NEWS

10:17AM

Co-sponsors needed for Black Ribbon Day Resolution 

JBANC ACTION ALERT                                                  September 24, 2013
contact: Karl Altau                                                              tel. 301-340-1954 / jbanc@jbanc.org 
Please ask your Representatives for their support -
Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Baltic Caucus co-chairman Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) introduced the “Black Ribbon Day” resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 16. The legislation supports the designation of August 23 as a day of remembrance to recognize the victims of Soviet Communist and Nazi regimes.
 
Your help is needed to increase cosponsorship of this legislation in order for it to be considered for further action.  Please contact your Representative today by calling the Capitol switchboard for the telephone number of your Member of Congress at: (202) 224-3121.    Besides Rep. Shimkus, cosponsors of H. Res. 302 include House Baltic Caucus co-chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and Baltic Caucus member Ed Royce (R-CA), Baltic Caucus members Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Aaron Schock (R-IL), along with Susan Brooks (R-IN), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), David Joyce (R-OH), William Keating (D-MA), and Michael Turner (R-OH). 
 
Reasons to support the Black Ribbon Day resolution:
August 23, the date of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany), would be an appropriate date to designate as Black Ribbon Day, as its result was the partition of Europe between the two countries, and the ensuring occupation by the Soviet Union of multiple Central and Eastern European countries, including the Baltics; 

We cannot forget the terror that millions of citizens in Central and Eastern Europe endured while under the ruthless repression of occupying and oppressive totalitarian states;
H. Res. 302 follows similar legislation in the European Union, Council of Europe, and Canadian Parliament and it is now time for the United States to follow suit;

The memories of Europe's tragic past should be remembered and this will honor the victims, condemn the perpetrators, and lay the foundation for reconciliation based on truth and remembrance. 
The list of co-sponsors will be updated at http://jbanc.org. Please contact your Member of Congress if he or she has not yet signed on. Your message will count, and makes a difference! Feel free to contact JBANC to let us know how your Member of Congress responded. Thank you!    
4:05PM

Estonian National Museum is looking for WWII and post-WWII correspondence / Eesti Rahva Muuseum otsib kirju

Until recently, letters were almost the only way to maintain contact with relatives and friends who either voluntarily or forcibly left their Estonian homeland. These letters are an important research resource because in addition to autobiographical information, they also provide insight into the larger societal situation. 

For this reason, the Estonian National Museum in Tartu is seeking personal correspondences between Estonian emigrants to the West and those who stayed behind, written during the confusion of WWII.  Especially valuable would be correspondences over a period of several decades which consist of both received and sent letters, although one-sided correspondence is still important.  The Museum is also interested in correspondence prior to WWII.

For details, contact Riina Reinvelt (tel: +372 7350406, e-mail: riina@erm.ee), or write to: Estonian National Museum, Veski 32, Tartu 51014, Estonia.

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Kuni viimase ajani olid paberkirjad pea ainukeseks võimaluseks pidada sidet pereliikmete või sõpradega, kes vabatahtlikult või sunniviisiliselt olid sunnitud kodumaalt lahkuma.  Kirjad on oluliseks uurimisallikaks, kuna lisaks autobiograafilisele informatsioonile annavad nad teavet ümbritseva keskkonna ja sotsiaalsete olude kohta. 

Eestis Tartus asuv Eesti Rahva Muuseum soovib oma kogusid täiendada kirjadega, mida vahetasid omavahel Teise maailma keerises välismaale pääsenud ja kodumaale maha jäänud eestlased. Samuti nende kirjadega, mida pagulased vahetasid omavahel. Kui keelegi valduses on enne teist maailmasõda Eestist lahkunute ja nõukogude ajal läände pääsenute kirju, on ka need muuseumile väga huvipakkuvad.  Eriti väärtuslikud on läbi mitme aastakümne kestnud kirjavahetused, mille puhul on säilinud nii saadud kui saadetud kirjad. Kui kahepoolne kirjavahetus ei ole säilinud, siis on ka ühe poole kirjad uurijatele väärtuslikuks allikaks.

Täiendavat infot saab muuseumi kogude osakonna juhatajalt (Riina Reinvelt, tel: +372 7350406, e-mail: riina@erm.ee) või kirjutades aadressil: Estonian National Museum, Veski 32, Tartu 51014, Estonia.

 

6:02PM

President Obama hosted Baltic leaders on August 30

President Obama hosted an Aug. 30 summit of the Baltic states, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

The guest list: Presidents Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, and Andris Berzins of Latvia.

The joint meeting at the White House "will highlight the significant transformations the Baltic states have undergone since restoring their independence two decades ago," said the announcement.

The White House added:

"Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are valued NATO allies, and the four leaders will discuss a broad range of mutual interests, including regional cooperation on shared challenges, energy security, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, defense, and cyber cooperation.  The presidents will also discuss joint efforts to advance human rights and democratic values, including development assistance for emerging democracies around the world.
David Jackson, USA TODAY11:20 a.m. EDT July 29, 2013
5:58PM

Joint Statement by U.S., Estonian, Latvia & Lithuania 8/30/13

The White House Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release August 30, 2013

Joint Statement by the United States of America, Republic of Estonia, Republic of Latvia, and Republic of Lithuania

The United States of America, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, and the Republic of Lithuania reaffirm our commitment to strengthening our relations by jointly expanding trade ties in pursuit of economic prosperity, enhancing strategic cooperation to address global security challenges, and advancing democracy and human rights around the world.  As NATO allies, bound by our shared transatlantic values and holding a common vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace, we resolve to continue and expand our cooperation in the Baltic region and beyond to build a more prosperous, secure, and inclusive future.

The Baltic states have each undergone significant transformations since the restoration of independence just over two decades ago.  Fulfilling the promise of the 1998 Baltic Charter, they have become valued members of NATO and the European Union.  In joining the ranks of the world’s most developed economies in organizations such as OECD and the Eurozone, and assuming the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, their positive influence on global security and economic issues continues to grow.

As we prepare for the opportunities and challenges that will arise in the coming years, we recognize that cooperation – with and among the Baltic states, with other regional partners such as the Nordics, and in transatlantic and international forums – will be crucial to our success.  To this end, we have a shared interest in further developing cooperative, mutually respectful relations with all states in the region.  We are stronger and our reach is greater when we work collaboratively and combine efforts in pursuit of our common goals.

We recognize and reaffirm our commitment to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations as a generational opportunity to expand the strong cultural and economic ties between Europe and the United States.  T-TIP will not only establish a high-standard, comprehensive agreement that will strengthen the global trading system, but it will also promote competitiveness and growth, adding to the millions of jobs – including Baltic and American jobs – that are already supported by trade and investment across the Atlantic.   

As a reliable and diverse supply of energy is a crucial element of economic prosperity, we reaffirm our commitment to strengthening energy security in the Baltic region.  We recognize the importance of implementing the EU’s Third Energy Directive and developing the projects included in the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan, in order to diversify sources of energy, develop transparency in energy markets, and provide the basis for sustained economic growth in the entire region.  The United States strongly supports the Baltic states in their efforts to develop domestic energy resources and clean energy solutions – including energy efficiency – in pursuit of our shared goals of strengthening energy security, addressing climate change, and promoting nuclear safety and security. 

Recognizing the benefits and risks of our increasing dependence on information technology and cyberspace, we will strengthen our engagement on cyber issues regionally and globally.  We will seek to advance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure in the region through public/private cooperation.  We will continue to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes.  We will strive to advance our shared vision of internet freedom by engaging with other countries, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector.  Our efforts support a common goal:  an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet that protects privacy and civil liberties, enables the free flow of information and ideas, and promotes the innovation essential to modern economies.

The security of the United States and Europe is indivisible.  As established in the Baltic Charter, and as NATO allies, the United States has a profound and enduring interest in the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  The Baltic states make significant contributions to NATO missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and we are committed to maintaining and expanding Alliance capabilities – for collective defense, cooperative security, and crisis management – within Europe and beyond.  Recognizing the value of practical cooperation, we will work together to find efficiencies and make the most of limited resources.  We will coordinate within NATO to identify and develop high-priority capabilities and training and exercise opportunities, while also pursuing regional joint procurement and other security projects where mutually beneficial.  

As NATO transitions to a post-2014 non-combat mission in Afghanistan, it will be crucial to maintain the Alliance’s ability to provide for collective defense and contribute to global security.  Though economic times are challenging, we must all ensure that we sustain adequate levels of defense investment to maintain a capable, deployable, and interoperable force.  In this regard, we reaffirm our commitment to achieve or maintain defense spending at 2 percent of GDP.

In the last two decades, the Baltic states have undertaken impressive democratic transitions, and they now demonstrate leadership in promoting democracy and human rights and strengthening civil society in the countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership, as well as through development assistance to other nations undergoing transition.  We will seek opportunities to expand upon these efforts – together, and also with like-minded countries in the region – so the Baltic states can share their successful transition experiences with emerging democracies around the world.

Reflecting our close ties and shared values, we reaffirm our commitment to continue to promote the rule of law as a foundation for a community of free and democratic nations, and to the responsibility of all societies to safeguard and respect the universal rights, civil liberties, and human dignity of all individuals within their territories.

The Baltic states remain grateful to the United States and the American people for their non-recognition policy during the Cold War.  Our warm relations are anchored by close interpersonal ties and the rich contributions that the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian diasporas have made to the multi-ethnic culture of the United States.

6:48PM

JBANC Press Realease - Congressman Adam Schiff joins Rep. John Shimkus as New Co-Chair of House Baltic Caucus

(Washington, DC) -  The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC), representing the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian communities in the United States, welcomes California Rep. Adam Schiff as the new co-chair of the House Baltic Caucus. Congressman Schiff joins Rep. John Shimkus, from Illinois, in the leadership of the Caucus. 
 
Serving in Congress since 2001, Mr. Schiff  has been a House Baltic Caucus member for the past decade. As Caucus co-chair, he replaces Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who was not re-elected in 2012. 
 
Rep. Schiff shared this statement: “I am honored to serve as co-chair of the Baltic Caucus during the 113th Congress.  Our relations with the people of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have always been guided by our shared love of freedom and America’s historical concern for oppressed peoples.  Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Baltic States have become full-fledged members of NATO and the EU – shedding the past vestiges of decades of oppression.  I look forward to working with my colleague, Mr. Shimkus, and to getting to know the Baltic community, both in the Los Angeles area and around the country.”
 
Markus Videnieks, JBANC’s Chairman, remarked that “We are honored that Congressman Schiff has agreed to Co-Chair the House Baltic Caucus.  The Congressman has consistently demonstrated a keen understanding of U.S. foreign policy and how events that occur abroad impact and interest American communities that trace their recent ancestries to foreign lands.”
 
As the 113th Session of Congress begins its work, JBANC has begun a campaign to reintroduce Members of Congress to the Baltic Caucus, which was formed in 1997. On January 30, letters were delivered to the 84 new Members of the House, presenting issues of concern for Baltic-Americans, and inviting the Representatives to consider joining the Caucus. Currently, there are 42 Caucus Members.
 
JBANC looks forward to cooperation in promoting the Caucus with the other Baltic Americans and organizations, and recognizes the Baltic American Freedom League (BAFL) in their efforts to persuade Rep. Schiff to become Caucus co-chairman. 
 
More information on the HBC can be found on JBANC’s website: http://jbanc.org or the HBC website at: http://housebalticcaucus.webs.com/
3:56PM

12 part series "American Estonians vol 2" / 12 osaline saatesari "Ameerika eestlased vol 2"

The twelve part series "American Estonians vol 2" started on Sunday, January 13th at 7:30PM Estonian time (12:30PM Eeastern Standard Time in US) on Tallinn TV. The series can also be watched live online at http://www.tallinnatv.eu/
 
The series consists of 40 interviews with Estonians living on the US east coast. Thanks to the help of Dr. Toomas Sõrra, president of the NY Estonian House, and the late Juhan Simonson, long time president of the Estonian American National Council, the producers met people in Washington DC, New Jersey, New York and Boston.
 
In part one we hear from the family of architect Lembit Kiil, Estonian World Council president Jaak Juhansoo, Rein and Anu Pirn from Massachusetts and the young and talented composer Lembit Beecher.

The twelve part series "American Estonians vol 2" starts on Sunday, January 13th at 7:30PM Estonian time (12:30PM Eeastern Standard Time in US) on Tallinn TV. The series can also be watched live online at http://www.tallinnatv.eu/
 
The series consists of 40 interviews with Estonians living on the US east coast. Thanks to the help of Dr. Toomas Sõrra, president of the NY Estonian House, and the late Juhan Simonson, long time president of the Estonian American National Council, the producers met people in Washington DC, New Jersey, New York and Boston.
 
In part one we hear from the family of architect Lembit Kiil, Estonian World Council president Jaak Juhansoo, Rein and Anu Pirn from Massachusetts and the young and talented composer Lembit Beecher.

These are the episodes of "Estonians in America - 20 years later" which have already appeared on TV in Estonia - forthcoming episodes each Sunday, accessible via website  tallinnatv.eu

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12 osaline saatesari "Ameerika eestlased vol 2" alustas pühapäeval, 13. jaanuaril kell 19.30 Eesti aja järgi (12.30 p.l. USA idarannikul) Tallinna TV-s. Saade on vaadatav reaalajas ka interneti vahendusel http://www.tallinnatv.eu/

Saatesari koosneb 40st kohtumisest USA idaranniku eestlastega. Eesti maja juhataja dr. Toomas Sõrra ja kauaaegse Eesti Rahvuskomitee esimehe Juhan Simonsoni (lahkus novembris) abiga tegi saatebrigaad filmireisi New-Yorgist, läbi New Jersey, Bostonisse ja Washingtoni.

Esimeses saates kohtutakse arhitekt Lembit Kiili perega, ajatakse juttu Ülemaailmse Eesti Kesknõukogu presidendi Jaak Juhansooga, räägitakse abielupaar Rein ja Anu Pirniga Massachusettsist ning tutvutakse noore ja andeka helilooja Lembit Beecheriga.

Edasi igal pühapäeval kell 19.30 Tallinna TV-s.  Seda on võimalik vaadata ka otse tallinnatv.eu kodulehel või ka järelvaatamisega sama lehekülje arhiivis.

6:55PM

Estonian House Gala Launches Arvo Pärt Project 

On December 13, 2012, a gala at the New York Estonian House launched a project that will bring one of the most famed living Estonians in the world—composer Arvo Pärt—to the United States for an unprecedented concert-lecture series. The Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir’s Seminary is a unique collaboration between the composer and the theological graduate school located in Yonkers, NY.  Both Pärt and the seminary share a common faith and spiritual heritage in the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition.

The Arvo Pärt Project  will specifically explore the spiritual roots of Pärt’s music and will center on a concert at Carnegie Hall on May 31, 2014, with the composer and his wife, Nora, in attendance. The landmark performance will feature the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Tõnu Kaljuste. 

The gala was hosted by Sten Schwede, Estonian consul general, and chaired by H.E. Marina Kaljurand, Estonian ambassador to the U.S. Introducing the project was St. Vladimir’s faculty member Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff, who teaches systematic theology and has been a long-time admirer of Pärt.  Seminary trustees, faculty, and staff joined members of the Estonian American community in the celebratory night --  including members of the Estonian diplomatic corps and board members of the Estonian American National Council.  Also attending were executive staff from the Henry Luce Foundation, which awarded the project an important planning grant in May 2012.  The evening’s musical highlight was a performance of two Pärt works by pianist Lembit Beecher and cellist Karen Ouzounian. 

For more details, here is the link to the site.
[Photo, from left: Linda Rink, EANC Executive Director; Margus Kolga, UN Estonian Ambassador; Dr. Peter Bouteneff; H.E. Marina Kaljurand, U.S. Estonian Ambassador; Sten Schwede, Estonian consul general; Dr. Nicholas Reeves; Fr. Chad Hatfield.]

 

5:37PM

Magnitsky Human Rights Legislation signed by President Obama

JBANC Press Release: Dec. 14, 2012.                 contact: Karl Altau 
                                                      
(Washington, DC) -  The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC), representing the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian communities in the United States, enthusiastically applauds the passage of the Magnitsky Act in the U.S. Congress, and the signing of the Act into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 14. 
 
The human rights component of the law, which targets human rights offenders in Russia in the death of attorney and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, was attached to the Act which grants Permanent Normal Trade Relations with the Russian Federation and similarly abolishes the popularly-called Jackson-Vanik amendment - on the books since 1974 - which both aided the emigration of Soviet Jews and held the USSR accountable on human rights issues. Since the Jackson-Vanik component has become anachronistic, the Magnitsky law takes its place as a marker in U.S. concerns over ongoing human rights abuses and corruption in the Russian Federation.     
 
On Dec. 6, the United States Senate passed the bill by a vote of 92-4. It adopted the House version of the bill, which passed on Nov. 16 by a 365-43 vote, and is known by its full title - the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 6156). 
 
The law will sanction Russian officials involved in the persecution, abuse and Nov. 16, 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, who had exposed a massive tax fraud and scheme by a wide network of Russian officials. Magnitsky was himself arrested and after a year of unwarranted detention and suffering from inadequate medical attention, he died in custody after being tortured and brutally beaten.  
 
In a nearly two-year campaign to raise attention to the case of Sergei Magnitsky and the legislation that was initially introduced by Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, JBANC was actively involved with a wide network of allied groups, individuals, and key players in the U.S. Congress, the policy-making world, Baltic-American and Central and East European and Russian-speaking communities in the United States, along with a number of human rights organizations both in the U.S. and around the globe.  
JBANC also established itself as a leader in the campaign by dissemination of information on the Magnitsky case via social media, particularly on Facebook and Twitter. 
  
As stated in a number of letters distributed during 2011-2012 to Members of the 112th Congress, JBANC repeatedly had stated that “it is critical that officials who were involved in the human rights abuses surrounding Magnitsky’s death remain targeted with effective travel and financial sanctions,” and that the “United States must not stand by as an unwitting accomplice in these crimes.”
It is laudable that the U.S. demonstrates its commitment on an issue of such importance, and that human rights abusers will be banned from having the privilege of traveling to or banking in the United States.

JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association in the U.S., and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.  
6:02PM

Eesti: Kuidas Euroopa ühes väikseimast maast on saanud kõige internetiteadlikum riik / How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR's shadow to become an internet titan  

"Peale NSVList iseseisvumist on Eesti interneti avasüli vastu võtnud, rajades veebipõhiseid uusi ettevõtteid ning kaasates on-line tegevusi hariduse ja valitsuse tasandil. Kuid kas ta suudab arengukurvi edestada?" Patrick Kingsley uurib UK The Guardian'is:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/15/estonia-internet

 "The European country where Skype was born made a conscious decision to embrace the web after shaking off Soviet shackles."   Read Patrick Kinglsey's article in UK's The Guardian:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/15/estonia-ussr-shadow-internet-titan

9:54PM

New Ambassador to Estonia: Who Is Jeffrey Levine?

Saturday, March 31, 2012 
"Estonia, a former Soviet republic and now a staunch U.S. ally, will soon get a new ambassador from the U.S. who is a specialist on post-Soviet countries. President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate diplomat Jeffrey D. Levine to be next ambassador to Estonia on February 16, 2012.
 
Born circa 1954 and raised in California, as a teenager Jeffrey Levine was a fan of the band Jefferson Airplane and the movie Blazing Saddles. Levine earned a B.A. in Journalism at Humboldt State University in 1976. Much later he would add an M.S. in Resource Strategy at the National Defense University in 1999.
 
Levine worked as a newspaper reporter for seven years, most notably as a founding staff member at USA Today from 1982 to 1985, after which he moved on to the State Department.
 
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service since 1985, Levine’s first foreign postings were as consular/political officer at the embassy in Lima, Peru, from 1985 to 1987, as consular/general services officer at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 1988 to 1990, and at the consulate in Alexandria, Egypt, from 1990 to 1991.
 
He then took three straight stateside appointments in Washington, DC, serving as watch officer in the State Operations Center from 1992 to 1993; as Hungary desk officer in the Office of Eastern European Affairs from 1993 to 1994; and as special assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Management from 1994 to 1995.
 
Four overseas postings followed, starting with service as management officer at the embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus, from 1995 to 1998, and as management counselor in Brasilia, Brazil, from 1999 to 2002. He then served as deputy chief of mission in Sofia, Bulgaria, from August 2003 to August 2006. Taking advantage of his expertise regarding Hungary, Levine served at the embassy in Budapest, first as deputy chief of mission from July 2007 to March 2009, and as chargé d’affaires ad interim from April 2009 to August 2010. Back home, he served as director of the State Department Office of Recruitment, Examination and Employment, starting in September 2010. 
 
Levine and his wife, Janie, have one son, Nick. When asked for his personal motto in a 2009 interview in Hungary, Levine quoted American songwriter Jason Mraz: 'Leap, and the net will appear.'"
-Matt Bewig

 

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