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Participants in Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) Advocacy Day April 13, 2011 in U.S. Congress Hart Senate Office Building. Front: Juraj Slavik, Alice Kipel, Aleksandra Kocelko, Piret Laiverik. Back: Karl Altau, Markus Videnieks, Peter Chereson, Frank Koszorus, Mamuka Tsereteli, Michael Sawkiw, Bryan Ardouny. Not pictured: Stan Backaitis.

Washington, DC (JBANC) — In its continuous effort to advocate for issues important to the Baltic-American community, the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) actively participated in an April 13 Advocacy Day for the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC). The Advocacy Day involved meetings with key staffers in both the Senate and House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress.

The purpose of the Advocacy Day was to communicate a unified position of CEEC member organizations and constituencies to members of Congress on the following pressing priority issues: democracy development and human and minority rights – particularly with respect to recent developments in Belarus; Russia’s undue influence in Central and Eastern Europe; geo-political security issues including energy and cyber security concerns in the region; easing of visa requirements; and appropriations programs for the region.

JBANC was one of the active organizers and participants of Advocacy Day, an event that included meetings with both Majority and Minority staff members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as with staff members for Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-M), Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), and Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD). JBANC was represented by Markus Videnieks of the American Latvian Association, Stan Backaitis of the Lithuanian American Council, Karl Altau, Peter Chereson, and CEEC intern Piret Laiverik.

The CEEC is a coalition of 18 diaspora organizations from 13 ethnic communities representing more than 20 million Americans, and was formed in 1994. The next CEEC Advocacy Day is scheduled for September 2011. As during September 2010, JBANC plans to invite representatives from the Baltic-American communities to participate in scheduled meetings.

JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association, Inc., and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.