May 6, 2020
CEEC Advocacy Day June 13, 2019
The Central and East European Coalition is holding an advocacy day to meet with Senators and Representatives from DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Local DC area community members are encouraged to join us as constituents to discuss issues important to U.S. policy for the CEE region.
RSVP : firstname.lastname@example.org
Central and East European Coalition
Russia on NATO’s Doorstep:
The West's Response to the
to examine the execution, outcomes and aftermath of Russia’s large-scale
Zapad 2017 military exercise
Ambassador Kurt Volker, Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations
Stephen Blank, American Foreign Policy Council Senior Fellow for Russia
Eitvydas Bajarunas, Ambassador-at-Large for Hybrid Threats, Lithuanian MFA
Alex Tiersky, Global Security and Political-Military Affairs Advisor, U.S. Helsinki Commission
Invited speakers (responses pending):
John Lenczowski, President, Institute of World Politics
Coalition Moderator: Mamuka Tsereteli, Georgian Association in the U.S.A.
Presidential Candidate Evan McMullin and Central and East European Coalition meet to discuss increasing concerns about security and stability and America’s role in the world
Evan McMullin is a former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference, who earlier spent eleven years working as an Operations Officer for the Central Intelligence Agency. He announced his bid for the presidency on August 8 and has since gained increasing attention, positioning himself as an alternative conservative candidate to the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Established in 1994, CEEC is composed of eighteen national, membership-based organizations representing Americans of Armenian, Belarusan, Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Georgian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, and Ukrainian descent.
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), representing more than 20 million Central and Eastern European Americans, strongly backs the United States' continued unconditional commitment to upholding the NATO Treaty as well as U.S. support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all Central and Eastern European nations. Our organization stands firm in its belief that America's close cooperation with all NATO allies and partners is fundamental to ensuring U.S. and European security. The CEEC urges both the current and future Administrations to continue developing allied relations with all NATO members and transatlantic partners, and to take such action as deemed necessary to maintain security of the Alliance, including the European Reassurance Initiative.
CEEC members spoke at a White House rally in support of U.S. strategic security interests in Europe through a lasting U.S./NATO military presence in Eastern Europe.
Michael Sawkiw from Ukrainian National Information Service:
"We must be mindful that the Russian bear does not hibernate, the Russian bear is always active."
"The situation in Ukraine is not just about Ukraine, but this is about the entire region."
"The stability of the region hangs with the stability, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine."
Ausma Tomsevics from American Latvian Association:
"Peace and democracy have been hard earned by Poland and the Baltics. Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania successfully transformed, chose to join the EU and were admitted to the EU in 2004."
"Today we are seeing an
emergence of a New Cold War as Russia demonstrates its military power. The Russia has had military
exercises to invade Poland and the Baltics, all this was to send NATO members a
message and test NATO’s readiness and willingness to resist aggression."
"Sanctions have not deterred the aggression, nor modified Russia’s behavior."
"More must be done to stop Russia’s continuing aggression and incursions into sovereign territories. This must be stopped now before we face the same fate as parts of Georgia, Ukraine, and Crimea. We cannot accomplish this alone. NATO and U.S. forces are needed and welcome as another cold war emerges."
The Central and East European Coalition hosted a timely
and substantive event on Wednesday, April 19, to discuss the topic “NATO Stance
on Russia: Vision or Reaction?” The keynote speaker was Dr. Michael
Carpenter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with responsibility for
Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, who gave the Pentagon’s view of recent events and
U.S. actions in response. He was followed
by a panel of three additional distinguished experts: Ambassador Kurt Volker, former U.S. Permanent
Representative to NATO; Lithuanian Deputy Chief of Mission Mindaugas Zickus;
and Damian Murphy, Senior Professional Staff Member, Senate Committee on
Foreign Relations (SFRC). Welcoming
remarks by Estonian American National Council President Marju Rink-Abel and
moderation and closing by Mamuka Tsereteli of the Georgian Association in the
U.S.A. rounded out the event.
A major theme of the discussion characterized Russia’s increasing aggression since 2008 not as just regional conflict but as a fundamental assault on the post-World War II international order. The Kremlin’s propaganda campaign justifies its aggression by claiming that NATO has broken its promises to not pursue enlargement and is in the process of aggressively encircling Russia. This therefore poses a serious threat that Russia is justified in defending in the interest of its citizens. Claiming increased repression of those citizens is also part of the misinformation campaign. In reality, no commitments were ever made by NATO on enlargement or deploying forces to new members’ territory. The nations that have joined NATO have done so voluntarily, according to their security interests and the NATO accession process. Given that “[for Putin], it is not borders and state territories that matter, but people’s fortunes,”1 the panelists agreed that the West needs to push back in the face of Russia’s disregard of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The seriousness with which the U.S. is responding to Russia’s actions is demonstrated by a four-fold increase over last year in President Obama’s request for 2017 European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) funding. This annual request that started with the 2015 budget has received broad and deep bipartisan support in both houses of Congress and is expected to pass again this year. ERI funding aims to ensure effective deterrence and defense of all allies. It was noted more than once that the initiative’s emphasis is shifting from reassurance to deterrence. The request includes funds to reconfigure NATO’s institutions to meet current threats, increase investments in infrastructure to support rapid reinforcement in response to threats from the east, and bolster the resilience of non-NATO partners. Details of the request are available at this White House link. Discussions at the NATO Warsaw Summit in July will include “NATO-izing” ERI, presumably to encourage other allies to develop parallel budget requests.
Leading up to the Warsaw summit, Congress will be engaged in debates on the composition of forces and equipment that will be funded by ERI. Hearings will be scheduled to scrutinize the final details of the package and to amend the NATO treaty to allow for the accession of Montenegro. CEEC members will no doubt be paying attention and participating in any open sessions that are announced.
The U.S. is also looking at other ways to help our partners as Russia makes efforts to influence European policy and politics. Hearings with allied officials and visits to Europe by congress members and staffers keep the dialog on issues and priorities open. ERI is the biggest piece of legislation on this year’s docket and our European partners have conveyed a clear sense of urgency for its passage. The SFRC is also digging into options for countering Russian propaganda through Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other outlets here and in Europe. Protecting human rights through implementation of the Magnitsky Act, supporting the adoption of a global version of the act, and other anti-corruption efforts are another central focus of the committee. Please see the Magnitsky Act Wikipedia page for more information.
Some areas were mentioned where more could be done. There was a recommendation for NATO to engage as an alliance in ongoing wars – specifically in Ukraine, Georgia, Libya and Syria – under the hypothesis that failure to engage weakens the effectiveness of the alliance’s deterrence efforts. There was disagreement on whether NATO needs to publish Russia’s specific violations. Because there is no consensus on this matter, some feel that it is important to maintain unity in the alliance rather than reopen the issue. However, not doing so may lead to a perception of NATO as passive and reactive, and call into question its commitment to Article 5. The point was also made that the U.S. is learning some steep lessons on electronic warfare (EW). Russia has been developing world-class technology that poses a challenge to our counter-EW capability. Through the wars in Ukraine and Syria, we are gaining a better understanding of Russian EW tactics to disrupt our battlefield communications, which will help us improve our capabilities for the future.
The speakers agreed that NATO’s goal remains to cooperate peacefully with Russia; a return to the terms of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 would be welcome. It is Russia’s actions that have nullified those terms, at least for the time being, and NATO’s response has been defensive and proportionate. The sanctions imposed by member nations are having the desired effect and are strengthened by trans-Atlantic solidarity. Loss of solidarity would undermine their effectiveness and is a concern when the EU reviews its continued support in June, even as the U.S. is looking for ways to increase the sanctions from our side. The audience was also reminded that Russia has never shown an interest in cooperating with NATO and that we shouldn’t be too optimistic.
Several of the speakers commended the CEEC for its work to push through legislation supporting Ukraine last year. Similar efforts on ERI would help keep members of Congress focused on the issue during this election year with many competing interests. Continued CEEC activism is important in calling attention to a number of issues discussed in CEEC’s policy paper, found on the CEEC website.
The forum was held in a stately paneled room in the Dirksen Senate office building and attended by over 100 friends of the central and east European region, including three ambassadors and representatives from the Department of State, 12 embassies and five Congressional offices. Estonian Public Broadcasting and other media outlets were on hand to cover the event.
In the end, the answer to the forum’s theme probably had elements of both vision and reaction. It is clear that we’re at this low point in U.S.-Russian relations directly because of Russia’s aggressive behavior. NATO has been forced to react appropriately to deter further escalation. The alliance may have a vision to get to peaceful cooperation, or at least the transparency and predictability necessary to preserve a stable international order, but that vision requires all parties to share compatible goals – a climate that does not seem to be on the horizon at the moment. The CEEC looks forward to hosting future events to explore the alliance’s progress and inspire further support from our partners and constituents.
In March, the CEEC reached out to the 2016 presidential campaigns and sent them the CEEC Presidential Questionnaire covering questions of importance to the Central and Eastern European communities in the United States.
The Central and East European Coalition is comprised of 18 national membership organizations that represent more than 22 million Americans who trace their heritage to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We are keenly interested in issues that affect the stability and well-being of the region, U.S. strategic interests in the region, and our American constituencies.
Central and East European Coalition partners to send a letter to Senate and House chairs and ranking members of the Appropriations Committees, to urge them to provide financial assistance for the economic, security, and humanitarian relief needs of Ukraine.
The October 29 letter was addressed to Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, Committee Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski, and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, and Ranking Member Nita Lowey.
Dear Chairman Cochran, Ranking Member Mikulski, Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey:
- $3 billion in economic assistance: comprising loan guarantees, direct budget support grants,or debt swapsas well as assistance to support reforms in key sectors, such as banking, judiciary, and energy, and to encourage investment in Ukraine.
- $1 billion in military equipment and training support, including defensive lethal assistance as required by the Ukraine Freedom Support Act.
- A minimum of $200 million in additional immediate humanitarian aid to meet the funding gap identified by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as Ukraine grapples with 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and over 5 million persons - including 1.7 million children - in need of immediate assistance.
- Increased resources to support independent media facilitating delivery of free media content to Russian-speakers, and empowering non-governmental actors with a proven track record to counter Russian propaganda.
A number of Members of Congress and their staffs visited the region in 2015 and CEEC organized a briefing session in the Capitol Visitor Center, on September 16, 2015. Members and staff shared their thoughts about visits to the region, why it was important to make the visits, with whom they met, what were their impressions, what was accomplished, what follow-up is expected, etc.
Among spekers were: Congressman John Mica (R-FL), Brittany Beaulieu, Legislative Aide at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Damian Murphy, Senior Professional Staff (Europe/South and Central Asia) U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) joins the United States government in condemning Russia?s aggression against Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea. The CEEC, comprised of 18 national organizations representing more than 20 million Americans of Central and Eastern Europe heritage, fully supports Ukraine?s aspirations for a democratic society living in peace and security with its neighbors.
To date, the sanctions imposed by the United States have been insufficient to stop Russia?s further aggression into Ukraine. Indeed, it appears that the security and stability of the entire Central and East European region is at stake unless further immediate action is taken by the United States, NATO, and the European Union.
The CEEC therefore calls upon the United States government to do, and work with its allies to implement, the following:
By implementing the above recommendations, we will build on the laudable steps already taken by President Obama and help ensure the safety and security of not only Ukraine, but the entire Central and East European regions, and other content.
Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), met on Tuesday, April 8 with National Security Council Russia Director Michael Carpenter at the White House to discuss Ukraine and related security issues. The discussion focused on steps the United States has taken and plans on taking in response to Moscow's aggression against Ukraine.
The participants at the meeting shared thoughts on the role NATO is taking in the current situation and explored various options in augmenting security for NATO allies in Europe, including the possible establishment of permanent NATO basis in the region. United States military cooperation also extends to Partnership for Peace member states, which include Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.
Among other issues, JBANC and the CEEC encouraged a significant increase of Magnitsky-type sanctions against officials from Putin's regime. Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky was born on April 8, 1972 and died under duress and apparent torture in a Moscow jail in 2009 after exposing high-level corruption by Russian state officials.
See meeting in pictures here:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Press Department
Washington, DC ? The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) will hold its annual Advocacy Day on Thursday, April 18, 2013. TheAdvocacy Day will include briefings, meetings with Members of Congress, an evening event on Capitol Hill, and a reception.
On Thursday morning, beginning at 8:30 am, an informative briefing session will take place on Capitol Hill with presentations on issues of concern to the respective communities represented by the CEEC in the United States. These objectives and goals will be outlined in the spring 2013 version of CEEC?s policy paper, which will be made available prior to the event.
During the day-long event, participants in the Advocacy Day will meet with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and their staffs to discuss key policy issues as outlined in the policy paper. About 20-25 visits are being planned with the offices of influential Members of Congress, including relevant committees.
After the Congressional meetings, participants are invited to attend an evening debriefing and reception sponsored by the CEEC on Capitol Hill.
The CEEC encourages the active participation of all our communities in promoting the need for greater U.S. foreign policy engagement in Central and Eastern Europe.
For further information, and to register, please contact the CEEC via email at email@example.com or by calling (301) 340-1954.
Established in 1994, the Central and East European Coalition is comprised of 18 nationwide organizations representing more than 20 million Americans who trace their heritage to that part of the world.
(Washington, D.C.) --- On July 25, 2012, the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) sponsored a policy forum on Capitol Hill entitled: "The Impact of Russian Soft Power in Washington and its Spillover Effects." Panelists included Ariel Cohen, Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation; Susan Corke, Director of Eurasia Programs at Freedom House; Jeff Trimble, Deputy Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau; and Irena Van Deusen, Managing Editor, Voice of America Russian Service.
The event was moderated by Dr. Nino Japaridze of the Georgian Association in the U.S., with introductory remarks by Alice Kipel of the Belarusan-American Association. Both are representatives of the CEEC, which is comprised of 18 American ethnic organizations representing over 20 million Americans.
Ms. Corke, the first presenter, noted that recent punitive legislation introduced by the Russian government against nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and citizen protesters poses a direct challenge to the international community and those who support the protection of democratic rights. President Putin is deliberately and systematically trying to silence groups whose criticism of his human rights record exposed weakness and helped fuel months of protests against his rule. To justify his repressive moves, Putin needs an enemy - a threat beyond Russia's borders to rally the nation behind him. The U.S. government, in solidarity with international governments and NGOs, must stand up for the beleaguered organizations in Russia who seek a more democratic future. Putin knows that support for those who seek fundamental freedoms is a powerful form of soft power.
In his extensive remarks Dr. Cohen observed that Russian leaders, since Putin's assumption of power, have viewed the purpose of soft power much like their predecessors did: to extend Russian influence and constrain America's. To this end, the Russian government allocated $1.4 billion for international propaganda in FY 2010, increasing that budget by 33 percent from FY 2009. Russia's premier soft power instrument is its global television empire led by RT, with a significant presence in Washington, D.C. Its priority is to denigrate America, disparage other perceived enemies, and promote the notion of a multipolar world to counterbalance U.S. dominance. Dr. Cohen believes that the U.S. Administration and Congress should:
Create a federally funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) to collect and analyze data on the public diplomacy investments and activities of China, Russia, Iran, and other countries challenging U.S. policies values, and leadership.
Use the findings of this research to craft presidential policy directives on public diplomacy.
Task the State Department to collect from its many embassies best public diplomacy practices for improving U.S. public diplomacy programs.
Ensure visa parity and freedom from interference for U.S. journalists reporting in/and on China, Russia, and other states whose public diplomacy outreach counters U.S. policies and leadership.
Russia Today (RT) has well-staffed broadcast bureaus in Washington DC and in New York, noted Mr. Trimble. It now has distribution in ten U.S. states and in Washington DC potentially reaching 50 million viewers in English and Spanish. Taking full advantage of new technologies, new media as well as traditional media Russia (through RT), China and others are bringing their narratives and their ways of defining themselves directly to the U.S. public. The openness of American society facilitates the soft power efforts by various foreign entities to propagate their perspectives and views in this country. Americans, however, have nothing to fear from free and open exchange of ideas, a concept woven into our national identity and reflected most prominently in the First Amendment.
In contrast, Mr. Trimble remarked that Russia?s Duma has recently passed a series of restrictive laws on NGOs, defamation, and the Internet, further downgrading freedom of speech in Russia. Additionally, the vagueness of these laws, characteristic from Soviet times, could cripple free expression and freedom of the press.
U.S. international broadcasts are limited today to a single FM station in Russia's Kola Peninsula and two weak AM (medium-wave) stations in Moscow. There are no domestic TV broadcasts. Worse, as of November 10, 2012, RFE/RL's MW transmitter in Moscow will no longer be legal. Despite these challenges, the U.S. continues efforts to reach audiences in Russia primarily through Russian-language RFE/RL and VOA digital and shortwave platforms.
Mr. Trimble noted that U.S. International Broadcasting is prohibited by legislation to conduct propaganda and is limited to: (1) broadcast reliable, authoritative, accurate and objective news; (2) project a balanced and comprehensive view of United States thought and institutions, reflecting the diversity of culture and society; and (3) present the policies of the United States Government including discussions and opinions on those policies.
During her comments, Ms. Van Dusen remarked that the Voice of America Russian Service (VOARS) offers a valuable platform for views in Russia, being the only resource for objective discussion on American thought on events relevant to Russian speakers in the region.? VOARS is engaging its audience by offering balanced reporting and a forum for ideas, despite media restrictions and pressure from the Russian government. Under pressure by the authorities in Moscow, radio and television affiliate stations in Russia have stopped broadcasting VOA programs. To circumvent such restrictions, VOARS adopted an Internet-only strategy in 2008. Unfortunately, Russian-language VOA radio broadcasts were terminated just days before Russia?s war with Georgia that year. VOARS now offers through web-based discussion, dialogue, and multimedia presentation a timely and trustworthy source of news, information and analysis of the U.S.-Russian relationship, global events relevant to Russia, and projects America's way of life and culture. This is something seldom heard on any of Russia's state-run media.
More information can be found on the CEEC website, https://ceecoalition.us, including full texts of the remarks.
THE CENTRAL AND EAST EUROPEAN COALITION (CEEC) IS COMPRISED OF 18 NATIONAL MEMBERSHIP ORGANIZATIONS THAT REPRESENT MORE THAN 22 MILLION AMERICANS WHO TRACE THEIR HERITAGE TO THE COUNTRIES OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE (CEE). WE ARE KEENLY INTERESTED IN ISSUES THAT AFFECT THE STABILITY AND WELL-BEING OF THE REGION, U.S. STRATEGIC INTERESTS IN THE REGION, AND OUR AMERICAN CONSTITUENCIES.
THE ENLARGEMENT OF NATO HAS BEEN A MAJOR BIPARTISAN FOREIGN POLICY SUCCESS OF THE UNITED STATES. THE ADMISSION OF NUMEROUS CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES HAS ALREADY BORNE FRUIT BY ENHANCING THE SECURITY AND STABILITY OF THE REGION AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE WAR ON TERRORISM.
QUESTION 2 KREMLIN IMPERIALISM, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW
THE GROWING TENSE SITUATION IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION HAS CAUSED INCREASED ALARM AMONG ALL OF RUSSIA?S SURROUNDING NEIGHBORS. MOSCOW?S INCREASINGLY BELLIGERENT RHETORIC, INTERNAL VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, ECONOMIC COERCION, AND INCREASING USE OF SOFT POWER TO FURTHER ITS AIMS, HAVE GONE LARGELY UNHEEDED IN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY.
QUESTION 3 VISA WAIVER AND OTHER VISA ISSUES
THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM INCLUDES MANY COUNTRIES FROM THE CEE REGION, BUT SOME, INCLUDING POLAND ?AMONG THE MOST FAITHFUL, DEPENDABLE, AND SUPPORTIVE ALLIES OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE WARS IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ ? DO NOT QUALIFY. MANY AMERICANS OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN BACKGROUNDS ARE FRUSTRATED BY THE DELAYS AND REFUSALS THAT OUR COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS ENCOUNTER IN TRYING TO OBTAIN VISAS TO VISIT THE UNITED STATES.
QUESTION 4 IMMIGRATION
MANY IMMIGRANTS, INCLUDING THOSE FROM CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, HAVE BEEN ABLE TO COME TO THIS COUNTRY AS A RESULT OF THE DIVERSITY VISA PROGRAM.
QUESTION 5 SUPPORT FOR CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
THE UNITED STATES HAS PROMOTED DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, MINORITY RIGHTS AND NATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION AS THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNANCE FOR ALL NATIONS. TO IMPLEMENT THESE PRINCIPLES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF FREE MARKETS AFTER THE FALL OF COMMUNISM, THE UNITED STATES HAS CONTRIBUTED SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE.
- FREEDOM SUPPORT ACT (FSA), SUPPORT FOR EAST EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY (SEED);
- SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION IN COUNTRIES WITH AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES;
- VOICE OF AMERICA AND RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY BROADCASTING IN THE CEE REGION AND/OR U.S. COOPERATIVE BROADCAST EFFORTS WITH EUROPEAN ALLIES (SUCH AS BELSAT TV DIRECTED AT BELARUS);
- PROMOTION OF THE RESTITUTION OF PROPERTIES (INCLUDING CHURCH AND COMMUNAL PROPERTIES) CONFISCATED BY PREVIOUS COMMUNIST REGIMES;
- EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL EXCHANGES.
QUESTION 6 MILITARY ASSISTANCE
U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN THE CEE REGION REMAINS AN INDISPENSABLE ASSURANCE FOR REGIONAL STABILITY, PROVIDING MEMBER STATES WITH ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF PHYSICAL AND POLITICAL SECURITY. IT HAS ASSISTED THESE COUNTRIES IN BECOMING MORE EFFECTIVE PARTNERS IN NATO OR SUITABLE CANDIDATES FOR MEMBERSHIP IN THE ALLIANCE. REALIZING THE NEED FOR THE UNITED STATES TO HAVE STRONG, EFFECTIVE AND RELIABLE PARTNERS IN THE CEE REGION, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR POSITION AS PRESIDENT REGARDING:
QUESTION 7 - ENERGY SECURITY
ENERGY HAS EMERGED AS ONE OF EUROPE?S MOST SERIOUS LONG-TERM SECURITY CHALLENGES, WITH THE KREMLIN USING ITS ENERGY RESOURCES FOR POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC PRESSURE IN THE CEE REGION, IN PARTICULAR.
QUESTION 8 INTERACTION WITH THE CEEC
THE CEEC HAS BEEN REGULARLY CONSULTED OVER THE YEARS ON A VARIETY OF ISSUES, SUCH AS NATO ENLARGEMENT, U.S. ASSISTANCE TO CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, BOSNIA, KOSOVO, THE COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY, MISSILE DEFENSE, AND OTHER KEY ISSUES OF NATIONAL CONCERN. OUR MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS REGULARLY MEET INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A COALITION, WITH HIGH-LEVEL OFFICIALS AT THE WHITE HOUSE, STATE DEPARTMENT, AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. WE MAINTAIN A CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH BOTH THE EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT.
Voice of America is engaging its audience in Russia, offering balanced reporting and a forum for ideas, despite media restrictions and pressure from the Russian government, according to the managing editor of VOA's Russian Service, Irina Van Dusen.
The Central and East European Coalition sponsored a July 25 policy forum on Capitol Hill entitled, "The Impact of Russian 'Soft' Power in Washington and Its Spillover Effects." Panelists included Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow of the Heritage Foundation, Susan Corke Director for Eurasia Programs in the Freedom House, Jeff Trimble, Deputy Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, and Irina Van Dusen, Managing Editor in the Voice of America Russian Service.
Read Alice Kipel's introductory remarks here: Alice Kipel introductory remarks - CEEC Policy Forum 7-25-12.pdf
Read Ariel Cohen's remarks here: Ariel Cohen remarks - CEEC Policy Forum 7-25-12.pdf
Read Susan Corke's remarks here: Susan Corke remarks - CEEC Policy Forum 7-25-12.pdf
Read Jeff Trimble's remarks here: Jeff Trimble remarks - CEEC Policy Forum 7-25-12.pdf
Read Irina Van Dusen's remarks here:Irina Van Dusen remarks - CEEC Policy Forum 7-25-12.pdf
Central and East European Coalition
invites you to a Policy Forum
The Impact of Russian 'Soft' Power in Washington and Its Spillover Effects
Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation
Susan Corke, Director for Eurasia Programs, Freedom House
Jeff Trimble, Deputy Director, International Broadcasting Bureau
Irina Van Dusen, Managing Editor, Voice of America Russian Service
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE
Refreshments will be served
RSVP (acceptances only):
Below is the content of the letter sent out by the CEEC to Congressional leaders asking for their support of the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act.
On behalf of the Central and East European Coalition, which is comprised of 18 national organizations representing more than 20 million Americans who trace their heritage to Central and Eastern Europe, we are writing to urge your co-sponsorship of H.R.5741, the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2012, introduced by Representative Joe Heck on May 15, 2012.
As you may know, this bi-partisan initiative has been hailed as a concrete step in increasing the number of travel and tourism related jobs as well as the industry's revenue.
U.S. Travel Association CEO and President Roger Dow praised the Bill stating that: "The JOLT Act reforms significant difficulties in our current visa and entry process while at the same time increasing safeguards and making it more attractive for millions of people around the world to visit the United States."
For example, H.R. 5471 will allow Customs and Border Protection to add foreign nationals to the Global Entry system after their respective governments have signed bilateral agreements with the U.S. In addition, the Bill has set a goal of conducting 80 percent of all non-immigrant visa interviews within 15 business days of requesting an appointment.
Considering that more than 65 percent of all travelers to the U.S. come from countries that are currently members of the Visa Waiver Program, the Bill modifies the Program to allow additional countries to be considered for admission "given that they meet stringent security and law enforcement cooperation requirements" by making the overstay rate the main criterion for eligibility and participation.
Finally, the Bill calls for a pilot program for premium visa processing while increasing transparency by making available to the public historical data on visa-processing wait times.
It is often said that "travel broadens the mind and raises the spirit," but also that "the most difficult step of any journey is the first." In addition to broadening the mind and raising the spirit of travelers, it should also be stressed that the benefit for travel destinations is the promise of considerable economic opportunity. In order to remain competitive with other travel destinations, the United States must take steps to ensure a hassle-free process while simultaneously protecting our nation?s security. The JOLT Act does just that.
Therefore, we strongly urge you to support H.R.5741. In the meantime, should you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Dr. Barbara B. Andersen at (202) 296-6955.
WASHINGTON -- The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) will hold its annual Advocacy Day on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. The Advocacy Day will include briefings, meetings with Members of Congress, an evening event on Capitol Hill, and a reception.
On Wednesday morning, beginning at 8:30 am, an informative briefing session will take place at the historic Stewart Mott House with presentations on issues of concern to the CEEC's respective American communities: Russian influence in Central and Eastern Europe; security concerns; the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago; appropriations programs in the region; Visa Waiver program; human/minority rights, genocide affirmation and historical accuracy; and exchange programs.
During the day-long event, participants in the Advocacy Day will meet with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and their staffs to discuss key policy issues on the topics outlined above. Among the planned visits are with the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Central and East Europe, Congressmen Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL). The Caucus is committed to enhancing relations between the United States and Central and Eastern Europe.
After the Congressional meetings, participants are invited to attend an evening event sponsored by the Armenian Assembly of America to remember the Armenian genocide. The event will take place in the Russell Senate Office Building, and will include invited members of the House and Senate, Advocacy Day participants, and representatives from the communities.
The CEEC encourages the active participation of all our communities in promoting the need for greater U.S. foreign policy engagement in Central and Eastern Europe. Our main policy objectives and goals are outlined in our 2012 Policy Paper, which will be made available soon.
For further information, and to register, please contact the CEEC via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (202) 481-3334.
Established in 1994, the Central and East European Coalition is comprised of 18 nationwide organizations representing more than 20 million Americans who trace their heritage to that part of the world.
The Central and East European Coalition held a successful and productive Advocacy Day on October 5, 2011, that included private meetings with 17 Members of Congress or their representatives. These included staffers and four members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - Dick Durbin (D-IL), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Barrasso (R-WY) ? as well as Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and House Representatives including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Todd Rokita (R-IN), Dan Benishek (R-MI), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Andy Harris (R-MD), John Shimkus (R-IL), and Mike Quigley (D-IL).
For more information, please read the following press release: CEEC October 2011 Advocacy Day Report.pdf
CEEC sent a letter to Chairman Kerry and Senator Lieberman to show CEEC's appreciation for their Op-Ed: Five Steps to take on the crackdown in Belarus, published in The Washington Post on Sunday, January 30, 2011.
Read the letter: CEEC Letter to Senators Kerry and Lieberman
The President of the Polish American Congress Frank Spula, Director of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Michael Sawkiw Jr., and Managing Director of the Joint Baltic American Nation Committee Karl Altau sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to show their concern over post-election crackdown by the Lukashenka's regime on peaceful demonstrators, democratic activists, journalists and civil society.
Read the letter: www.americanhungarianfederation.org/news_CEEC_Lukashenko.htm
Feb 2, 2010 - "As the House and Senate Armenian Genocide resolutions saw the additions of Congresswoman Judy Chu, and Senators Sam Brownback and Michael Bennet during the month of January, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) also welcomed the unanimous support of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) regarding U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, reported the American Assembly of America (Assembly)."
Read more: https://bit.ly/39nNSSL
On October 27, 2000 CEEC sent a letter to a speaker J.Dennis Hastert to "express deep disappointment regarding the withdrawal of House Resolution 596, the 'Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide', from floor consideration for the remainder of the 106th Congress."
Read the letter: CEEC letter
“Thank you for granting me the opportunity to address the Central and East European Coalition, and for hosting this conference. At a time when the headlines seem to be dominated by our domestic economic woes, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, instability in Pakistan and the latest threats from North Korea, the Coalition helps to keep policymakers focused on the critical issues related to security in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Your advocacy of strong U.S. ties with these nations is of vital importance. I share your deep affection for those special countries of Central and Eastern Europe. As a child, I remember watching as men and women demonstrated their support of the Captive Nations, marching in the annual parades. I’ve had the great privilege of traveling repeatedly to this region – indeed, I’ve visited each of the countries that make up your coalition, with the exception of Belarus – and I hope to correct that omission this year. Like yours, however, my focus on the Central and Eastern European countries stems from far more than warm ties and deep affection. It derives from the recognition that the political and economic trajectories of this region are of direct importance to the United States.
“The history of these lands, though replete with inspiration, has nevertheless been wrought with tragedy. From the famine in Ukraine in the 1930s to Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1968, from the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries to the establishment of martial law in Poland, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have felt the painful weight of oppression in a way that is scarcely imaginable to many of us. And so it is all the more inspiring to see the majority of these countries establish stable and increasingly prosperous democracies, open to the west and destined for a bright future.
“It is, I believe, incumbent on the United States to help ensure that they retain the freedom to continue on this path. The Cold War is over, the Soviet empire is gone, and neither one is missed. The brave young democracies that make up this region have joined the free world, and they are not going back.
“That is why I have long supported the expansion of transatlantic institutions, including NATO, to the emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. It is why we must work closely with these countries in fields as varied as trade, energy, and defense. And it is why, while we cannot close off opportunities for Russia to reengage in a productive way, we must not yield any hint that we will cede this region to a reestablished, Moscow-centered sphere of influence.
“It has been less than ten months since the world’s attention was riveted by such questions, and I speak of course of the Russian invasion of Georgia. Though the stories may have faded from the headlines, we should recall that Moscow today remains in violation of the ceasefire terms to which it agreed last year. Russian troops continue to be stationed on sovereign Georgian territory, including thousands in South Ossetia and Abkhazia – in excess of the pre-conflict levels. Rather than abide by the ceasefire’s requirement to engage in international talks on the future of the two provinces, Russia has recognized their independence, signed friendship agreements with them that effectively render them Russian dependencies, and taken over their border controls.
“This disturbing pattern is both concerning because of what it may portend for the future of Georgia, a fast and firm partner of the United States, but also because of what it means for the rest of the region. The invasion of Georgia presents the most dramatic example of a troubling tendency evident in Russian foreign policy today: Moscow’s desire to maintain a sphere of influence in neighboring countries, dominate their politics, and circumscribe their freedom of action in international affairs. Whether in Estonia, which suffered a serious cyber attack some time ago; or in the territory of Transdniestra, where Russian troops remained stationed; or Ukraine, where Russian politicians speak of maintaining the Black Sea Fleet beyond its scheduled departure, Moscow ambitions appear clear.
“Yet a move to establish a Moscow-based sphere of influence that would encompass neighboring countries is in direct contravention to the free and open, rules-based international system that the United States and its partners have spent so many decades to uphold. The majority of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe have embraced this system and are, with us and our other global partners, bulwarks in supporting its furtherance. We must not revert to an era in which the countries on Russia’s periphery were not permitted to make their own decisions, control their own political futures, or decide their own alliances. And so we must stand by our partners and friends throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
“This does not mean reigniting the Cold War with Russia. On the contrary, there are areas in which our interests overlap and in which we can cooperate with Russia. It does mean, however, that we must reject the idea that the independent nations near Russia’s borders constitute any form of bargaining chip, to be traded away in pursuit of better ties with Moscow. It means not abandoning our allies in Poland and the Czech Republic in an effort to achieve a new arms reduction treaty with Russia. And it means holding the President and his administration to the pledge they made during their first days in office – that the United States will not recognize a Russian sphere of influence, that its neighbors have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances, and that cooperation with like-minded neighbors should increase, not diminish.
“It also entails standing up for the core values – of democracy, freedom and human rights – that have animated our country since its founding and which constitute the firmest foundation of the transatlantic alliance. I hope that members of your coalition will join me in making clear that any new focus on ‘re-setting’ relations with Moscow or any other country cannot exclude a strong public defense of the rights of oppressed people, wherever they reside. An attempt to improve relations with other countries, particularly those with regimes that oppress their people or seek to restrict the freedom of others, cannot exclude strong American advocacy for the rights of everyone, everywhere, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is, after all, the responsibility of the leading nations of the world to ensure that history continues to be a record of humanity’s progress toward respecting the values and security of free people, and as Americans, nothing can relieve us of the responsibility to speak out for those whose most fundamental rights have been abridged.
“The members of this coalition, whose heritage is intertwined so deeply with the many tragic events that have befallen the oppressed, know this better than most. As believers in the cause of human rights, whether in Central and Eastern Europe or anywhere else around the globe, we must stand up firmly for the cause, one that accords so deeply with the American character. I thank you for your efforts to do just that, and I look forward to your comments and questions.”
In an hour-long meeting at the National Security Council on Wednesday, August 26th, the CEEC met with Antony J. Blinken, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President and Michael A. McFaul, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Security Council. Also participating in the meeting was Leslie M. Hayden, Director for Russia at the NSC. The coalition members were de-briefed on the Moscow and Ukraine/Georgia trips and broached issues related to missile defense shield; the strategic partnerships and commissions established with Ukraine and Georgia; energy security; the Armenia/Turkey rapprochement; and, defending human rights and liberties in the region.
Members of the CEEC also had an opportunity to meet with representatives of the Office of Public Engagement who will be responsible for interacting with the various ethnic communities.
Commenting on the deliberations, Michael Sawkiw, Jr., Director of the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), the Washington bureau of the UCCA (a member of the Central and East European Coalition), stated: “We were fortunate to obtain this meeting with the principals in the National Security Council. Our goal as a Coalition is to gather information and relate our concerns to the appropriate government officials. At this time of increased Russian pressure on Ukraine, it is vital that the Ukrainian community supports the CEEC’s efforts and the efforts of UNIS to raise these topics in Washington.”
A policy reception in Honor of NATO and its Enlargement took place in the Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on 25 March 2009 (5-7 p.m.).
The objective of the event was to celebrate NATO’s 60th anniversary as well as the 5th and 10th anniversaries, respectively, of the last two rounds of enlargement.
On July 8, 1997, three former communist countries - Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic - were invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which finally took place in 1999.
In 2004, the membership of the Alliance expanded with the accession of seven more Eastern European countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania.
The importance of NATO’s 60th anniversary and the celebration of its enlargement was underscored by the presence of a panel of prestigious speakers who all played an important role in supporting NATO’s enlargement.
After the opening remarks by Frank Koszorus, President of the American Hungarian Federation, the Director of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Michael Sawkiw introduced the distinguished invitees - Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Adviser under President Jimmy Carter, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Kurt Volker, US Ambassador to NATO.
The special guests all delivered moving and powerful speeches. They reflected upon the last 60 years that brought enormous historical and geopolitical changes in Europe, starting with the division of the continent into the capitalist and communist blocs and ending, 40 years later, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent freedom of former socialist and communist countries from the Soviet regime.
Sen. George Voinovich remembered the moving historical moment and the emotion he felt when, as a member of President George W. Bush's official delegation to Prague to 2002, he witnessed the joyful celebrations on the capital city’s streets following the declaration that other seven Eastern European countries were invited to join NATO.
Zbigniew Brzezinski underlined the importance of trans-national relations, particularly with Russia. NATO’s strength, he said, lay in its members’ number and future enlargements will not therefore, as some predict, weaken the organization.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski remembered how much Europe’s post-war division emotionally affected her own Polish-American family and the American communities of Eastern European immigrants. These ethnicities, she said, defined America – their presence allowed the country to become one-of-a-kind mosaic, rather then a melting pot.
Kurt Volker expressed the wish to see Sweden, Finland and Austria join NATO in the future. Their membership should not be underestimated, he said. It would be beneficial to the organization insofar as it would reinforce the cooperation and expand common values between the European and North American continents.
Michael Haltzel, a former senior foreign policy advisor to Sen. Joseph R. Biden and Democratic Senate staffer on NATO and Balkan policy, together with Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL), both expressed their joy at celebrating the 5th and 10th anniversary of NATO’s enlargement.
The closing remarks were delivered by Marju Rink-Abel from the Estonian American National Council.
The event was attended by many other distinguished guests, among which were several ambassadors of Central and Eastern European countries – Amb. Audrius Bruzga from the Lithuanian Embassy, Amb. Petr Kolar from the Czech Republic Embassy, Amb. Latchezar Petkov from the Bulgarian Embassy and Amb. Adrian Vierita from the Romanian Embassy.
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), comprised of eighteen national membership organizations representing more than twenty-two million Americans who trace their heritage to Central and Eastern Europe, expresses its deep concern over the current Russian aggression toward the sovereign nation of Georgia. Russia’s military attacks, and subsequent invasion of South Ossetia, and most importantly -- the bombing of cities and towns far away from the conflict regions -- violate international law and Georgia’s internationally recognized territorial borders and sovereignty. As a strategic political and economic partner of the United States, Georgia is in need of immediate diplomatic intervention and assistance. The dramatic escalation of violence in this region only works to destabilize the Georgian government and the remarkable strides they have made in solidifying their democratic institutions and values. Of further concern is that Russia may also try to regain its influence on its ”near abroad” if the West cannot now come to Georgia’s aid.
The present conflict in Georgia has already caused untold devastation and loss of human lives. The world community must condemn this violence, and urge Russia to immediately withdraw its forces and cease all military operations. During this extremely critical period of transition in this region, it is imperative to support and encourage an ally that promotes democratic ideals and principles in an increasingly hostile and autocratic geo-political environment.
With direct and truly neutral international mediation of this dispute, we can ensure continued Euro-Atlantic stability and prosperity. Moreover, this crisis amply demonstrates why Georgia should be moved to the Membership Action Plan (MAP) stage of NATO’s enlargement not only to secure Georgia, but also to promote security throughout the region.
Recent statements from President Bush, and the two presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, underscore the non-partisan nature of this issue, as well as the grave importance of a resolution to this armed intervention, which would promote peace and stability in Georgia and the region. The CEEC calls upon the U.S. Administration to increase diplomatic talks with our allies to persuade the Russian Federation into a peaceful settlement of the current military conflict.
In 2008 CEEC sponsored a press conference to discuss the current status of Georgia at that time. Speakers included Mr. Mamuka Tsereteli, President ? Georgian Association of the U.S.; Amb. Bill Courtney, former U.S. ambassador to Georgia; and, members of the Central and East European Coalition representing various American national organizations of Central and East European heritage. Read more: invasionintogeorgia.org/news/central-and-east-european-coalition-press-conference/1231.html
Leaders of Central and East European Coalition met George W. Bush at the White House "to discuss critical issues affecting the region."
The CEEC press release was published here: https://bit.ly/3hk9X7B
Read the article: pac1944.org/ceec/PR-081024.htm
Since the meeting was closed, details of the meeting cannot be made public. In July, members of the CEEC met with foreign policy advisers close to Governor George W. Bush.