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JBANC Commemorates Black Ribbon Day
 
On Tuesday, August 23, 2016, JBANC commemorated Black Ribbon Day at the Victims of Communism Memorial. The event remembered the victims of Nazism and Communism on the day when the fateful Molotov-Ribbentrop (Hitler-Stalin) Pact was signed. About fifty people attended the commemoration, including representatives from five embassies – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. This year was the tenth commemoration observed at the VOC Memorial, after its dedication in 2007.
 

Capitol Hill Briefings with Baltic Future Leaders

 
For the third consecutive year on August 4, 2016, JBANC helped organize two great briefings on Capitol Hill with Baltic Future Leaders, visiting the United States courtesy of the Baltic American Freedom Foundation (BAFF) and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). The students had a congressional briefing with staff from the offices of House Baltic Caucus co-chairs John Shimkus and Adam Schiff, along with Rep. Todd Rokita, and representatives from the embassies of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. Following was a briefing with staff from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and a visit to the VOC Memorial in Washington, DC.
 

 
CEEC Reaffirms Need for Strong U.S. Leadership in Europe
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. 
 


State of Sanctions on Russia in Europe and the United States

The European Union agreed to extend sanctions against Russia for another six months on June 21, 2016. The official decision to roll-over the sanctions happened on July 1, 2016. Italy called for the decision to be delayed until after the June summit in Brussels. EU sanctions are now extended through January 31, 2017. Despite extension of the sanctions, there has been talk in EU member states of ending sanctions. Here is a breakdown of dialogue in several EU countries over sanctions towards Russia, as well as a look at what the United States is doing on the subject.
 

 
Baltic-Nordic Relations from a
Washington, DC perspective
During the course of this summer, the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) met with a number of the Nordic embassies in Washington, DC to reinforce the long standing relationships between the Baltic and Nordic nations. In those meetings, the sentiment was the same: keeping our partnerships alive and well is not only important abroad, but just as crucial in America. As JBANC represents the Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian communities in the United States, we wanted to focus the conversation on how our communities could better understand and communicate with each other in our separate but similar cultures. Washington has elevated attention on the region as well, considering that President Obama hosted White House meetings with the Baltic presidents in August 2013, and Nordic leaders in May 2016. 
 
On Tuesday, August 23, 2016, Vice President Joe Biden met with leaders from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in Riga. In a speech later that day the Vice President highlighted close cooperation in the Baltics, solidarity for NATO allies under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. The Vice President also spoke about the importance of August 23 as a day of remembering victims of Communism and Nazism. 
Here is a video of his full speech. 

JBANC Managing Director Honored by Knights of Lithuania
JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau participated at the 103rd National Convention of the Knights of Lithuania, in Binghamton, New York on August 6, 2016. At the convention, Altau gave an overview of JBANC activities and legislative priorities, and encouraged attendees to exercise their rights and to vote in November. At the gala dinner held that evening, Altau was presented with the "Friend of Lithuania Award" by the organization. The Knights of Lithuania, which is a member organization of the Lithuanian American Council, was founded in 1913, for the purpose of uniting Lithuanians living in the USA, and through them, to preserve Lithuanian culture and restore freedom to Lithuania, which was then divided between Russia and Germany. It has since become a family organization. St. Casimir, patron saint of Lithuania's youth, is honored as the organization's patron. Next year's convention will be held in Dayton, Ohio.
Estonian Youth Choir Visits Annapolis, MD
On Thursday, August 18 the Youth Choir from the Tallinn Music High School performed at the Maryland State House and gave a free concert that evening at The First Presbyterian Church in Annapolis. The choir is composed of singers ages 15 to 19 who are students of conduct Ingrid Korvits, the choral department head at the school. Organized in 2008, the Youth Choir has performed throughout Europe in many festivals and competitions, winning multiple awards. In 2010, they were named the "Choir of the Year" at the Estonian Choral Society. 
For the past 55 years JBANC has served as the primary advocacy organization representing Baltic-Americans in Washington, DC. As the Baltic countries near their centenary we are reaching out to you to ask for help in assuring that the Baltic voice stays active and strong on Capitol Hill and with the Administration.
 
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Rockville, MD 20850
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