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Westerners are a generic ethnic group in Baltic Union census, encompassing all non-native descendants of Western European and American personnel stationed in the Baltic nations at the onset of the Great War.

Overview

Since the early days of the Union, Westerners have traditionally composed about 5% of the post-War population. While many have since been assimilated completely into the native culture, others retain a distinct cultural identity that is both tolerated and even encouraged by the Union government, which has historically been very tolerant towards people supportive to their cause.

"Westerner" is a blanket term, meant to designate anyone from the "tolerated" minorities of the allies of the Union's predecessor states. As of 2132, all but the very oldest of Westerners are natives in all but name, associating with it more because their society identifies them as such than their own choice. That said, being a Westerner is no grounds for discrimination, and if anything, a Westerner identity is more likely to elicit a positive curiosity from a native Balt.

More recent immigrants from Western nations are also typically assigned to the "Westerner" group upon naturalization, as opposed to the historically-closer ethnic groups commonly found in Eastern Europe. As long as they are willing to submit to the same requirements expected of every native-born citizen (i.e., universal military service from the age of 13), they are granted the same rights and privileges as all other citizens, and the Union authorities are very watchful for any signs of bigotry against these new citizens who have proven themselves worthy. That being said, recent immigrants still suffer from some degree of initial discrimination until eventually being accepted by the community, the procedure for recognition more often than not being simply buying a few rounds for everyone in the village pub, or proving one's worth in battle in the more difficult settlements.

Outsiders often perceive Balts as strongly-racist, though this perception is perhaps more because of political insensitivity than actual prejudice - a Balt will, for example, see nothing wrong with referring to "negro savages" while conversing with a Black person from the civilized West, with sincere friendly intent at that. Likewise, while a Black person might often earn the stares and unwelcome comments of native folks, it is most often because of their general unfamiliarity with Black people rather than genuine prejudice (a circumstance commonly encountered by Agent Rollins during his stay over the Third Baltic-Mecharussian War).

Community

Because they are seen as naturalized foreigners by the majority of native folk, Westerners have maintained a distinct identity for three generations, even if most of them are born natives in all but name, and have little in common originally.

The shared trait among many Westerners regardless of original ethnicity is English language. The Union government deliberately encourages and fosters it as a secondary identity, partly in order to encourage native citizens to learn English as extension of the formal three-language requirement. While all but the most recently-integrated Westerners speak at least one of the Union's official languages fluently, they retain a distinct linguistic and cultural aspect among themselves.

Active Westerner communities often attend common religious services in their native languages (predominantly English, also German and Spanish), marry amongst themselves and use their old language in their families despite perfect command of the native tongues.  The Union government is very tolerant of these practices, as long as the participants learn at least one of the native languages and are willing to serve the Union under arms like everybody else.

Trivia

Four of the Union's founding Colonels were foreigners from the West, commanders of various NATO units stationed in the Baltics at the time of the nuclear exchange. Col. Andrew T. Walcroft, USMC, is widely considered to be the most prominent of these Western commanders. Most Westerners living in the Baltic Union today are the descendants of the soldiers serving under one of the four "Western" Colonels.

Gloria Vanags is a third-generation native Westerner, her ancestors coming from West Virginia, US. It is implied that her ancestors were farmers who specialized in growing and processing tobacco.

Contemporary Westerners, especially those with roots in the former United States, generally view the Frenkish Empire with distrust or even outright hostility. With most of them being descendants of soldiers loyal to USPG, many especially in the older generations have grown up with stories of their homeland being destroyed by "a rabid mob of leftist traitors" who only succeeded because the majority of US armed forces were deployed overseas at the time. Since the commencement of the Third Baltic-Mecharussian War, this attitude has become somewhat problematic since the Frenkish Empire is the largest provider of clandestine military aid to the Union's war effort. As a result, the authorities have taken steps to suppress at least open expressions of anti-Frenkish sentiment within the Union's Westerner communities.

A small number of Westerners are post-War refugees fleeing political persecution in North America and the Old Nations, and their descendants. Although Baltic Union is generally very tolerant of diverse political views as long as they do not question the Union's key policies and ideals, relatively few people from the hi-tech West find the Balts' generally rustic and spartan lifestyle appealing. The few who do take their chances oftentimes find it difficult to integrate, as anyone unaccustomed to a lifetime of military discipline and organization would, further compounded by the natives' general distrust of outsiders.

Although culturally Lunarians would qualify as "Western" by Baltic standards, most Balts have no opinion about the denizens of the Moon whatsoever, having had no contact or dealings of any kind with them. The Union government however is inclined more positively and is actively conducting diplomacy with Luna, as any rival or enemy of Mekhrus is a potential friend to the Balts.

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