• 2001-03-22
Five years ago we brought you the very first issue of The Baltic Times. It was the result of a friendly merger between two competitors, The Baltic Observer, printed in Riga, and its counterpart, The Baltic Independent, which was published in Tallinn.

"With the emergence of the free market and the era of Soviet tanks giving way to relatively stable political routine, small newspapers can no longer survive on the popular emotion that marked the early years of independence," we wrote back in March 1996.

That is as correct now as it was then. As The Baltic Times has maintained editorial and financial independence all those years, it was not easy to survive and stay afloat in those "changing socio-economic conditions." But we succeeded, and without Ð unlike some local papers Ð regular subsidies from elsewhere.

This week's issue boasts a change in the quality of our appearance. From now on we have a full-color cover.

The Baltic Times today is believed by some to be at the forefront of the presentation of a seemingly deceptive concept of Baltic unity and common identity. The concept, some experts have noted, works until Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania manage to enter the EU and NATO. Come EU accession the concept will inevitably wane as Estonia's affiliation to Finland and Lithuania's closeness to Poland dilute the image of unity.

We believe these experts will turn out to be wrong in the long run. As the natural differences between the three Baltic states deepen through economic and political rivalry, such a short-sighted vision might seem justified. But this works only in the short term.

The Baltic states have a common history, going back a lot further than the 50 years under Soviet rule.

Sometimes it's possible to compare the countries of Scandinavia to naughty children, brothers and sisters who fight when they're small, but who stand by each other when someone comes at them from outside.

The same with the Baltics. More and more home-grown companies are expanding into pan-Baltic concerns, since the region's 8 million residents are attractive to the big fish only as an united market.

We believe that the number of people interested in the Baltic nations as a region will only increase as the countries enter the EU, not vice versa. And English is going to be their common language; inevitably, more and more young people are choosing this language rather than Russian, once the universal lingua franca in the whole of the former Soviet Union.

So it seems The Baltic Times has more than promising prospects ahead. And we are thankful to those who helped start the paper, have contributed to it and last, but not least, everyone who reads what we write and who have remained faithful to us over the years.

Happy birthday to The Baltic Times !