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The Baltic Initiative: Mid-Year Report 2016
August 19, 2016
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea have triggered concern among all the borderland areas, not least the Baltic states. FPRI’s Baltic Initiative is designed to advance Americans’ awareness of the region while providing a platform for voices from the region. Questions of security, diplomacy, and politics will be an area of focus, because these are key questions in these countries’ own political debate. Yet the Baltics’ story is much broader than most people realize. From energy to economics, from trade to technology, the future of Europe is being debated and decided in the Baltics. In its first six months, the Initiative has launched a regular publication titled the Baltic Bulletin, which shares insights about the region with thousands of readers worldwide. The Initiative also organizes public events. The Baltic Bulletin is edited by FPRI Fellow Chris Miller.
Accomplishments Thus Far
The Baltic Initiative has hosted events in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In May, we featured the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington and Mindaugas Zickus at FPRI’s Geopolitics with Granieri in Philadelphia. Lithuania is on the frontiers of the struggle between Russia and the West for influence in Europe’s borderlands. How does Lithuania view the current security situation vis-a-vis Russia? What steps is the country taking to avert or fend off aggression? What does the future hold for the Baltic Sea region? These questions addressed were by Granieri and Zickus at the event.
Mindaugas Zickus addresses the members of FPRI
FPRI Roundtable, Baltic Studies Conference
FPRI also co-sponsored this year’s Annual Meeting of the Association for Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS), held in Philadelphia. FPRI-sponsored events at the convention included a round-table discussion entitled “The Baltic States in European Security.” The roundtable was chaired by Chris Miller and featured FPRI scholars John Haines, Ron Granieri, and Mitchell Orenstein, alongside Karl Altau of Joint Baltic American National Committee and Andres Kasekamp of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute.
Also in May the FPRI team met with Estonia’s President Ilves during his visit to Philadelphia. In his Baltic Studies Convention keynote speech, President Ilves spoke about NATO’s important role in preventing authoritarian advances in Eurasia and beyond.
FPRI team and friends meet with Estonia’s President Ilves
During the AABS meeting, FPRI sponsored an info-session luncheon where John Haines, Chris Miller, and Maia Otarashvili made remarks about the Baltic Initiative to 80 Baltics scholars and experts.
In June, Maia Otarashvili, the manager of the Eurasia Program, joined the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) in meetings with the chairmen of the House Baltic Caucus, Representative Adam Schiff (D. California), and Congressmen John Schimkus (R, Illinois). The Baltic Bulletin received a great deal of praise by both offices, and the chairmen and their staffers are now among its subscribers.
The Baltic Bulletin, published several times per month, has featured analysis by scholars from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, elsewhere in Europe, and from the United States. Topics thus far have included: Baltic-Nordic Defense Cooperation, Information Warfare, and Energy Security. The Bulletin reaches thousands of readers and is shared via our email list and via social media.
In 7 months, we have published 16 Baltic Bulletins, driving over +9,000 unique readers to the FPRI website. Our social media channels are followed by dozens of influential figures in Baltic politics, including many diplomats from the region and from the United States, as well as journalists from publications such as The Economist, and present and former top policymakers, including at the foreign minister level. FPRI Baltic Initiative researchers have also briefed US government officials on contemporary issues.
“I just want to thank you for this initiative, and for the high quality of the first bulletins. I look forward to follow it in the future.” Says Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark
“Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia is very impressed with the Baltic Bulletin.” Latvia Ministry of Foreign Affairs
FPRI’s Baltic Bulletin is currently expanding its reach by further building up its social media presence and by publishing more frequently. The Baltic Initiative is also further expanding its network of scholars in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in order to expand the voice experts from the region have in the United States and across Europe.
We would like to thank the J.J. Medveckis Foundation, Audrey and Martin Gruss Foundation, Leo Model Foundation, Cotswold Foundation, Krista Bard, and others for support of FPRI’s Eurasia Program, directed by Ambassador Adrian Basora and John R. Haines. The Baltic Bulletin and other Eurasia Program work was made possible by this support.