[John Czop, PAC]
NOTE: At his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearings, Mr. Antony Blinken answered almost all of the questions presented to friendly United States Senators by the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC). The Polish American Congress is a member organization of the CEEC. United States’ policies toward NATO, the THREE SEAS INITIATIVE (3SI), and Kremlin revanchism need to be made in the context of East Central Europe.
Dear National Directors,
Please see the below questions from the Central and East European Coalition for the nomination hearing of Antony J. Blinken to be Secretary of State.
Central and East European Coalition Questions for the Nomination Hearing of Antony J. Blinken to be Secretary of State
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) is comprised of 18 national membership organizations that represent more than 22 million Americans of Central and Eastern European (CEE) descent. As we represent communities in the United States with heritage from that region, our constituents have a vested interest in the U.S.-Russia relationship, and in positive and productive U.S. relations with the CEE region and our transatlantic partners and allies. Mr. Blinken’s nomination is integral to security in the CEE region; we therefore submit the following questions for consideration by the nominee and inclusion in the official public record.
The CEEC strongly believes in democratic values as human rights and the rule of law. Russia’s aggression to undermine these values must be contained. We actively support legislation imposing sanctions on Russia, and advocate for the strict enforcement of sanctions to ensure the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian and Georgian territories and the deterrence of any future encroachment on other states. The Russian government must be held accountable to act responsibly and abide by international law. It is vitally important that the United States maintain its leverage and leadership in the development of multinational policy in the region. The Secretary of State must espouse and aggressively work toward the implementation of these goals.
To facilitate assessment of the nominee’s positions on these issues, we respectfully request that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee include the following questions in the subject hearing:
- What is your position on the implementation of U.S. sanctions in response to the elections in Belarus and their aftermath?
- What are your plans for the future of the U.S. commitment to NATO? Please include comments on your views of the appropriate level of U.S. troop presence and capabilities in the European theater and any withdrawals from Germany.
- What are your policy goals for U.S. relations with Russia? Please include any concerns you have regarding adherence, or lack thereof, to the numerous standing agreements to which both nations are party. Examples include: Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Helsinki Final Act of 1975, NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, and Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1994.
- What is your position on sanctions against Russia with respect to Russian military aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea?
- How do you see the role of the U.S. in countering Russian hybrid warfare in the Caucasus region, including the creeping occupation of Georgia’s sovereign territory?
- What is your stance on disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks against the U.S. and the CEE nations from sources within Russia and elsewhere? What role, if any, do you see for the U.S. in stemming Kremlin misinformation flowing to the Russian people about the U.S. and its allies? What do you see as the role of the Voice of America?
- How would you characterize the effect of the Putin regime’s policies toward central and eastern Europe on U.S. national interests? Are there Kremlin policies that you consider to be contrary to strengthening democracy, human rights, and stability in the region?
- Considering the Kremlin’s long history of using gas and oil as a means of political and economic pressure, what is your position on U.S. assistance to ensure energy security and independence in the CEE region, to include working to end the Nord Stream 2 project, and supporting the Three Seas Initiative?
- President-elect Biden has been critical of the governments of NATO allies Hungary and Poland as backsliding democracies. What would be the approach of the Biden Administration in its relations with those countries?
- How do you propose to address the military and geo-political alliance emerging between Russia and Turkey that threatens to destabilize NATO and much of southern Europe?
- What initiatives will the Administration undertake to protect universal human rights, such as sending assistance to remediate the large-scale humanitarian disasters faced by the people of Eastern Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, and other regions in our area of concern, and adopting as U.S. policy the affirmation of the Armenian and Ukrainian (Holodomor) Genocides?
- What steps will the Administration take to stand with our democratic allies, especially those that continue to face threats by foreign adversaries, such as Russia? Does the Administration plan to increase assistance to CEE countries to help bolster their democracies, economic development, and security?
Klara Z. Wiśniewska
Polish American Congress
McCaul Statement on the Confirmation of Antony Blinken as Secretary of State
January 26, 2021
Washington, DC – Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul released the following statement following the confirmation of Antony Blinken to serve as Secretary of State.
“While I am still gravely concerned about some of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy agenda, most notably the day one decision to re-enter the deeply flawed Paris Climate Agreement and their determination to re-join the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, Secretary Blinken’s testimony during his confirmation hearing highlighted many areas where we can work together to secure a more peaceful and prosperous world. Of note, I hope the Biden Administration will stick to Secretary Blinken’s commitments to focusing on a two-state solution in Israel and holding authoritarian regimes, like Russia and China, accountable for their malign actions. Secretary Blinken is clearly experienced, and I look forward to working with him on those areas where we can agree – and holding the Biden Administration accountable in areas where we do not.”
Secretary Blinken’s Commitments in His Confirmation Testimony
“So on the Uighurs, I think we’re very much in agreement, and the forcing men, women, and children into concentration camps, trying to, in effect re-educate them, to be adherence to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide.” – Secretary Antony Blinken
“Mr. Navalny’s voice speaks for millions and millions of Russians, and that voice needs to be heard.” – Secretary Antony Blinken
“There’s been a strong and long bipartisan commitment to Taiwan and part of that commitment is making sure Taiwan has the ability to defend itself against aggression and that is a commitment that will absolutely endure in a Biden Administration.” – Secretary Antony Blinken
“The best way and maybe the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state and to give the Palestinians the state to which they’re entitled, is through the so-called two-state solution.”
“India has been a bipartisan success story over successive administrations. Trump admin has carried this forward, with the concept of an Indo-Pacific and to make sure we were working with India so no country in the region, including China, could challenge its sovereignty.” – Secretary Antony Blinken
Central and East European Coalition (CEEC)
House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul released statement