Only two weeks to go until the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) hosts its first virtual Baltic Advocacy Days, with support from the Estonian American National Council (EANC), the American Latvian Association, the Lithuanian American Council, and the Lithuanian American Community. The event will take place March 8-12 and registration is still open at baltivist.com/advocacy-day-2021-sign-up.
EANC invites Estonian Americans and friends to take part in this grassroots advocacy event. JBANC is calling all Baltic Americans to action and are making participation as easy as possible by providing a training session the week before, sharing talking points and reference materials, and helping to schedule meetings with Members of Congress.
Your participation could be as simple as:
- Making a phone call to your Senators and/or Representative.
- Introducing yourself.
- Sharing information about 1-3 top priority issues for the Baltic countries and security in the region, totally based on your comfort level.
- Thanking them for their time.
JBANC is arranging Zoom meetings for certain Congressional offices, so there may be an opportunity for you to join in if you’re from one of those states or districts. JBANC is tracking the registrations and will reach out to you if this is a possibility.
The event will focus on raising awareness in Congress of several priority issues. Funding for Baltic security is at the top of the list. Military cooperation with the Baltic countries and providing funding to help them build their defense forces have received strong bipartisan support since their independence was restored two decades ago. The three nations have earned U.S. respect, first by working hard to become members of NATO, and then by showing their commitment to the alliance through meeting its benchmark of spending 2% of GDP on defense, and participating robustly in NATO missions around the globe. For this event, we’re making sure that Senators and Representatives are aware of these accomplishments and know about Baltic Security Initiative (BSI). BSI was passed for the first time last year to send $169 million in funding to the three nations, and one of our advocacy goals now is to promote a similar allocation for fiscal year 2022. We’re also highlighting the $11.4 million in Foreign Military Financing for each country currently proposed in FY2022 budget legislation to help them purchase U.S.-made military equipment and weapons systems.
Another policy issue we plan to discuss is Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. A bill was recently introduced to prohibit United States Government recognition of the Russian Federation’s claim of sovereignty over Crimea. It is modeled on the Welles Declaration of 1940 that defined the U.S. policy of nonrecognition of the Soviet Union’s annexation of the Baltic states. Ukraine’s current security situation has much in common with the challenges Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania faced in 1940, and showing Baltic American solidarity with Crimea and Ukraine could have a powerful impact in encouraging Congress to pass this bill.
More information on these and other focus issues for the event is available at baltivist.com – JBANC’s new advocacy platform. You’ll also find practical information on the event and a link to register. Please don’t hesitate to contact EANC’s Washington, DC Director, Karin Shuey, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. We hope to see you there!