Europe On the Edge Again
by Martin Ehl
Baltic policies and behavior could instead be seen as an indication of how any future European common foreign and security policy should look
The security situation in the Baltics, a cause for NATO concern for the last year and half, has been overshadowed lately by dramatic events around Syria and the influx of refugees into Central Europe.
But while Eastern Ukraine increasingly resembles the Moldovan or Transnistrian type of frozen conflict, allies continue their activity on the eastern border of NATO and the EU.
Russia, probably as a gesture ahead of President Vladimir Putin's visit to the United Nations, recently freed the kidnapped and jailed Estonian security agent Eston Kohver. Besides the still-strong wave of general Russian propaganda, there is no great, pressing issue. Yet the situation remains far from calm.
“We would need the strengthened presence of NATO for a long time, even we don‘t see that Russia, under the cover of the Syrian conflict, would like to act militarily in the Baltics,” Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics told me in Prague recently.
Latvia is preparing to enforce border protection policies, not only because of any possible Russian provocation, but also because of the growing number of refugees trying to enter the Schengen zone via Belarus or Russia. Just last week, Latvian authorities detained a group of 28 Iraqis – the biggest group of foreign refugees ever detained in the country.
“Our planned fence and other border measures have a broader geopolitical context,” Rinkevics said, defending his country’s actions after accusations of raising the “new Iron Curtain” in Eastern Europe.