The Role of the Elites in Choosing the Foreign Policy Priorities of the Baltic States

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The author analyzed the role of the elites of the Baltic countries in the choice of foreign policy priorities in the period after the declaration of independence. The process of determining the course towards the Euro-Atlantic is inscribed in the sub-regional context, taking into account the current Russian-Baltic political interaction. The study of power groups was carried out on the basis of an examination of large-scale socio-political transformations along with an analysis of individual practices. A comprehensive study of the transformation of the political elites of Baltic states as small countries, involves consideration of both the domestic and foreign policy aspects. The thesis is put forward that, despite a number of differences in the Baltic states, since the 1990s there were similar processes of transformation of political elites. The elite formation was due to the principle of state continuity as continuity with the pre-war regimes of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and as a break with the Soviet period, including the EuroAtlantic course as the key priority of the foreign policy. The consolidation of deep divisions in the societies of the Baltic states - ethnic, linguistic, political - was the result of the elite struggle for power in the 1990s. After the implementation of the idea of «Back to the West» the elites of the Baltic states replaced it with a «Russian threat», which made it possible to postpone overcoming internal divisions fraught with weakening of their power.

About the authors

Vadim A. Smirnov

The Institute of Europe RAS

Author for correspondence.

PhD in Political Sciences, Doctorate Candidate of the Department of Social and Political Studies

11-3B, Mokhovaya St, Moscow, 125993, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2020 Smirnov V.A.

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