MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign ministry sees no grounds for Russia-EU and Russia-NATO relations to be aggravated because of the Baltic countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov said Tuesday. "We do not dramatize the Baltic states' membership in NATO. The alliance poses no immediate military threat to Russia, and, moreover, it is our partner. We do not see reasons why this should aggravate relations," Chizhov told journalists.
At the same time, he said, if European Union enlargement reflects objective developments in the world, then NATO expansion is "politically ungrounded."
Chizhov said anti-Russian sentiments spread among certain circles in the Baltic countries after they were admitted to NATO and the EU. He added that he understood it was difficult for the Baltic states to formulate their political line under American and EU influence.
The deputy minister said the status of the Russian-speaking minority in the Baltic countries was a serious problem that has been continuously discussed with the European Union.
"At first, our European partners were reluctant to speak about it; now it is a mutual dialogue. However, almost nothing has changed in practice, unfortunately. But we hope the gradual influence of common European standards of civilized behavior will positively influence Latvia and Estonia," Chizhov said.