August 19, 2016

Summary

The August edition of Diplomaatia is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Estonian independence. Diplomaatia looks back at the international context that made the restoration of independence possible.

First, the MP Mart Nutt provides an overview of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union. Nutt argues that despite the situation looking hopeless for the Baltic nations, the spark what led to re-independence was still there, and it was historically inevitable that the Soviet Union would collapse one day.
Historian Paavo Palk analyses the restoration of independence and subsequent foreign policy of the Baltic States from the vantage point of what is referred to as small states theory. According to Palk, small states theory cannot explain the rebirth of the Baltic States or their subsequent foreign policy.
In an interview for Diplomaatia, Aleksandr Mikhailov, the first and last press chief of the KGB, describes the events during the coup-d’état in Moscow in 1991. According to Mikhailov, it was Mikhail Gorbachev who actually initiated the coup.
Paul Goble and Mari-Ann Kelam write about the US non-recognition policy toward the Baltic States. Being Estonian in exile, Kelam describes how the Baltic Community in the US succeeded in influencing the US government so that the US continued its non-recognition stance.
Paul Goble explains why the US was so slow to restore diplomatic relations with the Baltic States in 1991, being behind most European countries. “First, due to its long-standing policy of non-recognition, the US did not need to recognise Estonia’s independence; it simply had to figure out how to restore the exchange of diplomats with the government in place. Second, it had to be cautious in the troubled aftermath of the coup in Moscow, lest by more precipitate action Washington might have triggered a new upsurge of Soviet revanchism or a new wave of moves by the non-Russian republics of the USSR to leave more quickly than otherwise—or quite possibly both things at once, with risks for all involved,” Goble argues.
“…At the same time, an overly rapid American action, besides its legal consequences for the future of the Baltic countries, might have led other Soviet republics to move to declare their independence at the same time—outraging Moscow still further, possibly to the point of violence…”

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