After the Baltic states had become candidate members to EU and NATO these organizations exercised considerable efforts to bring the political institutions of these countries and their elites’ orientations into correspondence with international liberal democratic standards of including minorities into the polity. The paper investigates to which extent institutions and orientations did adapt to the international requirements; and discusses how the national responses to including the Russian minority may be understood as national elites’ rational adaptation to insecure environments. A main finding is that internationalization resulted only in moderate liberalization of laws and did not affect the elites’ orientations in any substantial ways. A high threshold forachieving citizenship as advocated by the national elites contrasts the liberal notion of creating state identity by ‘thin’ integration procedures, but opens an alternative way of generating more fundamental trust by ‘thick integration’. The element of ethnicexclusion seems to be a necessary political cost of the sad experiences of the past.