AHF and the Central East European Coalition (CEEC) 2010 Advocacy Day
6/19/2008 -AHF helps plan Advocacy Day in US Congress, drafts human / minority rights Policy Brief... The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) held its Fall Advocacy Day - an all-day event during which the members visited scores of Congressional offices, including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), to discuss key policy issues relating to Central and Eastern Europe. These issues included human and minority rights concerns relative to Hungarians in the region, U.S. assistance, Russia's influence, NATO and energy security, and visa matters.
The American Hungarian Federation (Federation), a lead member of the CEEC, played an active role in the event by, among other things, helping to plan it, drafting the human/minority rights section of the Policy Brief, scheduling appointments with Senate offices and the SFRC, and heading up one of the six teams that visited the Congressional offices.
"It was important for our Congressional Members, Advisors, and Staff to listen and share their views about the commitment of the Congress to enhance relations between the United States and Central and Eastern Europe," said the Federation's president, Frank Koszorus, Jr. "We were pleased that the Hungarian Americans who participated were all members or officers of the Federation, (including Zoltan Bagdy, Thomas Teglassy, Christie Wagner, and Paul Kamenar), all of whom raised important issues during the discussions," he added.
Following the meetings, the CEEC sponsored a reception at the Mott House on Capitol Hill. The CEEC Policy Brief full text is below, but also available to [download].
1) DEMOCRACY HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW
The CEEC staunchly supports democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and recognizes that indispensable elements of democracy in the region include the respect for the rule of law, human rights, minority rights and historical accuracy. These elements are intertwined and especially important in Central and Eastern Europe, considering its history, Soviet domination of the countries in the area and the ethnic, national and religious diversity of the region.
While democracies have emerged and developed in Central and Eastern Europe since the collapse of Communism, an autocratic regime still reigns in Belarus and vestiges of intolerance and discrimination against national minorities, including Hungarian minorities, still linger even within some countries that have joined western institutions.
In addition, denial and revisionist history – whether that of Stalin-era atrocities, including the Holodomor in Ukraine, or denial of crimes against humanity, including the Armenian Genocide – undermine the pillars of democracy. Denial, revisionism, human and minority rights abuses and the failure to respect the rule of law also pose serious security challenges which must not be ignored.
2) U.S. ASSISTANCE TO THE REGION
While many countries within Central and Eastern Europe have “graduated” from U.S. assistance programs as provided for under the SEED and FREEDOM Support Acts, U.S. funding should remain a priority for these countries, and at a minimum be maintained at current levels. In addition, the CEEC supports robust funding for the countries of Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine, and continued assistance funding to support democracy in Belarus.
Exchange programs, a part of public diplomacy, are an acknowledged and successful means of promoting international understanding, good will, and training to citizens of the United States and participating countries. The CEEC strongly supports funding for educational and cultural exchange programs.
3) RUSSIA’S UNDUE INFLUENCE IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
Throughout history, the Russian government has sought to influence the countries of
A pragmatic approach for U.S. foreign policy in countering Russia’s attempt in re-establishing its “sphere of influence” in the region should consist of the promotion of democratic principles within the Russian Federation. A democratic, market-based Russia makes for a non-aggressive and peaceful partner in Central and Eastern Europe. The Central and East European Coalition urges that U.S. foreign policy, regarding Russia and its relations with its neighbor nations, be pursued in a forceful and proactive manner.
4) NATO AND ENERGY SECURITY IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
The CEEC strongly supports pro-active security collaboration of the United States with allies in Central and Eastern Europe
through NATO as well as direct bilateral mechanisms. The CEEC played an important role in advocating for the successful
In addition to NATO, America’s policy towards CEE countries must include the facilitation of greater energy security and economic collaboration among the CEE countries, as well as by CEE countries with the producers of energy in the Caspian region and Middle East to ensure successful implementation of the EU’s initiative on the Southern Gas Corridor that could lead to enhanced energy sources and economic independence of the CEE nations.
5) VISA ISSUES
These rules have had the unfortunate effect for millions of Americans, mostly of Polish descent, that their relatives still cannot travel freely to the United States, regardless of years of proven, dependable friendship and loyalty to the United States in international affairs and in combat duty. The CEEC believes that it is in the best interest of the United States to have the Visa Waiver Program expanded, especially to countries that have demonstrated a capacity and willingness to cooperate with the United States in achieving counter-terrorism goals.
In addition, the CEEC supports the establishment of a new P visa category to cover groups and individuals coming to the United States for non-commercial cultural purposes at the invitation of a U.S. group with ethnic ties to the invitee’s country. This new category includes those coming to present or teach ethnic or folk culture, music, theater, dance, or other ethnic artistic endeavors.
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CEEC member organizations:
American Hungarian Federation
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