The Baltic Course  

Editor's Note

Maris Biezaitis

Dear readers,

In early April the European Parliament approved the accessoin treaties of ten EU candidate countries, including the three Baltic states. By the time you’re reading this, the treaties will have been fully signed and ready for ratification at a summit in Athens, late April. The road to the EU for candidate countries is not a smooth one, and regular status checks are made by all sides on things that are yet to be done.

With the Baltics set firm on becoming the external EU borders in only a year’s time, border-crossing and transit issues are becoming a key part of the EU-Russian dialogue, as usual we’ve covered plenty of news and analysis of the situation in the transit sector from oil and oil chemistry to grain, and also an article on what Latvia’s main port of Ventspils is doing to overcome its blocked crude oil pipeline supplies.

EU membership will also be bringing up the value of real estate in the Baltics, boosting the market to unseen extent. Take a look at the situation with our article on the Baltic real estate market, and also an interview with someone behind quite a few exclusive Baltic real estate projects from Pro Kapital.

The overcroded central banks of the Baltic states is another field that could undergo quite a change in the next few years, from possible staff cuts, as experienced throughout Europe, to managing a transitio to the euro, as recent forecasts state that the euro could be introduced by the Baltics as soon as 2006.

With Baltic troops both in Afghanistan and now even the Persian Gulf, NATO membership is also on the doorstep, which could bring certain aspects to the baltic security situation in future. Our Helsinki correspondent covers some of the views on security in Europe, which seems to have turned upside down since September 11, 2001.

And last, but not at all least, in this issue we’ve taken a closer look at Lithuania, with an interview of the country’s new and young president Rolandas Paksas. Read about his plans as president and where he hopes to see the country by its millennia celebrations in 2009. Social integration being a major issue in the Baltics, especially  amongst ethnic communities following its 50 years of occupation, we’ve covered a view of ho Lithuania tackles the issue with its own perculiar circumstances. If you’ve been to Vilnius and not  strolled the romantic streets of its Uzupis neighborhood, you haven’t yet tasted the full flavor of the Lithuanian capital, our recreational article gives us some insight into the life of this dainty district.

Enjoy these and more articles in the latest issue of the Baltic Course, and look out for our next summer edition!

Maris Biezaitis

Deputy editor-in-chief