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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 16, 1998


The Charter of Partnership, signed on January 16, 1998 by the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United States, is a political statement of common principles that will guide the deepening of mutual cooperation and advance common objectives, including Baltic integration into the European and transatlantic communities. It makes clear the Baltic states are part of the U.S. vision for a new Europe and that they will not be left out or discriminated against due to factors of history or geography.

It notes that the United States has a "real, profound, and enduring" interest in their security and independence of the three Baltic states.

The Charter begins with expression of commitments by the four governments to shared principles and a common vision for a secure, prosperous, and undivided Europe. It notes how U.S.-Baltic cooperation can 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 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 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.

The Charter in no way pre-commits the United States to Baltic membership in NATO. The Baltic states will have to meet the same criteria and standards expected of other states. 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.

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