Destinations Magazine

The Baltic States: Echoes of the Sudetenland

By Stizzard
The Baltic states: Echoes of the Sudetenland

“WE FEEL uneasy, but we must not get in a hysterical mood,” says Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia’s foreign minister. As the Ukrainian crisis continues, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, the three Baltic states, are increasingly exposed to Russian pressure, for historical, geographic and linguistic reasons. If it weren’t for their NATO membership, the Baltic trio would feel almost as vulnerable as in 1938-39, after Hitler had annexed the Sudetenland under the pretext of needing to protect the local German population and during the run-up to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Speaking of parallels between then and now, Mr Rinkevics notes that: “For us, there are a lot of emotions.”Few countries know Russia as well as the Baltic states do. They were part of the Russian empire for centuries and were subjugated by the Soviet Union for 50 years. Around a quarter of Estonia’s people and 27% of Latvia’s are native Russian-speakers (see map), though nearly all Balts speak some Russian and many are bilingual. In Latvia one in five marriages is mixed.Even so, Baltic leaders’ warnings about Russian expansionism have tended to go unheeded by their allies in NATO and the…

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog