On October 24, the Hungarian American Coalition participated in the signing ceremony on the Protocols of Accession of Albania and Croatia to become full members of NATO in 2009. The ceremony took place in the East Room of the White House
Photo by Peter Wendl
At a briefing preceding the ceremony, President George W. Bush addressed 33 representatives of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), discussing the future of NATO and the priorities and achievements of his administration. He thanked CEEC leaders for their support of previous rounds of NATO enlargement to include many countries from Central and East Europe. President Bush emphasized that the work of the CEEC must continue during the next presidential administration and that NATO must expand to include countries ready to share the burdens of membership, including Macedonia, Ukraine, and Georgia.
Ambassadors from Croatia and Albania also attended the ceremony along with Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), foreign policy leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, and other members from U.S. ethnic diaspora organizations.
The CEEC was also briefed by Kurt Volker, United States Ambassador to NATO, and Barry Jackson, Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and Deputy National Security Advisor Judith Ansley were also present, along with Damon Wilson, Adam Sterling, and Maria Germano of the National Security Council, and Vanessa Beebe from the Office of Public Liaison.
Other topics discussed at the briefing included the President’s Freedom Agenda, the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, DC, the Visa Waiver Program, issues facing Ukraine and Georgia, support of democracy-building in Belarus and Cuba, the upcoming 60th NATO Summit in 2009, and current U.S.–Russian relations. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer later joined President Bush in comments at the signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
The CEEC presented its October 2008 Position Statement, covering many of the issues brought up at the briefing, as well as concerns regarding financial assistance to the Central and Eastern European region, U.S. international broadcasting, energy security, human and minority rights, and the lessons learned in efforts to prevent totalitarian crimes and genocide.
The CEEC, formed in 1993, represents 19 U.S.-based national organizations and over 20 million Americans in the United States. CEEC members are: American Hungarian Federation; American Latvian Association; Armenian Assembly of America; Belarusian-American Association; Bulgarian Institute for Research and Analysis; Congress of Romanian Americans; Washington Chapter, Czechoslovak National Council of America; Estonian American National Council; Georgian Association in the USA; Hungarian American Coalition; Joint Baltic American National Committee; Lithuanian American Council; Lithuanian American Community; National Federation of American Hungarians; Polish American Congress; Slovak League of America; Ukrainian Congress Committee of America; Ukrainian National Association, and the U.S.-Baltic Foundation.
All 26 NATO members must sign and ratify the amendments to the NATO Treaty in order to bring in new members to the alliance.