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CENTRAL AND EAST EUROPEAN COALITION MEETS WITH OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISORS

February 29, 2008

Photo caption: Members of the CEEC meet with Barack Obama foreign policy advisor Anthony Lake (center). Mark Brzezinski, another foreign policy advisor to Sen. Obama is on the left.

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.”

Russia’s recent trend of more authoritarian control also sparked a few comments from Lake. Having expressed concern for the current government policies of President Vladimir Putin, Lake stressed, “We must engage them [the Russians] on issues of mutual interest and concern, but at the same time broaden our relations with the Russian people, not just the Russian government.”

Lake also expressed support for expanding the Visa Waiver Program to five additional countries in Central and East Europe, as it pertains to Senate Bill S.342, which has been supported by Senator Obama. In addition, Senator Obama’s statement in support of congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution, as well as support for Ukraine’s commitment to join NATO, were referenced and made available to the CEEC participants.

“The countries of the CEEC enjoy strong bonds and alliances with various government officials,” stated Michael Sawkiw, President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. “This meeting afforded the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest and we look forward to working closely with policymakers in Washington on these key issues.”

The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) is comprised of 19 national membership organizations that represent more than 22 million Americans who can trace their heritage to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.


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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