Vilnius and Klaipeda problems in the foreign policy of Latvia and Estonia 1934-1938



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Tartu Ülikool


Vilnius and Klaipėda territorial questions were the main obstacle for deeper Baltic cooperation during interwar period. In 1934 all three Baltic states created a union called Baltic Entente. From this moment, Latvian and Estonian diplomats had to re-define their position in relation to Klaipėda and Vilnius question. The long-lasting conflicts played an important role in Estonian and Latvian foreign policy not only developing relations with Lithuania, but also in a broader regional context. The main aim is to find out how territorial questions determined Estonia’s and Latvia’s foreign policy. This thesis finds that the territorial problems were treated differently by Latvia and Estonia. Vilnius question was the only problem envisioned in the treaty of the Baltic Entente. Klaipėda was not defined as specific problem. However, Estonia’s and Latvia’s behaviour depended on their own interests. Latvians provided help through diplomatic channels whereas Estonians were much restrained. Both countries held on strict neutrality regarding Vilnius conflict. However, Latvia was actively involved in mediation attempts while they believed that conflict between Poland and Lithuania could cause German aggression. There was not found any proves of Germany and Poland direct influence on Lithuania through Latvia and Estonia. There was mistrust that prevailed among three Baltic states. Hence, specific problems seriously paralyzed any attempts of deepening Baltic Entente.