Estonian American National Council representatives joined Baltic colleagues for a briefing from the State Department’s Baltic team on Thursday, July 28th. The Director of Nordic and Baltic Affairs, Nathaniel Dean, and Baltic desk officers Anna Martz (Estonia), James Lovell (Latvia) and Carol Werner (Lithuania), shared their insights on policy and current and upcoming events focused on U.S.-Baltic cooperation.
EANC, JBANC and State Department representatives from left: Karl Altau, Krista Viksnins, Tomas Sadauskas, Karin Shuey, Stan Backaitis, Marju Rink-Abel, Henry Gaidis, Nathaniel Dean, Ausma Tomsevics, Peter Blumberg, Karoline Kelder, Elizabeth Jackson, Raits Eglitis. Photo courtesy of JBANC.
The main topics discussed were the NATO Summit last month in Warsaw, Vice President Biden’s upcoming visit to Riga, where he will meet with all three Baltic leaders, and Secretary Kerry’s recent reaffirmation of the U.S. commitment to NATO. The Secretary’s remarks are available on the State Department website (scroll down to the first question). Mentioned also were the U.S. Brigade Combat Team that will increase U.S. presence in Europe as part of the European Reassurance Initiative. More information is available at the Defense Department website. U.S. troops will participate in continuous extensive training with allied forces in the region to develop seamless interoperability and cooperation in multinational operations. Other topics included the status of the Minsk Agreement sanctions, Baltic cooperation with their non-NATO Nordic neighbors and State’s efforts to counter propaganda and disinformation.
The Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) provided copies of its recent policy statement on the importance of the Baltics in NATO and the American Latvian Association (ALA) presented their statement on election campaign rhetoric. These statements are available on the JBANC and ALA websites. JBANC also issued an invitation to the policy event being planned with Central and East European Coalition colleagues next month.
The meeting ended with positive reassurance that the current administration will maintain its commitment to NATO, and that consensus is strong throughout NATO on its Article V guarantees. State is addressing the issues of Russia’s multi-layered aggression through various means. They welcome JBANC’s and its parent organizations’ input on topics of mutual interest and look forward to another meeting later in the year.