The American Latvian Association has thrown its support behind a proposed U.S. Senate resolution that congratulates Latvia on the 90th anniversary of its Nov.18, 1918, declaration of independence and that asks the president to urge Russia’s acknowledgement that the Soviet occupation of the Baltic republics was illegal.
The resolution, S.Con.Res. 87, was introduced June 9 by Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon and Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. Smith and Durbin are co-chairs of the Senate Baltic Caucus.
In a June 27 e-mailed “Call to Action,” the ALA asks supporters to write to their members of Congress urging a vote in favor of the resolution. The ALA also suggests Latvian organizations send delegations to the local offices of members of Congress.
“Because of the political activities this year—national party conventions and election campaigns—Congress will have a short session,” ALA Director of Public Affairs Valdis Pavlovskis writes in the e-mail. “Although Nov. 18 may seem far away, we really do not have much time to get the resolution passed. We have to act immediately.”
The six-point resolution would congratulate Latvia on the anniversary of its declaration of independence, commend the government for implementing reforms and establishing freedoms, and recognize the common goals and shared values of the three Baltic countries. The resolution also would call on the president to issue a proclamation congratulating the people of Latvia and to congratulate the Latvian government.
“Latvia today stands as a model of Western, free-market democracy, and America stands with it,” Smith said in introducing the resolution.
Finally, the resolution would call on the president and the secretary of state to urge Russia’s government “to acknowledge that the Soviet occupation of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and for the succeeding 51 years was illegal.”
The resolution was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations the same day it was introduced.
“The resolution not only commends Latvia’s successes in nation building, economic development and human rights,” Pavlovskis wrote, “but most importantly it recognizes Russia’s attempts to manipulate Latvia and the other two Baltic countries back into the Russia’s sphere of influence, detaching them from the west.”
Although the resolution does not explictly refer to attempts by Russia to influence Latvia or the other Batic countries, Pavlovskis told Latvians Online that he chose his wording carefully.
“[I]f we, or at least I, look at what Russia is doing, then it is clear to me they want us back and they are working on it,” Pavlovskis said in an e-mail. He cited a string of events, such as Russia’s energy and trade policies, lies about Latvians that appear in the Russian press and the April 2007 cyberattack against Estonia.
The ALA expects Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois will submit a similar resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives. Shimkus is co-chair of the House Baltic Caucus.
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