assistance: Earlier today, Attorney General Reno signed a
Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance with Lithuania. A similar treaty is
provisionally in force with Latvia, pursuant to an exchange of
diplomatic notes, pending ratification. The United States also has
negotiated a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Estonia, which we
anticipate will be signed in the near future. These accords will
further our ability to exchange evidence in connection with criminal
investigations and prosecutions, greatly facilitating our cooperation
in the administration of justice.


Anti-Crime Initiative: Today FBI Director Freeh also proposed several
steps to expand cooperation among law enforcement agencies in battling
organized crime -- including the development of mechanisms for
information sharing and joint operations with authorities in the three
Baltic states. This effort will build on the work of FBI Legal
attaches posted in the Baltic and Nordic region, Poland, and Russia.
The United States is also prepared to participate in the Operative
Committee of the Council of Baltic Sea States' Task Force on Organized
Crime. This work will help establish a stable, secure business climate
essential to the growth of trade and investment in the Baltic states
and also supports U.S. efforts to combat the global reach of organized
crime.


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