The 36th Session of the Baltic Assembly and the 23rd Baltic Council took place in Tallinn from 9th to 10th of November this year. Karl Altau, the managing director of the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), represented JBANC and its member organizations – the Estonian American National Council, the American Latvian Association, and the Lithuanian American Council.
“The continued cooperation between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania remains a model for other countries and for us. As for our joint Baltic work, JBANC has proudly represented the Baltic-American communities and organizations for 56 years – since 1961,” said Mr. Altau.
Mr. Altau talked about the demographic situation in the Baltic diaspora and expressed his concerns about less people being involved. “Nevertheless, Baltic-Americans remain successful activists. Our work in the United States, as it has been here in the Baltics, is often more quality than quantity,” said Mr. Altau.
JBANC's representative also talked about the threats Baltics face today – conventional military, cyber, information, hybrid, nuclear safely, etc. “In Washington, we continue to work explaining these threats to our American colleagues, and others. We work closely, especially, with the U.S. Congress, to increase understanding of and support for Baltic issues,” said managing director.
“We must remain committed to Western values and the rule of law, and to stand up for these principles at home and internationally. That is why we were fully committed to support sanctions legislation in the U.S. and were happy to see the U.S. president sign the law in August. And that is also why we have spent years advocating for and supporting the Magnitsky legislation in the United States. This includes the initial law, the expanded Global Magnitsky Act, and the ongoing implementation of these laws, including identifying additional violators,” said Mr. Altau.
About a week after Mr. Altau's speech the Magnitsky Act was passed in Lithuania. It became the fourth Western nation to adopt this human rights law - after the United States, Canada, and Estonia. In addition, Britain has passed a resolution supporting the law.
“Human rights violations and gross corruption cannot and should not be tolerated. Individuals involved in these crimes need to be banned from traveling to, or having their assets placed in our countries. It is poison,” said Mr. Altau and encouraged Latvia to pass a similar bill.
JBANC’s representative assured everyone that “we will continue our work in the United States in the name of the Estonian-, Latvian-, and Lithuanian-American communities to support common endeavors. Above all, we will remain vigilant.”
JBANC received a letter of appreciation for "firm engagement with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, for constantly upholding and supporting them on their way to regain their independence and obtain membership in NATO, and for sharing common values, strengthening our belief in freedom and better future as well as for continuous activities in support of the interests of the Baltic States.
Photos: Erik Peinar (Riigikogu fotoarhiiv)