The Baltic States: Rebuilding 50 Years of Artificial Differences is Hard

There was a time after World War II when the world was clearly defined in the Baltic states. There was the West and then there was the Communist East. The West was made of up a group of independent countries working in coordinated manner with each other. The Communist East was plainly the Communist East with policy generally dictated from Moscow through satellite governments and provinces. Today, that world has completely changed. And 50 years of bottled up Baltic culture is running all over the place, with the Western Baltic states feeling like exhausted parents of hungry newborns jumping to teenhood at hyperspeed.

Today, the Baltic states are not the West versus the Soviet Union. They are instead a collection of countries made up of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark on the mature side, and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the screaming-I’m-awake side. And Russia is a player as well. Further, they all live in the same Baltic house-region. The famous patience of the Swedes and lack of emotion in the Finns are both being severely tested as a result.

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This maturity issue is causing conflict and friction; the new Baltic leaders feel like they are being side-played as the western Baltic states work direct with Russia to form an exclusive relationship:

 (http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2010/06/nordic_and_baltic_states).

 Further, they going through an expulsion phase, trying to rid themselves of everything Russian, which the Nordics see as a bit of extreme paranoia and racism:

 (http://indrus.in/world/2013/04/02/russians_in_the_baltics_forever_foreigners_23433.html).

It's hard to explain that to country that's been under Russian control for 50 years. Further, the growing pains are not the kind of thing that makes folks in the neighborhood feel extra friendly towards each other. The proof is in the pudding for the new Baltics states; while Baltic specific discussions have occurred, they have not produced anything. In the meantime, direct discussions between Russia and Nordic states have been producing gas pipelines and maritime agreements.

The Nordic states, on the other hand, are leery of the new states, feeling they still have to clean up their house from local, petty corruption before real discussions and agreements can occur. The local crime and mob bosses still have too much influence for any serious discussions to occur as far as Nordic governments are concerned.

There are efforts being made to bring two groups separated by 50 years of cold war back together. Two respected Baltic leaders are working country by country to get a better understanding of what needs to be done with new approaches, with a formal report due back to a joint Baltic meeting at the end of August 2013. However, it’s a small step across a big chasm. Given the sentiments and how Europeans generally take a long time build bonds, the Baltic repair is going to definitely be a long-term project. The one good thing the countries involved have going, however, is that every state in the region needs the cooperation to happen for their own individual stakes.

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