Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Simon Serfaty

Committee Member

David C. Earnest

Committee Member

Regina C. Karp

Committee Member

Peter Schulman


When the Cold War abruptly ended, Latvia found it necessary to find a new place in the international community. Its smallness, weaknesses and sensitivities as well as historic experiences made the task urgent because it needed a protector and a broader community to belong to. Like a needle in a haystack, finding these would prove challenging, primarily because not many options existed. First, only one community, the Euro-Atlantic community, could satisfy Latvia’s willingness to escape Russia’s unwanted dominance. Second, as a small state, Latvia had little influence over international affairs.

This research focuses on several distinct aspects of Latvia’s objective to offset its weaknesses and sensitivities through the Euro-Atlantic integration. First, it outlines Latvia’s weaknesses as a small state. Second, from the Eastern European perspective, it identifies commonly shared Cold War experiences of the Baltic and Visegrad states as compared to the experiences of the United States and former Soviet territories that were incorporated into the Soviet Union. Third, it focuses on the foreign policies of major powers such as the United States, the Russian Federation, and major European powers and regions. The study assesses if the Euro-Atlantic integration processes allowed Latvia to remedy its small state weaknesses.

Lastly, using mostly qualitative but also quantitative methods, the study provides insight as to whether the international integration process had an effect on Latvia’s security, democratic consensus and sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Small states must cope with their limited resources and overwhelming international challenges to pursue their interests and viability. These aspects are considered profound preconditions for small state survival, and thus the framework and methodology presented can be applied to other small states.


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