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Nordic Involvement in the Baltic States Security: Need, Motives and Success

Clive Archer

Copenhagen Peace Research Institute


Introduction 1

When the NATO countries examined the question of membership expansion at their Madrid summit in July 1997, three eager candidates - the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - hoped that they would be given sympathetic consideration. Within the North Atlantic Council, their case was pressed by the Nordic members in particular, with Denmark acting as main advocate. In the end, the three countries had to be satisfied that 'the progress achieved towards greater stability and cooperation by the states in the Baltic region, who are also aspiring members' was recognised by the Heads of State and Government of the NATO members (NATO, 1997). This, at least, offered them the prospect that, one day, they might complete their transformation from Soviet republics 2 to NATO members.

Since the earlier stirrings of the independence movements in the then Baltic republics of the Soviet Union, there has been informal and more direct involvement by the Nordic states 3 in security developments in the three countries. This article will examine the context and the form taken of such a Nordic engagement with their near neighbours. It will seek to explain the differences between and the high level of activity of the four main Nordic states in their dealings with Baltic security issues, and will estimate their degree of 'success'.

The Baltic Sea Region Security Agenda since 1989

The Baltic Sea region 4 at the start of 1989 was dominated in security terms by the Soviet Union, with an important role being played by the Federal Republic of Germany. Though the region - in common with many other parts of Europe - was about to undergo an extensive change in its security structures, it had some enduring elements that had typified the area for much of the cold war period. The southern shores of the Baltic Sea were still dominated by the Warsaw Treaty Organisation (WTO) and the armed forces of the Soviet Union. During the cold war, the local strength of the two NATO members - the Federal Republic of Germany and Denmark - had been supplemented by that of the United States and the United Kingdom. Also the various arms control agreements made at the end of the 1980s were already beginning to adjust the imbalance between the numerically stronger WTO forces and those of NATO, that had concerned NATO commentators throughout the 1970s and 1980s (see, for example, Norwegian Atlantic Committee, 1988, pp. 4-6).

The political change that swept Europe during late 1989 and early 1990 trailed its coat along the Baltic shores. Poland, then East Germany, shed their communist governments. The WTO went into liquidation. East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Communities, soon to become the European Union (EU). The Baltic states started to break away from the Soviet Union, a process completed when the Soviet Union fragmented. By the end of 1991, the security map of the Baltic Sea differed greatly from that seen during the cold war, and even from its shadow seen in 1989. NATO extended along that part of the coastline previously labelled as East Germany or the German Democratic Republic. Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania no longer belonged to an alliance and were states aspiring to democratic and market values. The Soviet Union had disappeared and only the enclave of Kaliningrad and the entrance to St Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) remained in Russian hands. Continuity was represented by Finland and Sweden to the north, which remained alliance-free, and Denmark to the west, which kept its NATO membership.

However, this description is one of a snapshot in time. The security context of the Baltic states, and their response, developed not just from 1989 to 1991 but also from their re-establishment of independence. 5 Their 'security history' from 1989 until the NATO Madrid meeting in 1997 can be described in three phases (Haab, 1997, pp. 113-119); Minotaite, 1997, pp. 171-80; Ozalina, 1997, pp. 138-44). 6

The first period - from 1988/9 to 1991 - saw the emergence of the Baltic states from their status as Soviet republics. During this time, the main aim of a majority of the political movements within the three republics was to ensure a greater decentralisation of power to the institutions of their countries and, eventually, the requirement for the restoration of sovereignty to the three states became the dominant political demand. During 1991, the national movements that had come to power in each of the three states had joined forces with the then head of the Russian Soviet Federal Republic, Boris Yeltsin, in his campaign to trim the powers of the Soviet Union. The attempted coup d'etat against President Gorbachev of the USSR in August 1991, led to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania obtaining international recognition for their re-establishment of independence. Crucially, this process was accepted by Gorbachev and was assisted by Yeltsin. In this period, the national movements that arose in the three republics saw as their opponents the forces of the Soviet Union - but not of Russia - and in particular those elements that were behind the August coup, namely the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the hard-liners in the armed forces and the special forces. The sections of those groups that were present in the three Baltic states themselves were seen to be a real threat (Bajarunas, 1995, pp.12-13; Haab, 1995, pp.57-9; Viksne, 1995, pp.74-6).

During the second period - from the latter part of 1991 to 1993/4 - the dominant political elements in the three states revised their security outlook. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Russian Federation had not, it seemed, changed the major threat. Instead of Soviet forces being on their territory and Soviet secret services showing interest in their governmental institutions, the three states found that Russian troops and agents were present and active. All three governments quickly defined these forces as being the main threat to both the security of the state and the existence of their nations. They were soon locked into a vitriolic and escalating exchange with Moscow about Russian intentions and actions. The main security aim of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - seen as essential for the survival of the three countries - was the withdrawal of the Russian military presence from their territory. This was achieved by the end of 1993 and the beginning of 1994 after considerable negotiations and with some outside involvement (Bajarunas, 1995, pp.16-17; Haab, 1995, pp.56-7; Viksne, 1995, pp.79-80).

The two or so year period after August 1991 soured the Baltic states' relations with the Russian Federation. Though they had achieved a retraction of Russian troops, the governments of the three states made it clear that this was not enough. Russian forces could threaten the states from across the border; there remained sizeable Slavic minorities, especially in Estonia and Latvia, elements of which had been associated with the former-Soviet forces; and the new governments considered that Russia was still interfering in the internal affairs of their countries. Furthermore, the countries had difficulties in establishing effective governments and in the process of economic liberalisation. They were assailed by corruption, political and economic instability and a rising level of crime (Bajarunas, 1995, p.13; Nyberg, 1994, p.537; Viksne, 1995, p.66).

The security policies adopted by the governments of the Baltic states changed over the three periods. During the move towards the re-establishment of independence, the various national movements - insofar as they considered wider security questions - tended towards a non-aligned stance (Archer, 1997a; Haab, 1997, pp. 114-115). This can be seen as a response to a number of factors, most of all the need to be seen as different from the Soviet Union, yet not offering any threat to the Soviets by joining forces with the West. It was also a reversion to the inter-war policy of neutrality and reflected the approach taken by the near-neighbours of Sweden and Finland.

Once the major concern of the new governments became the exclusion of Russian forces from their territory, their security policies took on a number of elements. The first was to rebuild their security forces to serve their own national needs and to extricate the security infra-structure of their countries from that of Russia. Then the three states associated themselves with forums within which they could promote the aims of Russian withdrawal from their territory and the improvement of the governance of their states.

During the third period, the Baltic states' governments began to look to their longer-term security. All three decided that this could only be guaranteed if they were part of the Western security structure, involving membership of NATO and the European Union (Joint Statement, 1996). Meanwhile it meant the close relations with the West, through Partnership for Peace, Europe Agreements with the EU, and becoming associate partners of the WEU. It also involved bilateral and multilateral agreements and activities with individual Western states and groups of states.

The context within which the Baltic states evolved their security policy should be remembered. As mentioned above, the salient environment of the Baltic states changed from 1989 to 1991 (Mouritzen, 1997a, pp. 10-13). Instead of being entrenched within the camp of one of the poles in a still broadly bipolar system, they became three small elements in a situation whereby one pole had collapsed and the other - as represented by the core element of NATO, the European Communities and Germany - was comparatively stronger. From the end of 1991, Russia became a casualty of the end of the cold war, descending into economic and political confusion. The tendency of the Baltic states was to 'bandwagon' with the winning coalition (Mouritzen, 1997b, pp. 286 & 289-92) and to define the sources of their major security threats as being in Russia. At the same time, the potential of the EU remained unfulfilled with the process towards a closer European union being adversely affected by a number of internal political factors and economic uncertainty. While it seemed in the early 1990s that Germany might become the dominant power in the Baltic Sea region (Neumann, 1994; Wæver, 1990; Wæver, 1991), by 1997 that potential had not been exercised. The major security problematique in the area was that of Russian-Baltic relations, but a space had been created for action by third powers and for the emergence of regional security institutions.

Nordic Involvement

The Nordic countries have been tied by history and culture to the Baltic states. Throughout the Middle Ages, Sweden and Denmark in particular were involved militarily in the lands now occupied by the three Baltic states (Klinge, 1994, pp.19-67; Østergård, 1997, pp.26-53). The Estonian and Finnish languages are closely related. However, the three states recent history has been moulded more by Russia, Germany and - in the case of Lithuania - Poland than the Nordic countries. Indeed, in the inter-war period of independence, the security links with the Nordic states were remarkably weak (Anderson, 1978, 126-135). Likewise, during the time in which the Baltic states were incorporated in the Soviet Union, the Nordic states were not noted for their espousal of the Balts' cause. However, by the end of the 1980s peace, green and women's movements from the Nordic region were making contact with their equivalents in the then Baltic republics (Försvarsdepartementet, 1995, p.121; Joenniemi & Stålvant 1995, pp.23-4; Klinge, 1994, pp.170-2; Rebas, 1988, pp.101-116).

Once movements in the Baltic started to talk about sovereignty, the Nordic countries began to show a renewed interest. At the beginning - in 1989 and 1990 - the contacts with the new governments of the Baltic republics were low key and often through trade and cultural missions, in order not to embarrass the reformist Moscow government of President Gorbachev (Ellemann-Jensen, 1996, pp. 131-4; Försvarsdepartementet, 1995, p.121). However, the situation changed after the attempted coup in the Soviet Union and the acceptance of the Baltic states' independence by Gorbachev. The Nordic states, led by Iceland and Denmark, recognised the new governments (Hansen, 1996, p.44) and - both separately and individually - set about considering assistance for the three Baltic states. Since then, the Nordic countries have given aid in kind and in cash; unilaterally, as a Nordic group, and as members of wider groupings. They have supported the Baltic states' cause - though not uncritically - within international forums and have helped them understand, if not always accept, new concepts of security.

The aid offered the Baltic states by the Nordic countries that had importance in the security field was broadly aimed at helping the new governments strengthen the sinews of sovereignty. The Nordic countries explicitly avoided 'selling arms' to their neighbours, mainly because of the adverse affect that this could have had on the relations between the Nordic area and Russia. Furthermore, the Nordic politicians did not, on the whole, believe that armaments were the prime answer to the Baltic states' security dilemma (The European Security. . . ., 1997, p.41; Försvarsdepartementet, 1996, p.116). After Russian troops withdrew from the Baltic states in 1994, this attitude changed (Clemmesen, 1997, p. 251). Military assistance has been of a specific sort and has been aimed at strengthening the sovereignty of the Baltic states and enhancing their ability to participate in international activities. This can be seen in the creation of the Baltic battalion, BALTBAT, established and trained by the Nordic states and the United Kingdom (Haab, 1995, p.10; Clemmesen, 1997, p. 250). Later the Nordic-Polish brigade deployed in IFOR in 1996 contained contributions from the Baltic states folded into the Danish battalion (Hækkerup, 1996, pp.11-13). By mid-1997 the security help offered by the Nordic states was being coordinated not just through '4 +3' meetings with the Baltic states but also with other donor states through Baltic Security Assistance (BALTSEA) which included cooperation on security political matters in the 'Friends of the Baltic' group.

The Nordic states have supported the Baltic cause both within existing institutions and by helping in the creation of new ones. The main area of support has come within NATO, the European Union (and WEU), and, to a lesser extent, the OSCE. Since 1993 the Baltic states have made it clear that a major aim of their security policies is that of membership of NATO. This notion has met with straightforward resistance from Russia, but has also not been universally welcome in the West (Dragsdahl, 1997, p.8; Lieven, 1996). One country that has given consistent support to this aspiration has been Denmark. Admittedly, Danish spokesmen have qualified their enthusiasm by pointing out the need for a reformed NATO within a wider European security complex that will include Russia, but nevertheless Danish support for NATO membership by the Baltic states has been unstinting (Helveg Petersen, 1997; Hækkerup, 1997a; Hækkerup, 1997b). At the Madrid meeting, Denmark pursued the Baltic case and wanted the communiqué to contain specific mention of the Baltic candidates (Faurby, 1997a). However, they were opposed by other NATO members (Faurby, 1997b, p.249) but, in the end, the 'Baltic region' was mentioned in the NATO Secretary General's communiqué. The Danish line has been backed by Norway - though in a more low-key form - and not opposed by Sweden and Finland - themselves outside NATO - who accepted the Baltic pursuit of NATO membership while showing awareness of the problems involved (The European Security. . . ., 1997, pp.26-7, 31 & 46; Försvarsdepartementet, 1996, pp. 54-9, 88-9).

Finland and Sweden are EU members and, together with Denmark, have supported from within the case for the Baltic states' accession to that organisation (The European Security. . . ., 1997 p.21; Försvarsdepartementet, 1996, p.126). While the EU is primarily a political and economic organisation, both the Baltic states themselves and their Nordic neighbours have pointed out the security implications of membership of the EU by any country. If NATO is seen as providing 'hard security' - security guarantees, military security - then the EU's contribution is perceived in terms of 'soft', non-military security. As with NATO, the candidature of the Baltic states for EU membership has not gone unopposed. There are those among the existing members - mainly from southern Europe - that consider the Baltic states either not to be suitable candidates for full membership or at least not to be priority cases (Faurby, 1997b).

An area where the Nordic states have given important assistance to the Baltic states is in the understanding of security concepts. Why has there been a Baltic-Nordic dialogue in this area? What have the Nordic countries had to contribute? What has been the evidence of the dialogue?

The need for the dialogue arose because the leaders of the Baltic states in the early 1990s primarily saw their security problems in terms similar to those current in the cold war, yet institutions such as NATO and the EU - of which they hoped their countries would be members - had adopted different concepts of security.

The answer arrived at by the Baltic states for their security problems in the early 1990s was one involving the discourse of collective defence - whereby states agree to defend each other against a common enemy. The Baltic states saw Russia as the main threat to their security and, rather as small states such as Denmark and Norway had done in 1949, they hoped that an alliance with more powerful states would act as both a deterrent to and a security shield from Russian actions. This assumes that, for whatever reasons, there are other countries ready to offer such an alliance.

Meanwhile the debate on security in Europe has moved on from that of collective defence. The Gorbachev period had already seen a move away from the division of Europe into hostile blocs. The end of the cold war saw NATO countries, in 1990, announce moves towards the transformation of their alliance 'to bring confrontation between East and West to an end' and the CSCE Charter of Paris which 'formally brought adversarial relations to an end' (NATO, 1995, pp. 34-5). Almost concurrent with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the re-establishment of the Baltic states' independence, NATO was redesigning its strategy in keeping with its members' views of the new security situation in Europe and the emerging Strategic Concept reflected 'a broad approach to security of which military capabilities are one among a number of other significant elements' (ibid, p. 40)

With the realisation that the military structures themselves were proving an equal if not greater threat to the survival of the states in the military alliances, the notion of One of the ideas that already had currency in the 1980s was that of common security, whereby both sides of the collective defence divide (in the European context) could have a common interest in lowering the level of armaments and building up networks of trust (Common Security, 1982). To cite Bjørn Møller: 'Common Security, as a minimum...entailed taking the security of one's respective opponent into consideration' (ibid.). Its emphasis was still on the security of states. In a post-cold war situation where the main 'common' threat - that of nuclear annihilation - receded into the background and was overtaken by threats to society, individuals and the environment, this old view of common security looked dated (Heurlin, 1996).

Indeed it has been replaced in much of the security literature by the notion of cooperative security. Møller sees this as one of a number of 'roughly synonymous terms' for common security (ibid, p.49). However, it seems to go beyond the old version of common security by considering a comprehensive range of insecurities (Fischer, 1993, pp. 8-10) and by pre-supposing 'normative and institutional constraints on sovereignty and non-intervention...' (Rotfeld, 1994, p.5). Catherine Kelleher claims that Europe in the early 1990s was the test bed for cooperative security with 'offensive force limitations, defensive restructuring, confidence-building operational measures, overlapping organizational arrangements facilitating transparency and cooperative verification, and joint controls on the proliferation of military technology' (1994, p.293). Many of these ideas can be seen in the Partnership for Peace process (NATO, 1995, pp. 52-8) and in the CSCE/OSCE (Möttölä, 1993, pp.28-9).

Akin to cooperative security is the notion of comprehensive security, which refers more to the scope of security. This term implies that security should be seen as existing - or not - at several levels ranging from the individual, through national, international to the global, and that its components are wider than the military, including - inter alia - environmental, economic and human rights concerns (Dewitt, 1994, p 3). Thus security concerns are seen as enveloping not just the 'hard' military elements - mainly the territorial defence against an outside aggressor - but also what has become known as 'soft security', that is 'all aspects of security short of military combat operations' which also includes activities ranging from internal security to the Petersberg tasks. 'Civic' security is seen as that part of 'soft security' that encompasses the non-military aspects (Helveg Petersen, 1997a, p. 273).

In the early 1990s, the Baltic states were in danger of placing themselves outside the sort of discussions that were dominating the security dialogue within NATO and between NATO and the Central and East European states and the Russian Federation. They were therefore less likely to obtain the answer for which they hoped than had they been asking a different question, one less reliant on collective defence and a plea for military help. There was the prospect that the Baltic states could in the bifurcation of world security, find themselves in the periphery where the 'realist' perspective of security dominated (Goldgeier & McFaul, 1992, pp. 467-91). One way that the Baltic states could learn about the new concepts of security and be seen to be engaged in the new security activities was by the involvement of friendly interlocutors such as the Nordic states.

What did the Nordic countries have to offer in this regard? Even during the height of the cold war the Nordic NATO members had pursued those elements of dialogue and cooperation with the Warsaw Treaty Organization, and the neutral Nordic states had pressed for arms control and disarmament. All of the states had defined their concept of security in a comprehensive form that included diplomatic, economic and social aspects, as well as the military (see, for example, Andrén, 1975; and Christensen, 1983). Nordic contributors were closely involved in the Palme Commission which popularised the concept of common security at the height of the New Cold War (Common Security, 1982) and both Finland and Sweden were engaged in the creation and development of the CSCE during the 1970s and 1980s.

After the end of the cold war, the Nordic states quickly embraced the new understandings of security (Archer, 1994; Archer & Jones, 1997). According to an official Danish report, concepts of security were no longer limited to the military form but general political, economic, ecological, social, religious and ethnic aspects being included (Rapport... ,1992, pp.27-8). A later report by Finland's Council of State to Parliament developed these new security concepts by calling for 'a broad and comprehensive concept of security' to be adopted that included - as well as the military aspects - respect for human rights, consolidation of the rule of law, economic cooperation and 'mutual solidarity in protecting the environment'. By 1995 a government-appointed Danish committee reflected the new situation where '"soft" security political threats such as political and economic instability, the influx of refugees, minority problems, trans-border environmental problems and organized crime' play an important role in European security (SNU, 1995, p.10, my translation).

In developing these new concepts of security, certain core tasks of the European security institutions were identified. The Norwegian foreign minister in 1993 saw the key ones as ensuring Germany's integration and Russia's inclusion in the construction of Europe; preventing nuclear proliferation; containing nationalism, thus stopping local and outside conflict from embroiling Europe; preventing economic and environmental breakdown; and protecting the rules, norms and standards 'essential to the maintenance of minimal order in Europe' (Holst, 1993, pp. 3-4).

The means to ensure the achievement of these tasks were also identified and were listed in a Swedish official report as supporting peacekeeping, humanitarian missions, 'democratic, social, economic and ecological development', regional cooperation, and 'solid political and economic relations between democratic states' (Sweden in Europe..., 1995, pp. 9-10).

The approaches of the Nordic countries to the new security situation in the early 1990s was broadly similar - their various reports on security had a lot in common in both their analyses and recommendations. There were some differences: both Norway and Denmark saw NATO as a major framework for the military aspect of action, while Sweden and Finland fought shy of involvement with any alliance. However, both these states were eager to stress their willingness to make international commitments, and the EU was seen as a focus of security activity (Sweden in Europe. . . .,1995, pp.2-3; Security in a Changing World. . . .,1995, p.19). It is also noticeable that countries with small populations that previously - at least in the case of Denmark and Norway - had been consumers of security through alliance membership, planned to be producers of security.

What has been the evidence that the Nordic states are passing on their ideas to the Baltic states?

The Nordic states have certainly passed on their ideas in both word and practice. The Nordic Council of Ministers' Work Programme for the Nordic area's vicinity placed the collective Nordic aid in the context of support for peace, stability and stability in Europe and the furtherance of 'a democratic development, the market economy, respect for human rights and a responsible use of resources' (Nordisk Ministerråd, 1996a, p.1, my translation). Though this programme had no traditional security issues included, many of the projects involved (such as those related to the media, access to justice, social development, youth unemployment and environmental issues) aimed at giving succour to civil society in the Baltic states (Nordisk Ministerråd, 1996a, pp. 13, 18, 26, 29, 41-4). A wider study of Nordic involvement in the area showed that the aims of the Nordic countries in their cooperative programmes was 'nearly identical', with support for the reform process, stability and security being key words (Nordisk Ministerråd, 1996b, p.5). Aid in the security field was in the Nordic states' bilateral programmes, with the stress being on improvement of internal security, the peacekeeping battalion, border control and coastguard, civil defence and rescue services (Nordisk Ministerråd, 1996b, pp. 36, 43, 51, 56).

In public statements, Nordic politicians and civil servants have also made clear the nature of their security-related assistance to the Baltic states. There has been an element of self interest: by helping the Baltic states to display their own sovereignty by effective border controls and coastguards may help to prevent them from becoming transit stations for smuggling, refugees, laundered money and drugs, as well as to safeguard nuclear power safety (Hammarström, 1996, pp. 159-61). The Finnish Report by the Council of State stated Finland's willingness to prevent security problems and 'resolve open disputes' in the same paragraph as the need to achieve stability 'in relations between Russia and the Baltic states' (The European Security Development, 1997, p.49) and Finland has offered its good offices in settling differences between Estonia and Russia (Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 1995, p.23). In Swedish and Finnish statements, the membership of the EU by the Baltic states was defined in security terms (Ministry of Defence, 1995, p.10; Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 1995, p.24) , whilst the Danish foreign minister pointed to the EU cooperation as an example of 'peace through integration' and a good example of a 'soft security policy' (Helveg Petersen, 1996, p.9). Regional Baltic cooperation was portrayed as helping to increase stability and security especially by addressing '"soft" security risks' (ibid.). Baltic peacekeeping operations were seen in terms of socialising the countries into the western defence culture and military standards (ibid., p. 8) and also as a means of encouraging defence cooperation between the three Baltic states within a wider framework (Hækkerup, 1997a, pp.10-15). Baltic defence forces could thus be placed in a multilateral context from the beginning and would not just become national forces aimed at defence against Russian intrusion.

While the Baltic states have participated in the Baltic Sea regional institutions - with varying degrees of enthusiasm - it has been the Nordic states that have often been behind their creation. The CBSS was a joint German-Danish initiative; the Baltic Council was a copy of the Nordic Council and receives aid from the Nordic Council of Ministers; the meetings of parliamentarians was originally sponsored by the Finns, and Denmark and other Nordic states have taken the initiative in military training and the establishment of the BALTBAT. Other states - the US, Germany and the UK - have joined in some of these projects, but it has been Nordic countries that have taken the foremost position. The content of much of the discussion within the institutions covering the Baltic has been decidedly 'soft' - especially 'civic' - security. The Council of the Baltic Sea States has produced an Action Programme for Baltic Sea States Cooperation that has the aim of increasing people-to-people contacts and 'civic security' (mainly against crime), economic cooperation and integration and strengthened environmental protection (Baltic Sea States Summit, 1996).

With the end of the cold war, the Nordic states could practice their cooperative and comprehensive approach to security in the Baltic. The Nordic states stressed the need to develop the aspects of international society which exists when a group of states 'conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with each other, and share in the working of common institutions' (Bull, 1977, p.13). Here was the chance to see whether the existence of international institutions, transnational contacts and a non-zero sum approach could overcome the security fears of the Baltic states and their power discrepancy with the Russian Federation.

After the end of the cold war, the Nordic states have shown a willingness to take up the opportunity for action in the Baltic region provided not just by the major strategic changes experienced in the area but also by the constraints on Russian action in the area. 7 As long as Russian capabilities for military action remain well below those of the late cold war and their decision-makers prefer diplomatic to more forceful action, then there is a breathing space for those such as the Nordic governments, who wish to soften the lines of confrontation between the Russian Federation and the Baltic states. As the US Permanent Representative to NATO said: ' The Nordic states have been in the lead in helping the Baltic states and, believe me, that is well and duly noted and deeply appreciated' (Hunter, 1997, p. 57). Whether the Baltic states have always been so appreciative will not be considered here, except to say that there is some evidence of a 'learning process' in the field of security concepts (Archer & Jones, 1997, pp. 4-5, 9-13). Furthermore, there is probably a realisation that many of the points covered by the Nordic states in their concepts of security - cooperative relations with neighbours, proper treatment of minorities, democratic control of the armed forces, a functioning market economy - are some of the preconditions for membership of NATO and the EU.

Nordic Differences

While the Nordic states have developed common programmes within the Nordic Council and other institutions to deal with the Baltic states, this has still left room for differences between the four main Nordic countries in their approaches to Baltic security. Some of these mirror the varied geo-strategic situation of the Nordic states, while others have been more a reflection of internal factors. An examination of the main attributes of the Baltic policies of the four main Nordic states helps to unravel the various strands in the formulation of those policies. Before undertaking this comparison, it should be stressed that the complementary elements and those of overlap are stronger than those of competition, let alone conflict, in the Nordic policies. There is a tradition in the Nordic states of working to overcome the negative results of differences. Also, it should be remembered that the deepest rifts are not always between the Nordic states (or between the Baltic states) but sometimes between the various agents of government in one state. Within the Nordic states, there is some indication that ministries of defence that happily cooperate with other defence ministries on Baltic matters, have not always been in harmony with their own foreign ministries. Furthermore, there can be differences between the operative element in defence - the defence command - and the policy side in the ministry. However, the difference in Nordic approaches has been significant enough to warrant some explanation.

Broadly, Sweden's approach to the Baltic security question has been determined by a geo-strategic definition of its interests there by Swedish decision-makers. Developments in the area have been seen to allow an active Swedish involvement in the non-military aspects of security. Furthermore, political differences have arisen over the interpretation of the restraints on Swedish action by wider geo-strategic considerations and the opportunities afforded Sweden in Baltic security issues.

In 1989 any sympathetic Swedish approach to the emergence of the Baltic states as independent states must have seemed far away. Sweden's proximity to the Soviet Union, the carefulness with which its leaders approached its nearby superpower, and the country's recognition of the Soviet Union's inclusion of the Baltic states suggested a cautious and conservative approach. Furthermore Sweden advocated the ideas of common security - associated with the former prime minister, Olaf Palme - whereby potential adversaries could be brought closer together in the face of a greater threat, most obviously that of nuclear weapons (Common Security, 1982). Sweden's view was a global one.

A wide-ranging review of foreign affairs by a government minister in early 1989 mentioned the Baltic 'as being the sea most tangibly affecting Swedish security interests'. He went on to mention that closeness and historic links with the Baltic republics had led Sweden 'to devote special attention to developments there, which we are following by means of close contacts' (Schori, 1989, p.19). However important such links may have been, the main thrust of policy in the area was concerned with submarine intrusions into Swedish waters and arms control and disarmament issues (ibid., pp.10-12, 17-19). The Baltic republics received greater attention by the same speaker two years latter when some of the Swedish links with them were outlined: the three Baltic governments had been allowed to open information offices in Stockholm; a programme of assistance had been started with the Baltic area, with most of it taking the form of technical assistance; a large cooperation programme involving non-governmental organisations was in place; and the three countries had Swedish support for their aim of full independence, provided this was achieved 'through negotiations with the [Soviet] Union ' (Schori, 1991, pp.13-14). There was a Swedish concern that the position of President Gorbachev should not be undermined by the action of the Baltic politicians.

The events of August 1991 ended the Swedish 'Soviets first' policy in the Baltic, not least because they eventually ended the Soviet Union. The Swedish election in September 1991 led to the replacement of the Social Democrat government with a centre-right coalition headed by Carl Bildt of the Moderate (Conservative) Party. Bildt's government followed up the approach already made by the Social Democrats to the European Communities (EC) for membership negotiations. These changes - the Baltic states' independence and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the new government in Stockholm, and the EC application - led to a debate within Sweden about the country's security policy (Bjereld, 1995, pp.184-6). The resulting compromise between the political parties was that 'Sweden's military freedom from alliance - aimed at our country being able to be neutral in case of war in our vicinity - remains' (Utrikesutskottets betänkande 1991/92 UU19, my translation). This led to a debate about the permissive element of Swedish neutrality and what the country might do, for example, should the Baltic states be invaded. On this issue, Carl Bildt's view in 1993 was different from that of the more cautious Social Democrats: he found it difficult to view neutrality 'as a probable choice in the predictable cases of conflict in our vicinity' (cited in Bjereld, 1995, p.186). While Sweden's willingness to step away from traditional views of neutrality was a result of a new prime minister liberated by the end of the cold war and by Sweden's application to the EC, the opportunity to express the revised outlook arose from the particular situation of the Baltic states. As a result of the continued neutrality debate in 1993 and 1994, Carl Bildt rephrased his statement on the Baltic region to state that Sweden would not be 'indifferent' to action taken against the Baltic states (Huldt, 1995, p.157).

The return of a Social Democrat government after the Swedish elections of September 1994 coincided with other factors that allowed a change in Sweden's approach to the question of Baltic security. As suggested, such a move was already under way under the Bildt government as it became clear that the option of Swedish engagement in the case of a Baltic conflict had little support outside the Moderate Party. The negotiations between the Baltic states and Russia during 1993 and 1994 that led to the withdrawal of Russian troops from the three states further eased the situation. By the Autumn of 1994 the new Social Democrat government's main concern was the referendum concerning Swedish entry into the European Union (EU) and then - from 1 January 1995 - membership of the EU. From that date Swedish policy towards the Baltic states has to be seen in the context of the Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy. Furthermore Sweden had become a participant in NATO's Partnership for Peace programme and 'an active observer in the Western European Union' (Ministry of Defence, 1995, p.11) further institutionalising the framework for its Baltic policy.

Regional cooperation in the Baltic was a stated aim of Swedish security policy, with security cooperation with the Baltic states and their integration into the EU being important elements (Försvarsdepartementet, 1995: 120). However, the Baltic, in security terms, was seen in a wider context. The Parliamentary Defence Commission maintained a global and European view of security, even talking about an 'increased risk of security policy regionalisation of the Baltic', confirming that it was 'a Swedish interest to counteract such security policy regionalisation' (ibid: 121). A later parliamentary defence report stressed the need to include Russia and the Western powers in the various forms of cooperation in the Baltic Sea area. It was stated that Sweden 'can not militarily guarantee the Baltic states' security', though it was a strong Swedish interest that they should remain sovereign states and it was noted that any pressure on the three states would have consequences for Swedish and other countries' cooperation with Russia (Försvarsdepartementet, 1996: 128-130). Carl Bildt's party and the Liberals - both in opposition - issued dissenting opinions, both asking for greater Swedish support for the Baltic states' quest for NATO membership. (ibid., pp. 149 & 157). Again, the Baltic states became the touchstone in the government and opposition's disagreement over attitudes to Russia, to the revision of the CFE treaty and, most importantly, to Swedish membership of NATO, which the Moderates and Liberals considered should be discussed more openly.

In August 1996 when the Swedish Social Democrat prime minister visited the White House, it seemed - at least according to some Swedish reports - that Sweden had presented an extensive list for managing Baltic cooperation (Hjertonsson, 1997, p. 11). Looking at this and the agenda of the May 1996 Visby conference of heads of Baltic governments (hosted by Sweden), it seemed to suggest that 'soft security' matters could be dealt with at this regional level, but not the harder - military - issues. The Swedish preference was that the EU should eventually take on some of these tasks such as peacekeeping (Archer, 1997b, p.10) with the Union's enlargement being 'one of the single most important elements in the evolution of the European security architecture' and membership of the EU by the Baltic states necessary to 'strengthen security and enhance prosperity in our region' (Hjertonsson, 1997, p.60). Indeed, Sweden has placed emphasis on relations with Russia, not only by itself but by NATO and the Baltic states, the latter being 'a crucial component of stability and security in the region' (ibid., p.61). There is a carrot and stick here: the Baltic states are encouraged to act in good faith and pragmatically in their relations with Russia, while the Swedish prime minister gives a positive evaluation of his Russian counter-part's sincerity; but there is the warning that 'Russian policy towards the Baltic countries is a good indicator of the sincerity and extent of Russia's cooperative engagement with the West' (ibid.). This is a clear example of Sweden viewing the Baltic region in the context of wider Great Power relations, especially those of Russia with the West. Indeed the importance is emphasised of involving Russia and the USA in PfP activities in the Baltic Sea region (Försvarsdepartementet, 1996, p.130).

By 1996, the Social Democrat government had gone on the offensive with its Baltic initiative - seeming to gain even White House blessing - and had moved the spotlight away from divisive hard security issues - NATO membership, armaments issues - to ones that attracted more general support - non-military assistance, regional cooperation on functional matters and the treatment of security issues in a wider context - and which offered less of a threat to the basis of Swedish neutrality. Thus the approach to the White House and the claim of leadership in the Visby-CBSS process emphasised the non-military agenda in Baltic security matters and the importance Sweden attached to its own role in such matters.

Finland, even more than Sweden, has seen its Baltic policy shaped by the geo-strategic changes since 1989. Especially since 1991, Finland has experienced a considerable upheaval in its security situation, and it is not surprising that decision-makers have been able to look at Baltic security issues afresh. Political debate has been less about Finland and the Baltic states, more on Finland's relationship with NATO. Furthermore, by concentrating on its relationship with Estonia, Finland has avoided Nordic in-fighting over leadership of the Baltic programmes.

Finland waited for the collapse of the Soviet Union to change its security policy orientation. Until late 1991, Finnish decision-makers were cautious about the developing independence movements in the Baltic states. The demands of a 'Soviets first' policy meant that during the 1990 to 1991 period, Finland was the most conservative of the Nordic states in its official dealings with the emerging political structures in the Baltic countries (Hansen, 1995). With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Finland cashed in its close relationship with the USSR for a more 'normal' link with the new Russian Federation and turned to the European Union for membership. The collective security of the UN was to be complemented by 'cooperative security' through European institutions - such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the EU - that would provide 'new forms of security policy cooperation, joint settlement of disputes and crisis management' (Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 1995, pp. 52-3).

Finnish security is now seen as being dependent on a number of external factors as well as the country's own capabilities (The European Security. . . ., 1997, p.47). The preservation of stability in Northern Europe - 'of overriding importance for the security of Finland' - is seen as being dependent on Russia's willingness to commit itself to European values and norms and broad cooperation with other countries; the US commitment to defending Norway and Denmark; the growing importance of Germany and Poland; Sweden's military non-alliance and strong defence; adjustments in Nordic cooperation; and 'reinforcement of the Baltic States' independence and capability' (ibid., p. 48). Not surprisingly, Finland's security has been closely tied to the future of both Russia and the Baltic states, as well as the military strength of the West.

The report set out the guidelines for Finnish defence policy in the coming years and some importance is attached to achieving stability and security in Europe (ibid., pp. 47, 49 & 51). To this end the Baltic states should be included in a number of cooperative arrangements such as the Council of Baltic Sea States and the Pact on Stability in Europe (ibid., p. 49 & 16). The importance of Baltic states' membership of the EU is recognised as increasing the stability and security of the Baltic sea region (ibid., p. 48). The Finns have joined Sweden in suggesting an EU role in crisis management and the strengthening of the EU's effectiveness in foreign and security policy (The European Security..., 1997, pp. 21 & 50; Archer, 1997a).

The Finnish attitude to NATO enlargement is similar to that of Sweden, though perhaps a little less dogmatic as there has been quite a debate within Finland about possible Finnish membership of NATO (Arter, 1996, pp. 620-7; Torstila, 1997). In the context of the Baltic states' applications for NATO membership, Finnish parties have emphasised that this should not result in spheres of influence or grey zones (Torstila, 1997, p.65) and have stressed the need for a special relationship between Russia and NATO (The European Security. . . ., 1997, p.23). Meanwhile the further enhancement of PFP has been welcomed (ibid., p.65) and Finland itself has started a dialogue with NATO on the consequences of enlargement (ibid., pp. 26-27).

In their approach to the security needs of the Baltic states, Finland has been active - though 'low-key' - in its involvement in the Nordic effort. It has seen Estonia as being its particular partner, not least because of historic and cultural links and geographic closeness. From 1992 to 1997 more than 100 Estonian officers and NCOs were trained in Finnish defence institutions and second-hand training material was provided for the Estonians. In March 1996 Finland allowed active duty officers to work in Estonia as advisors and the export of arms to Estonia was to be allowed in line with the general rules about such exports (The European Security. . . ., 1997, p.41). Finland had also offered its diplomatic 'good offices' in helping Estonia and Russia to reach a negotiated settlement on their border differences (Hufvudstadsbladet, 1997).

Within Finland, there has been little political argument about such aid to the Baltic states. In a sense, the debate about the security of these states has been deflected into a general debate about whether Finland itself should join NATO. The consequences for the Baltic states should Finland - and Sweden - ask for NATO membership have not featured strongly in this debate. Though it is probably true that Finland would swiftly follow a Swedish application for NATO membership (Mouritzen, 1997c, pp. 104-5), a fairly quick acceptance of both states into NATO would have serious consequences for the Baltic states The current exclusion of Finland - and Sweden - from NATO ensures that, in the Baltic sea region, the Baltic states are not alone in their current non-membership of an alliance.

Denmark is the Nordic country that has been given the greatest freedom of action in its Baltic policy by strategic changes. The choices made have been strongly affected by a Danish consideration of their enlightened self-interest and by internal political factors.

Danish decision-makers made rather a cautious move into the post-cold war era: uncertainty in security matters was seen as being less attractive than the period of arms control and disarmament experienced during the latter part of the 1980s (Archer, 1994).The decay of the Soviet empire removed what had been seen as the major shadow over Danish security since the Second World War, but the unification of Germany threatened to dominate Denmark even within the wider framework of the European Communities. 8 The whole of Danish defence and security had to be reconsidered. The result was a confirmation of the Atlantic link through NATO (Danish Commission on Security and Disarmament, 1995, pp.18-20) . The United States has been not only a strong guarantor of Danish security, but a suitably distant one for most of the time. A stress on Denmark's Nordic nature helped to distinguish it from a powerful Germany. Thus Denmark sought, after the end of the cold war, to retain its Atlantic and Nordic links in, for example, the question of NATO's new command structure (Petersen, 1995, p.119). At the same time Danish governments have been reluctant to subscribe to the defence element of the CFSP and have not become a full member of the WEU. This can be explained in terms of an 'aversion to military involvement in Central Europe' (ibid., p.117) or can be seen as a wish to keep any military integration with Germany in the widest possible context, that of NATO. These negative elements of policy have been aimed at maintaining Denmark's distinctiveness, especially in relation to Germany. A more positive approach has been through an active Baltic policy.

As was the case with Sweden, internal political factors played a role in fashioning Denmark's response to the Baltic states' move to independence. Until 1990, contact was kept at the non-governmental level with the wish not to undermine President Gorbachev's government by direct contact with groups in the Baltic republics. After multi-party elections in those republics in early 1990 and the subsequent moves by their parliaments towards independence, Danish policy became more active by, for example, supporting their inclusion in the Paris CSCE summit of November 1990 (Hansen, 1995, p.40). By early 1991 this move away from the 'Soviet first' policy was being pressed by the Liberal foreign minister of the centre-right government, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen. Complaints were sent to the Soviet authorities about their use of special forces in Vilnius and Riga in January 1991 and cooperation protocols were signed with the authorities in all three states in February and March of 1991. After the attempted August 1991 coup in Moscow, Denmark - after Iceland - became the first among Nordic and EC states to recognise the new Baltic governments, with the then foreign minister commenting on how long it would have taken to wait for the Finns and Swedes on that question (Ellemann-Jensen, 1996, pp.146).

The change from a centre-right to a Social Democrat-led minority government in January 1993 was followed by a more activist phase in Danish military assistance to the Baltic states. This is partly explicable in terms of the balance of interests between the two ministries involved. The foreign ministry in the centre-right government had been headed by an activist with definite views about the Baltic states, while the defence ministry had played its traditionally modest role. In the new government, the foreign ministry came under a minister from the small Radical Liberal party who often found it necessary to contend with the involvement of the Social Democrat prime minister's office in external policy. The defence ministry became revitalised under a Social Democrat minister - Hans Hækkerup - who had specialised in defence and security matters in opposition and who seemed to have a clear idea of the importance of Danish involvement in the Baltic states. Furthermore, his actions were tacitly supported by the previous Liberal foreign minister, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen.

A new political will was matched by fresh opportunities. The negotiation of troop withdrawal agreements between the Baltic states and Russia in 1993 and early 1994, meant an end to the phase of potential crisis for the three states and its replacement with a period of tension. The development of the Partnership for Peace programme by NATO during 1994 and 1995 and the acceptance of membership extension, accompanied by the Organization's efforts in trying to build a closer relationship with Russia (Pierre & Trenin, 1997), opened up new possibilities. Also the Europe Agreements between the three Baltic states and the EU of June 1995, indicated that full EU membership could be on the agenda for those countries. Denmark had individual defence agreements with the three states from 1993, but the new options emerging in 1994 and 1995 allowed a multilateral, as well as bilateral, approach to Baltic security matters (Finansministeriet, 1997). Denmark was well placed to take full advantage of new opportunities - if it so wished - because of its full membership of NATO and the EU, as well as being a Baltic and Nordic state. 9

The combination of a political willingness and fresh opportunities led to the activist Danish foreign and security policy seen since 1994, with the Baltic policy identified as playing 'a central role' (Hansen, 1996, p.58). It gave flesh to the concept propounded in 1990 of 'active internationalism' for Denmark, which would allow for independent initiatives by the country (Udenrigskommissionen, 1990; see also Holm, 1997, pp. 53-80).

The two elements central to this policy were strong support for the Baltic states membership of NATO and the EU, together with an engagement in building up the three countries' security in the meantime. The first policy was associated with a Danish desire to see the continued change in the nature of NATO - a process that had been progressing to Danish satisfaction since 1991 - and the acceptance of Russia as a cooperative partner.

The stress on Partnership for Peace and eventual NATO and EU membership received widespread support in the Danish parliament (Dansk Udenrigspolitisk Årbog 1995, 1996, pp.244-55). It also suited the development of Danish foreign and security policy in a number of ways. Danish security policy had emerged from a decade - the 1980s - during which it had been an issue of contention in internal Danish politics and had also been a source of disquiet among allies. 'Denmarkisation' had been a term of abuse within NATO that implied a mixture of being an alliance free-rider, soft on defence and unreliable over armaments issues. However justified the epithet may have been, it represented the dominant view from the White House of their small NATO ally. The end of the cold war and the new administration in the United States offered the opportunity for a change. NATO started to adopt many of the security concepts - common, cooperative and comprehensive security - valued by the Danes. Denmark was no longer a front-line state in the alliance with a maritime frontier with the opposing alliance; instead it became distanced from the Russian Federation, even should that entity pose a threat. NATO's attraction to Denmark as a collective defence organisation was as an insurance against any residual threats, but the Organisation retained a value as a mechanism by which the former opponents might be socialised into a wider security network. This process was undertaken within the PfP programme and perhaps reached a diplomatic height with the 1997 Paris agreement between Russia and NATO. While Denmark has accepted that Baltic membership of the EU will help in dealing with some of their 'soft security' problems, the Danes recognised NATO as the main institution for tacking the "hard aspects" of security (Poulsen-Hansen, 1997, p.68). Denmark recognised that the Baltic states are unlikely to be included in the first round of NATO enlargement but, meanwhile, wanted a closer integration of the applicants with the NATO structures (Faurby, 1997b, p. 246-7).

Denmark's Baltic policy thus allowed it to press its NATO colleagues to move further and faster towards the sort of NATO to which Denmark aspired: one that would keep residual aspects of collective defence for small members such as Denmark but which would offer cooperative security to other European states and would start to tie in Russia to the European institutions and patterns of security. This also fitted in with the restructuring of the Danish armed forces, started in 1992, that placed a greater emphasis on conflict prevention and management and on participation in a wide range of international military activities (Petersen, 1995; Folketinget 1993/4). Furthermore, cooperation with the Baltic states could be undertaken at a regional level (BALTBAT, for example), yet would still be within the wider context of extended alliance activity such as that within IFOR and SFOR.

Furthermore by stressing the formula for the Baltic states of 'hard security: NATO; soft security: EU', the Danish government avoided one possible area of contention within Danish politics, that of membership of the WEU (Petersen, 1995, pp. 107). This was seen by elements within the ruling Social Democrat and Radical Liberal parties as tying Denmark too closely to a federal state in-the-making, potentially dominated by Germany, and non-participation in any EU defence policy was one of the let-outs negotiated by Denmark in Edinburgh. The formula for Baltic security took the emphasis away from the EU as a potential security 'hard' institution and placed it firmly on an expanded NATO. Thus, in the process of implementing this Baltic policy, Denmark also became a good Atlanticist to the extent that it - not Norway, the Atlanticist 'good boy' of the 1980s - received a visit and plaudits from President Clinton (Politiken Weekly, 1997, p.1).

Denmark recognised that the Baltic states are unlikely to be inc

Norway's interest in the Baltic states has been less extensive and intense than that of Denmark. Of the four main Nordic states, Norway gave least bilateral aid to the three Baltic states in 1995 on a per capita basis (Finansministeriet, 1997, p. 74). This reflects different Norwegian priorities: one of the major concerns of Norway since the end of the cold war has been to engage Russia in a constructive dialogue in the Barents region, that area covering the North Cap of the Nordic region and the north-western parts of the Russian Federation. Nevertheless there has been a Norwegian involvement on both a multilateral and bilateral basis in the Baltic Sea region which is defined by the Norwegian government as being part of Norway's neighbourhood (Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1996, p.1).

Norway's foreign minister, Thorvald Stoltenberg, advanced his country's Barents region initiative in February 1992. Later in 1992 Norway applied for membership of the Council for Baltic Sea States as part of their constructive involvement in their eastern neighbourhood. Although not a littoral country of the Baltic Sea, it was nevertheless felt by Norwegian ministers that their presence was justified in terms of their geographical position in the approaches to the Baltic region and their involvement in Nordic schemes (The Nordic Council, 1992, p. 122).

Since 1992 Norway's priority in cooperation in its eastern neighbourhood has been in the Barents context, especially after the formation of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in 1993. This cooperative structure was seen as part of Norway's European policy and as the 'beginnings of a strategy for Europe's northern periphery' (Stoltenberg, 1994, p. x-xi). This engagement was to be not only an element in the post-cold war strategy of peace-promotion and confidence-building with Russia but also an important dowry for Norway to bring to the European Union. This latter element faded after the rejection of EU membership by the Norwegian electorate in November 1994. The whole Barents project ran into difficulties during 1996 as problems in dealing with Russia in the Murmansk region surfaced (Barents nytt, 1996) and the extent of the task of the environmental clean-up in that part of Russia became apparent. Furthermore, the other Nordic countries gave a higher priority to Baltic cooperation than that in the Barents region (Godal 1996, p.26), leaving Norway to shoulder a sizeable part of the diplomatic and financial burden. On the other hand, there seemed to be almost a Nordic rivalry to be involved in Baltic cooperative efforts, and Norway has not been immune from this (Krogh, 1997)

Norway's self-exclusion from the EU led to a more activist foreign policy and also a re-evaluation of some areas, including the Baltic. During 1995 a number of studies of the Baltic Sea region were sponsored by the Norwegian foreign ministry (Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1995). The Storting's Foreign Affairs Committee visited the Baltic states (Knudsen, 1996, p.127) and in August 1995 framework agreements on defence cooperation were signed with each of the Baltic states (Ministry of Defense, 1995, p.12). The Norwegian Ministry of Defence recognised one of the factors for increased Western interest in the Baltic region '[i]n parallel with the weakened western focus on the North': the expansion of EU membership to Finland and Sweden and the extension of links between the Baltic states and the West were seen as important factors (Ministry of Defense, 1995, p.12). This flurry of activity in the Baltic region culminated with a visit to the area by the then Norwegian prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland who, in Vilnius, supported the Baltic states' membership of the EU. However, the emphasis when talking about NATO's expansion was more on the need not to create new dividing lines and not to isolate Russia, a classic expression of the 'Russia first' policy (Brundtland, 1996, pp.16-17).

In practical terms it was more convenient for Norway to participate in the existing multilateral programmes, such as those under the auspices of the CBSS and the 'five plus three' programmes involving Nordic Baltic cooperation. 10 Indeed, there seemed to be an agreement at the end of 1996 that Norway would draw up a plan to coordinate the Nordic effort in the defence area in the Baltic region, but the launch of a grander scheme for coordination advanced by the Danish foreign ministry caused an initial flurry (Krogh, 1997), though both efforts were later dove-tailed in BALTSEA.

The Norwegians have sought both multilateral and more direct dealings with Russia and have stretched their 'comprehensive pattern of cooperation' far and wide, including Central America, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. Nordic cooperation in the Baltic provides just one element in this network, designed as it is to prevent a 'marginalization' of Norway. After their failure to join the EU, the Norwegian government has tended to re-orientate its views on security in its region. Since November 1994 the stress has been placed on NATO and on regional initiatives in the Arctic, Barents and the Baltic regions. There has been little internal dissension about these priorities, with earlier differences between the Labour Party and some of the centre-right parties about support for the Baltic states having mostly disappeared once the Baltic states re-established their independence (Knudsen, 1996, pp.117-9). 11 While the post-cold war changes have presented Norwegian decision-makers with a wide range of choices, they were more disposed than their Danish counterparts to stay with the NATO they knew. The regional cooperation that they were prepared to undertake had the Barents area at the top of the list, with the Baltic area receiving less attention, though there is some indication that, since 1995, changing international conditions have helped to tip the balance a little more in favour of Baltic activity. One reason for this could be an attempt to persuade their Nordic neighbours to become more engaged in Barents cooperation by greater Norwegian involvement in the Baltic, though the effectiveness of such a link seems untestable and based on wishful thinking. 12 Greater Norwegian involvement in the Baltic areas seems to have followed an economic logic, with the greatest stress originally being placed on relations with Lithuania, the Baltic state with which Norway has the strongest economic links (Utenriksdepartementet, 1996a, p. 2; Utenriksdepartementet, 1996b, p.1). However, by the end of 1996, Norwegian bilateral aid was to shift more in favour of Latvia, a country where Norwegian firms such as Statoil are doing business (Utenriksdepartementet, 1997, p. 8) and there were Norwegian suggestions at the 1997 Nordic prime ministers meeting of the country acting as energy supplier to the Baltic states which are so energy-dependent on Russia (Martinsen, 1997, p. 158).

While the policies of the Nordic states may be seen from outside as having strong elements of similarity, the above account has demonstrated elements of disparity in their dealings with Baltic security issues. All of the countries wished to speed up the process by which the relations between the Russian Federation and the Baltic states were normalised. They wanted the Baltic countries folded into the regional institutions and into those of Western Europe and Russia to have close relations with both the EU and NATO. They were all prepared to make the Baltic region one of their main priorities in their diplomatic and aid effort in East and Central Europe and to work together in a Nordic and Baltic context.

Both Norway and Sweden have had elements of a 'Russia First' policy in dealing with the Baltic states. This is not to suggest that Russia's wishes are placed before those of the Baltic states, only that both states see their own relations with Russia as being of first order importance and neither wish it to be damaged by their actions in the Baltic states. Norway considers its Barents cooperation with Russia to be the priority but is content to participate in the various forums of Baltic regional cooperation, not least to preserve it against any tendency of marginalisation after its EU referendum. In Sweden, the conservative Moderate Party has taken more the attitude that Russia's action in the Baltic is itself the touchstone for Russian acceptability, but this fits into a wider Swedish view of the security of the Baltic states as being manageable in an East-West framework, with only non-security or 'soft security' issues being open for regional treatment. This view is partly shared by the main Danish decision-makers with their emphasis on NATO as a means to deal with Baltic 'hard security' issues and the EU as the main instrument for 'soft security' questions. However, Denmark has accepted the need for a regional aspect to Baltic security, as long as there is back-up from the major Western powers. Denmark has been much bolder in its Baltic policy than Norway or Sweden, with considerations of Russian sensitivities being less prominent, given the Danes' strategic distance from Russia. The country's membership of NATO and the EU, and as well as the Nordic and Baltic regional institutions, have provided it with extra leverage in the form of diplomatic instruments. After 1991 Finland moved quickly from a cautious 'Russia first' policy to one that reflected the definite shift westwards of its external policies. Finland has favoured relations with Estonia in its links with the Baltic states and has seen Estonia membership of the EU as being an important element in advancing Baltic security.

Explanations of the Nordic Engagement

What explains the Nordic approaches to the Baltic states? Do these explanations provide clues about the differences between the attitudes of the four countries?

As might be expected, the factors formulating the Baltic security policies of the Nordic states are a mixture of the external and the domestic. In the fast-moving events of the 1990s it has not always been possible to separate cause from effect, let alone 'external' from 'internal' factors. 13 Nevertheless, some causal links can be detected - at least at the prima facie level - and certain elements of particular policies can be identified as exogenous or endogenous to the national decision-making process.

The Nordic countries had to respond to the major change in their security environment represented by the re-establishment of the Baltic states' independence. This itself was the result of a wider process - the break-up of the Soviet empire - which, especially from 1989, had already started to affect the security environment of the Nordic states. Not only did this process start to change those countries' treatment of the concept of security, it opened up a series of opportunities for the decision-makers of these small north European countries. In particular, Danish politicians, relieved of the straight-jacket of the cold war, took on a more activist international role. Finland saw the possibility of re-orientate its external policy away from one that had Moscow as its main referent, to one that looked to the west. Norway's concerns have been those related to its northern border with Russia, the environmental disasters on the Russian side and the need for Norway not to be sidelined from its western allies when dealing with the Russians. Swedish interests have been more mixed with a wider consideration of the position of Russia being seen as necessary.

Does this mean that the main determinants of Nordic policies towards the Baltic states - especially in the security field - have been strategic ones, with the state with the furthest strategic distance from Russia - Denmark - being the most adventurist in its policy? Not necessarily: such an understanding would have predicted a more cautious Finnish policy, continuing that adopted up to the end of 1991. The strategic element provides the wider framework, but does not determine the detailed response of the decision-makers.

Given that part of the response of the Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to the changed situation in the Baltic states has been Nordic and that it has been activist, why is this so? Why did these countries not leave the fate of the Baltic states to be decided between the governments of those three countries and Russia, with Poland and western countries such as Germany and the United States possibly making a major contribution?

Part of the answer to this question must involve the Nordic countries' proximity to the Baltic states. Arguments for involvement would mainly be formulated in negative terms - it would be worse for the Nordic countries if they held back from involvement. Direct and high profile involvement by the United States and even Germany could produce a negative response from Russia, whereas the same sort of activities undertaken by the Nordic states would not be seen as disturbing by the Russian authorities. Secondly, there could be a feeling that the 'new insecurities' - those related to crime, drugs, waves of migration - are better dealt with in the Baltic states rather than waiting for them to encroach on the Nordic region. The cordon sanitaire provided by the three states allows the issues to be addressed in Riga or Tallinn rather than Roskilde or Tampere. There could also be more positive elements: the presence of three small states at the eastern end of the Baltic Sea increases the strategic distance of the Nordic states from the forces of the Russian Federation, though the 'breathing space' they provide is currently marginal. Nevertheless, their armed forces could be built up to resist any take-over of their states. On a less military note, the presence of three functioning democracies with market economies in their vicinity must be seen as the Nordic states as preferable in security terms to collapsing societies with dysfunctional economies.

This leads on to economic considerations. Nordic engagement in the Baltic countries could be seen as a means of stabilising potential markets. Though it is true that the Nordic countries gave the Baltic states free trade status then pushed for this standing to be accepted within the EU and to be extended to Europe Agreements with the EU, the Baltic markets in themselves are marginal for the Nordic states. However, they form part of a wider Baltic sphere that allows the Nordic states to increase their leverage within the EU, for example in the creation of a Baltic Interreg programme. Furthermore, with their eyes on the prize, the Nordic countries might regard the Baltic states as a jumping-off point for the much larger Russian market.

Economic factors may be important, but they scarcely explain the active Nordic involvement in Baltic security policies. Both the strategic and economic elements may be necessary considerations for a Nordic intrusion into the Baltic states' security, but neither are sufficient explanations. There have also been ethical and ideological factors that, in a way, externalise what the Nordic states see themselves as representing. The Baltic states are small countries aspiring to democracy and market economies - this in itself strikes a chord with their Nordic neighbours, especially among public opinion which has been remarkably supportive of the Nordic governments' activist policies towards the Baltic states. There is also an almost missionary element present. The Nordic states have, after all, a strong evangelistic element in the world which, more often than not, has involved them becoming active as governments in the Third World. In the Baltic states, they have small countries - formerly occupied - that have historic and some cultural (Estonia-Finland in particular) links with the Nordic region and which are aspiring to the economic and political ends which the Nordic peoples understand so well. If Nordic ideas and values cannot be spread to these countries; if Nordic concepts of security cannot be taught here, where can they find root? As small, successful, peaceful and enduring nation states, are not the Nordic countries perfect models for the Baltic states? As countries that have dealt with Moscow through a combination of defence, deterrence and reassurance and by an admixture of their own effort and imported security, cannot the Nordic states offer a security model for the Baltic states? Stated or not, the Nordic answer to such questions is in the positive, and the imperative is to follow words with actions. The strategic situation allows the Nordic countries to externalise some of their values to the Baltic states and they have shown themselves willing to take advantage of this opportunity.

A Success Story?

Have the Nordic countries succeeded in their approach towards the security of the Baltic states? Any answer would depend on an understanding on what is meant by success. For most of the Baltic decision-makers, membership of NATO and the EU is needed for their security policy to succeed and the contributions of the Nordic states to those ends have been welcome. If the aim of Nordic aid to the armed forces of the three Baltic states has been to help re-build those forces so that they can support the sovereignty of the states, then the record of success has been more mixed (Clemmesen, 1997).

The Nordic states have helped to introduce some nuances into the Baltic states' security debate that had led to considerations of alternative understandings of security apart from those of collective defence and alliance. This does not refer to Sweden and Finland providing an alternative policy example to NATO membership for the Baltic states, as suggested by some Russian observers (see, for example, Chernomyrdin, 1997, p. 3). That option has been largely rejected by the Baltic states' decision makers. However, Swedish and Finnish engagement in the EU and their involvement in the PfP, together with Denmark's stress on changing the nature of NATO demonstrate that the answer to the alliance question need not be a 'yes' or 'no'. Nordic spokesmen have also insisted on the difference between 'soft' non-military issues and the 'hard' military aspects of security and have been behind the introduction of a number of institutions - such as the OSCE and the Council of Baltic Sea States - into the Baltic Sea area that deal with the former type.

This chipping away at the confrontational aspects of security in the Baltic Sea region - the replacing of collective defence by ideas of cooperative and comprehensive security - would be of little comfort for the Baltic states should their more 'power politics' understanding of the situation prove to be correct. However, the message pressed home by the Nordic countries' representatives is not that collective defence is 'wrong' - as officials and politicians of small countries, they know the difficulties in coping with large-power neighbours only too well - but that it is not sufficient. It falls short because collective defence is not immediately an option for the Baltic states and because it does not claim to address the 'soft' security issues that are such a painful trial for the Baltic states. Even in the area of collective defence, the Nordic states have had an important message for their Baltic neighbours - any hope of success will depend not just of the credibility of the forces of the powers providing a security guarantee, but also on the capability of local forces either to act as a trip-wire or to hold off total defeat while re-enforcement's are on their way.

Success may be considered in another way. The needs of the Baltic states have provided the Nordic countries with a Nordic project of some importance. Activities associated with this project can be undertaken in a Nordic institutional or bilaterally or in a wider context, but it is clear that there is a Nordic effort being undertaken. Action in the Baltic states - and more widely in the Baltic Sea - provides the Nordic countries not only with a profile in the wider institutions such as NATO and the EU, but also a justification of their way of dealing with security issues. The end of the cold war and the accession of Finland and Sweden - joining Denmark - to the EU has sown doubts among many in the region about the 'Nordic project'. Activities in the Baltic states have allowed the Nordic countries to work together - not always in harmony and not always alone, but mostly in a cooperative spirit and often forming the core of any international effort. There is no illusion that countries such as Denmark and Sweden can again become Baltic Great Powers or that the Baltic states can be coopted into the Nordic region, even if that was what they wanted. The Nordic activities in the Baltic states, not least in the security field, provide a demonstration that there is room not only for the type of solutions long advocated by the Nordic states but also the low-key, cooperative methods that has been the hall-mark of Nordic cooperation. The Nordic states have recognised that the security of the Baltic states form an important part of their own security in post-Cold War Europe. They have thus seen it in their own interests to take an activist approach to the political development of those three states. They have used means that are consistent with their understanding of the development of international relations after 1989 and have placed emphasis on supporting the sovereignty of the Baltic states and on providing elements of 'soft' security in the economic and environmental field. The Nordic perception of the Baltic states' security problem is probably different from that of a majority of Baltic politicians who see the greatest threat as still being that coming - in whatever form - from Russia. Nordic decision-makers increasingly seem to view the main problems as being more those internal to the Baltic states (see, for example, Nyberg, 1994, p.537, Clemmesen, 1997). Furthermore what the Nordic countries have to offer the Baltic states has been no full replacement for 'hard' security guarantees which the Nordic countries are neither willing nor really able to give. Short of the three small Baltic democracies being admitted to NATO and WEU, the Nordic states have at least provided them support that entrenches their sovereignty and which would increase the price paid by those who may consider snuffing out the independence of those three states.



Note 1: Thanks are due to COPRI and DNAK for their support of this study. Interviews and correspondence with members of the foreign and defence ministries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have informed this study, though the author remains solely responsible for its content of this draft. Comments are welcome to the authorat Dept. of Politics & Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M15 6LL, England or e-mail Back.

Note 2: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are referred to as the Baltic republics during the time when they were part of the Soviet Union, but as the Baltic states for the 1918 to 1940 period and for the period since their regaining of independence in 1991. Back.

Note 3: The Nordic states are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Finland. For most of the time, Iceland is not included in this account because of its small size, its distance from the Baltic states and its lack of any armed forces. Back.

Note 4: The term here is used more in the geographical sense to include those countries bordering the Baltic Sea. For discussions about 'regionality' in the Baltic-Nordic context, see Christiansen, 1997, pp. 254-92, Joenniemi, 1991; Joenniemi & Stålvant 1995; Lähteenmäki, 1995; Petersen, 1991; Stålvant 1995; Wæver, 1991, and Østergård, 1997, pp. 26-53. Back.

Note 5: The Baltic states were independent in the inter-war period, from 1918 to 1940, but were occupied by the Soviet Union after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. They became Soviet republics, a status not recognised by a number of other states, most importantly the US. Back.

Note 6: Haab's third phase starts in August 1994 for Estonia; Ozalina has a transitional phase in 1990-1 for Latvia; Minotaite's divisions for Lithuania are March 1990 to September 1991, September 1991 to 1993 and September 1993 onwards. Back.

Note 7: The concepts of willingness and opportunity in decision-making is developed in Russett & Starr, 1992.. Back.

Note 8: Danish rejection of the Treaty of Maastricht can be seen in this light. Back.

Note 9: Of the Nordic countries, Norway and Iceland did not have Baltic Sea coastlines and were not members of the EU, and Finland and Sweden were not NATO members. Back.

Note 10: In defence matters, this cooperation is in reality 'four plus three' as Iceland - without any armed forces - does not participate. Back.

Note 11: A minority Labour government took over from a centre-right government in November 1990 and was re-elected in September 1993, only to be defeated at the polls four years later. The earlier points of difference between the political parties over Baltic policy are covered in Knudsen, 1996. Back.

Note 12: This linkage has been suggested by Norwegian researchers in internal studies for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Back.

Note 13: Here the terms 'external' and 'internal' refer to those events that primarily have their source respectively outside and inside the sovereign state involved. it is a somewhat crude distinction. Back.