Obama signs on to resolution honoring Latvia

After a lobbying effort by Chicago-area Latvians, U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama has become a co-sponsor of a proposed Senate resolution honoring Latvia on the 90th anniversary of its independence. Obama, a Democrat who is one of two senators from Illinois, added his name Sept. 8.

The resolution, S.Con.Res.87, also calls on the president to ask Russia to acknowledge that the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states was illegal.

Obama added his name after Jānis Vilciņš and Artis Inka of the United Latvian Associations of Chicago sent the senator a letter asking that he consider becoming a cosponsor, Inka said in a Sept. 12 press release. The senator also received a petition signed by Illinois Latvians and friends of Latvia. Obama’s representatives also met with Valdis Pavlovskis, public affairs director for the American Latvian Association.

The resolution was introduced June 9 by Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon and Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations on the same day, but has seen no action since.

So far, only four other senators have signed on as co-sponsors to the resolution, according to the Library of Congress THOMAS service. Besides Obama they are Democrats Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Carl Levin of Michigan.

A similar resolution was introduced July 31 in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois. However, the House version does not ask the president to press Russia for an acknowledgement that the Soviet occupation was illegal.

The House resolution, which was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has three co-sponsors: Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly of California, Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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