Countries of the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Baltic and Caucasus states, the countries of Central Asia are quite different in the degree that they distanced themselves from the so-called "socialist bloc" or the former Soviet Union (fSU), therefore the common direction for their development can hardly be defined. For European countries (including Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) the ultimate goal (both desired, mainly because of the geopolitical position, and forecasted) is clear and straightforward - to join the European Union (EU) and NATO. For the Caucasus and the Central Asian republics things are more complicated. It is particularly important for them to preserve the ties with Russia and to be a part of the so-called "Islamic world". Obviously, the membership of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in the above structures cannot and will not (again mainly because of their geo-political position) mean the U-turn from their good-neighbouring relations with Russia and Belarus. On the contrary, historical experience may help these countries to become some sort of a bridge between the East and the West. Attempts to set up a "grey" buffer zone will only preserve the hotbed of tension caused by uncertainty.
The notion of the world resources cannot be limited to natural and material resources only. For Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as for the other European countries the future could only be in the optimum utilisation of their intellectual potential which can express itself in a variety of ways.
Freedom to define the national strategy of transformation for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia was particularly restricted in 1990-1992. Attempts of the fSU leaders to keep them within the Federation at all costs lead to the opposite effect - strengthening of their westward orientation. At the same time western companies did not have the slightest interest in supporting the competitiveness of the new states. Moreover, strategists failed to predict all possible consequences of political and, especially, economic changes in the CEE. First of all, they underestimated the desire of the populace to receive benefits (to get them) straight away, whereas in reality the initial stage of transformation period witnessed a deterioration (not the improvement) of living standards of the majority of population.
Foreign investment is a high price indeed to pay for the progress. But under the present situation there is no other way. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are not in the position to find a sufficient number of local investors for the restructuring and revival of their industry and agriculture. Additionally, foreign investment becomes a certain guarantee of political independence.
Political and economic matters are strongly intertwined (the war in Chechnya is a vivid example is) and can hardly be separated. Many changes on the political map of the world were conditioned mainly by the economic interests. Therefore the question of refusal from the priority of politics in the transformation process is fairly rhetorical. The introduction of trading privileges for the new states is problematic due to the competitive interests of the free market.
Also the transformation process directly involves the West - in the first place, the unified Germany.
The transformation countries, as well as the so-called "developing" countries are vulnerable to all the problems which accompany the stabilisation of the free market economy (first of all corruption, growth in crime- rate, etc.). However, they can go through this imminent period quicker by using more efficiently their intellectual potential and relatively high skills of the work force.
In the transition process it is not uncommon for the corporate (group) interests to dominate the national ones. Hence tough measures against corruption, tax defaults, abuse of power and so on are required. At the same time, it is only the restructuring and revival of the industry and agriculture, finding a niche on the world market that can partly resolve the basic contradictions of the transformation process.
At the initial stage of transformation the majority of people tend to think in terms of "bazaar", and not "market". One needs time for the independent position and responsibility in one's mind and in relation to the society to get settled.
If Russia manages to avoid the breakout of ethnic wars, if Germany does not gain the dominant position, if economic and political interests of certain American groupings do not become oppressive in Europe, etc., then it could be possible to form a stable and flourishing EU which would incorporate the countries of the so-called "socialist bloc", Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia having laid down the "rules of play", in the first instance, with Russia.