Washington, D.C. – The Hungarian American Coalition (the “Coalition”) and other members of the Central and East European Coalition (the “CEEC”) met with presidential hopeful Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) on Monday, September 8 to discuss issues related to United States foreign policy. At the meeting with Senator Lieberman, the group discussed NATO and Trans-Atlantic relations, U.S.-Russia relations, foreign aid and U.S. public diplomacy, including the status of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcasting to the region.
Frank Koszorus, Jr., Executive Board Member who represented the Coalition, thanked the Senator for his long-standing involvement in NATO’s expansion process. He reiterated the CEEC’s support for continued enlargement to qualified countries and urged that aspirant as well as invited countries be encouraged to continue with reforms to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law. Senator Lieberman responded by emphatically stating that such reforms are “critical.”
With respect to U.S. relations with Russia, the CEEC stressed the importance of holding Russia to the same standards as other countries. Russian economic pressures in the region, along with the country’s record on minority, religious and human rights, including its brutal war in Chechnya, were all identified as critical areas of concern.
Regarding international broadcasting, the Senate Appropriations Committee last week marked up the FY04 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill (S.1585). Although it is likely that some funding for these broadcasts will be restored, it is not certain whether all their services will remain intact in the coming year. Senator Lieberman remarked that if we stop broadcasting to Central and Eastern Europe, “we take the people for granted.”
Senator Lieberman thanked the CEEC for taking the time to brief him on issues of concern. The Senator said, “American foreign policy at its best is all about American principles – freedom and democracy.” He noted that if elected President, his foreign policy would be based on “our best values, strength of alliances, and assistance to the newly independent states of Central and East Europe”
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The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding and awareness of Hungarian American issues.