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Embassy meeting group photo

Baltic diplomats and JBANC representatives met on June 29th to catch up on events and priorities. Photo credit: Estonian Embassy.

 

The Estonian embassy hosted Baltic diplomats and Baltic American community representatives for the first JBANCBaltic embassies meeting of 2018. The ambassadors updated us on their countries’ priorities and upcoming events and a productive exchange occurred on many relevant topics.

 

In addition to the three embassies and the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), the meeting included representatives from the Estonian American National Council (EANC), the American Latvian Association (ALA), and the Lithuanian American Council (LAC). EANC was represented by President Marju Rink-Abel and Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey.

 

Topics discussed included the progress made this year on Capitol Hill, the NATO summit taking place July 11-12, Congressional visits to the Baltic nations and other upcoming events. Participants noted that House Baltic Caucus (HBC) membership increased by 50 percent since the beginning of 2017, which is the biggest increase in HBC history. H.Res.826 congratulating the three nations on their centennial celebrations is gaining ground, with a goal for it to pass by July 23rd. The date is significant as the anniversary of the 1940 Welles Declaration establishing the U.S. policy of nonrecognition of Soviet annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Upcoming events include commemorations of the anniversary at Sumner Welles’ gravesite and the August 23rd Black Ribbon Day remembrance of the victims of Stalinism and Nazism.

 

Discussion on the NATO summit overwhelmingly affirmed the need to maintain unity in the alliance and continue transatlantic cooperation. All will be watching the summit closely and EANC will report on the outcomes relevant to the Baltic region.

 

The meeting marked the last official event for the tenures of Ambassador Lauri Lepik and Deputy Chief of Mission Marki Tihhonova-Kreek, who is returning to a position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after three years of service in Washington. EANC led the participants in thanking both for their work and wishing them well in their future endeavors.

 

Karin Shuey

Washington, DC

Director Estonian American National Council

www.estosite.org

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