by Andris Straumanis
September 17, 2008
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.
The resolution specifically calls on the U.S. president and the secretary of state “to urge the government of the Russian Federation to acknowledge that the Soviet occupation of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and for the succeeding 51 years was illegal.”
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed in August 1939 by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, included a secret protocol that allowed the Soviet Union to extend its sphere of influence over the Baltic states.
The resolution also “commends the government of Latvia for its success in implementing political and economic reforms, for establishing political, religious and economic freedom, and for its strong commitment to human and civil rights.”
A similar resolution introduced July 31 in the House of Representatives does not ask the president or the secretary of state to seek Russian anknowledgement of the illegality of the Soviet Occupation. That resolution, H. Res. 1405, remains under review by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Andris Straumanis is editor of Latvians Online.
The article may be found online at http://latviansonline.com/index.php/news/article/4755/
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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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