THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
U.S. Support for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
The Clinton Administration is committed to the integration of all of Europe's new democracies, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, with the Transatlantic community. The U.S. seeks to eliminate the legacy of Europe's Cold War division -- without creating arbitrary new lines. This Administration has and will continue to support the Baltic states' security, sovereignty and democratic, free market transformation.
U.S. relations with the Baltic states are strong and growing; these countries are becoming good economic partners and reliable friends. The Baltic states have provided troops to the NATO-led operation in Bosnia, standing with us in one of the toughest tasks in Europe today.
For decades, successive U.S. Administrations maintained a strong policy of non-recognition of the occupation and forcible Soviet incorporation of the Baltic states. Following the restoration of independence in 1991 by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the United States has been in the forefront of support for both the democratic and free market transformation of these countries as well as support for their security and sovereignty.
President Clinton visited Riga, Latvia in July 1994, the first U.S. President to visit a Baltic state. Vice President Gore visited Tallinn, Estonia in March 1995. As a statement of the American people's support for the Baltic states, Mrs. Clinton also will visit Tallinn in July, 1996.
Since 1990, the Support for East European Democracy program (SEED) has provided $103 million in assistance to the Baltic nations. Programs include privatization, energy efficiency, public administration training and entrepreneurial support.
In 1994, the U.S. established the Baltic-American Enterprise Fund, capitalized at $50 million out of SEED funds, to support free enterprise in these nations by promoting the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses. Military training exercises are now being held under the President's Partnership for Peace (PFP) initiative, with which the Baltic states are active participants. "Baltic Challenge", the next exercise, conducted in the spirit of PFP, will begin July 8 in Latvia, involving platoons from the U.S. Marines and National Guard units from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In 1994, the U.S. launched the Law and Democracy Program to help emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe combat organized and white collar crime. The U.S. has provided experts to help the Baltic states cope with bank fraud and strengthen their financial systems. The FBI is scheduled to open an office in Tallinn in the next year. The United States provided $8.5 million for the demolition of the ex-Russian large phased-array radar at Skrunda, Latvia. The Peace Corps is active in the Baltics, with about 150 volunteers, mainly concentrated in English language and small business training. Twenty grants to Baltic NGOs already have been made under the President's Democracy Network program. The second round of awards will be made over the summer. The U.S. provided $2 million for the clean up of the former Russian nuclear reactor facility in Paldiski, Estonia. The U.S. has greatly expanded its security and military programs with the Baltic states since 1993.
Each Baltic state is receiving $1.75 million in FY96 under the President's Warsaw Initiative; the Administration has requested from Congress an increase to $2.25 million per country in FY97.
In addition, the U.S. has provided over $10 million in equipment and services for the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion. This year, we will provide to the "Baltbat" additional funding as well as excess military equipment and upgrades to its headquarters in Latvia.
The U.S. has supported airspace integration through the President's Regional Airspace Initiative.
Military contacts are conducted through the Military Liaison Teams in each country. Military training is conducted through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which has more than doubled since FY94 and now is about $410,000 per country.