Central and East European Coalition

Established in 1994, the CEEC is composed of eighteen national, membership-based organizations representing Americans of 
Armenian, Belarusan, Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Georgian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, and Ukrainian descent.

A note on Biden Campaign Response to CEEC Questionnaire

(October 27, 2020) Earlier in October, the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) sent policy questions relating to the interests of its member organizations’ constituents to both the Trump and Biden campaign staffs. Topics included the current situation in Belarus, the role of the United States in NATO, U.S. relations with Russia, the Kremlin’s disinformation and hybrid warfare operations, and more.


To date, the Biden campaign has submitted its response, which is published below
. Publication of the response here in no way constitutes an endorsement of Vice President Biden’s candidacy. The information is provided strictly as a tool for readers to assess Biden’s policy views on the topics addressed. The Trump campaign’s response will be published promptly upon receipt.


For more background on the questionnaire, please visit
here

Biden Campaign Response to CEEC Questionnaire

To inform our voters on the candidates’ positions on our issues of interest, we respectfully request that the campaigns submit responses to the following questions:

  1. What is your position on the implementation of U.S. sanctions in response to the elections in Belarus and their aftermath?


As President, I will defend our values and stand with all those who share them. I stand with the people of Belarus, who are courageously demanding their democratic rights and freedoms, and I reiterate my call for Alexander Lukashenka to cease his regime’s violent repression of peaceful protesters, organize new elections open to international observers and free media, and release all political prisoners.


My administration will never shy away from standing up for democracy and human rights, and we will work with our allies and partners to speak with one voice in demanding these rights be respected. I support the expansion of U.S. sanctions on Belarusian officials and entities, in coordination with the EU and other like-minded countries, to pressure Lukashenka and his cronies to respect and honor the will of the Belarusian people. My administration will also engage with Belarusian democracy activists and expand existing support to independent media and civil society organizations working to create a more open and just Belarusian society.

  1. What are your plans for the future of U.S. commitment to NATO? Please include comments on your views of the ideal level of U.S. troop presence and capabilities in the European theater, and any withdrawals from Germany.


The American people are unquestionably safer when the United States actively leads our democratic alliances and engages in international organizations. For 70 years, NATO has been the essential foundation for transatlantic security and a force multiplier for advancing U.S. interests around the world. Today it remains vital to deterring our enemies, defending our allies and our democratic way of life, and promoting a rules-based international order. As President, I will recommit the United States to our alliances and to NATO’s bedrock principle of collective defense under Article 5.


The U.S. force posture in Europe, together with that of our allies, must be strong enough to ensure that NATO can credibly deter any adversary. It must also be able to manage crises, cooperate with partners, and deploy elsewhere if needed to defend American interests. President Trump surprised the Pentagon and our closest allies when -- with no notice -- he ordered U.S. forces to be drawn down from Germany. He treats many of our allies with disdain, and has erroneously said that Germany and other NATO member states “owe us a tremendous amount of money.”


As President, my decisions will be based on our national interest, not on personal vendettas. I will freeze the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Germany and the proposed Combatant Command relocations in Europe, pending a strategic review of our global force posture requirements. I will work with our allies to ensure the Alliance, and especially NATO’s eastern flank, has the capabilities needed to deter aggression and provide for the collective defense.

  1. What are your policy goals for U.S. relations with Russia? Please include any concerns you have regarding adherence, or lack thereof, to the numerous standing agreements that both nations have signed on to. Examples include: Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Helsinki Final Act of 1975, NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, and Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1994.


My administration will reverse the Trump administration’s disastrous policy towards Russia and stand up to Vladimir Putin’s egregious violations of other countries’ sovereignty, territorial integrity, and borders. First, we will re-invigorate and strengthen our alliances, particularly NATO, and recommit to upholding the bedrock principle of Article 5, which holds that “an attack on one is an attack on all.” In contrast to President Trump, who has dangerously and irresponsibly questioned whether the United States would come to the defense of its allies, we will work from day one to strengthen NATO’s collective deterrence and defense capabilities.


Second, we will not hesitate to impose costs on Russia whenever it violates another country’s sovereignty, as it is currently doing in Ukraine, and the United States will rally our democratic allies and partners to present Moscow with a unified stance that imposes severe consequences for such behavior.


Third, we will marshal the democratic community of nations to work together to reduce our vulnerabilities to Russia’s malign influence -- such as its disinformation, cyber, and dark money operations -- so that neither Russia nor any other authoritarian power can take advantage of our open, democratic institutions to undermine us from within.


Fourth, my administration will engage Russia from a position of strength. We will work to extend the New START Treaty and negotiate a comprehensive follow-on arms control agreement that includes other types of nuclear arms, such as non-strategic nuclear weapons. My administration will also seek to work with Russia on issues where U.S. and Russian interests potentially coincide, such as non-proliferation, countering climate change in the Arctic, and fighting infectious diseases.


My administration will seek to cooperate when it is clearly in our national interest, not just to “get along,” as President Trump likes to say. Finally, my administration will reach out and promote greater interaction and people-to-people contact between Americans and Russians, and especially Russian youth, many of whom embrace democratic values and chafe at Putin’s authoritarian kleptocracy.


  1. What is your position on sanctions against Russia with respect to both Ukraine and Crimea?


As Vice President, I played a leading role in building an international sanctions regime to push back against the Kremlin for its occupation of Crimea and invasion of the Donbas. As President, I will make clear that those sanctions must remain in place unless and until Moscow reverses those actions, and I will reinvigorate diplomatic efforts to implement the Minsk agreements to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. If Russian intransigence continues, the United States will work with our democratic allies and partners around the globe to increase the costs of Russia’s continuing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Just as important, my administration will strengthen U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including the provision of lethal weapons, to ensure the country has the means to defend itself against Russian aggression and to support its efforts to fight corruption and build a peaceful, prosperous, Western-oriented, democratic society. And just as the United States never recognized the Baltic states as part of the Soviet Union, my administration will recognize the Crimean Peninsula as sovereign Ukrainian territory.


  1. How do you see the role of the U.S. in countering Russian hybrid warfare in the Caucasus region, including the creeping occupation of Georgia’s sovereign territory?


In Georgia, Russia has transformed its invasion forces into occupation forces, as thousands of Russian military personnel occupy approximately 20 percent of Georgian territory in the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A gradual Russian “borderization” and “creeping annexation” process has sought to expand this footprint. Russia’s hybrid warfare in places like Georgia and Ukraine is part of a larger Russian effort to undermine the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of countries in Europe and Eurasia, stealing from them the opportunity to achieve their Euro-Atlantic integration goals.


The United States must work to counter this Russian aggression. My administration would revitalize U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict and work to address Russia’s creeping occupation. I would also work with Congress to ensure continued funding for the European Deterrence Initiative to bolster the security and defense capacity of U.S. partners such as Georgia and push back against Russia’s activities and hybrid warfare. Enhanced defense training, to include training focused on conventional territorial defense and tools to counter Russia’s use of hybrid warfare, would be a priority focus of U.S. bilateral defense assistance to Georgia.

  1. What is your stance on disinformation coming into the U.S. and the CEE nations from sources within Russia and elsewhere, and the misinformation being fed to the Russian people about the U.S. and its allies?


Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of undermining public faith in U.S. democratic processes and to boost Donald Trump’s chance of being elected. According to the U.S. Intelligence Community, Russia continues this interference to this day in the United States, the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and beyond. Make no mistake: disinformation is a threat to democracies everywhere, and my administration will make countering it a priority.


We will pursue a comprehensive response that not only involves our national security community, but works with all levels of government to build societal resilience and reduce our vulnerabilities to foreign interference. We will work with rights groups and tech companies to ensure that social media platforms are bolstering, not undermining, democracy. My administration will also coordinate with Congress to reform our campaign finance laws and create more transparency in financial markets to shine light on the illicit funding of online influence campaigns. And we will work with our allies in Europe, who are intimately familiar with the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns and their effects, to impose costs on those who seek to undermine our citizens’ democratic choice.


Finally, my campaign and my administration will never accept political dirt from a foreign government or deliberately amplify disinformation, hacked materials, or deep fakes. We will lead by example, working to restore trust in our officials and our government.


  1. How would you characterize the effect of the Putin regime’s policies toward central and eastern Europe on U.S. national interests? Are there Kremlin policies that you consider to be contrary to strengthening democracy, human rights, and stability in the region?

The United States has long pursued the goal of a Europe “whole, free, and at peace,” because we know that our security and prosperity are tied to that of our European allies and partners. Unfortunately, Russia under Vladimir Putin has sought to weaken and divide Europe, whether via outright aggression in Ukraine and Georgia, or through hybrid tactics such as disinformation and election interference, cyber attacks, weaponized corruption, and assassinations. Through these efforts, Russia seeks to undermine European unity, democratic institutions, and multilateral organizations like the EU and NATO. Russia also seeks to destabilize its neighbors politically, economically, and militarily to keep them dependent on Russia and prevent them from pursuing the economic and security arrangements of their choosing, particularly if that choice is to join the EU and NATO.


A Biden-Harris administration will stand with our European allies and partners against Russian aggression and malign behavior. Just as it has since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States will support the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of our European allies and partners and work to bolster democracy and respect for human rights. And for those that aspire to join the EU and/or NATO, the United States will support those aspirations and the reforms necessary to achieve those goals. Just as important, we will work with our European allies and partners to strengthen and build the resilience of our democratic institutions, while remaining ready to impose costs on Russia for future malign behaviors.

  1. Considering the Kremlin's long history of using gas and oil as a means of political and economic pressure, what is your position on U.S. assistance to ensure energy security and independence in the CEE region, to include working to end the Nord Stream 2 project, and supporting the Three Seas Initiative?

The United States has a tremendous stake in Europe’s energy security. It is important that U.S. allies, including in Central and Eastern Europe, are not dependent on any single actor, especially malign actors, for their energy. I believe that Nord Stream 2 is detrimental to European energy security, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe.


I strongly support efforts to ensure a competitive and transparent energy market in Central and Eastern Europe to force Gazprom to act competitively. These efforts should include working with European partners, including Germany, to diversify energy supplies to Central and Eastern Europe. My administration will also work with the Three Seas Initiative to support North-South infrastructure development. In addition, we will urge cooperation to promote clean energy options to reduce dependence on gas, helping the environment while at the same reducing dependence on Russian energy.


I fully support Ukraine’s efforts to rid itself of corruption and to reform its energy sector. A transparent and competitive energy sector is important to ensure that Ukraine remains free. It is imperative that Gazprom comply with its new gas agreement with Ukraine.


Central and East European Coalition Questions for the 2020 Presidential Candidates

The Central and East European Coalition is comprised of 18 national membership organizations that represent more than 22 million Americans of Central and Eastern European (CEE) descent. As we represent communities in the United States with heritage from countries that neighbor Russia, our constituents have a vested interest not only in U.S. relations with central and eastern Europe, but also the U.S.-Russia relationship, and U.S. policy toward the region. Since 1996, we have sent questionnaires to candidates on a fully nonpartisan and inclusive basis.

To inform our voters on the candidates’ positions on our issues of interest, we respectfully request that the campaigns submit responses to the following questions:

  1. What is your position on the implementation of U.S. sanctions in response to the elections in Belarus and their aftermath?
  2. What are your plans for the future of U.S. commitment to NATO? Please include comments on your views of the ideal level of U.S. troop presence and capabilities in the European theater, and any withdrawals from Germany.
  3. What are your policy goals for U.S. relations with Russia? Please include any concerns you have regarding adherence, or lack thereof, to the numerous standing agreements that both nations have signed on to. Examples include: Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Helsinki Final Act of 1975, NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, and Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1994.
  4. What is your position on sanctions against Russia with respect to both Ukraine and Crimea?
  5. How do you see the role of the U.S. in countering Russian hybrid warfare in the Caucasus region, including the creeping occupation of Georgia’s sovereign territory?
  6. What is your stance on disinformation coming into the U.S. and the CEE nations from sources within Russia and elsewhere, and the misinformation being fed to the Russian people about the U.S. and its allies?
  7. How would you characterize the effect of the Putin regime’s policies toward central and eastern Europe on U.S. national interests? Are there Kremlin policies that you consider to be contrary to strengthening democracy, human rights, and stability in the region?
  8. Considering the Kremlin's long history of using gas and oil as a means of political and economic pressure, what is your position on U.S. assistance to ensure energy security and independence in the CEE region, to include working to end the Nord Stream 2 project, and supporting the Three Seas Initiative?

American Hungarian Federation • American Latvian Association in the U.S. • Armenian Assembly of America • Belarusan-American Association • Bulgarian Institute for Research and Analysis • Congress of Romanian Americans • Washington Chapter Czechoslovak National Council of America • Estonian American National Council • Georgian Association in the USA • Hungarian American Coalition • Joint Baltic American National Committee • Lithuanian American Council • Lithuanian American Community • National Federation of American Hungarians • Polish American Congress • Slovak League of America • Ukrainian Congress Committee of America • Ukrainian National Association


ceecoalition.us | 1612 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006 | ceecoalition@gmail.com


CEEC Statement on Belarus

Washington, DC (October 22, 2020) -- Since the fraudulent presidential elections of August 9th in Belarus, there have been no signs of Aliaksandr Lukashenka stepping down. An estimated 15,000 Belarusians have been detained since the beginning of this crisis, security forces have consistently used force against protestors, and there are continued reports of widespread torture and abuse in jails.


This past weekend, on October 18th, tens of thousands of citizens peacefully gathered and participated in pro-democracy rallies in Minsk and across Belarus. As of October 19th, 280 more people were unlawfully detained, of whom 237 people remain in detention. Meanwhile, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is in forced exile in Lithuania, and the Coordination Council have renewed their call for Lukashenka to leave his post by October 25th or face a nationwide strike.


The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) stands with the peaceful and freedom-seeking people of Belarus in their transition to democracy and against the dictatorship of Lukashenka. We support their renewed call for Lukashenka to step down and the continued nonviolent assembly of Belarusians to reclaim their right to free and fair elections. Most importantly, we strongly condemn violence of any kind.


CEEC strongly urges the international community, including the United States to: support the call for Lukashenka to resign, continue to condemn the use of force against peaceful protestors by security forces, and call for the immediate release of those who have been wrongly imprisoned.


The world is watching.


The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) was established in 1994 and represents more than 20 million American voters whose heritage lies in this region. Its member organizations cooperate in calling attention to issues of mutual concern, especially as regards United States policy toward Central and East Europe. The CEEC regularly shares its concerns and ideas with the United States Congress and Administration.


American Hungarian Federation • American Latvian Association in the U.S. • Armenian Assembly of America • Belarusan-American Association • Bulgarian Institute for Research and Analysis • Congress of Romanian Americans • Washington Chapter Czechoslovak National Council of America • Estonian American National Council • Georgian Association in the USA • Hungarian American Coalition • Joint Baltic American National Committee • Lithuanian American Council • Lithuanian American Community • National Federation of American Hungarians • Polish American Congress • Slovak League of America • Ukrainian Congress Committee of America • Ukrainian National Association


ceecoalition.us | c/o Polish American Congress, 1612 K Street NW Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20006 | ceecoalition@gmail.com


Viktoras Daukšas has more than 13 years of experience in development of online technologies. A physicist by education he is also a creative problem solver, helping organisations to tune internal processes and deliver outstanding platforms. Viktoras has worked on development of most popular and successful e-services in the Baltic states, including the online platform of one of the biggest media outlets. He is also an ardent advocate of IT progress and gladly shares his experience in conferences and other public events.

Last 3 years Viktoras leads Debunk EU. 


About Debunk EU

Debunk   EU   is   an   independent   technology   think   tank   and   non-governmental   organization   that researches  disinformation  and   runs  educational   media  literacy  campaigns.   Debunk   EU conducts disinformation analysis in the Baltic states, as well as in the United States and Northern  Macedonia together with the partners. Debunk EU was noticed by such media giants as “The Financial Times” and “Deutsche Welle”. The organisation has presented its activities in 17 countries, including the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Serbia, etc.


The CEEC 2020 Autumn policy paper is published! 
For more informed, please visit here.

CEEC Statement on Belarus

 

(August 20, 2020) -- The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) expresses deep concerns regarding the fraudulent elections in Belarus held on August 9, 2020, as well as the violent crackdown against unarmed and peaceful protesters throughout that country.  This is yet another tragic mark in the long record of systematic human rights abuses by the dictatorial regime of Alexander Lukashenka. 


By all indications, Lukashenka lost the election and cannot be considered the legitimate President of the Republic of Belarus. 
 
The CEEC calls upon all relevant branches of the United States government to: 

 

  • Refuse to recognize the results of the fraudulent election of August 9;
  • Demand that Belarus hold new, free, and fair elections, with independent, international observers to ensure transparency;
  • Sanction all individuals responsible for election fraud and mistreatment of peaceful protesters under the Belarus Democracy Act and the Global Magnitsky Act; 
  • Demand an investigation into the state-sponsored crackdown and the immediate release of all political prisoners; 
  • Block any election meddling or use of force by the Russian Federation.


Injustice against one is injustice against all. The CEEC will continue to stand for a free, sovereign, independent, and democratic Belarus.


The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) was established in 1994 and represents more than 20 million American voters whose heritage lies in this region. Its member organizations cooperate in calling attention to issues of mutual concern, especially as regards United States policy toward Central and East Europe. The CEEC regularly shares its concerns and ideas with the United States Congress and Administration.

Letter to President Trump on Troop Withdrawal from Germany - July 15, 2020 

 

The President

The White House

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:


The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), representing over 20 million Americans of central and eastern European heritage, is writing to express our concern over the prospect of withdrawing large numbers of American troops from Germany. Such a move would directly weaken the security of frontline states like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland – and of the United States and the rest of NATO by extension; reduce U.S. influence in Europe; and embolden Russian President Putin to continue or increase his aggressive policies that threaten European democracy and transatlantic security.


These U.S. forces in Germany are what give operational credibility to American and NATO forces operating out of Poland and the Enhanced Forward Presence battalions in the Baltic nations. Many members of our communities have served in the U.S. armed forces, often in the European theater, and understand that Germany holds a unique position in the transatlantic alliance. Cleary, it has not yet increased its defense spending to the 2% threshold members pledged over ten years at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales. At the same time, the German government has allowed the U.S. and other allies to build bases, airfields, hospitals and communities, and host tens of thousands of servicemembers and their families, on German soil. This is an indispensable contribution to the success of NATO and the deterrence the alliance has enforced since 1949. The infrastructure and force presence established in Germany cannot be reduced or replicated elsewhere without compromising the military power they have come to represent.


NATO’s continued success depends on solidarity and strengthening the trust and relationships built among its allies over seven decades. Withdrawing U.S. forces from Germany would gravely undermine that trust and those relationships. The CEEC calls for U.S. policy and action that uphold the long history of American leadership in NATO to ensure that transatlantic security remains strong and effective. To this end, we ask that U.S. force levels in Germany remain at their current levels or higher.


The CEEC was established in 1994 and represents more than 20 million American voters whose heritage lies in this region. Its member organizations cooperate in calling attention to issues of mutual concern, especially as regards United States policy toward Central and East Europe. The CEEC regularly shares its concerns and ideas with the United States Congress and Administration.


We thank you for your consideration on this vitally important issue to U.S. national security. Please contact the undersigned at karinshueyeanc@gmail.com with any questions or comments.


On behalf of the CEEC,


Karin A. Shuey

Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Washington, DC Director

Estonian American National Council


Cc: Secretary of Defense

Secretary of State

Chairman and Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee

Chairman and Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee

Statement regarding the E&C Joint Subcommittee Hearing on Disinformation

Washington, DC (June 22, 2020) ---- The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) welcomes and strongly supports the June 24 discussion on online disinformation, announced by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.


The CEEC stresses that fighting disinformation and promoting media literacy is crucial in the fast-changing media environment. CEEC members share much experience with dealing with and identifying the distorting effects of Russian disinformation.


In fighting disinformation, coordination and information-sharing is key, because many of the tactics and tools are similar across the world, no matter the geographical borders. That is why the CEEC encourages exchanges of best practices and even stronger cooperation between the United States and NATO, including efforts, for instance, within the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, based in Riga, Latvia.


We encourage strong U.S. cooperation with European allies where we have seen good examples of work in exposing Russian disinformation and false narratives. For instance, the European Union's External Action Service Task Force, dedicated to exposing Russian disinformation, provides new information and analysis on a regular basis.


In fighting disinformation, accountability of social media platforms is also crucial. Therefore, the CEEC supports a unified response within the U.S. and its transatlantic allies in NATO and Europe, in terms of coordinating the actions towards holding social media companies accountable, from both a legal framework and practical approach. A common Code of Practice against disinformation, currently in place within the European Union, could be one of such examples for cooperation.


CEEC Statement on the 75th Anniversary of the
Elbe Meeting and the End of the
Second World War in Europe

May 6, 2020

Washington, DC


On April 25, 2020, the White House released a Joint Statement by President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Meeting on the Elbe. In honor of the May 8th anniversary of the end of World War II, the CEEC objects to this statement and calls for the United States government to recognize the anniversary’s tragic historical significance as it marked the beginning of 50 years of oppression for the nations of our heritage.

In the statement, both parties highlighted the “historic meeting between American and Soviet troops, who shook hands on the damaged bridge over the Elbe River…herald[ing] the decisive defeat of the Nazi regime.” In addition, the statement conveys “the 'Spirit of the Elbe' [as] an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause.”

The CEEC is alarmed over the statement’s disregard of the brutal legacy of the Soviet Union, its enabling of the Kremlin’s historical revisionism, and its failure to recognize the Putin regime’s revanchism in Europe. We find the statement to be inconsistent with a committed stance against Moscow’s ongoing antagonism toward the U.S. and its allies. 

We recognize that the end of Hitler and Nazism was a historic victory for the U.S., Europe, and the world. We also realize that nations across the globe today must work together to coordinate efforts against pandemics and other threats to the human race. However, this joint statement with Putin on the legacy of WWII fails on a number of fronts.

The statement does not include historical context acknowledging that the Allies’ partnership with the Soviet Union precipitated almost 50 years of Moscow's subjugation of half of Europe. Under the totalitarian rule of the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern European nations suffered rampant human rights abuses, political and economic corruption, and loss of fundamental freedoms.

Indeed, the statement enables the Kremlin’s dangerous historical revisionism that seeks to validate the Soviet Union and its post-Soviet incarnation as a partner to build “trust” with. We must remember the hegemony that the Soviets wrought in Europe, and how Americans led the West in the Cold War against it for nearly half a century. We must not let the U.S. be complicit in the Putin regime's false narrative of the Soviet Union’s legacy.

In the context of this legacy, the statement also fails to acknowledge the Putin regime’s calculated foreign policy to undermine U.S. interests and dominate democracies at its borders and around the globe. Putin has called the collapse of the Soviet empire “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” In noting the U.S. and Russia “put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause … to confront the most important challenges of the 21st century,” the statement in fact facilitates the military and political revanchism over Europe that Putin continues to plot.

Today, Putin’s regime continues to antagonize the U.S. and its allies in Europe through a hybrid war of disinformation, election interference, cyber-attacks, and protracted occupation of parts of Ukraine and Georgia. It threatens the peace and stability that American leadership has enabled through decades of investment and partnership after WWII. We cannot afford to “put aside differences” of principle, rule of law, and aggressive actions.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, the CEEC calls for U.S. policy and action that uphold democratic values and the long history of American leadership in protecting them. We urge President Trump to place those values ahead of engaging with a regime that fails to respect the sovereignty of other nations, promotes the corrupt legacy of a failed state, and continues to wage aggression against the U.S. and its allies. 


CEEC Advocacy Day


June 13, 2019



The Central and East European Coalition is holding an advocacy day to meet with Senators and Representatives from DC, Maryland and Virginia. Local DC area community members are encouraged to join us as constituents to discuss issues important to U.S. policy for the CEE region.


#CEECAdvocacy2019


RSVP: jbanc@jbanc.org

116th Congress Policy Brief 
Spring 2019 (effective as of March 25th)

The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), representing more than 20 million Americans whose heritage lies in that region, regularly highlights legislation to share its concerns and ideas with the United States Congress and Administration. The legislation listed below reflects our concerns for the region and we advocate for the support of our Senators and Representatives.

CEEC Advocacy Week - September 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2018


Washington, DC (CEEC) – During the week of September 17th, The Central and Eastern European Coalition (CEEC) will hold a timely in district advocacy week. This endeavor is especially critical considering the recent NATO Summit.


NATO remains salient to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to deter threats from the Russian Federation. CEE members in NATO provide key support and a rising number (Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania) are providing 2% of their GDP towards defense spending to address the new realities. The Eastern flank of Europe remains nevertheless exposed to the Putin regime’s continuous aggressive disregard for international law and attempts to disrupt the post-WWII liberal international order.


The goal for this advocacy week is to encourage Members of Congress to continue their support for the CEE region. Specific items include supporting the recently introduced Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act 2018 (S.3336) and full implementation of all existing sanctions legislation; continued support for military cooperation with CEE nations; enhancing military assistance to nations occupied by Russia; and reaffirming U.S. support for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in their efforts to retain political sovereignty and territorial integrity.


The CEEC encourages the active participation of all our communities in promoting the need for greater U.S. foreign policy engagement in Central and Eastern Europe. This advocacy week will provide an opportunity for members of our communities to meet and advocate issues of mutual interest.


For further information, please contact the CEEC via email at ceecoalition@gmail.com or by calling (301) 340-1954.


Established in 1994, the Central and Eastern European Coalition is comprised of 18 nationwide organizations representing more than 20 million Americans who trace their heritage to that part of the world. 


Central and East European Coalition Questions Controversial Concert


Last month, an event titled “A Concert for Unity” was held at the Washington National Cathedral.  It was billed as an invitation-only affair presented in cooperation with the Embassy of the Russian Federation.  The concert announcement listed sponsors including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, among other, less prominent non-profit organizations whose mission statements assert support for the arts, Russian culture, democracy and/or religious freedom. The full announcement is available at wilsoncenter.org.  

The concert caught the attention of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) due to the controversial background of the artists listed.  Two of the featured performers are known agents of Putin’s campaign of economic and cultural influence to promote Putin's Russia and normalize relations with the Kremlin.  Conductor Valeri Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev are both on record endorsing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and occupation of Crimea, and performed in Syria while Russian warplanes were bombing Aleppo. Gergiev also performed in Georgia days after the 2008 Russian invasion, effectively endorsing ethnic cleansing of Georgians.

The CEEC considered the event an affront to the values of its member organizations and was surprised that the Kennan Institute and Kennedy Center would lend their names in support. Washington Post reporting indicated that the event was funded by a DC socialite who has a history of promoting cultural understanding between the U.S. and Russia, and that the Kennedy Center supported the event in name only.  Even so, the CEEC has pursued the matter further by writing to three institutions – the Kennan Institute, the Kennedy Center and the National Cathedral – expressing dismay and requesting more information from the leader of each regarding their rationale for backing the event.

While the CEEC understands that the aim of the event may have been to keep politics and cultural pursuits separate, this message would have been more effective if the event’s benefactor and featured artists didn’t have clear political ties. These artists and the source of the event’s funding certainly did according to Washington Post article linked above. 

The CEEC hopes that the institutions in question will respond to its letters and will publish any pertinent updates as they are received. The organization was established in 1994 to coordinate the efforts of ethnic organizations whose members continue to maintain strong cultural, economic, and political ties to the countries of central and eastern Europe.  It represents Americans of Armenian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Georgian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, and Ukrainian descent.  Its member organizations, including the Estonian American National Council, cooperate in calling attention to issues of mutual concern, especially regarding United States policy toward Central and East Europe.  


By Karin Shuey, theEstonian American National Council (EANC)



The

Central and East European Coalition

invites you to a policy seminar

Russia on NATO’s Doorstep:

The West's Response to the

Kremlin's Wargames

to examine the execution, outcomes and aftermath of Russia’s large-scale

Zapad 2017 military exercise


Confirmed speakers:

Ambassador Kurt Volker,  Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations

Stephen Blank, American Foreign Policy Council Senior Fellow for Russia

Eitvydas Bajarunas, Ambassador-at-Large for Hybrid Threats, Lithuanian MFA
Alex Tiersky, Global Security and Political-Military Affairs Advisor, U.S. Helsinki Commission

Invited speakers (responses pending):

John Lenczowski, President, Institute of World Politics

Coalition Moderator: Mamuka Tsereteli, Georgian Association in the U.S.A.


Wednesday September 27, 2017
                                                                        3:30-5:30 p.m.
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
Room SVC-201

CEEC Statement on Sen. John McCain











 CEEC and it's organizations have often met with Sen. McCain over the years.


July 27, 2017 


In light of the unexpected recent news about his health, the Central and East European Coalition wishes Sen. John McCain well in his fight with cancer. We express thanks to the Senator for his dedicated support for allies in Europe. A great friend to the region, and an outstanding public servant, his record upholds American values, and he serves as a role model for all. 

 Sincerely, 

The Central East and European Coalition



[The CEEC has submitted the following questions to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in advance of the January 11, 2017 nomination hearing of Mr. Rex Wayne Tillerson

of Texas, to be Secretary of State]


Questions for the Senate Hearing to Confirm the

Nomination for Secretary of State

2017


The Central and East European Coalition is comprised of 18 national membership organizations that represent more than 22 million Americans who trace their heritage to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We advocate for issues of key importance and interest to our respective constituencies, in particular matters that affect the stability and well-being of Central and Eastern Europe as well as U.S. strategic interests in the region.

 

  1. As Secretary of State, what would your strategy be to deal with Russian aggression in Ukraine and other Russia-related threats in Central and Eastern Europe?  How do you propose addressing Russia's perceived "spheres of influence" or national interests versus another country's territorial integrity and national interests?  What options would you employ to achieve Russia’s withdrawal from lands it unlawfully controls, such as Crimea, eastern Ukraine, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria?

 

2. What is your position on the sanctions against Russia with respect to both Ukraine and Crimea?

 

3. How do you view NATO’s role in countering Russian aggression? What is your position on maintaining U.S./NATO equipment and troops permanently in CEE? Please provide specifics.

 

4. Where do you stand on NATO enlargement, to include countries such as Georgia and Ukraine? 

 

5. What is your position on the Visa Waiver Program’s expansion to include other CEE countries, such as Poland? How would you make that happen?

 

6. Considering Russia's long history of using gas and oil as means of political and economic pressure, what is your position on U.S. assistance to ensure energy security and independence in the CEE region?


7. What should the Administration's priorities be on countering and exposing foreign disinformation, cyber-, and information warfare? How can the U.S. be more effective in fighting on this front? What interagency efforts are needed to be more successful?


8. What is your position on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?  Are you in favor of moving forward with these negotiations? If so, what do you think are the key provisions that would benefit the U.S.?


9. Do you consider Russia’s policies toward Central and Eastern Europe as being inimical or at least potentially inimical to U.S. national interests? If so, what concrete Russian policies do you consider as being contrary to U.S. geo-political interests in the region. How will the Trump administration address Russian policies in furtherance of its plans to make America great again?


10. Do you believe that U.S. interests are best served and cement long-standing friendships when Washington publicly lectures Central and Eastern European NATO allies about their internal matters, as the current Administration has done?


11. As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States plays a critical role in maintaining stability in the South Caucasus region through its mediation of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. While OSCE Co-Chairs have determined there is no military solution to the conflict, Azerbaijan continues to violate the 1994/5 cease-fire agreements and has committed ISIS-style atrocities. How will you hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions and ensure a peaceful and just resolution to this conflict?


12. 2015 marked the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, which was condemned as a crime against humanity by the Allied Powers as it occurred, but which Turkey denies to this day. Pope Francis publicly affirmed the Armenian Genocide stating it is an open wound that must be healed. What steps will you take to end its denial and reaffirm the proud chapter in U.S. diplomatic history to help save the survivors of the first genocide of the twentieth century?

CEEC Hosts Successful Policy Forum on Russia’s Information War

By Karin Shuey

(Washington, DC - October 3, 2016) --- The Central and East European Coalition hosted a timely and substantive event on Thursday, September 15, to discuss the topic “Russia’s Info War:  What is the Impact?”  A panel of four distinguished experts shared their views of and experiences with the issue.  Panel members were David Ensor, former Voice of America Director; Jeffrey Gedmin, former director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); Liz Wahl, former correspondent for RT America; and Marius Laurinavicius, Hudson Institute Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Fellow. The panel was moderated by Mamuka Tsereteli of the Georgian Association in the U.S.A. and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Discussion of the problem revolved around several themes, including declining journalistic standards, our flawed understanding of Russia’s strategic goals, and lack of clarity on U.S. goals.  The speakers noted that we are living in a post-factual world where we’re becoming numb to shock value.  The rules of journalism and regard for truth that guided the news media in the past are losing significance while public trust of the media and discrimination regarding reliable sources are also fading.


On the Kremlin’s goals, it was noted that propaganda has always been a part of Russian and Soviet military doctrine.  Russia calls its latest arsenal new generation warfare, fighting a total war on numerous fronts, to include political, economic, energy, cyber and information, in addition to more conventional military operations.  The speakers saw a gap in U.S. policy that doesn’t fully recognize the broad extent of Putin’s aggression or his efforts to divide and weaken Europe and minimize or eliminate U.S. influence in the region.


Another U.S. shortcoming was identified as our loss of what we stand for.  Putin may be playing a weak hand, but he’s finding his way because we’ve lost ours.  One aspect of this is our still treating as valid agreements that Russia broke long ago.  We need to clarify our foreign policy goals and employ the right tools, rooted in accurate, reliable info.  The recent trend in rising relativism is diluting our values and objectivity.


The event concluded with proposed steps for moving forward.  Renewed confidence in the media and making facts matter again, among the producers of the news and consumers, was a top concern.  One speaker observed that Putin must know Russia’s population is interested in the truth; otherwise he wouldn’t expend so much effort on containing and oppressing it.  There’s a large audience for RFE/RL and local media outlets to use the internet to present objective truth in an effort to counteract the Kremlin’s control over state media.   While there was consensus that recovering objectivity and values could be a long-term battle, on a more positive note, Western governments are growing more aware of the problems and working on effective ways to address them.


The CEEC was established to coordinate the efforts of ethnic organizations whose members continue to maintain strong cultural, economic, political, and religious ties to the countries of Central and East Europe.  It represents Americans of Armenian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Georgian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, and Ukrainian descent.  Its member organizations cooperate in calling attention to issues of mutual concern, especially as regards United States policy toward Central and East Europe.


Panelists from left: Marius Laurinavicius, Jeffrey Gedmin, Mamuka Tsereteli, David Ensor, Liz Wahl.

CEEC Statement on NATO

The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), representing more than 20 million Central and Eastern European Americans, strongly backs the United States' continued unconditional commitment to upholding the NATO Treaty as well as U.S. support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all Central and Eastern European nations. Our organization stands firm in its belief that America's close cooperation with all NATO allies and partners is fundamental to ensuring U.S. and European security. The CEEC urges both the current and future Administrations to continue developing allied relations with all NATO members and transatlantic partners, and to take such action as deemed necessary to maintain security of the Alliance, including the European Reassurance Initiative. 


The renewed aggressive behavior and actions of Russia against Central and Eastern European nations have raised the importance of NATO’s credibility and cohesiveness for regional stability. In February 2016, then-NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove stated at a hearing of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee that "Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies and partners.”  Earlier this year the CEEC sponsored a policy forum on NATO’s stance on Russia on Capitol Hill. A major theme of our discussion characterized Russia’s increasing aggression since 2008 not only in terms of fanning regional conflicts but as a fundamental assault on the post-World War II international order.

At the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, NATO stated it was fully prepared to defend the alliance and pledged an increase in military spending, in response to Russia’s unpredictable and aggressive behavior in the region. The CEEC believes the commitment by the United States to NATO countries should be based on collective defense, shared values, and democratic principles, as well as support for regional partners. We have, and continue to support the principle of NATO’s Open Door policy, for all willing and qualified nations. 


The Central and Eastern European region is facing a multitude of threats from Russia. It is imperative for NATO members and partners to share collective knowledge in key security areas for combating a multitude of hybrid war forms, including cyber, media and economic manipulation, and destabilization in energy security. The CEEC supports U.S. continued commitment and leadership in addressing these threats.

The security of the United States lies in the peaceful expansion of democracy, not in the appeasement of aggressor states making imperial claims. Proactive U.S. leadership is vital to NATO’s continued effectiveness, to protect peace and security in Europe. The crisis driven by Russia in Central and Eastern Europe, and in Ukraine specifically, will not just go away. In an informationally interconnected and economically interdependent world, the United States must take the lead in promoting international norms and consolidating geopolitical stability.


1612 K Street, NW, Suite 1200 Washington, D.C. 20006 


CEEC Policy Seminar on
"NATO's Stance on Russia - Vision or Reaction?"

Opening Remarks: Marju Rink-Abel, Estonian American National Council
Keynote Address: Dr. Michael Carpenter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
Speakers:
Kurt Volker, McCain Institute, former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO
Mindaugas Zickus, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Lithuania
Damian Murphy, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 
Moderator: Mamuka Tsereteli, Georgian Association in the U.S.A.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
4:30 - 6:30 p.m. Discussion
6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Reception 
Dirksen Senate Office Building - room 106

To RSVP:
ceecoalition@gmail.com or jbanc@jbanc.org
The region of Central and Eastern Europe is currently experiencing stress from a number of sources.  The most serious one is that the peace and stability attained after the collapse of the Soviet Union are again severely threatened.  Events in Ukraine are the most visible, but they are by far not the only troubling developments.  The goals of building and sustaining democracy require ongoing implementation of economic and political reforms, such as fighting corruption. The current situation in Central and Eastern Europe is of major concern to Americans of Central and East European descent.  The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) is an alliance of U.S.-based ethnic organizations representing over 20 million such Americans.  

A number of Members of Congress and their staffs have recently visited the region. The CEEC is organizing a briefing session in the Capitol Visitor Center, on September 16, 2015, during which Members and staff have been asked to share their thoughts about visits to the region – why it was important to make the visits, with whom they met, what were their impressions, what was accomplished, what follow-up is expected, etc.  Thus, we kindly invite you to attend.

The briefing session will begin at 4:45 p.m. and will last till 6 p.m.  The briefing will take place in CVC (House) Room 200.  Constituents from various CEEC organizations will be in attendance to ask questions and add their views.

For further information and to RSVP, please contact Michael Sawkiw, Jr., Director at the Ukrainian National Information Service (unis@ucca.org, tel. 202-547-0018), or Karl Altau, Managing Director, Joint Baltic American National Committee (jbanc@jbanc.org, tel. 301-340-1954).

Sincerely,

Karl Altau
--------------

On Behalf of the Central and East European Coalition