Advocacy

DC Think Tank Explores “Permanent Neutrality”

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) senior vice presidents Heather Conley and Kathleen Hicks recently published their views on the current trend among some European policy experts to promote permanent neutrality as a way to create a new security order in Europe.  The concept was practiced by Finland during the Soviet era after entering the 1948 treaty with the Soviet Union that was the basis of Finlandization.  Today’s version involves ending NATO expansion and establishing the area lying between NATO and Russia as a zone of nations allowed to “choose their forms of government and diplomatic relations, yet [denied] the freedom to join any formal security organizations.”

NATO members and partners

Map courtesy of nato.int

In Ukraine, the constitution mandated neutral status by stating that the nation would not pursue NATO membership.  This may have seemed reasonable given the security assurances offered by the Budapest Memorandum, but the events of 2013-2014 made clear that maintaining neutrality was not in Ukraine’s interest, and it is now a close partner with NATO.  While Finland ended its Soviet-imposed nonaligned status in 1995 by joining the EU, it – along with Sweden – has so far maintained relative military neutrality, but now both nations are forging security alliances with their neighbors and considering making moves to join NATO.  Georgia and Moldova have also sought closer ties to NATO since the Soviet Union collapsed.  In each case, it is Russia’s actions that have prompted nations to turn to the West for security relationships and away from the Kremlin’s influence.

The authors advocate against the use of permanent neutrality, identifying it as a flawed approach for appeasing Russia because it comes at the expense of the “core democratic and international legal principles of sovereign choice” and the resulting destabilization of European and U.S. security structures.  They suggest that “[w]hat antagonizes Russian president Vladimir Putin is not simply NATO expansion but the Alliance’s very and continued existence.”  The contradiction between allowing the nations in question freedom over their forms of government and diplomacy while blocking their freedom to choose their security alliances plays directly into Putin’s agenda.

OSCE flags outside US mission

Photo courtesy of osce.usmission.gov

The article underlines that along with NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is the enduring but oft-forgotten twin pillar of European security, and Russia is an active member.  Before proposing the return to a construct that limits the choices of sovereign nations and undermines an effective and relevant security architecture, the authors endorse revisiting and implementing the successful institutions that are already equipped to address today’s challenges.  While it may be in fashion for pundits, politicians and others to call for a new European order, those advocates are ignoring the validity of the current structure and the harm they’re doing to upholding the values of democracy and sovereignty.

The full CSIS article is available at CSIS.org > Analysis > There Is No Alternative to Sovereign Choice, April 27, 2017.

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Advocacy

EANC and JBANC Support Regional Partners

Two of EANC’s sister organizations from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) recently held events in Washington to call attention to Russia’s actions in the region.  The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) sponsored its annual “Ukraine Days” advocacy effort on March 8th.  On April 2nd, the Belarusian communities in Washington, DC – including representatives from the Belarusan-American Association – organized a demonstration near the White House to call for U.S. and European Union action in their nation.  EANC and the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) supported both events.

Belarus protest signs

Protesters at demonstration for Belarus near the White House.

The Ukrainian program included a briefing session with leaders of the Ukrainian-American community from throughout the U.S., followed by visits to both Senate and House members’ offices.  EANC Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey and JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau joined the team of Ukrainians from Virginia and North Carolina to visit offices representing those states.  During the course of the day, they met with staff working for Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Virginia congressman Don Beyer, and North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr. The advocates spoke up about pending legislation affecting the region and pushing back against the aggression of the Putin regime. The day ended with a reception in the Capitol, which gave them another opportunity to discuss issues with Members of Congress and staff and with friends from the Ukrainian community and other friends of Ukraine.

The Belarusian demonstration took place a week after peaceful Freedom Day protests in Belarus were met with crackdowns by heavily-equipped riot police and detention of protesters.  JBANC has regularly supported demonstrations by the Belarusian community in Washington and was invited to participate on this occasion.  Ms. Shuey represented EANC and JBANC, presenting remarks on the nations’ shared history of defense of

Me at Belarus demonstration

Ms. Shuey speaking at Belarus demonstration.  (Photo courtesy of Ukrainian National Information Service.)

democracy, human rights and rule of law in the face of aggression by Russia.  She pledged continued support from the Baltic-American community until democracy is firmly established in Belarus.  The demonstration drew over 60 Belarusians, American
s and international supporters, to offer a united voice in appealing for appropriate engagement by the U.S. government, to include the extension of sanctions against Russia.

EANC values very highly its relationships with the other member organizations of the CEEC.  While the Estonian-American community makes up a small percentage of most congressional district populations, teaming up with the communities from our former Soviet Republic and Warsaw Pact neighbors, our voices become much stronger and more likely to get the attention of our lawmakers.  Our ongoing work with the CEEC produces policy statements and press releases, summaries of relevant legislation that we distribute on the Hill, and biannual forums for Congressional staffers and members of the foreign policy community that draw high-level speakers to shine a light on the hottest topics affecting our region.  For more information on the CEEC, please visit www.ceecoalition.us.

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Advocacy

Busy Week for Baltic Foreign Ministers

All three Baltic Ministers of Foreign Affairs were in Washington recently for meetings with the Administration, Congress and think tanks.  Estonian Minister Sven Mikser, along with colleagues Edgar Rinkēvičs from Latvia and Linas Linkevičius from Lithuania, held discussions with numerous officials on U.S.-Baltic relations and reaffirmed the Baltic nations’ strong partnerships with the U.S.

Balt ForMins Hudson

From left:  John P. Walters (Hudson Institute), Minister Linkevicius, Minister Mikser, Minister Rinkevics.  Photo courtesy of the Joint Baltic American National Committee.

Many of the points discussed during the week were summarized at an event on March 28th at the Hudson Institute, which established its relationship with the Baltic nations when it was the first Washington think tank to host the newly-appointed Baltic prime ministers back in 1991.  This event presented the foreign ministers in a panel format to consider the topic of the Baltic States and the Trump Administration and share the results of their meetings so far.

They began their remarks by outlining their conversations with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where U.S. officials reinforced their commitment to NATO and Article 5.  The Baltic leaders noted that they have had good cooperation with administrations of both parties since the 1990s and have no doubt that it will continue.  Both sides agreed that NATO needs to maintain the unambiguous message of deterrence established by the decisions made at the 2016 Warsaw Summit and that the multinational nature of the battalions deployed in the region shows that the Alliance is unified in doing just that.

While the Baltic leaders agreed that they won’t see a military altercation in their region despite the tendency of think tanks to speculate on the topic, several challenges were mentioned that require increased focus.  Hybrid threats, particularly propaganda and information warfare, remain a primary form of aggression from the Kremlin.  The ministers called for continued development of an organized, pragmatic approach and noted that the U.S. is coming to understand that it needs to address this threat.  The eleven nations participating in the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence are targeting propaganda from Russia and ISIS and would welcome more U.S. involvement.

Another key challenge is increasing popular support throughout member nations for Article 5.  There was consensus that Americans and Europeans value rules-based order and that the transatlantic community has benefitted from it.  National leaders need to do a better job of explaining to their citizens the importance of NATO and Article 5 in preserving their democracies and the institutions they rely on.

While in Washington, the ministers also attended the March 22nd meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition in the Defeat of ISIS.  They also met with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  They finished their week in Brussels at the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on March 31st.   Video of the Hudson Institute event is available at www.hudson.org/events.

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Advocacy

Notable Estonians Testify in Congress

Ambassador Eerik Marmei and former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves both recently testified at separate Congressional hearings on Russia.  Marmei spoke before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on March 7th.  Ilves addressed the House Foreign Affairs Full Committee (HFAC) on March 9th and was scheduled to appear again on March 15th before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

The Senate Appropriations Committee hearing examined Russian policies and intentions toward specific European countries and was chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  Witnesses included the Minister of Foreign Affairs from Ukraine and ambassadors from the three Baltic nations, Poland, and Georgia.  Its purpose was to broaden the committee’s understanding of Russia’s actions and their impact in the countries represented.  Ambassador Marmei stressed the importance of continued U.S. support and presence in the Baltic region and of implementing the decisions made at the NATO summits in Wales and Warsaw.  He encouraged members to avoid regionalizing the threat and instead to recognize Russia’s influence campaign as a threat throughout Europe and even reaching to the U.S. and beyond.  He expressed support for maintaining sanctions on Russia as long as the conditions of the Minsk agreement are not met.  He also described Russia’s current cyber and propaganda activities in Estonia and some measures the Estonian government has taken to counteract them.  A replay and written testimony for the hearing are available at www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings.

Ilves Marmei at HFAC

Estonian Ambassador Eerik Marmei and former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at Congressional hearing on Russia

The HFAC hearing, chaired by Representative Edward Royce (R-CA), focused on Russian disinformation efforts to undermine democratic institutions and splinter NATO.  In addition to President Ilves, witnesses included former State Department Assistant Secretary for Political Affairs Lincoln Bloomfield; former U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer; and Mr. Peter Doran, Executive Vice President of the Center for European Policy Analysis.  Ilves’ testimony included identifying Europe as Russia’s “main battlefield” for influence using policies directed at splitting up the EU and NATO.  He also described the 2007 cyber attack on Estonia as the first time a digital attack had been used as punishment for a nation’s policy.  Full details are available at foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 15th will assess Russia’s and other autocracies’ modus operandi and tool box for undermining democracies throughout the world.  More information is available at www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings.

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Advocacy

Estonian Embassy Bestows Awards at Independence Day Commemoration

The Estonian Embassy in Washington hosted a reception on February 22nd in honor of the 99th anniversary of Estonian independence.  Among those attending were officials, diplomats, and representatives from the State Department, Congress, the Pentagon and the National Security Council. Ambassador Marmei opened the ceremony with greetings from President Kaljulaid.

The Ambassador bestowed presidential awards on three members of the audience.  Mr. James J. Townsend, Jr. received the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 3rd Class for his contribution to security cooperation.  Mr. Townsend recently retired from his position as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European NATO Policy.  His work in European and NATO policy began around 1990 and was instrumental in the ascension of the Baltic nations into NATO membership.  He expressed deep appreciation for his recognition as an ardent supporter and good friend of Estonia.

marmei-townsend

Ambassador Marmei presents award to Mr. Townsend (photo courtesy of Estonian Embassy)

Mr. Alexander Russell Vershbow was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 2nd Class to recognize his work to enhance security cooperation.  Mr. Vershbow was the U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 1998 to 2001, then served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2001 to 2005.  In 2009, he was appointed as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, where he was responsible, among other things, for U.S. policy toward NATO, including supporting the continuing evolution of Estonia from new member to solid ally.  His career in European policy began in 1994 when he directed European Affairs at the National Security Council.

The citizen diplomacy award went to an Estonian-American in the Northern Virginia community, Mr. Tanel Beeren.  He was recognized for his contribution to promotion of Estonian culture in the Washington region.

The ceremony underlined the significance of players behind the scenes who don’t always get recognized for getting the important work done.  It also looked ahead to Estonia’s 100th anniversary of independence next year with gratitude and optimism for continued success and cooperation.

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Advocacy

Atlantic Council Launch of Tallinn Manual 2.0

Estonian names remain in the forefront of cyber security, as demonstrated by the launch of the Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations.  The new volume was introduced this month at the Atlantic Council by members of the international team of experts that helped create it and other experts in the field.  It’s a relevant and comprehensive work at a time when cyber issues have become a major national security consideration.

sakkov-at-ac

NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence Director Sven Sakkov

 

The original Tallinn Manual was published in 2013 as a non-binding analysis of how existing international law pertains to cyber warfare and cyber conflicts.  It concentrated on cyber operations that were targeted at the state level and were significant enough to allow nations to respond in self-defense.  Since cyber attacks that don’t meet the threshold for armed response have become more prevalent, the updated edition is expanded to focus on a wider range of international law and cyber operations.

 

The drafting of the manual and its predecessor was led by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn.  The team of expert authors in international law and information technology came from member nations of the CCD COE.  Both editions of the manual were published by Cambridge University Press.

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Liis Vihul, Tallinn Manual 2.0’s Managing Editor

The launch was attended by several notable Estonians and friends of Estonia.  The Centre’s director, Mr. Sven Sakkov, former Estonia Ministry of Defence Undersecretary for Defence Policy, and the director of the Tallinn 2.0 initiative, Professor Michael Schmidt of the U.S. Naval War College and the University of Exeter, were among the presenters.  The Centre’s legal advisor, Ms. Liis Vihul, served as the manual’s Managing Editor and also briefed on its creation.  Former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, addressed the launch’s audience at the reception following the event.

The manual is intended as a reference source for nations’ legal advisors interested in the application of international law to cyber operations.  It provides agreed-to norms and principles informed by states and international organizations rather than actual legal code.  The authors were careful to capture all reasonable views on the issues to guide interpretation by states to help them make appropriate legal decisions on cases in their jurisdiction.

ilves-at-ac

Former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, speaking at the reception

The CCD COE is a research, education and training facility accredited by NATO.  It currently has 17 sponsoring member nations that staff and finance the Centre, and as such, it is not part of NATO’s military command structure.  The manual represents the views of its authors and is not an official publication of NATO, its member nations or any other state or organization.  More information on the Centre and manual is available at https://ccdcoe.org.  The write-up and webcast of the launch event is posted at Atlantic Council’s website under Recent Events.

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Advocacy

A Guide to Grassroots Advocacy for Estonia

As members of the 115th Congress settle into their new offices, it’s time for us to start thinking about how to make sure issues that impact Estonian security get those members’ attention.  EANC and the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) are stepping up our work on the Hill in 2017, and our efforts would get a big boost from parallel grassroots support.  There are a few things outlined here that we can already start focusing on.  If you are inclined to contact your Senators and Representative, we appreciate your support and provide information below and on our website to facilitate whatever action you choose to take.

There are a number of ways you can contact your Members of Congress (MoC).  Letters, e-mails and phone calls are the most common.   Several articles have been published recently indicating that phone calls to Congressional offices actually have more impact than written correspondence.  This New York Times article does a good job of explaining why and also how to make your calls as effective as they can be.   Voicing your issues in person – by visiting your MoC’s local office or attending any town hall meetings they host – can also get their attention, especially if you can get a group together.  You can look up your representatives and find links to their websites with local office information at whoismyrepresentative.com.

If you’re unsure of what to say, EANC and JBANC have drafted sample letters for you to use as a guide.  You may use the text in letters, e-mails or as talking points.  While the NYT article states that personal stories stand out more than scripted statements, it’s up to you to do what works best for your situation and comfort level.

One top EANC goal is to increase membership of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus (SBFC) and the House Baltic Caucus (HBC).   While neither caucus meets formally, by joining, MoCs pledge to support Baltic security and NATO unity.  The purpose of the caucuses is to maintain strong relationships with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; promote democratic principles and human rights; assist in strengthening free market economies in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and work to support legislation bolstering the defense of the Baltic countries.  Look for templates below and coming soon to  EANC’s website for your use in asking your MoCs to join.s-94-screenshot

The first piece of relevant legislation introduced this year is the Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017 (S.94).  It was submitted by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of nine colleagues. It proposes comprehensive sanctions legislation on Russia for their cyber intrusions, aggression, and destabilizing activities in the U.S. and around the world.  Please see the official press release for more information and inspiration for calling your Senators.

EANC appreciates your local efforts to further causes that support Estonian security and European unity.  We are working in a dynamic environment and action on multiple levels could help us achieve our goals.  If you have any questions about what you can do, please contact our Washington, DC Director, Karin Shuey, at karinshueyeanc@gmail.com.

SAMPLE LETTER FOR SENATE BALTIC FREEDOM CAUCUS:

The Honorable (Full Name)

United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                      February xx, 2017

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):

As your constituent and a member of the Baltic-American community, I ask that you join the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus (SBFC) in order to effectively represent the voices of Baltic-Americans in Congress. Please show your support for the advancement of U.S.-Baltic relations and security in Central and Eastern Europe by joining the SFBC and supporting appropriation of full funding ($3.4 billion) for the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), so that the U.S. and NATO allies are prepared for contingencies that may occur during Russia’s widening aggression against its neighbors.

Baltic-American constituents in your district remain active in promoting democratic principles and human rights and strongly support U.S. policies that bolster the defense of the Baltic countries and strengthen Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression. Joining the SFBC will demonstrate your commitment in promoting opportunities to strengthen the economic and political relationships between the U.S. and our NATO allies in Eastern Europe. Members of the bipartisan SBFC, formed in 1997, share an interest in issues related to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and the active transatlantic ties between the United States and these three NATO partners. The goal of the Caucus is to maintain strong relationships with the Baltic countries, promote healthy democracies free from terrorism, and assist these countries in strengthening free market economies.

Since the restoration of their independence from the USSR a quarter century ago, the Baltic countries have been steadfast allies of the United States. Baltic Americans have a special appreciation of democracy and individual freedoms. Our commitment is strengthened because of memories of the brutal Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which lasted for half a century. The United States’ policy during that period was to condemn that occupation and never to recognize the Soviet annexation. The Baltic-American communities worked very hard to achieve NATO membership for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. We are proud that they have been active participants in strengthening NATO, and that they remain strong adherents of the principles brought forth by this Alliance. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are active and capable contributors to our joint defense and defenders of Western standards and democracy. All three Baltic counties have already been contributing, or have committed to contribute, 2% of their GDP to defense spending.

For more information on the SBFC, please contact Erum Ibrahim Ali from Senator Durbin’s office at 202-224-2152. Thank you for your consideration of these requests.

Sincerely,

Name

Title

Your Address
Your Phone Number

SAMPLE LETTER FOR HOUSE BALTIC CAUCUS:

The Honorable (Full Name)

United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515                                           February xx, 2017

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):

As your constituent and a member of the Baltic-American community, I ask that you join the House Baltic Caucus (HBC) in order to effectively represent the voices of Baltic-Americans in Congress. Please show your support for the advancement of U.S.-Baltic relations and security in Central and Eastern Europe by joining the HBC and supporting appropriation of full funding ($3.4 billion) for the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), so that the U.S. and NATO allies are prepared for contingencies that may occur during Russia’s widening aggression against its neighbors.

Baltic-American constituents in your district remain active in promoting democratic principles and human rights and strongly support U.S. policies that bolster the defense of the Baltic countries and strengthen Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression. Joining the HBC will demonstrate your commitment in promoting opportunities to strengthen the economic and political relationships between the United States of America and our NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

Since the restoration of their independence from the USSR a quarter century ago, the Baltic countries have been steadfast allies of the United States. Baltic Americans have a special appreciation of democracy and individual freedoms. Our commitment is strengthened because of memories of the brutal Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which lasted for half a century. The United States’ policy during that period was to condemn that occupation and never to recognize the Soviet annexation. The Baltic-American communities worked very hard to achieve NATO membership for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. We are proud that they have been active participants in strengthening NATO, and that they remain strong adherents of the principles brought forth by this Alliance. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are active and capable contributors to our joint defense and defenders of Western standards and democracy. All three Baltic counties have already been contributing, or have committed to contribute, 2% of their GDP to defense spending.

For more information and resources on the HBC, please visit the website: http://housebalticcaucus.webs.com or contact either Jim Goldenstein with Rep. Shimkus (5-5271) or Jeff Lowenstein with Rep. Schiff (5-4176). Thank you for your consideration of these requests.

Sincerely,

Name

Title

Your Address
Your Phone Number

 

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