EANC participated in several noteworthy events this month. Thanks to her travel schedule, EANC President Marju Rink-Abel was able to represent the organization at events in Tallinn and Washington while DC Director Karin Shuey participated and coordinated from stateside.
In Tallinn, the Estonian Parliament on September 18th opened a 10-day showing of the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) exhibit celebrating the Baltic centennials and 100 years of U.S.-Baltic relations. Mrs. Rink-Abel was honored to be invited to the ceremony, which included remarks by Mr. Kalle Laanet, acting as Riigikogu President; U.S. Charge D’Affaires Ambassador Clifford Bond; and Ms. Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Vice Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairperson
of the USA-Estonia Parliamentary Group. Mrs. Rink-Abel said of the event: “It was gratifying to hear from both Estonian and U.S. diplomats that the relationship between the two countries is very strong. They thanked JBANC for developing the prominently displayed panels that document the past 100 years of that relationship.”
The exhibit was created earlier this year by JBANC and its parent organizations – the Estonian American National Council (EANC), American Latvian Association (ALA) and Lithuanian American Council (LAC) – at the invitation of the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and was initially displayed during June in the U.S. Diplomacy Center at DoS headquarters. It arrived in Estonia in early August, where it was shown in the American Space at Tallinn Technical University and the Estonian National Library before its move to the Riigikogu. More information about the event is available in ERR News reporting from September 18th.
In Washington, a short ceremony commemorating the great 1944 refugee flight from Estonia was held on September 21 at the Victims of Communism Memorial. The commemoration was organized by EANC, JBANC, and the Estonian Embassy in support of the Estonian World Council (EWC) resolution sent to the Estonian government to establish an official national day commemorating the refugee flight. The goal is to achieve this for the 75th anniversary next year.
EWC member Iivi Zajedova, the proponent behind the effort, writes, “September 2019 will mark 75 years since the huge exodus of Estonians fleeing from the oncoming Soviet terror. Fleeing was difficult both mentally and physically. It brought about a drastic change in life circumstances and resulted in a tragic end for many.” Memorial services and commemorations are being organized around the world, including in Estonia, to show the importance of this day of remembrance and in support of this initiative. The Estonian Embassy was represented at the DC ceremony by Ambassador Jonatan Vseviov and Political Affairs Secretary Aire Kork. Mrs. Rink-Abel gave opening remarks, and Ms. Shuey also took part, along with JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau.
EANC was also engaged in the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) advocacy week from September 17th to 21st. Estonian Americans from California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Virginia joined Americans of Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Polish descent, among others, in contacting their representatives in Congress to educate them on policy issues concerning the region. Topics included the Kremlin’s aggressive agenda, sanctions against Russia, disinformation, and energy security. The CEEC intends to hold regular advocacy events and invites members of the thirteen ethnic communities they represent, or anyone interested in supporting the region, to participate. Please see www.ceecoalition.us to learn about the CEEC and watch the EANC Facebook page for information on future events.
Finally, EANC would like to congratulate Ambassador Vseviov on presenting his credentials to President Trump on September 17th. Mrs. Rink-Abel and Ms. Shuey had an initial meeting with the new Ambassador in August to discuss how EANC and the Embassy can work together to advance the issues important to Estonian Americans and the Estonian government. We look forward to welcoming all the new members of the embassy staff and building further on the strong relationship EANC has established with the Embassy.