A big weekend for Latvians in the US! Friday saw the start of JBANC’s Eleventh Baltic Conference in Washington, DC. The Joint Baltic American Committee was established in 1961 to represent the Baltic-American communities and its three parent organizations: the American Latvian Association, the Estonian American National Council and the Lithuanian American Council. JBANC exists to help coordinate the activities of the three countries in DC with the US government and agencies dealing with issues related to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
|Karl Altau - Managing Director of JBANC (at podium) and Panel 2: Andrius Kubilius, Andrea Chalupa, Orest Deychakiwsky and Michael Sawkiw|
With the subject being “History Repeated: Baltics and Eastern Europe in Peril?” the weekend saw panel discussions such as “Russian Disinformation and Propaganda,” “Defending Ukraine,” “What are Russia’s Intentions?” and “Western Response.” The opening keynote was delivered by Andrius Kubilius, former Prime Minister of Lithuania, and later President of Estonia, H.E. Toomas Hendrik Ilves spoke. Other dignitaries included Artis Pabriks, Member of the European Parliament for Latvia (and former Minister for Defense and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia), Baltic Ambassadors to the US Andris Razāns (Latvia) and Žygimantas Pavilionis (Lithuania), US State Department officials including John Heffern (Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs) and a host of organization leaders from the US and abroad. Political celebrities included American analyst, writer and columnist Paul Goble, and journalist Liz Wahl, whose live resignation and denunciation of RT and the network's coverage of Russian military intervention in Ukraine went viral last year.
The Femme au Foyer special correspondent on the ground in DC had this to say about the weekend:
“Past JBANC Conferences have focused on securing the independence of the Baltic States, on continuing the focus on membership in Western organizations (chief among these NATO) and economic security. This conference was History Repeated: Baltics and Eastern Europe in Peril. Several themes resonated throughout the conference, the key recommendation of many speakers and panelists was to call things by their name: The Wars of Choice that have been started by Vladimir Putin in Europe (Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine) are actual shooting wars conducted against, in the last three cases, independent states.
In sum; this was another in a long line of substantive conferences organized by JBANC and supported by its member organizations that focus on the most pressing questions facing the Baltic States. These conferences attract decision makers and opinion leaders and are attended by people committed to working for the security and economic development of the Baltic States as members of the Trans-Atlantic community of the Western Nations. The JBANC conferences also follow a noticeable trend of being attended by increasing numbers from younger generations; perhaps 25% of this year’s attendees were under the age of 35.”
|European Parliament member Dr. Artis Pabriks (left) with H.E. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia (source here)|
The JBANC conference was broadcast on-line through the internet, expanding its reach worldwide.
The JBANC website here
Also to watch: Why Lithuanians feel Ukraine's pain