Economic claims of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are a bomb to the relations between Russia and the EU
After the break-up of the USSR, political and economic relations of Russia with the republics of former USSR were different. The relations with the three Baltic republics were the most difficult. However, as it turned out in the course of time, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are closely connected with Russia. And any sanctions introduced by the Russian leadership for this or that reason, immediately had an effect upon the general economic situation of these countries. Probably this is the reason why the Baltic countries always have some economic claims to the Russian Federation. This especially concerns compensation of the damage caused by the so-called “Soviet occupation.” However, the State Duma treats the problem from a pragmatic point of view.
According to APN.Ru (the Agency of Political Information), the State Duma committee for international affairs approved a draft resolution “On commissions to the RF Accounts Chamber” submitted by deputy Viktor Alksnis. Duma deputies plan to charge the Accounts Chamber with verification of “effectiveness and expedience of spending the public funds, and usage of the Soviet property in the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Soviet republics in 194-1941 and usage of the federal property in the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian republics in 1991-1996.” As the Duma committee for international affairs reports, this document will be considered at one of its plenary sessions in January.
The author of the document, Duma deputy Viktor Alksnis thinks that this is a justified approach to the political and economic relations with the Baltic countries, which may soon become rightful members of the European Union. In fact, the USSR had founded the present-day industrial and transport infrastructure in the Baltic republics, and secured the highest possible standard of well-being to the population of the republics within decades. Moreover, Russia also did much economic favor to the young Baltic states in the 1990s. When the contingents of Soviet troops were withdrawn from the territory of the Baltic republics, the governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania got expensive military objects practically for free. They were valued at hundreds of billions dollars. Thus, Alksnis says that an aerodrome in Zoknjae is valued at more than 5 billion dollars.
If we take into consideration the fact that the USSR’s western defense boundary passed via the territory of the Baltic republics, we can see that the cost of the objects that still remain there is perfectly comparable with Russia’s foreign debt. Viktor Alksnis says that total cost of all Soviet objects left on the territory of the former Baltic republics hasn’t been yet professionally estimated. It means that the RF Accounts Chamber is in for a large-scale work. According to the provisional estimates done by Viktor Alksnis himself, the Soviet Union invested approximately 80-85 billion dollars in Latvia and Lithuania, and 40-45 billion dollars in Estonia.
The deputy says, the problem is complicated with the territorial acquisitions of the Baltic republics that cannot be valued in money equivalent. Viktor Alksnis suggests that the State Duma must consider the juridical reasons of these territorial acquisitions. Deputies postponed consideration of the problem till February. Besides, the State Duma committee for international affairs made a decision to postpone ratification of the Russian-Lithuanian boundary agreement till May. Lithuania wants the agreement to be ratified as soon as possible because of it’s prospective incorporation into NATO and the European Union. But it will have to wait for some time.
In the light of the forthcoming incorporation of the Baltic republics into the United Europe, the problem of Russia’s material and territorial claims to these “little favorites” of the European community look rather insignificant. It’s obvious that nobody will allow Russia to get some money from the Baltic republics all of a sudden or to deprive them of some territories. The author of the document, deputy Viktor Alksnis treats this perspective rather skeptically. “It’s clear that I don’t expect that Russia would seek for restitution of any property from the Baltic republics. However, as long as Lithuania officially claims that Russia must “compensate the damage caused by the Soviet occupation” and appeals to the world community in connection with this claim, we should have counter claims ready at hand.”
The problem has gone too far that Lithuania even adopted a law “On compensation of damage caused by the Soviet occupation” and a special referendum was held in connection with the problem. On December 4, Estonia’s Foreign Minister declared that Tallinn would also set up a special commission to estimate the rate of a similar “damage.” Latvia may also join the claims of its neighbors; the three Baltic republics plan to make a joint statement and bring an action to the sum of 55-60 billion dollars against Russia.
The instruction given to the RF Accounts Chamber allows Russia’s authorities to get ready for attacks of the “aggressive” Baltic democracies and to obtain all necessary information about the actual state of things in the republics.
Picture: Duma deputy Viktor Alksnis
Ahtyam Ahtyrov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://economics.pravda.ru/economics/2002/7/21/58/4634_parlament.html