This year’s hybrid Baltic Advocacy Days event was a success! With 44 registered participants, BAD was hosted from July 17-21 by JBANC. 25 meetings with the congressional offices of 13 different states were held in the United States Congress, both virtually and in-person. Out of all the meetings, New York and Illinois led the way with four meetings each, including the offices of both Senators from each State, followed by Pennsylvania with three meetings.

Many thanks to all who participated!
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Congressional Meetings

The focus of Baltic Advocacy Days was to raise awareness of the security issues currently challenging the Baltic countries, and, like last year, we also focused on encouraging continued U.S. support to Ukraine amidst Russia’s ongoing genocidal war which has resulted in widespread death and destruction. Russia’s war not only threatens European security–it threatens the global order. To ensure the strength of democracy, advocacy is key.

Our top priorities this year were that of the Baltic Security Initiative Act (S.1465 Senate-side, H.R.2922 House-side) and the HARM (Holding Accountable Russian Mercenaries) Act (S.416 Senate-side, H.R.506 House-side). The BSI would strengthen the defensive capabilities of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to help achieve U.S. security objectives by deterring Russian aggression and bolstering NATO’s outreach. The bill would provide the Secretary of Defense with $350 million in funding per year for three years for a total of $1.05 billion. The HARM Act would designate the Wagner Group, Russia’s band of mercenaries committing acts of terror in Ukraine, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, granting the United States increased power in curbing their financial networks and activities in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Additionally, participants asked their members of Congress to both preserve the United States’ responsibilities and commitments to NATO and to continue its policy of non-recognition of Russia’s claims in occupied portions of Ukraine. In addition to these bills and resolutions, participants asked their Representatives and Senators to continue supporting Ukraine to its victory and to push to hold Russia accountable for its terrorist actions.

Rock Creek Cemetery

On the morning of July 21st, JBANC joined friends and colleagues at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC to commemorate the 83rd anniversary of the Welles Declaration. Sumner Welles, who had been the Acting Secretary of State in 1940, issued the declaration which solidified the United States’ refusal to recognize the annexation of the three Baltic republics and to condemn the Soviet Union for occupying them. For the eighth consecutive year, JBANC has organized the gathering, which features a reading of the declaration at Welles’ gravesite to remember and honor the commitments made to ensure the freedom of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

This year we were joined by Estonian Ambassador to the United States Kristjan Prikk, and Deputy Chiefs of Mission Artūras Vazbys of the Lithuanian Embassy and Jānis Beķeris of the Latvian Embassy, who each spoke to the importance of the Welles Declaration in not allowing the Baltics to become fully absorbed into the Soviet Union – and in remembering and acknowledging each country as sovereign, yet occupied nations, who would once more be free.

Respects were paid to Sumner Welles and to Loy Henderson, whose work together with Welles in drafting the declaration, and in his work with the Red Cross and the United States Foreign Service in the newly-independent Baltic countries of the 1920s, solidified his conviction to seeing the Baltic states return to their free and democratic ways of life.

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