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Letter from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) to Sen. Charles Schumer.

CENTRAL AND EAST EUROPEAN COALITION
1612 K Street, N.W., Suite 410
Washington, D.C. 20006

June 10, 2008

The Honorable Charles Schumer
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator 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.

For decades Central and East Europeans had been oppressed by Russia, whose "greatness" you suggest that Mr. Putin restore. The 1932-1933 genocide in Ukraine, the incorporation of the Baltic countries into the Soviet Union, the brutal crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, the imposition of martial law in Poland in 1981, the blatant and continuing denials of fundamental freedoms in Belarus are all examples of the tragedies that ruined millions of lives in the countries of a region which had been ill-advisedly relegated to the Russian sphere of influence in the twentieth century.

After untold suffering, these nations have regained their freedom and sovereignty. And now you suggest that Russia once again be allowed to dominate the countries of Central and East Europe in order to pursue policies whose effectiveness is a matter of conjecture at best.

Your recommendations are especially distressing, considering the disturbing trends in Russia, including the intimidation used to silence the press and critics of the government, rising anti-Semitism and intolerance toward minorities and attempts to use energy as a means to divide Europe and unduly influence Central and East European governments. Your proposal, in effect would validate these disturbing trends in the eyes of Moscow and pander to Russian nostalgia for imperialism. Clearly these trends are contrary to U.S. geo-strategic interests in the region. Please Senator Schumer, no more Yaltas!

We respectfully call upon you to meet with us and clarify your statements in The Wall Street Journal column.

Sincerely,



Frank Koszorus, Jr.
Co-President
American Hungarian Federation

Juris Mezinskis
President
American Latvian Association

Bryan Ardouny
Executive Director
Armenian Assembly of America

Walter Stankievich
President
Belarusian-American Association

Radi Slavoff
President
Bulgarian Institute for Research and Analysis

Armand A. Scala
President
Congress of Romanian Americans

Juraj Slavik
Washington Chapter of Czechoslovak National Council of America

Marju Rink-Abel
President
Estonian American National Council

Mamuka Tsereteli
President
The Georgian Association in the USA

Maximilian N. Teleki
President
Hungarian American Coalition

Lya Karm, M.D.
Chair
Joint Baltic American National Committee

Saulius Kuprys
President
Lithuanian American Council

Vytas Maciunas
President
Lithuanian American Community

Laszlo Pasztor
National President Emeritus and Member of the Presidium
National Federation of American Hungarians

Frank J. Spula
President
Polish American Congress

John Karch, Ph.D.
Slovak League of America

Michael Sawkiw, Jr.
President
Ukrainian Congress Committee of America

Stephen Kaczaraj
President
Ukrainian National Association


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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