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Balticization (Twilight of a New Era)

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Balticization a term that refers to the relationship of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) with Russia and the Federation of Socialist Republics (FSR). In more general terms, it refers to the decision of a country to not challenge a more powerful neighbor in foreign politics while maintaining national sovereignty.

The term first appeared in 1930 in an opinion column of the Estonian newspaper Rahva Hääl (The People's Voice). The debate was continued in a long rebuttal published in Pravda of Russia. Followed a month later by extensive articles in Rahva Hääl and Novaya Zhizn stating its validity.

The mains point of the debate have been the relationship of the Baltic Countries with Russia. Finland can also be considered part of this particular relationship. The main argument is that although the independence of the Baltic Countries is recognized by treaties and an extensive political autonomy, it keeps economic and military ties with Russia. These ties have brought some benefits like the development of an industrial base of in previously agricultural economies. However these link have limited the foreign affairs, for example a de facto neutrality in favor of Russia and informal discord with Poland, East Prussia and Germany. In various foreign affairs bodies the Baltic States usually abstain in decisions that refer or affect the FSR.

The origins of this relationship differ according to the country. Before 1920, all three Baltic States and Finland formed part of the Russian Empire.

  • In Estonia, its links with Finland, provides leverage to negotiate with Russia.
  • In Latvia, the establishment of a socialist republic came during the Civil War of 1920. The participation of the Red Army forces with the help of Red Latvian Riflemen made it possible for a left wing coalition to be formed. From 1920-1940 the incorporation to FSR was a major theme in internal politics.
  • Lithuania, gained its independence with help of Russia. Initially Poland tried to exercise control and annex the present territory of Lithuania. Only the intervention of the Red Army pushed them back to Poland. After the Defense Treaty between Lithuania and FSR, the latter becoming the garant Lithuanian independence

Balticization, has its expression in:

  • the Defense Treaty between Lithuania and FSR.
  • The use of ports by the Red Navy in Latvia, previous to its membership the ICSS
  • Trade Cooperation and Investment Agreement, signed by Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with the ICSS.
  • The membership of Latvia in the ICSS
  • Various agreements of free transit and use of railways in the Baltic areas in favor of the FSR.
  • Has a condition for their membership in the Scandinavian Defense Union, the neutralization of Finland and Estonia. However this point has been undermined by the declared neutrality of the Nordic Association.

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