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June 8, 2007-
JBANC Chronicle #34

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October 25, 2008 - President Bush Meets with Central and East European Coalition at White House Briefing; Signs NATO Accession Protocols for Croatia and Albania
Washington, DC (JBANC) --- President George W. Bush thanked leaders from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) for their support of the NATO enlargement process during a briefing at the White House on Friday, October 24. The event took place prior to a ceremony in which President Bush signed Protocols of Accession to help bring Croatia and Albania a step closer to formal NATO membership in 2009.

The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) and its three parent organizations are members of the CEEC and were represented at the briefing by Marju Rink-Abel and Mati Kõiva (Estonian American National Council), Gustavs Plato and Peteris Blumbergs (American Latvian Association), Monika Ramanauskaite (Lithuanian American Council), and Karl Altau of JBANC.

At the briefing in the State Dining Room, President Bush spoke to the group of 33 CEEC members for nearly half an hour about the future of NATO, the priorities of his administration, and its accomplishments. He thanked the CEEC for its role in supporting previous rounds of NATO enlargement, which included bringing in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the alliance in 2004. President Bush emphasized that the work of the CEEC must continue during the next presidential administration and that NATO must take in those countries that aspire to and are ready to share the burdens of membership, including Macedonia, Ukraine, and Georgia. More...

October 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

All of the nations represented here today allow American citizens to travel to their countries visa-free. The United States has not accorded their citizens the same privilege. For years the leaders of these nations have explained to me how frustrating it is for their citizens to wait in lines and pay visa fees to take a vacation or make a business trip or visit their families here in the United States. These close friends of America told me that it was unfair that their people had to jump through bureaucratic hoops that other allies can walk around. More...

September 29, 2008 - President Bush Meets with President Adamkus of Lithuania
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm honored to welcome my friend, the President of Lithuania, here to the Oval. Welcome back, Mr. President. I've come to admire your courage, your straightforwardness, and the job you've done for your country.

PRESIDENT ADAMKUS: Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I've enjoyed working with you on a variety of issues. Lithuania's ascension into NATO is a very important part of our foreign policy, yours and mine. It's important for the people of Lithuania to know that when the United States makes a commitment, for example, Article V of the treaty, we mean it. I'm proud of the alliance we've established -- and your contribution to that alliance.

We also talked about Georgia-Russia and the need for, you know, democracies to be able to stand on their own feet without fear of bullying. And you've made some very courageous statements on that issue, and I appreciate that very much.

We talked about energy independence, and you explained to me your situation with your present power and your future strategies. And I want to thank you very much for being forthright with your strategy and understanding that the more independent you are from an energy perspective, the more independent you are from a political perspective. And I thought that was very wise, and we'll try to help you as best as we can.

And finally, our hope is that by mid-October, there will be visa waiver granted to the citizens of Lithuania. You've worked hard for that issue. And it's -- I think you can take back to your people a very positive report about this very important issue. And you and your government deserve a lot of credit for it. More...

September 29, 2008 - Balts Participate in Maryland Embassy Day Event

Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Over sixty embassies and more than 500 attendees participated in the 20th annual Maryland Embassy Day event in Bethesda Maryland on September 25. The event is described by the organizers as a global business and diplomatic trade show promoting international economic development.

All three Baltic countries participated, including representatives from the Estonian Embassy, along with members of the Estonian community in Maryland and friends of the Baltics.

Maryland and Estonia have enjoyed a long-standing close relationship developed initially in 1993 through Partnership for Peace cooperation between the Maryland National Guard and the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit). The relationship now encompasses growing civilian-to-civilian links, including partner city and official Sister City relationships between ten cities, towns and counties. An official Sister State Relationship between Maryland and Estonia is also in development.

In addition, there have been numerous exchanges and contacts between educational, civic, and cultural institutions and organizations in Maryland and Estonia. The partners in Maryland, which include the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) have also been seeking closer ties between that state and Lithuania and Latvia as well. More...

September 19, 2008 - Members of Congress Announce “No Russian Olympics in 2014” Resolution

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa), the Co-chairs of the House Georgia Caucus, introduced a Congressional resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to strip Russia of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia, and to find a more suitable alternative location.

The resolution, No Russian Olympics in 2014 (H.Con Res. 421) outlines how Russia’s invasion of Georgia, a sovereign and democratic nation, makes it an unacceptable host for the 2014 winter games. The resolution goes on to state that the 2014 Olympic location of Sochi is only twenty miles away from the conflict zone, making it on a practical level an unacceptable location for the Olympics, and that had the (IOC) been aware of these circumstances at the time of awarding the games to Sochi that they would not have selected it as an Olympic venue. More...

Sept. 18, 2008 - "The Soviet Story" screening co-sponsored by VOCMF

Click here!

VOCMF chairman Lee Edwards with "The Soviet Story" director Edvins Šnore and Latvian Ambassador Andrejs Pildegovics following the screening of the documentary film at the Heritage Foundation.



September 17, 2008 - U.S. Senate adopts resolution on Latvia, Russia
By Andris Straumanis, Latvians Online

The U.S. Senate has unanimously agreed to a resolution honoring Latvia on the 90th anniversary of its declaration of independence and calling on the president to ask Russia to acknowledge that the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states was illegal.

The resolution, introduced June 9 by Republican Sen. Gordon H. Smith of Oregon and Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, was discharged by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Sept. 16 and adopted the same day by the full Senate. The committee’s action came a day before it was scheduled to hear testimony about Russia’s aggression against Georgia. More...

September 17, 2008 - JBANC's letter to Sen. Gordon Smith

The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) representing one million Americans of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian descent in the United States thanks you for introducing S. Con. Res. 87 on June 9.

The legislation congratulates the Republic of Latvia on the 90th anniversary of its declaration of independence, which was proclaimed on November 18, 1918. More...

September 14, 2008 - A Baltic Response to the Bear
By Jim Hoagland, The Washington Post

Russia is developing a comprehensive strategy of bleeding American power around the globe. The United States must respond not at its point of greatest weakness, as the Bush administration may be tempted to do, but at its points of strength.

Russia's leaders have made it clear over the past month that their invasion of Georgia is not an isolated retaliation against a troublesome small neighbor. It is part of a broader effort by the Kremlin to establish new rules for big-power relations on its own terms while U.S. forces are stretched to their limits in the greater Middle East. More...

September 10, 2008 - Central and East European Coalition Meets with White House Officials to Address Crisis in Georgia



Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Members of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met on September 9, 2008 at the White House with officials from the National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the situation in Georgia and related regional issues and developments.

The CEEC is comprised of 18 national ethnic organizations in the United States, representing over 20 million Americans. The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) and its three parent organizations are founding and active members of the CEEC. Each have issued statements condemning the Russian invasion of Georgia. More...



Baltic Americans support Georgia during Sept. 4 protests at Russian Embassy in Washington, DC


(In middle photo are Karl Altau of JBANC, along with Alex Kutateladze and Aleksandras Radzius)


Live Chain in Washington DC - September 1, 2008


All photos by Gia Tkabladze


Dear Friends,

The Georgian Association is organizing a Live Chain gathering in support of our friends and families in Georgia and the rest of the world. We are meeting at 1:00 PM on September 1, 2008 in front of the EU Embassy in Washington, DC (2300 M Street NW). Please help us demonstrate the strength of unity among Georgians and all friends of Georgia by participating in this event. The Live Chain in Washington is our response to the large scale Live Chain planned in Tbilisi at 3:00 PM local time. More...

August 26, 2008 - Window on Eurasia: It's Time for a New Non-Recognition Policy
By Paul Goble

Vienna -- In June 1940, Moscow sent its forces into Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and then declared that they had "voluntarily" joined the Soviet Union. Those actions were among other things a direct challenge to the United States, whose Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson had declared eight years earlier that Washington would not recognize international territorial changes brought about through the use of force.

Stimson's declaration was a response to Japan's seizure of Manchuria, but unfortunately by the time that Moscow moved against the Baltic states, there were all too many in the American government and Department created a special working group to consider what Washington's attitude should be. More...

August 26, 2008 - 41 United States House Members sign Rep. McCotter letter to Congressional leaders urging solidarity with Georgia against Russian aggression. See the letter here

Send a New Message to Congress

Dear friends,

We thank all of you who have contacted the United States Representatives and Senators with important messages supporting Georgia. Please continue to make your voices heard. The US policy-makers are listening to you. We are asking you to help us take advantage of this momentum and offer them more concrete foreign policy recommendations. Below is the letter you can use for this purpose. We are happy to remind you how you can contact your Representatives and Senators.

1) For the House of Representatives go to http://www.house.gov/. Click on "Write Your Representative" in the upper left hand corner (or go here). The next steps are easy and self-explanatory. After you click on "Continue to Text Entry Form" you will be able paste a copy of the letter below.

Feel free to fax the letter to policy-makers if it is easier for you to use this mean of communication. You can find fax numbers on individual websites of your Representatives. Again, go to http://www.house.gov/, and enter your zip code in the "Find Your Representative" search engine located in the upper left hand corner. Choose your Representative from the list and click on their name to see the website. We recommend contacting the DC offices, because most district offices forward foreign policy related requests/inquiries to their colleagues in Washington. More...

Janis Bolsteins, R.I.P.


Following a lengthy illness former JBANC Board member Janis Bolsteins passed away on Sunday. The funeral service will be held from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21 at the Latvian Church in Rockville (400 Hurley Avenue).



August 19, 2008 - Cliché Diplomacy: "Peace Through Speech"
By Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, at www.redstate.com

In wake of revanchist Russia’s invasion of Georgia, a sovereign democracy allied with the United States and Europe, the stunned Bush administration’s response to this failure of “quiet diplomacy” and “engagement” policy with Comrade Putin – he of the soulful eyes – was initially one of stammered clichés, each of which is revelatory, juvenile and injurious.

Consequently, to further the cause of liberty and security, we are compelled to dispel the clichés fostering the failed policy of “peace through speech”; reassert the doctrine of “peace through strength”; and advance concrete actions to punish Russia for invading Georgia.

Regarding the clichés, first let us dispense with “Democracies don’t attack democracies.” Though belied by the War of 1812 (as but one example), this canard persisted until it came to rest in pieces beneath the boot heels of Georgia’s Russian invaders.

Next, we must refute how “This type of aggression is unacceptable in the 21st Century.” Excuse me, but welcome to the “end of the end of history”! It is insane to presume an arbitrary millennial date prevents nations from using force to attain perceived gains. For years it has been evident Comrade Putin disagrees with this false assumption; thus, who could be shocked this inanity has gained as little credence in Moscow as the Kellogg-Briand Pact once gained in Berlin? More...

August 18, 2008 - Members want Saakashvili to address Congress
By Jackie Kucinich, thehill.com

House and Senate leaders should invite Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to address a joint session of Congress, according to bipartisan members of the Congressional Georgia Caucus. The gesture of support would express “solidarity and commitment” to a U.S. ally under attack by Russia, according to a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to House and Senate Democratic and GOP leaders by Reps. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). More..

August 17, 2008 - Baltic Americans Rally in Washington, DC in Support of Georgia - Statement on Russian Invasion of Georgia (Estonian American National Council)



Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Demonstrations in support of Georgia against Russian aggression were attended in Washington, DC on August 15 and 16 by approximately 500 people, including a large number of Baltic-Americans.

The Estonian American National Council (EANC) released a statement regarding the Russian invasion of Georgia which was read at a rally in front of the White House on Friday, August 15. Marju Rink-Abel, the President of EANC, read the statement More...

August 16, 2008 - Russian actions merit punishment
By Boston Herald editorial staff

Yes, it’s just another piece of paper, another agreement supposed to guarantee a cease-fire between Georgia and the Russian troops which have invaded its sovereign territory.

This time it was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice standing beside Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who had signed the agreement. Days earlier it was French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who brokered the original cease-fire agreement - the one that was rendered meaningless as Russian troops continued to advance on the central Georgian city of Gori, a mere 35 miles from the capital. More...

August 14, 2008 - Letter from Lithuanian American Community to the President Regarding Georgia

The Lithuanian American Community, with chapters from Hawaii to New York, was appalled by Russia's invasion of the sovereign Republic of Georgia and by the resulting loss of life and destruction of Georgia's infrastructure. We are also disgusted at the looting by soldiers of private property.

We appreciate your support of Georgia and are proud of our Congress which spoke out with one voice regarding Russia's aggression against a sovereign neighbor nation.

We admire the courage of the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, and Poland who personally traveled to Georgia to stand by their besieged sister democracy. More...

Members of Congress Call on IOC to Strip Russia of 2014 Russian Winter Olympics

U.S. Reps. Schwartz, Shuster Call Russia’s Invasion of Georgia Unacceptable

August 14, 2008

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the Co-chairs of the House Georgia Caucus, announced their intention to introduce a resolution when Congress returns to session calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to find a new venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia.

The resolution states that the Russian Federation’s invasion of the Republic of Georgia, a sovereign and democratic nation, on the eve of the 2008 Summer Olympics makes it an unacceptable host for the 2014 winter games. It further states that the location of Sochi, a mere 20 miles from the current conflict zone makes it a practically unacceptable location for the Olympics and that had the (IOC) been aware of these circumstances at the time of awarding the games to Sochi that they would not have selected it as an Olympic venue.

“The Russian Federation’s invasion of the Republic of Georgia and its actions against its democratically elected president violates international standards,” said U.S. Rep. Schwartz. “Russia must realize that its actions in Georgia will not be ignored by the international community. We stand by Georgia, our friend and ally, and call on the IOC to designate a new venue for the Russian Olympics.” More...

August 13, 2008 - Polish American Congress letters regarding Russian Aggression on Georgia

The following two letters were sent to President George W. Bush of the United States and President Lech Kaczynski of Poland:

Dear President Bush,

On behalf of the Polish American Congress representing ten million Americans of Polish descent, I commend your efforts calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Georgia, especially as it relates to the clearly inordinate use of force by Russia.

The repugnant scenes of death and devastation perpetrated by a nation of nearly one hundred fifty million sending its air, land, and sea armed forces against a nation of five million conjures up all the past historical images of a brutish, autocratic Czarist empire and then equally brutish Soviet empire having its way with ethnic, religious, and political minorities within its empire and in neighboring states contiguous to it. Today the death and devastation is perpetrated in the name of an allegedly democratic Federation whose thinly-veiled antecedents persist into the 21st century. More...

Dear President Kaczynski,

... The ongoing events in Georgia provide me and all those who witness these tragic developments with a sobering reminder that the struggles for democracy are not easily won, and that there is no end to this fight until powers such as Russia cease to arbitrarily impose their will on much smaller and militarily weaker nations by the unprincipled and reckless exercise of their military superiority. More...

August 12, 2008 - Congressional Leaders Condemn Russian Invasion of Georgia, Call for Removal of Troops

WASHINGTON, DC – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Republican Leader John Boehner, and House Republican Whip Roy Blunt released the following joint statement today on Russia's invasion of Georgia:

"The bipartisan leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives stands united in condemning – in the strongest possible terms – the recent Russian invasion of the sovereign state of Georgia. The United States is committed to Georgia's absolute sovereignty, and we reject the Russian Foreign Minister's reported assertion that democratically-elected President Mikheil Saakashvili 'must go.' This morning Russian President Dmitri Medvedev stated that Russia will cease military action in Georgia, and now Moscow has a responsibility to follow through and remove Russian troops from the country. In the meantime, the international community must remain vigilant in ensuring that the nation's territorial integrity is restored. This deplorable outbreak of violence should serve as an opportunity for the world community to re-engage in negotiations to end the conflict and restore stability in this region. We also need to strengthen our efforts to ensure that the needs of Georgia and the Georgian people are met." More...

August 11, 2008 - Ukrainian Americans Statement on Russian Agression Against Georgia

August 8, 2008 The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the largest representative organization of the Ukrainian American community, condemns the recent infringement of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty by armed Russian troops in the South Ossettia region of Georgia. This assault across the internationally recognized Georgian border is a clear violation of worldwide norms and an affront to the peaceful Georgian nation. Past tensions between the two sides, which until recently have been handled in a diplomatic manner, have now risen to a Russian-imposed armed military conflict with untold devastation and loss of Georgian lives. As the Russian troop movement across the Georgian border escalates, the UCCA calls upon the world community to condemn the violence and encourages both sides to return to the negotiating table. More...

JBANC Condemns Russian Aggression against Georgia


August 11, 2008
Statement Regarding the Situation in Georgia

Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC), representing one million Americans of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian descent, strongly condemns Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

By militarily breeching Georgia’s internationally recognized borders, Russia has grossly violated Georgia’s national sovereignty. Furthermore, Russia’s unilateral invasion of South Ossetia was compounded by devastating and disproportionate military strikes deep within Georgia’s territory. Russia has unjustifiably escalated a minor border incident into a major confrontation resulting in numerous unnecessary civilian casualties. This aggression continues against Georgia, notwithstanding its announced ceasefire, which Russia chooses to ignore.

JBANC joins in the demands of the United States, the member states of the European Union, and other international bodies calling on Russia to cease its aggression against Georgia, to accept the ceasefire, and thereupon withdraw its military forces from Georgia.

Russia’s invasion of Georgia is a challenge to all democracies seeking to promote peaceful coexistence among nations. The world’s response to Russia’s current aggression is critical since it will undoubtedly dictate the future course of Russia’s policies towards its neighbors. Therefore the United States and the European Union must take all necessary steps to end Russia’s aggression against Georgia.

August 11, 2008 - Russia Aggression Must Cease in Georgia

The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), comprised of eighteen national membership organizations representing more than twenty-two million Americans who trace their heritage to Central and Eastern Europe, expresses its deep concern over the current Russian aggression toward the sovereign nation of Georgia. Russia’s military attacks, and subsequent invasion of South Ossetia, and most importantly -- the bombing of cities and towns far away from the conflict regions -- violate international law and Georgia’s internationally recognized territorial borders and sovereignty. As a strategic political and economic partner of the United States, Georgia is in need of immediate diplomatic intervention and assistance. The dramatic escalation of violence in this region only works to destabilize the Georgian government and the remarkable strides they have made in solidifying their democratic institutions and values. Of further concern is that Russia may also try to regain its influence on its ”near abroad” if the West cannot now come to Georgia’s aid. More...

August 11, 2008 - HELSINKI COMMISSION CO-CHAIRMEN CONDEMN RUSSIAN ASSAULT ON GEORGIA

(Washington, DC) Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), made the following statement on Russia's assault on the Republic of Georgia:

"Russia's intervention into Georgia is a clear violation of Georgia's territorial integrity and Principle Four of the Helsinki Final Act," said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin. "We urge Moscow to cease its military operations immediately."

Chairman Hastings noted, "The Russian Federation has departed from its commitment to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) guiding principles of refraining from the threat of or use of force in the settlement of disputes; respect for the inviolability of borders and the territorial integrity of states; and the peaceful settlement of disputes." More...

August 9, 2008 - Joint Declaration on the situation in Georgia by the Presidents of the Baltic States and the Republic of Poland

We, the leaders of the former captive nations from Eastern Europe and current members of the European Union and NATO- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland - are extremely concerned about the actions of the Russian Federation against Georgia.

We strongly condemn the actions by the Russian military forces against the sovereign and independent country of Georgia.


Following the unilateral military actions of the Russian military forces, we will use all means available to us as Presidents to ensure that aggression against a small country in Europe will not be passed over in silence or with meaningless statements equating the victims with the victimizers. To this end we intend to urge our governments to take the following positions in discussions and to raise these concerns in the European Union and the North Atlantic Council:

- Can the current Russian authorities be called adequate strategic partners of the EU;

- Can the family of European democratic countries pursue a mutually beneficial dialogue with a country that uses heavy military armour against an independent country; More...

August 8, 2008 - Congressman Thaddeus McCotter Condemns Russian Invasion of Georgia

WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Republican Policy Chairman, Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) issued the following statement condemning today’s Russian invasion of Georgia:

Watching the Russian tanks and planes rolling into the sovereign country of Georgia eerily echoes the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

Because ending this Russian invasion and avoiding an escalation of this conflict is critical to the liberty and stability of Central and Eastern Europe, President Dmitry Medvedev must immediately and unconditionally terminate this invasion and remove all Russian troops and armaments from the sovereign soil of Georgia. More...


August 8, 2008 -Reps. Schwartz and Shuster Urge Cease Fire in Georgia

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Allyson Y. Schwartz and Bill Shuster, the co-chairs of the House Georgia Caucus, released the following statement today concerning the Georgia-Russian conflict in South Ossetia.

“The escalation of the conflict between Georgia and Russia is deeply troubling, and we urge both sides to end hostilities and initiate talks to resolve the conflict peacefully. We applaud the State Department’s decision to send a special envoy to the region. President Bush is in Beijing right now with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and we encourage him to use this opportunity to bring the parties to a cease fire, initiate talks, and protect the territorially integrity of Georgia. We urge him to do so as quickly as possible so that we can prevent the loss of any more life in the region.”

July 29, 2008- Captive Nations Week Commemoration 2008

Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Since the summer of 1959, the President of the United States has proclaimed the third week in July as Captive Nations week.

At a 50th observance event on July 17 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC representatives of about two dozen organizations met to recount struggles in the former Captive Nations and to hear about the current situation in those countries where communism still reigns - China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam. More...

July 23, 2008- CEEC Meets with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)



Representatives from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) on July 23 to discuss fallout from the Senator's June 3rd article in the Wall Street Journal and steps towards reconciliation.
Pictured are (standing from left): Bryan Ardouny (Armenian Assembly of America), Mamuka Tsereteli (Georgian Association in the U.S.), Armand Scala (Congress of Romanian Americans), Frank Koszorus (American Hungarian Federation), Barbara Anderson (Polish American Congress), Karl Altau (Joint Baltic American National Committee), Michael Sawkiw (Ukrainian Congress Committee of America), Stephanie Urban (Lithuanian American Community). Seated from left: Marju Rink-Abel (Estonian American National Council), Senator Schumer, Alice Kipel (Belarusian-American Association).

More...

June 26, 2008- CEEC Holds Congressional Policy Discussion on Central and Eastern Europe
JBANC Press Release

Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The Central and Eastern European Coalition (CEEC) sponsored a foreign policy roundtable discussion on Thursday June 19 on Capitol Hill to analyze high profile issues including U.S. relations with Russia, the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and energy policy. A reception honoring members of Congress was also held during the event.

The CEEC consists of 18 national ethnic organizations representing Americans of Central and Eastern European heritage. The event in the Rayburn House Office Building featured remarks by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL), and a roundtable discussion with Ambassador-Elect to NATO Kurt Volker and former Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia Bill Courtney. More...

June 10, 2008 - Letter from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) to Sen. Charles Schumer.

"The Central and East European Coalition (“CEEC”) comprises 18 national membership organizations representing more than 22 million Americans who trace their heritage to Central and Eastern Europe. We write to express our deep concern about your recent column in The Wall Street Journal entitled, "Russia Can Be Part of the Answer on Iran," (June 3). As a supporter of democracy for the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, which suffered greatly under "Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe," your suggestion that these nations be used as bargaining chips in order to appease Russia is troubling, inexplicable and unacceptable. More..."

June 9, 2008 - Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism

On Friday June 6, Senator Martin Mejstřík and Jana Hybášková, Member of the European Parliament, presented the English and Czech versions of the Prague Declaration adopted by the international conference "European Conscience and Communism" held on June 2-3, 2008 in the Senate, Parliament of the Czech Republic. The conference was hosted by the Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions of the Senate, under the auspices of Mr Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic for European Affairs. More...

June 6, 2008- Schumer Is Criticized By Prague, Poles, Romanians

Op-Ed Is Called 'Hard to Believe' By ROSS GOLDBERG, Special to the Sun
Senator Schumer is coming under sharp criticism from the government of the Czech Republic and from Polish-American and Romanian-American leaders in America after writing an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal suggesting that America should accommodate what he called Prime Minister Putin's "dream of eventually restoring Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe."

Diplomats and community leaders who read the Journal article in response to inquiries by The New York Sun said they were taken aback by the suggestion by the New York Democrat that America should try to gain Russia's backing for tougher sanctions on Iran by abandoning NATO plans to build missile defense sites in Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic. More...

May 13, 2008- Georgia in peril
The Washington Time/ EDITORIAL

THE WASHINGTON TIMES EDITORIAL - The pro-Western Georgian government bordering Russia needs the assistance of the West in order to combat Russia's growing assault on its territorial integrity. The new Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, promised in his inaugural speech on May 7 to govern with a softer hand - especially to show greater respect for civil liberties and human rights. He will immediately face a test in the oil-rich Caucasus as tensions between Russia and Georgia continue to escalate over the status of the breakaway, autonomous republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Will Mr. Medvedev demonstrate to Russia's neighbors that he will respect their sovereignty or will he continue Vladimir Putin's imperialistic policies? More...

May 6, 2008 - A Warning Shot From Moscow?
In the Georgian Province of Abkhazia, a Possible Flashpoint for a New War
By Anne Applebaum

Before it happened, nobody imagined that the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo would set off World War I. Before the "shot heard round the world" was fired, I doubt that 18th-century Concord expected to go down in history as the place where the American Revolution began. Before last weekend, when the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS declared that the government of Georgia was about to invade Abkhazia, nobody had really thought about Abkhazia at all. As a public service to readers who need a break from the American presidential campaign, this column is therefore devoted to considering the possibility that Abkhazia could become the starting point of a larger war. More...

April 28, 2008 - RFE/RL Websites Hit By Mass Cyberattack
Several websites run by RFE/RL's broadcast services have been hit by an unprecedented cyberattack, making them inaccessible to the outside world.

The attack, which started on April 26, intially targeted the website of RFE/RL's Belarus Service, but quickly spread to other sites. Within hours, eight RFE/RL websites (Belarus, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Tatar-Bashkir, Radio Farda, South Slavic, Russian, and Tajik) were knocked out or otherwise affected.

The "denial-of-service" (DOS) attack was intended to make the targeted website unavailable to its users, according to RFE/RL's Director of Technology Luke Springer. "The way this is normally done is by flooding the target website with fake requests to communicate, thereby using up all [the website's] free sources and rendering the site useless to all the legitimate users," Springer said. More...

April 28, 2008 - The Gymnast And the Czar
The Washington Post By Fred Hiatt
On a recent visit to Italy, President Vladimir Putin was asked about a Russian newspaper report that he was divorcing his wife of many years to marry a 24-year-old rhythmic gymnast famous in Russia for her lithe beauty.

Putin denied the report in his usual charming way, scolding the media "with their snotty noses and their erotic fantasies." Then the newspaper that published the rumor was shut down. More...

Singing Revolution in Washington, DC starting April 18


Opens April 18th - April 24th
at the E Street Cinema, Washington, DC

March 24, 2008 - Where Europe Draws the Line
By Jackson Diehl, The Washington Post

Mikheil Saakashvili kicked off the second wave of freedom movements in formerly Communist Europe in 2003 when he strode into the Georgian Parliament, rose in hand. Now he's president, and his country and his revolution are in danger of being stranded between a weakening West and a surging Russia. Last week he came to Washington in the somewhat desperate hope that President Bush would spend some of his last diplomatic capital to defend the two European democracies born on his watch. More...

March 26, 2008 - Building strategic relationships
By Helle Dale/ washingtontimes.com

Building strong alliances is often a matter of listening to what your international partners have to say, and on your side, making efforts to explain your own position. It does not mean turning your own policy inside out where bedrock principles or national security are at stake. But where there is room for the resolution of differences and the accommodation of concerns, the effort will create a fountain of goodwill. Sticking the finger in the eye of people we are otherwise planning to ask for cooperation is clearly not the way to go.

These concepts are usually pretty obvious when viewed from the vantage-point of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., where dealing with foreign leaders is the order of the day. Particularly in the second half of the Bush administration, the need to reach out to allies has been clear, and efforts have been made to mend relationships. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, this need is not nearly as apparent, as domestic concerns take precedent. The tension can sometimes make for baffling and contradictory policy. More...

March 19, 2008- Lithuania, U.S. sign memorandum on visa-free travel
By TBT staff/ www.baltictimes.com

VILNIUS - Lithuania and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding on Lithuania joining the visa waiver program in a major breakthrough to realizing the dream of visa-free travel to America.

The preliminary deal, signed by Lithuanian Ambassador to the U.S. Audrius Bruzga and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in Washington on March 17 is one of the main steps required for lifting visa requirements necessary for Lithuanian travelers. More...

March 17, 2008- DHS Signs Visa Waiver Program Agreements with Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania

"I applaud Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania for their leadership on these enhanced security measures, and I look forward to the day when their citizens can travel to the United States without a visa," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "In today's interconnected world, facilitating travel between partner nations with a common focus on security is not only beneficial, it's imperative. We're fortunate to have strong ties with each of these countries, and with the European Union. As we move forward with other aspiring allies toward visa free travel, we will also continue to collaborate with the European Union, especially in areas where it has unique legal authority." More...

March 14, 2008- Baltic-U.S. trips to be eased
By Svitlana Korenovska/ The Washington Times

Latvia and Estonia signed bilateral deals with the United States that will eventually allow tourists from the Baltic States to visit America without a visa.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff signed the necessary documents Wednesday with the Latvian foreign minister in Riga and with the Estonian internal affairs minister in Tallin.

The European Union is negotiating with the United States to expand the so-called visa waiver program with all 27 EU member states. More...

March 14, 2008- THE CENTRAL AND EAST EUROPEAN COALITION MEETS WITH SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN'S FOREIGN POLICY AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISORS


Washington, DC --- On Thursday, March 13, 2008, the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), comprised of 19 national organizations representing more than 22 million Americans, discussed a range of policy issues with presidential candidate Senator John McCain's advisors, Randy Scheunemann, Director of Foreign Policy and National Security, and Stephen Biegun. Senator McCain's National Coalitions Director Aaron Manaigo also participated at the meeting. More...

March 11, 2008- Estonia, Latvia to sign US travel deals amid EU concerns

Estonia and Latvia will sign deals on Wednesday aimed at securing citizens visa-free travel to the United States, officials said, just ahead of an EU-US meeting on the controversial issue.

US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff will visit the Estonian capital to sign the deal with Interior Minister Juri Pihl, ministry spokeswoman Kristina Leer said Tuesday.

Chertoff will also sign a similar deal in Riga the same day, Latvian President Valdis Zatlers told reporters.

The visa exemptions are expected to take effect before the end of the year after technical details are worked out, Zatlers said. More...

March 4, 2008 - CENTRAL AND EAST EUROPEAN COALITION PHONE CONFERENCE WITH DR. RON ASMUS

Washington, DC - On March 3 representatives of the 19 member organizations of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) spoke via conference call with Dr. Ron Asmus, foreign policy adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign. The discussion, which was a follow-up to a meeting with Secretary Madeline Albright and Senator Clinton's Campaign National Security Director, Lee Feinstein held last week in Washington, DC, touched upon numerous issues of concern to the member organizations of the CEEC.

The questions posed to Asmus touched on issues such as energy security in Europe and the United States, stability in the Baltics and the Caucasus, fostering of U.S. ties with the Central and East European region, as well as the assessment of Russia's presidential elections and the situation in Belarus. More...

February 29, 2008 -CENTRAL AND EAST EUROPEAN COALITION MEETS WITH OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISORS



Washington, DC- "Today, representatives of the 19 member organizations of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met with Anthony Lake, Ph.D., senior foreign policy advisor for Senator Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Joining Dr. Lake, and facilitating the meeting, was Mark Brzezinski, also a well-known foreign policy expert. In his opening remarks, Anthony Lake touched on many important issues of concern to the member organizations of the CEEC.

Among the topics of discussion were NATO enlargement (especially in light of the upcoming Bucharest Summit in April 2008); the backsliding of democratic trends in the Russian Federation; and the Visa Waiver issue. In regards to NATO, Lake clearly stated that the enlargement process "reinforces democracy in all nations of Europe," and brings all European nations together. Anthony Lake described the process itself as "not just of strategic importance [to the United States], but of morality, as well." More...

News Archive...



Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

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