JBANC PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release
July 22, 2005
contact: Karl Altau (tel. 301-340-1954)
Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The United States Congress has issued another signal to the Russian Federation that it should be truthful about its past Soviet legacy with respect to the Baltic countries. Legislation seeking an acknowledgement and condemnation by the Russian Federation of the Soviet Union’s occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania passed today, July 22, in the House of Representatives.
The legislation passed by unanimous consent, meaning that there was no opposition. House Concurrent Resolution 128 (H. Con. Res. 128) was introduced by Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) on April 29. The measure had also received the strong support of Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), and other members of the House Baltic Caucus.
The complete text of H. Con. Res. 128 will be available on the congressional website http://thomas.loc.gov, along with the floor statement of Congressman Shimkus (see below). JBANC believes that by admitting and condemning the Soviet occupation and annexation of the Baltic countries, the Russian Federation can develop more tolerant relations with its neighbors and chart a more positive course for its own future.
There were twenty-nine co-sponsors of H. Con. Res. 128 (House Baltic Caucus members marked by an “*”): Xavier Becerra (CA)*, Howard L. Berman* (CA), Mary Bono* (CA), Christopher Cox* (CA), Danny K. Davis (IL), Lloyd Doggett* (TX), David Dreier* (CA), J.D. Hayworth (AZ), Tim Holden* (PA), Darrell Issa (CA), Jack Kingston (GA), Dennis Kucinich* (OH), Daniel Lipinski (IL), Stephen Lynch (MA), Thaddeus McCotter* (MI), James McGovern* (MA), Grace Napolitano* (CA), Michael Rogers* (MI), Dana Rohrabacher* (CA), Edward R. Royce* (CA), Loretta Sanchez* (CA), Adam B. Schiff* (CA), David Scott (GA), E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (FL), Mark E. Souder (IN), Lee Terry* (NE), Fred Upton* (MI), Henry A. Waxman* (CA), Frank R. Wolf (VA).
Including its sponsor Rep. Shimkus, 20 of the 30 supporters are members of the House Baltic Caucus. The Caucus, co-chaired by Congressmen Shimkus and Kucinich, currently has 70 members. Nearly a third of Caucus members co-sponsored. Support was completely bi-partisan, with 16 Republicans and 14 Democrats. 12 of the 30 supporters are from California, an indication of the excellent activism of the Baltic American Freedom League there. Illinois and Michigan congressional delegations mustered three supporters each. JBANC would also like to recognize the efforts of the Midwest Baltic Coalition and the Baltic-American organizations of Oregon for their great help in getting the legislation introduced. The Senate already passed their version of the measure (S. Con. Res. 35), on May 19. It was introduced there by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), and co-sponsored by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
In conjunction with the passage of H. Con. Res. 128, July 23 marks the 65th anniversary of the U.S. policy of non-recognition of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries. For over half a century, the U.S. never wavered in its support for the sovereignty of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles issued the first U.S. public statement on the Soviet takeover of the Baltics, condemning that act, and recognizing the true nature of the predatory intervention by the USSR upon its neighbors: http://estonia.usembassy.gov/sumnerwelles.php
In addition, the week of July 17-23 marks the 57th anniversary of Captive Nations Week, marking support for peoples that suffered and are still victimized by communism and tyranny. President Bush has issued a proclamation on this occasion: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/20050715-12.html
JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association, Inc. and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.
Statement of Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL)
HCR 128: Russian Recognition of Occupation of the Baltics
July 22, 2005
MR. SHIMKUS: Mr. Speaker, I am here to encourage passage of H.Con.Res. 128, a resolution that I am proud to have sponsored, that calls on Russia to acknowledge the occupation and subsequent suffering of the Baltic people under Soviet control. I implore my colleagues to support this important resolution.
This resolution comes to the floor in a timely manner. This week is Captive Nations Week, first declared so by the U.S. Congress on July 17, 1959 as a Joint Resolution against the continuing Communist domination of the Baltic Countries. President Bush has again declared this week ‘Captive Nations Week’ and urged Americans “to reaffirm their commitment to all those seeking liberty, justice and self-determination.” I can think of no better way than to honor the memories of those that fought for freedom against Communist control than to pass this resolution.
During Communist occupation of the Baltics, hundreds of thousands of people were torn from their families and deported to Siberia, many never to be heard from again. No one can be exactly sure of the amount of those that died or fled Soviet control, but it has been estimated from 500,000 to as high as 750,000. You cannot meet a person in these countries that didn’t have a family member or loved one who wasn’t affected by these horrible practices. Russia has been unwavering of its non-recognition of the mass deportations, torture, and murders committed by the Soviet regime. I feel, along with the 29 cosponsors of this legislation, that Russia needs to acknowledge the mistakes of the past so it can move forward and become a truthful state, and in turn a stronger democracy.
It is important that the United States join with our allies in the Baltics and stand for Democracy and rights of individuals to be protected everywhere. Democracy and freedom cannot exist without truth and transparency; I would hope Russia would take a step forward as a nation by acknowledging the past. I encourage my colleagues to vote in favor of this resolution.
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.
The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc.
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