Advocacy

A Week of Advocacy and Remembrance

Washington saw several events recently that bring to mind the history of the Baltics and other countries with tragic and difficult pasts.  The Estonian American National Council was represented by its Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey.

One of EANC’s Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) partners, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), held its annual Ukraine Days on June 12th.  Nearly fifty Ukrainian Americans and friends of Ukraine from eleven states held more than fifty meetings with Congressional offices to raise awareness on issues relevant to Ukrainian security and its struggle to regain full sovereignty over its territory.  Karin supported the event by joining the team holding meetings with Representatives from Virginia.

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Polish American Congress and Baltic colleagues with staffer from Senator Van Hollen’s (D-MD) office.

The top bill on the UCCA’s priority list was S.482, the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019 (DASKAA), which contains policy guidelines on Ukraine and Crimea, and on strengthening the NATO alliance; interaction with the European Union; enhancing public diplomacy; cybercrime; election interference; and sanctions against the Russian Federation.  Other important bills listed were H.R.3047, which provides military support to Ukraine, and S.1441, which would impose sanctions on firms associated with the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.  The group also advocated for increased people-to-people exchanges, especially in fields of journalism and government, and combating Russian disinformation and cybersecurity threats.

On June 13th, the CEEC held a corresponding advocacy event centered on Members of Congress from Maryland, Virginia and Michigan, reflecting the home states of the majority of participants.  While the group and focus were smaller than the Ukrainian event, productive meetings were held with six Senate offices and two offices in the House of Representatives.  Karin led the group visiting Senators from Maryland and Virginia.  The talking points were very similar to those listed above, as those issues impact all nations represented in the coalition.  Since the group included Baltic and Polish American constituents, they specifically brought up the importance of continued NATO troop presence in the region and European Defense Initiative funding, which has helped NATO nations with infrastructure projects vital to supporting NATO deployments.

A briefing session before the meetings helped prepare participants for their upcoming discussions.  The featured speaker, Jakub Janda, Director of the European Values Think Tank, based in Prague, noted that the “U.S. Congress is the leader in punishing Russia” through its current sanctions and related legislation.  He suggested placing staffers from CEE countries in Congressional offices and sending U.S. staffers to parliaments in the region as an effective way to foster two-way, first-hand understanding of what is happening in governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Karin Shuey laying flowers on behalf of EANC at the Victims of Communism Memorial

Karin marked the June 14th somber anniversary of the 1941 mass deportations by laying flowers at the Victims of Communism Memorial as part of its foundation’s annual Roll Call of Nations.  The VoC Memorial Foundation has held this roll call annually since 2008.  This year, over 70 embassies and organizations took part, including the Embassy of Estonia and EANC as a sponsor of the event.  The Foundation’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom was awarded to retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, who flew missions in the Berlin Airlift and gained notoriety as the “Candy Bomber” for dropping candy to German children during his runs.

The next Baltic-related event in Washington will be a Baltic Way 30th Anniversary event and commemoration of Black Ribbon Day on August 23rd.  Further information will be provided as details become available.

 

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Advocacy

Advocacy Update – EANC Co-hosts DC Advocacy Day

The Estonian American National Council (EANC) is once again joining forces with our Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) colleagues to help Estonian Americans and other regional diaspora members contact their Members of Congress (MoCs) on issues that impact Baltic and European security.  On June 13th, we are holding an advocacy day to engage with Senators and Representatives on a number of topics and current legislation.  One of EANC’s missions is to help Estonian Americans connect with their Congressional representation on issues that impact Estonia’s security and this is our latest effort to further this goal. CEEC June 13 advocacy no speakers JPG

This event is focused on gathering constituents from the DC metro area to visit Senators from Maryland and Virginia, and Representatives from districts close to Washington.  We are also requesting meetings with Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Representative Denny Heck (D-WA), to express support for their bills to protect European energy security (S.1441 and H.R.2023, noted above).

The CEEC also intends to honor Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Michael Turner (R-OH) with the Friend of the CEEC award for their work in Congress to uphold transatlantic values and relations.  Both are members of the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.  Rep. Connolly is the current head of the delegation and Rep. Turner led the delegation from 2014 to 2016.

Our talking points for the meetings highlight several concerns for security in the region.  Our first point is to remind Congress that the CEEC represents 20 million voters from 13 diaspora communities spread across the U.S.  We regularly share our concerns and ideas with Congress and the Administration and work to raise the awareness of our Senators and Representatives regarding specific legislation that addresses our issues.

The current legislation to be discussed includes the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019 (DASKAA – S.482); the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act of 2019 (DETER – S.1060); and resolutions that affirm U.S. commitment to NATO and recognize that its contributions over the last 70 years are vital to U.S. national security, such as S.J.Res.4, S.Res.123, and H.Res.291.  For more information on each piece of legislation, please visit www.congress.gov and search by the number provided.

Other advocacy topics for this event include:

  • Implementing to the fullest extent possible all existing sanctions against the Putin regime, including last year’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and the Magnitsky and Global Magnitsky Acts;
  • Countering the Kremlin’s disinformation through increased funding for the State Department’s Global Engagement Center and other programs aimed at neutralizing propaganda and illegitimate news outlets;
  • Continued or increased support for Crimea and regions in eastern Ukraine that are illegally occupied by Russia;
  • Public support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as it continues to be occupied in two distinct regions of the country, with about 280,000 people still displaced (R.598 – Georgia Support Act);
  • Securing the region’s energy sources through continued U.S. cooperation with Poland, Lithuania and others on LNG, and pushing back on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (1441, H.R.2023, H.Res.116, and S.Res.27).

More information about the CEEC, along with its full policy brief and list of legislative priorities, is available on its website at ceecoalition.us.

If you are a constituent of any of the MoCs mentioned here or districts in the DC area, please consider joining us on June 13th.  Please see the CEEC website for more information on the event and how to RSVP, or contact EANC’s Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey at karinshueyeanc@gmail.com.  EANC and our CEEC colleagues look forward to seeing you there!

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