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From Tsarist empire to League of Nations and from USSR to EU: two eras in the construction of Baltic state sovereignty

Crols, Dirk (2006) From Tsarist empire to League of Nations and from USSR to EU: two eras in the construction of Baltic state sovereignty. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines how the three Baltic countries constructed their internal and external sovereign statehood in the interwar period and the post Cold War era. Twice in one century, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were confronted with strongly divided multiethnic societies, requiring a bold and wide-ranging ethnics policy. In 1918 all three Baltic countries promised their minorities cultural autonomy. Whereas Estonian and Latvian politicians were deeply influenced by the theories of Karl Renner and Otto Bauer, the Lithuanians fell back on the historic Jewish self-government in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Many politicians were convinced that the principle of equality of nationalities was one of the cornerstones of the new international order, embodied by the League of Nations. The minority protection system of the League was, however, not established to serve humanitarian aims. It only sought to ensure international peace. This lack of a general minority protection system was one of many discussion points in the negotiations of the Estonian and Latvian minority declarations. Although Lithuania signed a much more detailed minority declaration, its internal political situation rapidly deteriorated. Estonia, on the other hand, established full cultural autonomy with corporations of public law. Although a wide-ranging school autonomy was already established in 1919, Latvia never established cultural self-government. The Second World War and the subsequent Soviet occupation led to the replacement of the small historically rooted minority groups by large groups of Russian-speaking settlers. The restoration in 1991 of the pre 1940 political community meant that these groups were deprived of political rights. In trying to cope with this situation, Estonia and Latvia focused much more on linguistic integration than on collective rights. Early attempts to pursue a decolonisation policy, as proposed by some leading Estonian and Latvian policymakers, were blocked by the ‘official Europe’ which followed a policy analogous to the League of Nations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
D History General and Old World > DR Balkan Peninsula
D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Slavonic Studies
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Dr. David
Date of Award: 2006
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:2006-2453
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:55
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2453

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