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In early 1997, NATO will begin to make initial decisions on enlargement. Although no official list of candidates exists, it is considered unlikely that the Baltic states will make the first round of new Alliance members. Dealing with the Baltics in the context of NATO enlargement is one of the most delicate questions facing the Alliance. This study examines the need to develop a strategy for stengthening Baltic independence and anchoring these states in the West, for a variety of compelling reasons. If mishandled, the Baltic issue has the potential to derail NATO enlargement, redraw the security map in northeastern Europe, and provoke a crisis between the West and Russia. This article defines the building blocks for such a strategy while admitting that implementing it will not be easy. It can only happen if this issue is given high policy priority and if an effective policy coordination mechanism is established.

Originally published in: Survival, v. 38, no. 2, Summer 1996, pp. 121-142.

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