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Maryland Military Department 
and Estonian War Museum
signed Memorandum of Understanding
 
On November 17, Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh, the adjutant general of Maryland, hosted a ceremony for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Maryland Military Department and the Estonian War Museum at the 5th Regiment Armory’s Reckord Lounge in Baltimore, Md.

The signing of this historical document demonstrates the Maryland Military Department’s commitment to their State Partner and furthering the mutual goal of promoting their military history. 

The Maryland National Guard has been partnering with Estonia for more than 20 years. These types of mutual support agreements cements their friendship and mutual interests. 
 
(Photo courtesy Staff Sgt. Michael E. Davis Jr.)
 

Lithuanian parliamentarians 
met with 
JBANC 
 
Together with the Embassy of Lithuania, JBANC organized a meeting at the embassy on November 20 between a high-ranking delegation from the Lithuanian parliament (Andrius Kubilius, Gediminas Kirkilas, and Emanuelis Zingeris) and representatives of organizations that are closely tied to the topic of European security and stability.  

During the meeting the parliamentarians shared their impressions and thoughts of their visits to Congress and other U.S. institutions. JBANC's representatives spoke about the House Baltic Caucus, the Global Magnitsky Act, and about the joint efforts to increase NATO and U.S. presence in the region. Other representatives from the Estonian American National Council, Lithuanian American Council, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Ukrainian Congress Committee, and Ukrainian Working Group briefed the parliamentarians about their current activities.
Up: Second panel, Down left: Peteris Blumbergs and Bill Browder, Down right: First panel
(Photos: Top - second panel; Bottom - Peteris Blumbergs and Bill Browder; first panel. Photos by Raits Eglitis/ALA) 
 
JBANC held a seminar on Baltic Nordic
security and trade in New York City on December 4
 
(Washington, DC) - A seminar on “The Future of Baltic Nordic Security and Trade: Sustaining and Strengthening U.S. Engagement in the Region" took place in New York City on Friday, December 4, featuring leading officials from the Baltic diplomatic corps, key think tank representatives, and influential policy and advocacy figures. 

Opening remarks were given by the president of the American Latvian Association Pēteris Blumbergs, and by the ambassador and permanent representative of the Mission of the Republic of Latvia to the United Nations H.E. Jānis Mažeiks. 

On the first panel, Michael Weiss from the Daily Beast, Erik Brattberg from the McCain Institute for International Leadership, Eerik-Niiles Kross from the Estonian parliament, and Lane Darnell Bahl from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations addressed Baltic, Nordic, and U.S. concerns and cooperation in the new security environment. The panel was moderated by Andrew Stuttaford from the National Review. 

The second panel was highlighted by human rights advocate Bill Browder from the Hermitage Capital Management, who gave an update on Magnitsky legislation. Other speakers were Ilmārs Breidaks from the Embassy of Latvia to the U.S., Julius Pranevičius from the Consulate General of the Republic of Lithuania in New York,  and Andrij Dobriansky from the Ukrainian World Congress, who spoke about sustaining Baltic and regional economic growth in the context of the sanction and counter-sanction battle. The panel was moderated by Krista Altok Tassa from the Estonian-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

The closing remarks were given by Matti Prima from the Estonian American National Council and by Karl Altau from the Joint Baltic American National Committee. 
 
Photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHskqGM7uG

The event was organized by the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) and The American Latvian Association, Inc. (ALA). 
 
(Photos: Illinois constituent's petitionNikolajs Timrots and Erik Lazdins of ALYA delivering signed constituency letters to congressional offices; Matti Prima with Mark Milosch, Staff Director at the Helsinki Commission)

Baltic Grassroots in Action – Recent Efforts to Bolster Support for Baltics and Ukraine Intensify Across U.S.
 
Baltic-Americans have been rolling up their sleeves, taking the initiative, and getting to work on raising the Baltic profile, and relaying concerns to Congress about defense of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania against the Putin regimes ongoing aggression – particularly with respect to Ukraine. 

We give you three wonderful examples – the actions of the American Latvian Youth Association at their recent Congress in Michigan, the visit of an Estonian-American from New Jersey to his congressman’s office, and the petition by a group of Lithuanian-Americans in Illinois to gain new members to the House Baltic Caucus. 
JBANC applauds these actions and encourages others to share their efforts to make an impact!
 
American Latvian Youth Association takes action on Ukraine
 
Over Thanksgiving weekend, the American Latvian Youth Association (ALYA) held its annual Congress in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Erik Lazdins, ALYA Councilmember and former JBANC intern, and Andrejs Mantenieks presented a dual lecture on the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) and Russian foreign policy objectives.
 
The discussion included the historical trajectory of Russian aggression in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in the Baltic states and Ukraine. Lazdins stressed the need for a strong response to the crisis in Ukraine from the United States and NATO Allies. In an effort to push the Baltic-American agenda forward, Lazdins and Mantenieks conducted a grassroots political action, which included a letter writing campaign to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
 
Thanks to the efforts of their members, with the participation of the Latvian-American community, ALYA collected over 200 letters to Congress over the weekend event. The letters urged representatives to join the House Baltic Caucus, support the full and continued funding of the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), establish an official U.S. policy of non-recognition for the illegal annexation of Crimea, aid Ukraine in its struggle against Russian hostility, and pass legislation authorizing President Obama to sanction individual human rights offenders globally.
 
In an effort to politicize ALYA, JBANC Representative and ALYA Councilmember, Nikolajs Timrots, along with Lazdins and Mantenieks, introduced and passed two ALYA resolutions to politically mobilize the organization on Baltic issues, and to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.
 
Follow @ALJA_Politics on Twitter.
 
Estonian-American connections with New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith and Senator Cory Booker

Estonian American National Council board director and New Jersey resident Matti Prima paid a December 9 call to the office of his representative Chris Smith (R-NJ-4). Congressman Smith is chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, or Helsinki Commission). Prima met with Mark Milosch, Staff Director at the Commission, to address legislation related to the Baltic countries and Ukraine, and the status of H.R. 624, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which Rep. Smith introduced earlier this year. The bill currently has 54 co-sponsors, and directs the President to impose U.S. entry and property sanctions against foreign persons or entities involved in human rights abuses, including those responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky in Russia.  

Prima, together with EANC President Marju Rink-Abel, also visited with the office of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
 
Illinois Lithuanian-American group petitions for new House Baltic Caucus members
 
The Lithuanian-American Club of Central Illinois met in Springfield on December 5. At the meeting a petition was circulated and signed by 21 members of the club, commending Rep. John Shimkus and his leadership of the House Baltic Caucus, and also urging two other local Illinois congressmen, Reps. Darin LaHood and Rodney Davis, to consider joining the Caucus. JBANC thanks Sandy Baksys for helping to coordinate the action and sharing this information.
 
Photo: Building for the Future of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia 

Reconstruction of Latvian Museum of Occupation Needs to be Completed, and Not Delayed: Resolution of Platform of European Memory and Conscience 
 
At its annual meeting, the Council of Members of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience (PEMC) on November 19 in Wroclaw, Poland approved a resolution regarding the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. The press release and text of the resolution are below. JBANC is one of over 50 members of PEMC, bringing together public and private institutions and organizations from 13 EU Member States, Ukraine, Moldova, Iceland, Canada, and the United States. At the meeting, JBANC was represented by Managing Director Karl Altau.
 
Latvian Museum of Occupation under serious threat

Prague / Riga, 30 November 2015.  The Platform of European Memory and Conscience calls for international attention to the situation of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia whose existence is in jeopardy due to the current administration of the City of Riga. The internationally acclaimed Museum documents the 20th century totalitarian rule in Latvia. The Platform has sent letters to the heads of state of Latvia asking for help.
 
The administration of the City of Riga under Mayor Nils Ušakovs is deliberately protracting the untenable situation of the Museum. It has stopped the previously approved plans for expansion of the Museum into a new building. Surviving in its temporary quarters for several years now, the Museum has lost ¾ of its 100,000 annual visitors and is facing a threat of closing down for economic reasons.
 
The Platform adopted the enclosed resolution on the issue and sent letters to Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, Speaker of the Saeima Ināra Mūrniece and to Mayor Nils Ušakovs asking them to attend to the matter.
 
“There are various malicious strategies to prevent historical truth from being told. The question we need to ask is – who are the forces who do not want the public and especially the young generation to be reminded of the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Latvia and why are they doing it,” says Göran Lindblad, President of the Platform.
 
Resolution of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience
 
The Council of Members of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, representing 51 Member institutions and organisations in 18 countries at its annual meeting in Wroclaw, Poland on 19 November 2015, having assessed the present situation of the long-delayed Building for the Future of the internationally acclaimed Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, which belongs to and is operated by its founding Member, the Occupation Museum Association of Latvia, unanimously
 
- commends and expresses its gratitude to Latvian state institutions and high officials for their positive efforts and steady support for the completion of the reconstruction and extension project in time to fully recommence the Museum’s work by the 100th anniversary of the independence of Latvia in 2018;
 
- deplores, condemns and urges to cease the deliberate attempts by the authorities of the City of Riga to exploit legal pretexts and employ administrative manipulations to frustrate, thwart and delay the completion of the Museum’s Building for the Future.
 
More information:
Museum of the Occupations of Latvia 1940-1991: 
http://okupacijasmuzejs.lv/en
Platform of European Memory and Conscience: http://www.memoryandconscience.eu/
 

Edward Lucas spoke about energy policies in the Baltics and about cyber security in the context of Estonia
 
On December 2, the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) hosted an off-the-record discussion with Senior Vice President Edward Lucas (a senior editor at the Economist) on how the Ukraine war is impacting Central Eastern European (CEE) diversification efforts; and how U.S.-CEE cooperation on energy exports might strengthen the energy resilience of allies.

Later that day, Lucas spoke at the Hoover Institution in Washington about his new book Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internet. During his talk with the senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Benjamin Wittes, he mentioned several times the progress Estonia has made in transforming its country to be a digital and progressive society. Also, the discussion touched upon the dangers present on the Internet and what should be done to prevent cyber-attacks using the most successful defensive strategies.

Click here for the podcast of the event at Hoover Institute.
Copyright © JBANC 

JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association in the U.S., and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc. 

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