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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 1 .

The Baltic States after Independence
Ole Nørgaard with Dan Hindsgaul, Lars Johannsen & Helle Willumsen.

(Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Press, 1997).
231pp. Index. Bibl. £39.95;
ISBN 1-85898-303-7.

Nørgaard, et al. offer the reader an extensive piece of work regarding the three Baltic states, stepping away from a "bloc treatment", and thereby emphasising their respective distinctiveness. The emphasis is set on the establishment of independence in the light of the previous flirt with statehood and the experiences during the Soviet occupation. Central for the analysis is the focus on the three issues of political transition (re-democratisation), economic development (transformation), and the issue of national minorities (divided societies) in the three countries.

The exposition still leaves some pages unturned, in particular the role of Russia, now a country with an altered foreign policy and a well established diaspora, a comparison with the earlier independence would have been welcomed. The study could have gained some strength by comparing the Baltic situation with other states in Eastern Europe with similar experiences. There is also a vagueness regarding the ethnic concept and there is no thorough theoretical discussion on the nationality issue as such. This is compensated by the chapter on "divided societies" which offers a rather extensive discussion on the presence on non-titular nationalities (Poles in Lithuania, Russians in Latvia and Estonia), emphasising the role of language and ethnic affiliation.

The book is of great help in understanding the Baltic states, in particular the survival of what has been referred to as the civil society and the (re)-establishment of democracy.

Ulf Hansson, University of Ulster

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