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News Archive

February 27., 2008 - The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, advisor to the Sen. Hillary Clinton campaign on foreign policy issues.

Participating from JBANC were Marju Rink-Abel (President of the Estonian American National Council, third from left), Ramunas Kondratas (JBANC chairman and Lithuanian American Council, sixth from left), and Karl Altau (JBANC, second from right).

Fair Treatment on Visas Announced

Washington, DC- On Wednesday, February 27, 2008, the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), comprised of 19 national organizations representing more than 22 million Americans, discussed a range of policy issues with presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton's advisor, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Also present at the meeting was Lee Feinstein, Senator Clinton's Campaign National Security Director.

The meeting focused on key areas of concern for the CEEC, including Russia's actions in the region, energy security and diversification, NATO enlargement, immigration and the visa waiver program, re-affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, as well as other human rights issues. Lee Feinstein, speaking on behalf of Senator Clinton, reinforced the Senator's longstanding support for and co-sponsorship of the genocide resolution. More...

February 20, 2008 - UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE (HELSINKI COMMISSION) HOLDS BRIEFING WITH EDWARD LUCAS OF "THE ECONOMIST"


Photo from www.hillaryclinton.com "..Well, thank you very much indeed, Cliff, for that introduction and the invitation. As a reporter in Washington, I very often sat in these seats. I didn't think I'd ever in my wildest dreams actually be sitting on this side of the table, and so I put on my NFC tie to show that this is a really serious and important occasion.

Thank you very much for inviting me.

It's a provocative title -- "The New Cold War" -- and it's particularly provocative for those of us -- and I guess there are many here -- who remember the last one. Cliff and I were both in our different ways involved in the struggle for freedom in Eastern Europe and to try and undermine communist rule there. And when we remember how bad it was then, it's not a comparison to draw lightly.

We had a complication that was military -- military and existential threat. We had missile-to-missile crises and other misunderstandings, which could have very easily meant the end of civilization on the planet. And it was global. It stretched to every corner -- planets don't have corners -- every corner of the map. There was this issue of complication. more..."

February 6, 2008 - Cabinet of Ministers honors PBLA's Kukainis
Andris Straumanis, Latvians Online.

Photo from www.hillaryclinton.comJānis Kukainis, former chairperson of the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība, or PBLA), has been awarded a Latvian Cabinet of Ministers Certificate of Recognition, a cabinet spokesperson announced Feb. 5 in Rīga.

Kukainis is receiving the recognition for his many years of service defending Latvia's interests and for helping to preserve Latvian culture.

Kukainis served as head of the PBLA from 2002-2007. He also has been involved with other organizations, twice serving as chairperson of the American Latvian Association and twice as head of the Joint Baltic American National Committee. Born in Latvia in 1943, he now lives in Michigan.

Kukainis is one of several individuals who will receive certificates of recognition, the Cabinet of Ministers announced. For their work in the nation's forestry industry, certificates have been awarded to Andrejs Nikuļcevs, Aija Fišere, Juris Matīss and Jānis Elmārs Rubens, all of Latvia. Also honored is Oskars Gerts, editor-in-chief of the official daily newspaper of the Latvian government, Latvijas Vēstnesis. More...

February 4, 2008 - Clinton Campaign Responds to JBANC Questionnaire

Photo from www.hillaryclinton.com Washington, DC (JBANC) --- U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has responded today to a questionnaire sent by the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC). Her answers are given below.

JBANC sent questionnaires to the leading Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, asking each for their positions on key issues and concerns of the Baltic-American community. JBANC will disseminate responses from the other candidates as soon as they are received.

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JBANC Election 2008 Questionnaire:

1. What policy would you follow in U.S. relations with Russia given Russia's increasing Soviet-style isolationism, anti-Western propaganda, and anti-democratic actions such as restrictions on a free media and return to a "one-party system? How will you act to stem Russia's intimidation of neighboring countries, such as the Baltics, through boycotts, oil supply manipulation, cyber attacks, disinformation, and other means?


The list of issues that divides the United States and Russia is growing longer. In the heart of Europe, where we have worked hard since the end of the Cold War to bury old rivalries and hostilities, we are witnessing renewed disputes between Russia and many of its European neighbors, especially - but, sadly, not only -- the Baltic States.

Many of us had hoped that Baltic-Russian relations would improve after Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia joined NATO and the EU. Instead, Russia has stirred nationalist feelings against Estonia, used oil and natural gas as a political weapon in the Baltic Sea region (and more generally across Europe), attempted to block Western diplomatic efforts to keep peace in the Balkans, criticized nations that seek to join the NATO alliance, and made clear that it regards democratic breakthroughs and progress in other countries on its borders as a threat to itself. More...

January 29, 2008 - JBANC Sends Questionnaire to U.S. Presidential Candidates

The questions posed to the candidates:

  • What policy would you follow in U.S. relations with Russia given Russia's increasing Soviet-style isolationism, anti-Western propaganda, and anti-democratic actions such as restrictions on a free media and return to a "one-party system"? How will you act to stem Russia's intimidation of neighboring countries, such as the Baltics, through boycotts, oil supply manipulation, cyber attacks, disinformation, and other means?
  • Given the increasingly bold use of energy supply manipulation by Russia as a coercive measure to divide Europe and weaken NATO, what do you think U.S. policy should be to address this problem?
  • Do you support NATO enlargement?
  • Do you support expanding trade with and increasing investment in the Baltics? If so, what measures would you propose?
  • How would you improve U.S. public diplomacy in the Baltic countries? Would you favor more exchanges and people-to-people contacts? If so, how would you deal with the problems of obtaining visas and the implementation of visa-free travel from the Baltic countries to the United States?
  • More...

    President Bush's Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the US-Baltic Charter
    January 16, 2008

    I send greetings to those celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Charter of Partnership Among the United States and the Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

    A decade ago, the U.S.-Baltic Charter helped launch the Baltic states toward their goal of becoming full members of Europe and the transatlantic community. By partnering together, our countries demonstrated our commitment to achieve an integrated Europe in which the security and sovereignty of each nation would be realized.

    In 2004, the NATO Alliance proudly welcomed Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the transatlantic community, based on a commitment to freedom, security, justice, human rights, and free markets. Europe is now closer to being whole and free, and the success of these nations gives hope and support to all those who seek to lift themselves from fear and oppression.

    On this occasion, we appreciate the peoples of the Baltic states who endured tyranny and struggled for independence. They earned their freedom through courage and perseverance, and today they stand with us as partners in this great alliance, contributing to our common security.

    Laura and I send our best wishes on this important anniversary. May God bless you.

    George W. Bush
    January 16, 2008- Joint statement of the Presidents of the Baltic States

    10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE U.S.-BALTIC CHARTER

    In a White House ceremony on January 16, 1998, the Presidents of the United States, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia signed the U.S.-Baltic Charter of Partnership. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, we recall the document as a historic political landmark in the relations between our countries.

    With this Charter we set up a framework for cooperation that has ultimately helped us achieve the strategic goal of stability and security through NATO membership. It significantly enhanced U.S.-Baltic cooperation in political, security, and economic areas.

    The partnership [based on common values and] continuously maintained between the United States of America and the Baltic States since 1922 is an intrinsic part of Baltic independence. The Charter was a consistent continuation of the U.S. policy of non-recognition of the forceful incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union as well as of political and practical support to the restoration of our independence. More...

    January 16, 2008- The Baltic Model
    By MARIS RIEKSTINS and RONALD ASMUS/ COMMENTARY/ The Wall Street Journal

    RIGA, Latvia -- It is difficult to recall today the West's hostility in the early 1990s toward Baltic membership in NATO and the European Union. At a time when even embracing Poland was controversial, the aspirations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were considered nutty if not outright dangerous. Moscow's reaction was even worse.

    Luckily, though, the West's sense of moral commitment and strategic needs prevailed. Just imagine what the region would look like today if Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn had not been allowed to join NATO and the EU in 2004? No doubt, there would be far less stability, security and prosperity.

    One key steppingstone in that process was the U.S.-Baltic Charter signed 10 years ago today. As two of the negotiators of this document, we know how critical it was in securing NATO membership, which in turn was instrumental for EU accession. More...

    December 20, 2007 - Belarusian opposition leader sentenced to prison
    The Associated Press

    MINSK, Belarus: A Belarusian opposition leader was convicted Thursday of violating the terms of his forced labor sentence and sentenced to 18 months in prison, a human rights activist in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic said.

    The one-day trial of Artur Finkevich, a leader of the Young Front organization, was held in the eastern city of Mogilyov, where he is serving a two-year sentence of labor and internal exile for graffiti construed as criticism of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

    The court found Finkevich, 21, guilty of violating the terms of his sentence and of bad behavior, rights activist Inna Kulei told The Associated Press. He had faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Prison is more punitive than labor and internal exile, which requires convicts to live under supervision in a specific city and report to an assigned job, often manual factory labor, but usually allows some freedom of movement. More...

    December 14, 2007 - Belarusian Activist Says Beating Linked To U.S. Trip
    Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

    A Belarusian activist has told RFE/RL that his beating by police during a demonstration in Minsk is linked to his recent trip to Washington, where he met with the U.S. president and testified before a Congressional commission.

    Following the incident, the United States has warned Belarus that it may extend sanctions against Belarus due to lack of progress in allowing democratic freedoms.

    Zmitser Fedaruk, fresh from the U.S. trip last week, was beaten by police on December 12 while participating in a peaceful protest ahead of a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Witnesses have said the acting head of the Malady (Youth) Front was knocked unconscious by police and taken away from the rally in an ambulance. More...

    Zmitser Fedaruk (RFE/RL)

    December 12, 2007 - Hastings Outraged By Merciless Attack On Belarus' Young Front Leader Zmitser Fedaruk

    (Washington, DC) Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) issued the following statement in response to news reports that one of the Young Front leaders, 19-year-old Zmitser Fedaruk was beaten by riot police during an otherwise peaceful demonstration in Belarus. According to witnesses, Fedaruk was beaten and knocked unconscious by riot policemen, then rushed by ambulance to the hospital. More...

    December 7, 2007 - Leaders of Belarusian opposition meet with JBANC; BelSat-TV launched on December 10
    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- A delegation of leading Belarusian opposition leaders traveled to the United States last week to meet with President Bush, Members of Congress, NGO's, and the Belarusian community in the U.S.

    JBANC President Saulius Kuprys (President of the Lithuanian American Council) was on hand to meet with the delegation during a December 7 gathering, along with JBANC Chairman Ramunas Kondratas and Managing Director Karl Altau.

    The Belarusian delegation was led by 2006 United Forces presidential candidate Aliaksandr Milinkevich, who last year received the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

    For more information, see: www.charter97.org/en/news/2007/12/7/2200/

    One of the topics discussed by the visiting delegation was the advent of BelSat-TV. The BelSat project, began broadcasting indedpendent TV to Belarus on December 10, 2007.

    JBANC joined BelSat Director Agnieszka Romaszewska during meetings with Members of Congress in October to explain the importance and necessity of the project. BelSat, based in Warsaw, is funded by Poland, with some support from Lithuania. A resulting letter from seven House Members (Albio Sires, Mario Diaz-Balart, Robert Wexler, Alcee Hastings, John Shimkus, Thaddeus McCotter, and Lincoln Diaz-Balart) was sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on November 7, asking for $2.5 million in U.S. funding for the project.

    Additional information about the BelSat broadcasts, which started on December 10, 2007:
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/12/07/europe/EU-GEN-Poland-Belarus-Media.php
    http://www.charter97.org/en/news/2007/12/10/2263/
    http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-12-10-voa55.cfm


    Click on the photos to enlarge

    November 30, 2007- Estonian PM makes donation to Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

    WASHINGTON, Nov 30, BNS - Prime Minister Andrus Ansip on Thursday made a donation of 5,000 US dollars on behalf of Estonia to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington.

    "I'm pleased to deliver our donation as contribution on the part of Estonia to help solve the crimes of communism in the whole world and I hope that there will be many countries contributing to this undertaking," Ansip said during a ceremony at the Estonian embassy in Washington.

    "The Estonian government was the first to decide to support financially the Global Virtual Museum of Victims of Communism and surely this has been conducive to other countries' joining this important project," Lee Edwards, chairman of the foundation, was quoted as saying in remarks published in Estonian. More...

    November 28, 2007- Advancing Freedom in Russia
    by Steven Groves, The Heritage Foundation

    The current Moscow power establishment is leading Russia back in time. Instead of moving forward toward a nation that cherishes and protects freedom and democracy, the establishment is creating a state and body politic dominated by a new breed of oligarchic groups composed of security officers and their business allies.

    The Russian media are no longer free and unrestricted. With the exception of a few minor showcase outlets and the Internet, the media are dominated by the Kremlin and its allies. The majority of political parties are under state control, and the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with foreign ties are under severe scrutiny. Russia is no longer a free nation. More...

    November 21, 2007- Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Begins Work on Global Virtual Museum; Estonian-Canadians To Play Key Role In Project
    Washington, D.C. - The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation has retained Marcus Kolga of Liefa Communications, Toronto, Canada, to play a key role in the building of its Global Virtual Museum on Communism.

    Kolga, an Estonian-Canadian, is the director of the award-winning documentary film, "Gulag 113." Designer Tarmo Saks and programmer Paul Saumets, both Estonian-Canadians, join Kolga on the development team.

    Chairman Lee Edwards made the announcement at the Foundation's 9th annual Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom Awards ceremony at the Hungarian Embassy on November 15.

    "We are delighted," said Edwards, "that we will be able to utilize the outstanding talent and imagination of Marcus Kolga and his firm as we build the Global Virtual Museum on Communism. We interviewed seven companies in the U.S., Canada and Sweden, and Liefa was our unanimous choice."

    Edwards said the Foundation hoped to launch the Global Virtual Museum during the summer of 2008. More...



    Karl Altau (center) with Estonian Ambassador Vaino Reinart and Latvian Ambassador Andrejs Pildegovics at Hungarian Embassy.
    Photo by Peter Alunans




    November 20, 2007- NOW IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING!! The Singing Revolution is opening in theaters for all to see!

    The Singing Revolution will be opening in theaters from December 7th- 13th in Los Angeles and December 14th- 20th in New York City. The film will open in other cities across the U.S. starting in January.

    It is critical that we fill the theaters these first two weeks. A successful run in NY and LA will make a big difference in releasing the film in other cities across North America. Come and bring friends if you can, call your friends in those cities and encourage them to go, and help spread the word.

    Go to the website to find out more information about theater locations: www.singingrevolution.com.

    You can also help by asking those who live outside of NY and LA to sign-up on the website so we can bring the film to their area. Let's keep the momentum going!

    Thank you,
    Maureen & James Tusty
    Directors/Producers of The Singing Revolution

    October 31, 2007- Canada lifts visa requirement for Latvian visitors
    Andris Straumanis, Latvians Online

    Canada has lifted its visa requirement for citizens of Latvia effective immediately, Diane Finley, Canada's minister of citizenship and immigration, announced Oct. 31.
    That means Latvian citizens will be able to travel to Canada with just their passport.
    The news was immediately welcomed by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has been pushing for both Canada and the United States to lift visa requirements. More...

    October 29, 2007- Charge D'Affairs Stuart Seldowitz meets Society of Latvian Political Deportees

    On Monday, October 29, Charge D'Affairs Stuart Seldowitz met with representatives from the Society of Latvian Political Deportees. During the meeting the society representatives Peteris Simsons, Ilmars Knagis, Janis Lauva, Dagnija Liepina, Ruta Ozolina, Ivars Kalkis presented a note of thanks to the U.S. Congress, the American people, and especially President Bush for the recently unveiled Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington D.C. The Latvian political deportees also shared their stories of how they were deported and spoke about their lives upon returning to Latvia. More...

    October 25, 2007- ALA urges support for easier path to visa waivers
    Andris Straumanis, Latvians Online

    In an effort to earn visa-free travel privileges for Latvian citizens wanting to visit the United States, the American Latvian Association is calling on Latvian-Americans to urge their federal lawmakers to support two bills under consideration in Congress.

    The ALA issued a "call to action" on Oct. 19 urging passage of similar Senate and House of Representatives bills- S. 653 and H.R. 1543- that could ease Latvia's path into the Visa Waiver Program. Both bills would lift the "rate of refusal" threshold that has held back a number of Eastern and Central European countries'admission to the program, instead allowing the federal government to consider consistent progress in reducing the number of visa refusals. More...

    October 16, 2007- Activist tells about torture and captivity
    By David R. Sands, The Washington Post

    By David R. Sands - It sounds like a tale from the darkest days of Soviet communism, but Larisa Arap says her forced detention in a Murmansk psychiatric ward ended just two months ago.

    The slight Mrs. Arap, a human rights activist and researcher, was detained by Russian military police in the course of a routine medical visit on July 5, less than a month after she collaborated on an article detailing a long list of abuses by local officials using "punitive psychiatry" to deal with political dissidents and local troublemakers, including children.

    "In the old Soviet days, we were told if you were unhappy, the theory was there must be something mentally wrong with you," Mrs. Arap noted during a Washington visit late last week. "This time, I was told that psychiatry is a 'closed subject' in our country." More...

    October 16, 2007- The Future Calling In Estonia
    By Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post

    TALLINN, Estonia -- From outside, the offices of Skype-- the company best known for its free Internet phone service -- don't look very different from the other Soviet and post-Soviet buildings that make up the nondescript suburbs of the Estonian capital. But inside, the aesthetic influence of Northern California is undeniable. The high-tech, open-plan offices; the "playroom," complete with pool table and sauna; the young, bearded employees; the Dadaesque plastic crocodile hanging from the ceiling; the bluejean-clad spokesman who has been "too busy" to contemplate the fact that eBay, which bought Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005, recently admitted that it paid too much. More...

    October 10-11, 2007 - Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007: "Responsible Energy for Responsible Partners"


    Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007: Responsible Energy for Responsible Partners is a continuation of the consistent foreign policy of Lithuania and the tradition of organizing Vilnius conferences since 1997.

    Vilnius Conference 1997, which gathered leaders from several Central and Easter European states, was dedicated to the fundamental principle of regional stability and cooperation - good neighborhood relations. Following this conference, good neighborhood relations were the basis in resolving regional conflicts. Therefore, Central and Eastern European countries made a progress while integrating into the Euro-Atlantic structures. http://www.vilniusconference2007.lt/en


    September 26, 2007 - UN General Assembly - Baltic statements


    The UN General Assembly is meeting in New York from September 25 - October 3.
    Below are links to the statements by President Ilves of Estonia, President Zatlers of Latvia, and President Adamkus of Lithuania. More info at: http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/62/ (videos also available)

    ESTONIA - Tuesday, September 25 (Afternoon Session 15:00-19:00)
    http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/62/2007/pdfs/estonia-eng.pdf
    http://www.un.org/av/photo/detail/0154230.html

    LATVIA - Wednesday, September 26 (Morning Session 9:00-13:00)
    http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/62/2007/pdfs/latvia-en.pdf
    http://www.un.org/av/photo/detail/0154904.html
    http://www.un.org/av/photo/detail/0153492.html

    LITHUANIA - Wednesday, September 26 (Morning Session 9:00-13:00)
    http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/62/2007/pdfs/lithuania-en.pdf
    http://www.un.org/av/photo/detail/0154604.html

    See also: http://www.un.org/ga/news/news.asp?NewsID=23980

    September 26, 2007- Latvias president calls for comprehensive approach to UN peacekeeping


    Photo by www.president.lv
    The President of Latvia today called for a comprehensive approach to United Nations peacekeeping, involving all facets of the system, in his address to the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly.

    A former surgeon, President Valdis Zatlers drew an analogy between surgery and collective security. It is not enough for the Security Council to prescribe peacekeeping operations, crucial as they are for international peace and security, he said. The whole United Nations system is necessary for the long-term recovery of conflict zones.

    He paid tribute to dedicated staff working in difficult peacekeeping missions. It is our duty in our capitals and here at the UN Headquarters to support their efforts, each Member State according to its capacity, he said. More...



    September 20, 2007- Estonia Won't Allow Survey for Pipeline
    By JARI TANNER, Associated Press Writer

    TALLINN, Estonia (AP) - Estonia decided Thursday it will not allow a German-Russian consortium to conduct a survey of its exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea for a planned underwater gas pipeline.
    The survey was necessary for a possible rerouting of the 750-mile pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
    "Each coastal country has full sovereignty and a right to make decision involving its own waters," Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said in a news conference. "Furthermore, we think the Baltic Sea is not a proper place for such a pipeline."

    Estonia's refusal won't stop the $7 billion project _ dubbed Nord Stream _ from proceeding toward its 2010 launch. The pipeline's route, approved last year by the consortium, does not cross into Estonia's territorial waters. More...

    June 27, 2007- President Toomas Hendrik Ilves speech at CSIS



    Photo by www.president.ee
    "... Ill probably disappoint some of you here that Im actually not going to talk very much about Russia because in fact the interests of Estonia are very much more in Europe and in the West and in the transatlantic relationship than it is to constantly have to deal with these other issues that, well, they wont go away, but they are not intellectually very interesting and they are not politically very interesting except as tactical defense issues.

    But other than that, really the real interests of Estonia, the real interests of the West has to do with where Europe is going, and that is what I want to I want to concentrate on today though of course I recognize that (inaudible) dealing with all kinds of will be asking you allowing to ask me all sorts of questions on issues relating to the cold peace that he has written about so well in his I dont know if its your most recent book, but nonetheless in the book called the "Cold Peace," which I recommend to everyone who hasnt read it yet. More...


    June 12, 2007- President Bush Attends Dedication of Victims of Communism Memorial
    For Immediate Release
    Office of the Press Secretary


    White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian
    THE PRESIDENT: ...And here in the company of men and women who resisted evil and helped bring down an empire, I proudly accept the Victims of Communism Memorial on behalf of the American people. (Applause.)
    The 20th century will be remembered as the deadliest century in human history. And the record of this brutal era is commemorated in memorials across this city. Yet, until now, our Nation's Capital had no monument to the victims of imperial Communism, an ideology that took the lives of an estimated 100 million innocent men, women and children. So it's fitting that we gather to remember those who perished at Communism's hands, and dedicate this memorial that will enshrine their suffering and sacrifice in the conscience of the world.

    Building this memorial took more than a decade of effort, and its presence in our capital is a testament to the passion and determination of two distinguished Americans: Lev Dobriansky, whose daughter Paula is here -- (applause) -- give your dad our best. And Dr. Lee Edwards. (Applause.) They faced setbacks and challenges along the way, yet they never gave up, because in their hearts, they heard the voices of the fallen crying out: "Remember us." More... "


    May 24, 2007- U.S. House Moves Closer to Passing Resolution Supporting Estonia
    JBANC Press Release

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) representing principle national organizations of Americans of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian heritage has released a Position Paper this week calling for the United States Congress to stay on course in supporting Estonia against aggressive behavior by the Russian Federation. The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering legislation stating solidarity with Estonian and condemning Moscow's recent malevolent actions. More...

    U.S. Must Support Estonia and Other Targets of Russian Aggression
    JBANC Position Paper: May 23, 2007

    The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC), representing one million Americans of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian heritage, fully supports H. Res. 397, condemning the recent violence and attacks against Estonia and expressing solidarity with the government and people of Estonia.

    JBANC supports Estonia's decision to move the Bronze Soldier Soviet monument. The Bronze Soldier Soviet monument and the graves of a dozen soldiers in central Tallinn were not removed from view, or destroyed, but moved from a heavily trafficked urban area to a more appropriate location in a wartime cemetery in the Estonian capital. Those who want to honor the fallen Red Army soldiers can do so in a contemplative and respectful manner at this new site. More...

    JUNE 12th: Dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial

    Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Presents a Day of Dedication for the Memorial, on June 12, 2007, in Washington D.C. The dedication will take place at the Memorial site at the intersection of Massachusetts Ave., N.W., New Jersey Ave., N.W., and G St., N.W., two blocks from Union Station and within view of the U.S. Capitol. A reception will follow the ceremony.

    The day's activities will conclude with a gala dinner at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, at which a Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom will be presented to William F. Buckley, Jr., and the late Senator Henry M. (Scoop) Jackson. Senator Joe Lieberman will present the Medal of Freedom to Senator Jackson's daughter, Anna Marie Laurence.

    View the Invitation here. RSVP for the Event here. For more information, click here

    May 28, 2007- Putin's Powerful Youth Guard
    By Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova
    Newsweek International

    The Kremlin has a new weapon in its war on real or imagined enemies, from opponents at home to foreign revolutionaries.

    The attacks came in waves, with military precision. Hours after Estonia removed a World War II statue of a Soviet soldier from downtown Tallinn last month, virtual war broke out. News agencies, banks and government offices were targeted in a blitzkrieg of spaman onslaught of billions of e-mails, many apparently generated in Russia, that brought down servers and jammed bandwidths to bursting. As "eTonia's" famous digital-based free markets and democracy buckled under the strain, top NATO Internet security experts last week rushed to construct defenses against the world's first massive cyberstrike by a superpower on a tiny and almost defenseless neighbor. More...

    May 15, 2007- Why modern Russia is a state of denial
    By Boris Berezovsky, www.telegraph.co.uk

    Last week saw the commemoration of Victory Day in Russia, which remembers the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Last month came the upsetting removal of a Soviet war memorial, known as The Bronze Soldier, from the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to a Russian military cemetery on its outskirts.

    These events forced me to revisit aspects of the Soviet Union's shameful and violent communist past, which now need to be addressed by present-day Russia in order to preserve relations between my motherland and post-communist Eastern Europe. More...

    May 10, 2007- H.Res. 397 introduced in support of Estonia

    House resolution introduced on May 10 in support of Estonia by Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL), co-chairman of the House Baltic Caucus. The text of the resolution mirrors the Senate resolution passed on May 4.

    Status as of May 10.

    H.RES.397 Title: Condemning violence in Estonia and attacks on Estonia's embassies in 2007, and expressing solidarity with the Government and the people of Estonia. Sponsor: Rep Shimkus, John [IL-19] (introduced 5/10/2007) Cosponsors (19) Latest Major Action: 5/10/2007 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    COSPONSORS(19), ALPHABETICAL [followed by Cosponsors withdrawn]:

    Rep Bono, Mary [CA-45] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Camp, Dave [MI-4] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Costa, Jim [CA-20] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Costello, Jerry F. [IL-12] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Feeney, Tom [FL-24] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Kildee, Dale E. [MI-5] - 5/10/2007
    Rep King, Steve [IA-5] - 5/10/2007
    Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Miller, Candice S. [MI-10] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Neal, Richard E. [MA-2] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8] - 5/10/2007
    ; Rep Pitts, Joseph R. [PA-16] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Rogers, Mike J. [MI-8] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Shuster, Bill [PA-9] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Stupak, Bart [MI-1] - 5/10/2007
    Rep Upton, Fred [MI-6] - 5/10/2007

    May 10, 2007- JBANC Letter to Members of U.S. House of Representatives

    ...We ask that you stand with us in helping Estonia, our ally in NATO and member of the EU, fend off these unwarranted attacks. Moscow should be admonished for supporting such bullying and for interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. We look forward to your support of House legislation that would mirror S. Res. 187, passed May 3, which condemns those tactics. More...

    May 10, 2007- Stand by Estonia
    Telegraph UK

    Vladimir Putin needs a history lesson. At a parade in Red Square yesterday commemorating the end of the Second World War, the Russian president accused the Estonian government of belittling that conflict, desecrating a monument to war heroes, insulting its own people and sowing distrust between nations. More...

    May 7, 2007- RUSSIAN STRATEGY, EU DRIFT IN ESTONIA
    By Vladimir Socor

    Russias ongoing political offensive against Estonia -- and implicit challenge to the European Union -- constitutes the first serious attempt to reverse the post-1991 status quo in Europe. Moscow seems to be targeting Estonia as a first test case of such a process.

    Further Russian challenges to the existing European order are likely to ensue if European governments and institutions tolerate, as seems mostly to be the case thus far, the assault on Estonia. More from jamestown.org

    May 7, 2007- A Soviet Memorial -- and Mind-Set
    By Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post

    In 1994, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Estonian counterpart, the polymath Lennart Meri, chummily drank together in a Kremlin chamber as their foreign ministers labored nearby to complete a historic treaty to withdraw all Russian troops from the tiny Baltic state.

    When it was time to celebrate the finished draft, Yeltsin mocked his own foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, for his weak drinking skills -- "Bring the boy some ice cream," he roared to an attendant -- but approved the agreement. That may have been the high-water mark of Russia's willingness to face its imperialist history and allow its neighbors to live in peace. More...


    JBANC with Jeannie Siskovic
    May 5, 2007- Sen. Voinovich and other Senate supporters of Estonia resolution thanked by JBANC

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- On Friday, May 4 members of the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) met with Jeannie Siskovic, Foreign Policy advisor to Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), to thank the Senator for his support in condemning the recent violence and attacks against Estonia.
    Legislation (S. Res. 187) that was introduced by Senator Voinovich and co-sponsored by Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and Gordon Smith (R-OR), quickly passed in the Senate by unanimous consent on the evening of Thursday, May 3. More...


    May 3, 2007- Estonia Statue Crisis
    by Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter, United States Representative United States House of Representatives

    "... After a long, illegal, and unjust Soviet occupation, Estonia now rightly and proudly stands by our side in the ranks of free nations. Nobly and selflessly, Estonia is steadfast in its defense of civilization from our barbaric enemies, and has championed the cause of human freedom throughout our world. Disturbingly, last week this free people's very national sovereignty was threatened. More...

    May 3, 2007- Imperially Deluded
    By MART LAAR Wall Street Journal

    TALLINN -- Flush with petrodollars, and amid disarray in the Western camp, Russia's hopes of restoring its lost empire are rising.

    Vladimir Putin's annual address to both houses of the parliament, delivered last week, was just the latest signal. The Russian president declared that his country's obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty would be suspended as long as the U.S. planned to install a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Mr. Putin threatened Russia would abandon the treaty if NATO countries failed to address his grievances. The defense shield, he claimed, was a threat to national security. More...

    May 2, 2007- Tensions in Estonian-Russian Relations
    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/may/84181.htm
    Press Statement
    Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
    Washington, DC

    We welcome the restoration of calm in Tallinn following the relocation of the Bronze Soldier monument. Decisions on placement of the memorial to soldiers who died fighting the Nazis in World War II belong to the Estonian government. Throughout the past week's controversy following the Estonian Government's relocation of the Soviet-era memorial, we have urged the Estonian and Russian governments to maintain dialogue and respect for the strong feelings on both sides.

    We are concerned, however, about continuing reports of violence and harassment, including harassment of Estonian diplomatic personnel and premises in Moscow. We welcome President Ilves' call today for reconciliation among Estonia's citizens and for dialogue between Estonians and Russians. We urge authorities in Moscow to do everything possible to reduce tensions, carry out responsibilities under the Vienna Convention concerning diplomatic premises and diplomats, and avoid harsh words and escalation.

    May 1, 2007- SHIMKUS ISSUES STATEMENT SUPPORTING ESTONIA

    Washington, DC.....Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-19) issued the following statement in support of Estonia:

    "I strongly condemn Russian actions and look forward to Russia's swift cooperation in respecting the sovereignty of Estonia. I call for an immediate end to the blockade of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow, as well as for the cancellation of all other attempts to undermine the Estonian government. If necessary, I am ready to raise this issue on the floor of the United States House."

    Shimkus is co-chair of the Baltic Caucus and a U.S. delegate to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

    The Estonian Embassy in Moscow has been under siege by demonstrators since April 26, and Russian authorities are not controlling the situation. Before making a visit to Estonia, a Russian Duma (parliament) delegation issued a statement that "the government must step down."

    The Russians are also making cyber attacks against official Estonian websites.
    Estonia has also increased border security in order to stop pro-Putin extremists from entering the country.

    May 1, 2007- ALIEN VANDALISM IN ESTONIAS CAPITAL
    By Vladimir Socor

    The city of Tallinn is assessing the damage after two consecutive nights of violent rioting by gangs of mostly young local Russians. The third night passed relatively quietly. Ostensibly triggered by the expected relocation of the Red Army monument (the Bronze Soldier) from downtown Tallinn, the protests turned into a rampage, with drunkenness and plunder overriding the political or ethnic motivations.

    Compared to the first night of rioting, April 26-27 (see EDM, April 27), the night of April 27-28 featured even younger mobs, partly under 18 years of age, looting shops in the downtown Viru Street and Vabaduse Square, after having devastated the shops on Tatari Street the preceding night. They particularly sought out sports clothes and liquor. Rioters holding bottles of alcoholic drink became the iconic image of both nights. They also smashed windows at the Estonia Theater, the Estonian Academy of Arts, and the governing Reform Partys offices.

    In a rare political gesture, a large group of secondary-school students demonstrated outside the parliament building under the slogan, USSR Forever. Occasionally during both nights, rioters waved the Russian flag or shouted Russia, Russia; but such episodes were isolated and uncharacteristic of the events as a whole. More from jamestown.org

    Red Army Monument



    March 19, 2007- Shimkus Cosponsors Visa Waiver Program Legislation

    Washington, DC.....Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-19) is joining as the lead Republican sponsor of Visa Waiver Program legislation introduced by Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D, Illinois-5). The Visa Waiver Modernization Act of 2007 (HR 1543) is similar to Senator Voinovich's amendment that has already passed the Senate. More...

    March 13, 2007- Sen. Voinovich's Visa Waiver Legislation Passes Senate

    WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today, the full Senate voted for passage of S. 4, the Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. The bill includes an amendment authored by U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) that extends visa-free travel privileges to our allies in the Global War on Terror. The amendment, called the Secure Travel and Counterterrorism Partnership Act of 2007, will improve cooperation with key allies while strengthening U.S. national security interests and promoting U.S. economic competitiveness. The bill was passed by a vote of 60 to 38. More... February 14, 2007- Keynote speech by President Valdas Adamkus at the JBANC 7th Baltic Conference: "Oil and Blood: Baltic Energy and the Legacy of Communism"

    Honorable Senators, Your Excellencies Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends of Lithuania and All Friends of the Baltic Nations,

    I am delighted to be here today among our true friends, supporters of Lithuania and the other Baltic States, who walked together with us down the long road to independence and national rebirth, to Lithuania's return to the family of European nations and its establishment as an active promoter of democracy further into the East of Europe. More...

    February 14, 2007- Conference Gallery Day One Day Two

    Click here to view the gallery!

    Photo by Anders Brownworth

    January 28, 2007, Senator Richard Lugar to Speak at JBANC Conference


  • Registration
  • Agenda
  • Baltic Doc Film Showcase
  •   Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) is pleased to announce that Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana will be special lunch speaker and 2007 Baltic Democracy Award recipient at its Conference on Energy Security and Baltic-Russian relations to be held February 10, 2007 in Washington, D.C. Senator Lugar, ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who recently spoke at the NATO Summit in Riga, will address issues concerning the Baltics.

    Also added to the conference lineup is Cannes Film Festival award-winning filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov. Nekrasov, involved in projects documenting communism�s fallout, has recently been in the news due to his close friendship with Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian dissident/former spy, murdered by radiation poisoning. Litvinenko�s last words were spoken to Nekrasov, who was at his bedside in London when he died.

    As previously announced, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus will make a keynote address to the morning session of the conference assessing the energy situation in the Baltics and its geopolitical ramifications.

    The conference begins Friday, February 9, with a briefing by four U.S. government officials from the State Department, National Security Council and Department of Defense, to be followed by a Baltic documentary film showcase and reception at the Woodrow Wilson Center in the Reagan building.


    Saturday�s panels are focused on energy security, energy alternatives, Russian-Baltic relations, and remembrance of the victims of communism, and include experts from the Hudson Institute, Heritage Foundation, Holocaust Museum, Jamestown Foundation, CSIS, along with the European Commission, and the three Baltic countries.

    Admission to the two day conference is $125.

    December 8, 2006 - BDRA passes U.S. House of Representatives by vote of 397-2.

    1. FULL TEXT of Rep. Chris Smith statement

    2. From December 7 Congressional Record: Bill Text and House Debate (Reps. Gallegly, Lantos, Smith)

    Full Floor Statement of U.S. Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Chris Smith, sponsor of Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2006. More...;

     
    September 27, 2006- Baltic-Americans Help to Break Ground During Victims of Communism Memorial Ceremony

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Ground was broken in Washington, DC on September 27 to begin construction of the Victims of Communism memorial. Nearly 200 people attended the ceremony, which featured speakers Paula Dobriansky, the Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, one of the sponsors of the authorizing legislation in the U.S. Congress in 1993.

    VOC Memorial Foundation chairman Lee Edwards underscored the efforts of a wide array of supporters of the memorial, from individuals to large private foundations to foreign governments, including Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. The support of ethnic communities was also highlighted, led by the Latvian, Estonian, and Lithuanian communities in the United States. More...

     

    September 26, 2006 - House Baltic Caucus Co-Chairs Join Seven Embassies to Support Visa Waiver Program

    Photo by Inga Lukaviciute

    Photo by Inga Lukaviciute

    (Joining Congressmen John Shimkus and Dennis Kucinich were Polish Ambassador Janusz Reiter, Estonian Ambassador J�ri Luik, Latvian Ambassador Maris Riekstins, Czech Ambassador Petr Kolar, Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi, Slovak Ambassador Ratislav Kacer, and Lithuanian Deputy Chief of Mission Kornelija Jurgaitiene.)

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Congressmen John Shimkus and Dennis Kucinich, co-chairs of the seventy-member strong House Baltic Caucus, joined diplomats from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, to hold a September 26 press conference on the Visa Waiver issue. The briefing took place outside the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. More...

    September 23, 2006 - Ilves wins Estonia presidency

    TALLINN, Estonia (AP) -- European Parliament member Toomas Hendrik Ilves was elected Estonia's new president Saturday, defeating incumbent Arnold Ruutel in an electoral college vote. More...

    September 22, 2006- Vike-Freiberga UN Secretary General Candidacy Supported by Baltic-Americans Vote in UN Expected Soon

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) joins other Baltic-Americans in supporting the candidacy of Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga to become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. More...

    September 15, 2006- UNDER SECRETARY DOBRIANSKY TO SPEAK AT SEPT. 27 GROUNDBREAKING ON CAPITOL HILL

    Washington, D.C. The Victims Communism Memorial Foundation has announced that Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky will be the featured speaker at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Memorial on Wednesday morning, September 27. More...

    September 7, 2006- President Bush to Visit Estonia and to Participate in the NATO Summit in Latvia

    President Bush will travel to Estonia and Latvia in November 2006 to support the advance of freedom and to strengthen the NATO Alliance. The President will have a bilateral program in Tallinn, Estonia on November 28, 2006, including meetings with the President and Prime Minister of Estonia. The President will then travel to Riga, Latvia to participate in the NATO Summit on November 28 and 29, 2006. In addition to the Summit events, President Bush will have bilateral meetings with the President of Latvia and the NATO Secretary General. More...

    August 2, 2006 - CEEC meets again with National Security Council to Discuss G-8 Summit

    The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met with the National Security Council in a follow up meeting on August 2 to discuss the results of the G-8 Summit, recently held in St. Petersburg, Russia. Dr. J.D. Crouch, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor briefed the participants, which included other White House National Security directors, and representatives of many of the CEEC's 19 member organizations, including the Lithuanian American Council and JBANC. More...

    Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act Introduced July 27, 2006

    The Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 27, 2007 by Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ). Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) are original cosponsors. More..

    July 20, 2006- Victims of Communism Memorial Fundraising Goal is Reached; Ground-breaking Planned for September 2006

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation announced on July 19 that it has met its fundraising goal of $825,000 and expects to break ground for its Memorial to the more than 100 million victims of communism in September. More..

    July 18, 2006- JBANC Meets New U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania John A. Cloud

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- On July 12, at the invitation of the State Department, members of JBANC met with John A. Cloud, who will be sworn in at the State Department on Tuesday, July 18, as the new Ambassador to Lithuania. More...

    July 13, 2006 -CEEC Delegation Meets with U.S. National Security Advisors on Eve of the G-8 Summit

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Members of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met on July 11 with National Security advisors to President Bush and Vice-President Cheney to discuss their concerns on the eve of the G-8 Summit, being held this weekend, July 15-17, in St. Petersburg, Russia. More...

    June 7, 2006- Address by the State President of Latvia at a joint session of the United States Congress, Washington

    ...It is with deep emotion that I stand before you within these august walls and thank you for the honor of addressing you on behalf of the Latvian people.

    I believe this honor to be bestowed upon me in recognition of Latvias strivings, sacrifices and extraordinary success in transforming itself from a captive nation under the yoke of a foreign totalitarian regime into a reestablished democracy with a flourishing market economy. More...


    May 25, 2006- Ask Congress to Include Baltics in Visa Waiver Program

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The citizens of twenty-two European countries enjoy visa-free travel privileges to the United States. Notable exceptions to this policy are the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), and Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. All seven are members of both NATO and the EU. Recently, Congress took action to redress this discriminatory policy towards Eastern Europeans, but they haven't gone far enough. We need your help to make sure Congress takes the necessary steps to end discriminatory visa policies towards the citizens of these countries, including the Baltics. More...

    May 24, 2006- Letter of Six Ambassadors to Members of U.S. Congress regarding the Visa Waiver Program

    The United States is home to millions of European descendents, including those from our nations, who came here to live, to build, and to fight for this country. Their contributions are at the foundation of the success of the United States. This common heritage has always helped us create close ties and promote friendship and mutual understanding with the United States. In short, we share a history, values, and views as one large transatlantic family. More...

    May 18, 2006 - Congressman Shimkus addresses Visa Waiver issue in House floor speech

    The Baltic Countries Entrance into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program

    MR. SHIMKUS: Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak in opposition to the perceived exclusion of the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from an amendment adopted by the Senate in their immigration bill yesterday. More...

    May 4, 2006- Vice President's Remarks at the 2006 Vilnius Conference Reval Hotel Lietuva
    Vilnius, Lithuania

    For Immediate Release
    Office of the Vice President

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/05/print/20060504-1.html

    April 27, 2006- Walesa Honored for Anti-Communist Activities
    By ALEX STOROZYNSKI, Special to The New York Sun

    The world took a collective sigh of relief in 1989 when the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Soviet Union collapsed. The Cold War fizzled and nuclear annihilation was avoided. Yet only now, nearly two decades later, are those who were killed by Communist regimes finally being remembered. More...

    April 20, 2006- Estonia makes donation to Victims of Communism Memorial
    TALLINN(Interfax) - The Estonian government decided on Thursday to commit 65,500 krooni to the construction of the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, a source at the governmental press service told Interfax. The current exchange rate is 15.6 krooni to the dollar.

    "The construction of a memorial commemorating over 100 million victims of communism will start in the U.S. capital this summer. It is due to end in June 2007," the source said.

    A sculpture representing democracy will be positioned on a stone pedestal. The monument will be installed on an area of 100 square meters on Capital Hill.

    U.S. President George Bush is the honorary chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Estonian late president Lennart Meri was a member of the Foundation's international council.

    March 23, 2006- Tent Camp in Central Square in Minsk is Stormed - Protests Continue

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Reports are coming in of the storming of the main square in Minsk by police forces (early morning, March 24 local time). Numerous supporters of democracy, perhaps in the hundreds, had been camped out there since Sunday following a presidential election that has been declared fraudulent by Western observers. The protestors were dispersed or carted off by the authorities. More...

    March 16 Belarus solidarity events in Washington, DC

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Demonstrators gathered again in front of the Belarusian Embassy in Washington, DC on March 16 to protest against the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko, and to offer support for the people of that country. Later that evening, a candlelight vigil was held by students and supporters at Georgetown University. More...

    March 14, 2006 - Window on Eurasia: Lennart Meri (1929-2006) The Passing of the Symbol of the Continuity of Estonia

    Paul Goble

    Tallinn, March 14 --- Lennart Meri, the former president of Estonia who symbolized in his own person the principle of the continuity of that Baltic republics statehood, died in his sleep early this morning after a long battle with cancer.

    Born on March 29, 1929 -- coincidentally the date on which a then very junior U.S. diplomat named George F. Kennan arrived in Estonia -- Lennart Meri was the son of one of Estonias most distinguished pre-war diplomats and grew up in the Estonian missions in Paris and Berlin where his father, learning not only those languages but English as well to perfection. More...

    March 8, 2006- Belarus Democracy Resolution Passes in U.S. House

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- A resolution expressing support for democratic processes in Belarus on the eve of the presidential election there, passed this afternoon in the U.S. House of Representatives by a commanding margin. The March 8 vote gained 419 yeas, with only one dissenting vote. Two members voted present. More...

    Speech of Dr. Vaira Ve-Freiberga, President of Latvia
    At the US-Baltic Foundation Celebration of the 15 years of Regained Baltic Independence

    Washington, March 4, 2006
    Read...

    March 6, 2006 - Window on Eurasia: "Communism More Terrible Than Nazism, MGIMO Professor Says
    Paul Goble

    Tallinn, March 6 A senior historian at the elite Moscow institute that trains Russian diplomats argues that "communism was more terrible than Nazism and fascism because it destroyed society down to its foundations" and consequently, it represents an evil which must be rejected rather than a system that could in some way be reformed. More...

    March 3, 2006- Latvian NATO Efforts Chronicled in Newly-Published Book

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- A copy of the just-published book documenting Latvias efforts to join NATO was presented to Edgars Rinkevics, the State Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Defense, on March 1 at the opening of the new Latvian Embassy in Washington, DC. More...

    February 22, 2006 - Help Support Democracy and Free and Fair Elections in Belarus -
    -Co-Sponsors Urgently Needed for H.Res. 673-


    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- The Belarus Presidential election is fast approaching and the international community needs to strongly urge Alexander Lukashenko, "Europes last dictator," to hold free and fair elections on March 19. The Lukashenko regime has been increasingly and aggressively suppressing dissent and freedom of speech in that country in what observers believe is an effort to intimidate voters prior to the election. More...

    Feb.18, 2006- Belarus Demonstrations in Washington, DC Attracting Growing Attention

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- About seventy people gathered outside the Belarus Embassy in Washington, DC on February 16 in support of democracy in that country and to insist that the regime of Europes last dictator Alexander Lukashenko hold free and fair elections in March. More...

    Feb. 17, 2006 - Belarus: Activists Gather, but Security Services Ready
    Indolent Youth by Michael Schwirtz

    Belarusian democracy activists and their supporters marked the monthly Day of Solidarity with Belarus yesterday. In Minsk, the Belarusian capital about 200 people gathered on October Square and a further 200 people assembled along Skaryna Avenue, Charter 97 reports. A number of activists were beaten and arrested though sources vary as to how many. The BBC puts the number at thirty, while Charter 97 and Agence France Presse report that 20 were arrested. More...

    Feb.15, 2006 - Don't Forget Belarus
    The Washington Times by James Morrison

    Pro-democracy advocates from Belarus focused attention on their repressive government as they visited Washington to seek U.S. support for the dissident movement in the former Soviet republic.

    Their trip last week preceded another daylong demonstration outside the Belarussian Embassy tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m., to continue highlighting the political abuses in the current presidential election campaign. Organizers plan to hold another rally outside the diplomatic mission at 1619 New Hampshire Ave. NW next month before the March 19 election. More...

    February 8, 2006- Rep. Thaddeus McCotter to Speak at Lithuanian Independence Day Commemoration in Chicago

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Michigan 11th) travels to Chicago to address the upcoming Lithuanian Independence Day commemoration sponsored by the Lithuanian-American Council. The event will be held on Sunday, February 12 at 1:00 p.m. at Maria High School (6727 S. California Ave.), in southwest Chicago. More...

    January 25, 2006 - PACE strongly condemns crimes of totalitarian communist regimes

    Strasbourg The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today strongly condemned the massive human rights violations committed by totalitarian communist regimes and expressed sympathy, understanding and recognition for the victims of these crimes. More...

    January 17, 2006- Supporters Out for Democracy and Human Rights in Belarus
    JBANC PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Supporters of democracy in Belarus were out on January 16 in locations across Europe and North America giving freedom in that country a fighting chance. More...

    The Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS)
    20th Conference on Baltic Studies
    June 15-17, 2006
    The George Washington University
    Washington, DC
    Re-Imagining the Baltic Region:
    Perspectives on the Past, Present, and Future
    Abstract submission deadline: Jan. 31, 2006:
    www.aabsconference.org

    December 14, 2005 - 1980 Solidarity Trade Union receives Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom at event honoring Victims of Communism

    Solidarity figure accepts Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom at event honoring Victims of Communism

    Solidarity's legend Anna Walentynowicz accepted the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom on behalf of Solidarity trade union during a ceremony at Poland's embassy in Washington on Tuesday. More...

    December 14, 2005 - PACE committee adopts text condemning communist crimes

    The Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a draft resolution condemning the crimes of totalitarian communist regimes. A final vote is expected at the PACE winter session being at the end of January.
    More...

    U.S. Congressman John Shimkus' Address to Latvian Saeima, October 13, 2005

    It is an unprecedented honor for me to address the Saeima this morning. As the first member of the U.S. Congress to address this esteemed body in its 85-year history, I shall cherish this moment for the rest of my life. I only wish that my wife were here because I'm afraid she would never believe it otherwise. More...

    Nov. 4, 2005- Memorial to Victims of Communism Gets Green Light to Build

    Washington, DC (JBANC) --- A memorial in Washington, DC to honor the victims of communism was given final clearance by a federal oversight body on Thursday, November 3. The National Capital Planning Commission moved unanimously to approve the design for the Memorial, to be built at a location on the corner of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues, N.W., just off Capitol Hill. More...


    August 8, 2005 - JBANC Meets with Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis >>>

    July 22, 2005- U.S. House of Representatives Passes H. Con. Res. 128

    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 Unions 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. More...

    Captive Nations Week, 2005
    A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
    Office of the Press Secretary
    July 15, 2005

    America stands for freedom and supports those who are oppressed. During Captive Nations Week, we reaffirm our commitment to advancing democracy, defending liberty, and protecting human rights around the world.

    When President Eisenhower issued the first Captive Nations Week proclamation in 1959, freedom was being denied by communist regimes in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Millions were deprived of their rights to freely practice religion, assemble in public, and exercise freedom of speech. The Cold War and the captivity of millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe have since ended, and we have witnessed the rise of democratic governments in countries across the globe. More...

    July 13, 2005- Joint Declaration
    on the 65th anniversary of the proclamation of the United States policy of non-recognition regarding the forcible seizure of the
    Baltic States by the Soviet Union


    On June 22, 2005, the President of the European Parliament made a statement on behalf of the largest democratic representative body in the world, conveying his sympathy to the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian nations on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the illegal occupation of the three independent Baltic states by the Soviet Union and also expressing his satisfaction that these nations have been able to return to the family of united Europe as free and democratic member states. More...

    June 28, 2005- JBANC Meets with Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL)

    JBANC Meets with Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
    on Eve of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Annual Session.
    Hastings is President of the OSCE PA. More...

     

     


    --------

    June 17, 2005

    The President
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
    Washington, D.C. 20500

    Dear Mr. President:

    On behalf of the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC), I would like to thank you for your support of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and specifically for meeting with the three Baltic presidents in Latvia on May 7th. The show of support was critical at that time. You fully acknowledged the legacy of the Yalta agreement which, as you put it, traded freedom for security in Eastern Europe. You paved the way for what would have been a perfect opportunity for President Putin to also express contrition for Russias contribution to the suffering of the Baltic peoples. However, he refused to do that.

    JBANC is greatly concerned about the recent changes in Russia that are moving it away from democracy. In addition, the resurgence of nostalgia for Stalin, complete with images of the hammer and sickle, are alarming, to say the least. As Russia continues to search for its post-cold war identity, it is important that we in the West help to steer it down the right path, and not allow it to glorify a time of purges, wholesale deportations and mass executions. Russia must be held accountable for its actions that are not in accordance with democratic principles. To quote Natan Sharansky in his book The Case for Democracy, the security of the free world depends on using all possible leverage moral, political, and financial to support democracy. If we in the West do nothing, we may very well regret it later.

    Thank you once again, Mr. President, for your support of the Baltic countries, and your mission of freedom around the world.

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

    May 19, 2005- Expressing Continued Support For The Construction Of The Victims Of Communism Memorial -- More...

    May 18, 2005- ALA elects chair, supports Congress resolution
    LatviansOnline

    The American Latvian Association has elected a new chairperson and has voiced its support of a resolution proposed in Congress asking Russia to acknowledge the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states.More...


    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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