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Baltic Accounts

July 31, 1986

Tyler Marshall's article (July 16) tells of the successful resolution of a British and Soviet settlement of a 60-year-old czarist obligation. On the surface, this appears to be an historic event, to receive payment from an adversary whose obligation predates its own regime.

Yet Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze has outmaneuvered British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe. The Soviets merely reviewed the British bank accounts, established equivalent claims and settled this historic grievance without a single ruble leaving the Soviet Union. "The $67.5 million that will be used to settle the claims is reported to be money deposited by the Baltic governments of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in London banks about the time those countries were taken over by the Soviet Union in 1940," the article noted.

During the turmoil of World War II, when Hitler and Stalin's pact subjugated the independent Baltic states, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, entrusted their funds to the British for safekeeping. To this day, the British government, the United States and the majority of the Western world have not recognized the illegal annexation of the Baltic countries to the Soviet Union and continue diplomatic recognition through the Baltic embassies and consulates around the world. The tragedy that has occurred is the permitting of the Soviets to pay off debts with funds that are not theirs. The British have chosen to abrogate trust to serve their own short-run interests.

It is no wonder that the Third World countries continue to maintain their distance from the bastions of capitalism knowing that, if the price is right, a sell-out is imminent.

AIVARS L. JERUMANIS

Glendale

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