Fitting in the Baltics: National identity, minorities and compliance with EU accession requirements in Lithuania and Latvia

Publication Title

Comparative European Politics

Document Type


Department or Program


Publication Date



Baltic, conditionalities, enlargement, European Union, institutional fit, minority rights


We explore the mechanisms responsible for variation in compliance with European Union (EU) minority-protection requirements in the Baltic region. In particular, we argue that in Lithuania nation-building efforts after the Cold War that sought to include the existing Russian and Polish minorities, as reflected in elite rhetoric and new legislation, have allowed for a rapid and effective transposition of EU-required norms years later. In Latvia, by contrast, nation building took on a more nationalistic character and thus excluded the existing Russian minority from becoming an integral part of society. Without an inclusive rhetorical or legislative basis, Latvia has struggled to meet the EU's minority conditionalities. Drawing from reports by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the EU Commission, and other sources, we leverage the 'goodness of fit' theory to better understand minority protection in former central and eastern European countries and generate insights of possible relevance for future enlargement rounds.


Original version is available from the publisher at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1057/cep.2014.5