Balts oppose amendment by U.S. senator

  • 2000-09-21
WASHINGTON (BNS) - The Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) bitterly criticized a U.S. senator's amendment to the annual Foreign Operations bill, which threatens to affect the security of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

JBANC, an umbrella organization uniting Balts living in the United States, is worried because the amendment expresses opposition to the Baltic countries' early membership in NATO.

The amendment was proposed by Sen. Jeff Binga-man to the Foreign Operation bill, which appropriates funds to many foreign countries primarily for military purposes, including some funds for the Baltic countries.

According to Binga-man's amendment, the assistance provided to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia under the Foreign Military Financing Program should not be interpreted as expressing the will of the Senate to accelerate membership of those nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In its letter to Bingaman and five co-sponsors of the amendment, JBANC said that the language of the amendment is highly discriminatory and potentially damaging to the security of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The amendment is contrary to the open door policy of the U.S. and other NATO members and earlier legislation adopted by the previous Congress, JBANC said in its letter.

JBANC also criticized the amendment because it would penalize only the

Baltics for the progress they have made and for the leading role they played in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and would give implicit support to the notion of a Russian sphere of influence in the Baltic region.

JBANC appealed to Baltic Americans to urgently oppose the Bingaman amend-ment, which threatens to affect the security of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and is in contradiction with the U.S. national security policy.