AHF and the Central East European Coalition (CEEC): 2014 Fall Policy Brief
9/15/2014 - AHF participates in drafting Central and East European Coalition Fall 2014 Policy Paper. The 2014 brief addresses Ukraine; NATO and Security in Central and Eastern Europe; the Visa Waiver Program and Immigration Reform; Energy Security; Democracy, Human and Minority Rights, the Rule of Law, and the Information War; US Assistance to and Promotion of Regional Democratic Governance; Trade and Economic democratic governance and the rule of law; Trade and Economic Integration; and Black Ribbon Day.
2014 CEEC POLICY BRIEF [download]
Ukraine’s inclusion into Euro-Atlantic structures clearly serves U.S. national interests. The security of the United States lies in the expansion of democracy, not in the appeasement of aggressor states making imperial claims. Furthermore, the United States has provided public and politically binding security guarantees, including the 1994 Trilateral Agreement which requires Washington's engagement when Ukraine's security is threatened. In exchange, Ukraine renounced its nuclear weapons and acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear state. These assurances were critical for Ukraine and they included U.S., British, and Russian support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Today, each of these security components has been compromised.2
The crisis in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, specifically, will not just go away. In an informationally
NATO AND SECURITY IN
The CEEC welcomes NATO’s decision, at its most recent summit in Wales, U.K., to establish a rapid reaction force of at least 4,000 troops for the defense of member states. We are also pleased that NATO will expand and enhance its partnership with Georgia and that NATO will hold the "Rapid Trident" and other joint exercises with Ukraine's armed forces. The CEEC has supported the increase of military training exercises in Europe, as well as the increase in NATO’s air policing mission to protect NATO members in the Baltic Sea region, including naval surveillance in the Black Sea, since Russia began its military incursions in Ukraine this year. The CEEC believes it is time to establish permanent NATO bases in the Alliance’s eastern member states, since any objection has been removed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The CEEC supports both increased NATO and U.S. bi-lateral military assistance to Ukraine to secure Ukraine’s peace and security, as
The CEEC advocated for the successful enlargement of NATO over the past two decades, and continues to urge the U.S. Congress to support NATO membership for Georgia and other qualified countries seeking membership. The CEEC supports the reintroduction of a bill similar to the NATO Enhancement Act, S. 2177, introduced in the 112th Congress, which would substantially strengthen NATO and NATO partnerships. The CEEC supports the efforts of the United States, bilaterally and through NATO, to protect cyber infrastructure from disruption and aggression. This includes establishing effective counter-measures against cyber attacks, cyber crime and cyber espionage.3 The CEEC also urges the United States to review its current planned missile defense system, and re-align it to more effectively protect all NATO member states, allies and partners.
VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
However, for those not admitted during the pilot, such as Poland and others, an automatic reinstatement of the standard eligibility rules occurred in June 2009. These rules include requiring the aspiring country to have less than a 3 percent visa refusal rate in order to be eligible for participation in the Program (as opposed to 10 percent that was set in the pilot). These rules have had the unfortunate effect for millions of CEE Americans, mostly of Polish descent, that their relatives still cannot travel freely to the United States.
The CEEC also supports fair and equitable immigration laws, which will include a pathway to citizenship, as well as the establishment of a new P visa category to cover groups and individuals coming to the United States for cultural/educational purposes at the invitation of a U.S.-based group with ethnic ties to the invitee’s country. This new category includes those coming to present and/or teach ethnic or folk culture, music, theater, dance, or other artistic endeavors of the country of origin.
U.S. policies could assure a secure and safe source of energy to the CEE countries. First, U.S. policy should facilitate immediate and prioritized export of its LNG supplies to NATO countries, and any other foreign country if the Secretary of State determines that such exportation promotes U.S. national security interests. Secondly, it is essential that U.S. policy support interconnection of electrical and gas resources with their western EU counterparts to improve efficient utilization of energy supplies.
The passage of legislation to export LNG from the United States would loosen Russia’s monopoly of energy supplies and their use for political manipulation throughout Europe. LNG exports will lead to the establishment of global gas markets with non-discriminatory pricing, thus making it difficult for Russia to dictate pricing based on geopolitics. A global LNG market would promote transparency in pricing and invigorate investments and economic developments.
The CEEC is particularly concerned about the operations and accident hazards posed by a nuclear power plant being constructed in Belarus just across from Lithuania’s border and just 30 miles away from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius with a population of about 700,000. The United States should actively advocate for full compliance of any new nuclear power plant with internationally established safety standards and monitoring while such plants are constructed.
The United States has to re-engage in energy diplomacy in the Caspian region to make sure that resources of the region contribute to the energy security of CEE. The functioning infrastructure, that allows hydrocarbons from the Caspian region to be shipped to European markets, is a vivid demonstration of the success of proactive U.S. diplomacy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Development of the Southern Gas Corridor, that will ensure delivery of natural gas resources from the eastern and western shores of the Caspian Sea to Europe via the South Caucasus and Turkey, has to be reinstated as a major policy priority of the U.S. government.
To assure a safe and secure supply of energy in the CEE region, the United States should endorse and encourage the development of a unified plan for natural gas sourcing, infrastructure (connectivity, pipes, storage), and integration of electrical systems. To achieve this, the transfer and implementation of innovative technologies for energy efficiency and environmentally friendly production of local natural resources need to be facilitated with appropriate financial incentives. Activities involving the transfer of technological innovation and training would result in job creation in both the United States and CEE countries.5
The CEEC staunchly supports democracy and the indispensable elements of the rule of law, human rights, minority rights, freedom of the press and historical accuracy, all of which are especially important in the CEE region, considering its history, previous Soviet domination, and ethnic, national and religious diversity.
While democracies have emerged and developed in CEE since the collapse of communism, issues remain to be resolved. An autocratic regime still reigns in Belarus. Vestiges of intolerance and discrimination against national minorities linger even within some countries that have joined Western institutions. Denial of crimes against humanity, including the Armenian and Ukrainian Genocides of 1915 and 1932-33, respectively, undermines the pillars of democracy.
The Russian government uses many avenues in its attempts to dominate the countries of the CEE region. Putin’s ongoing war in Ukraine is just one example. Others include economic manipulation (e.g., blocking energy transit, trade barriers, and cyber attacks), accusations of alleged maltreatment and discrimination against people of Russian descent living in CEE countries, and also disinformation and propaganda. In 2008, Russian troops forcibly annexed the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, keeping heavy military presence in close proximity to the strategic East-West transportation corridor. In 2014, Russian troops forcibly annexed Crimea, and are attempting to take over parts of Eastern Ukraine.
Russia sees the aspirations of neighboring CEE countries toward integration with the European Union as a threat. As a reaction, it has threatened economic ramifications should aspiring countries advance EU Association Agreements and has pressured them to join an alternative Russian-dominated Eurasian Customs Union. U.S. foreign policy, countering Russia’s attempts to reestablish a “sphere of influence” in the region, should emphasize the promotion of democratic principles and institutions within the Russian Federation. The CEEC urges the United States to condemn Russia’s blatant intimidation and attempts to undermine the independence of countries in the region. U.S. policies towards Russia in this regard should be pursued in a forceful and proactive manner.
To deter Russia, the CEEC urges strong sanctions – visa restrictions and asset freezes against individuals. The CEEC strongly supported the Magnitsky Act, which was passed into law during the last Congress as part of the Russia Trade bill (Public Law No. 112-208). In the spirit of that law, the CEEC believes that the provisions need be fully implemented and expanded to include other human rights violators in the Russian Federation. While Putin’s crimes against Ukraine are growing, Moscow's increasing crackdown against its own citizens is troubling for Russia’s internal growth. This also does not bode well for its neighbors in CEE, and for the United States. Until human rights are respected by Russia, both outside of and within its borders, it is critical that the United States continue to help expose violations by the Russian Federation, and to defend
Russian revision of history denies or excuses Stalin-era atrocities and actions, such as the Holodomor (Famine-Genocide) in Ukraine, Soviet occupation of CEE countries, murder and deportation of millions of CEE nationals. Russia’s propaganda distorts and falsifies both current events and history. It is a powerful tool used to discredit and attack perceived adversaries. Democracy in Russia is threatened, as demonstrated by the repression of NGOs, election fraud and rampant corruption. The United States needs to lend its moral voice against human rights abuses. The United States needs to counter Putin via the airwaves, to expose Moscow’s lies and present our values via competent and fully-funded U.S. international broadcasting. The CEEC supports important reforms to address the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ management structure, clarify the mission of our international broadcasters, and empower our journalists.
While many countries within CEE have “graduated” from U.S. assistance programs under the SEED and FREEDOM Support Acts, U.S. funding should remain a priority for Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine. Security Assistance Programs levels to the region, such as Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET), should be enhanced. Also, funds should continue to be devoted to promoting democracy in Belarus. Furthermore, financial and other support for governmental and non-governmental
An essential component to achieving and maintaining well-functioning democracies in CEE is having healthy and growing economies. The CEEC favors policies and reforms that encourage the continued integration of CEE countries into Western institutional structures, thus supporting their economic development. The CEEC supports expansion of opportunities to realize the benefits of economic growth, through increased trade, and market economic systems based on the rule of law, appropriate regulation, transparency, and ethical business practices.
Currently, a number of CEE countries are in various stages of pursuing increased economic integration with Western institutions, particularly through adoption of Association Agreements (AA) with the European Union. The CEEC opposes Russia's pressure on the acceding countries to defect from the AA process and instead, move toward integration with a Russia-dominated customs union. The CEEC strongly favors the continued integration of CEE countries in Western institutions, and believes that the active support of U.S. foreign and defense policy is crucial to success of the integration process.
A number of CEE countries that are well integrated into EU institutions are striving to improve their economic performance, provide better employment opportunities, and adjust to the challenges of a dynamic, competitive world economy. The CEE supports the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP). The agreement aims to expand the already robust economic relationship between the United States and the EU, through further reduction of tariffs, and better coordination of regulatory regimes which will support trade-in-services and encourage a robust investment climate. The CEEC seeks to ensure that the agreement benefits both the United States and the countries of the CEE region.
The CEEC supports the establishment of a national August 23 Black Ribbon Day, to honor and commemorate those who lost their lives, were tortured, deported, lost their property or otherwise suffered under the ravages of the Soviet Communist and Nazi regimes.
These repressions touched many Americans of CEE
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) is comprised of 18 national organizations, including the American Hungarian Federation (AHF), whose members trace their heritage to Central and Eastern Europe. The CEEC raises issues of common concern to its diverse membersip, such as NATO's enlargement, energy security and visa waiver.
CEEC member organizations:
American Hungarian Federation
[read more about the CEEC]
CEEC Policy Briefs
11/25/2013 - FALL 2013: AHF participates in drafting Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) Fall 2013 Policy Paper. It includes language on minority rights: "...support the equitable and prompt restitution of properties – including private, communal, and church properties – that had been illegally confiscated by governments of CEE, from ethnic minorities and the populations at large." [read more]
5/29/2012 - AHF participates in drafting CEEC Policy Brief on minority rights and NATO expansion and issues multiple action alerts including: Supporting S. 2177, the NATO Enhancement Act, introduced by Sen. Richard Lugar to encourage further enlargement of NATO and to deepen U.S. strategic partnerships with NATO allies. [read more]
4/13/2011 - American Hungarian Federation drafts Central and East European Coalition 2011 Policy Brief, helps organize Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.., In its continuous effort to raise issues important to the Hungarian American community, the American Hungarian Federation (AHF) participated in an April 13 Advocacy Day organized by the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC). The Advocacy Day involved meetings with key staffers in both the Senate and House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress. [read more]
9/23/2010 - AHF helps plan CEEC Advocacy Day in US Congress, drafts 2010 Policy Brief addressing Democracy and Human and Minority rights.
Related CEEC Articles
8/3/2011 -- The American Hungarian Federation and the Central and East European Coalition participate in a reception and Capitol Hill Policy Seminar entitled, "20 years: Three Perspectives on the Evolution of U.S. Strategic Engagement with Central and Eastern Europe." [read more]
4/13/2011 - American Hungarian Federation Participates in Central and East European Coalition Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill... CEEC issues 2011 Policy Brief [read more]
01/24/11 - CEEC and AHF Submit Letter to Secretary Clinton expressing deep concern over "brutal post-election crackdown by Lukashenka's (Lukashenko) regime on peaceful demonstrators, democratic activists, journalists and civil society" in Belarus. [read more]
7/5/2010 - AHF participates in Capitol Hill policy seminar on energy security, "Coercion in the European Energy Sector: Implications for the United States." The seminar was held on June 24, 2010 and sponsored by the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) in cooperation with the Congressional Caucus on Central and Eastern Europe. [read more]
4/25/2009 - The American Hungarian Federation
Participates in White House Meeting... On April 24, 2009, the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) met with Jeffrey M. Hovenier, Director for Central and Eastern Europe, National Security Council, and Katherine M. Helgerson, Director for Southeast European Affairs, National Security Council.
7/25/2008 - American Hungarian Federation Participates in CEEC Meeting with Senator Schumer: Discusses Russia "Hegemony" statement... The purpose of the meeting was to seek clarification of statements contained in Senator Schumer’s June 3rd Wall Street Journal article that were susceptible to the interpretation that he condoned Russian designs on Central and Eastern Europe. [read more]
6/19/2008 - American Hungarian Federation Helps Plan and Participates in Successful CEEC Congressional Policy Discussion on Central and Eastern Europe. [read more]
3/5/2008 - American Hungarian Federation Participates in Meetings With Senator Obama’s and Senator Clinton’s Foreign Policy Advisors... A number of policy issues were discussed with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other top officials. [read more]
3/3/2008 - American Hungarian Federation Raises Issue of Vojvodina Hungarians With Senator Senator Clinton’s Foreign Policy Advisor, Ron Asmus... The meeting touched upon numerous issues of concern to the member organizations of the CEEC. [read more]
3/29/2006 - The American Hungarian Federation helps organize congressional reception with the Central East European Coalition (CEEC). The reception's main focus was concerns over political developments in Belarus, the former Soviet Republic, and Russia`s support for the policies of President Alexander Lukashenko. The opposition says President Lukashenko, who has led Belarus for more than a decade, has become increasingly authoritarian, suppressing free speech and jailing democratic dissenters. [download CEEC member Iryna Vidanava's speech]
3/16/2006 - The American Hungarian Federation participates in protest over anti-democratic developments in Belarus. In a show of solidarity with fellow CEEC members, demonstrators gathered in front of the Belarusian Embassy in Washington, DC on March 16 to protest against the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko, and to offer support for the people of that country.