Welcome to the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council

By Sabina Zawadzki, Reuters, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, July 21, 2009

By Maria Danilova, Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, July 20, 2009

Ukrainian News-on-line, Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Mon, July 20, 2009 

Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 20, 2009

Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 20, 2009

Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 20, 2009

Gazeta Wyborcza, Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 16, 2009

By Sabina Zawadzki, Reuters, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, July 21, 2009

KIEV — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Ukraine on Monday to reassure its leaders that Washington has not forgotten the country, following President Barack Obama’s push to improve ties with Russia.

But with Ukraine paralyzed by domestic political feuds and suffering a deep economic recession, Biden will find a country less interested in the United States and NATO and more preoccupied with its internal problems.

The streets of Kiev were shut down as a security precaution for Biden’s visit. Ordinary Ukrainians, however, were largely indifferent to the vice president’s arrival, and newspapers had little coverage ahead of his visit. Biden’s trip comes two weeks after Obama met President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow and told him he wanted to “reset” relations.

“This is the balancing trip by Biden to Obama’s Moscow visit, but the balance is very different to that under the Bush administration,” said Christopher Granville, of Trusted Sources, an emerging market research firm in London.

President Viktor Yushchenko, who vaulted to power in the 2004 Orange Revolution, has angered Moscow with an aggressive bid for Ukraine to join NATO and his promotion of Ukrainian nationalism. But Yushchenko’s term ends early next year, and polls show he is very unlikely to win re-election in the Jan. 17 poll. The favorites to succeed him, including Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, prefer a less confrontational approach toward Russia.

“For Ukraine, the most important issues are U.S. guarantees of Ukraine’s security, the determination of future Ukrainian-U.S. cooperation in defense and also the continuing support from the United States of Ukraine’s process to enter NATO,” Yushchenko’s deputy chief of staff, Andriy Goncharuk, said last week.

Yushchenko has made NATO accession the linchpin of a policy of Western integration and told Moscow that it must vacate its naval base in Sevastopol in 2017, when Russia’s lease runs out.

Many observers say the combination of Russia’s base, Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, and Crimea’s mostly Russian-speaking population is a diplomatic
tinderbox waiting to explode.

Biden is expected to signal support for Ukraine, but the Obama administration is less strident than Bush in backing Yushchenko’s NATO bid. He will also tell the country’s leaders that Washington is concerned about the political paralysis gripping Ukraine and will urge Yushchenko and Tymoshenko to “live up to the promise of the revolution,” Biden’s national security adviser, Tony Blinken, told reporters Friday.

A snap poll by the English-language Kyiv Post found that 66 percent of respondents wanted Biden to tell Ukraine’s leaders: “Get your act together” while only 5 percent selected “Resist Russia with all your might.” Biden is also expected to call for reforms in the energy sector. He will leave Kiev on Wednesday for Georgia.
USUBC FOOTNOTE:  Those traveling with VP Biden to Ukraine are reported to include:
(1) Dan Russell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs; 
(2) Michael McFaul, National Security Council, Senior Director for Russian Affairs; 
(3) Kristina Kvien, NSC Director for European Affairs and EU Relations; 
(4) David Lipton, Special Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs; 
(5) Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the VP and
(6) Celeste Wallender, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia Policy. 

By Maria Danilova, Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, July 20, 2009

KIEV, Ukraine — Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Georgia and Ukraine starting Monday, meeting leaders eager for further reassurance that Washington still supports their joining NATO and that its effort to warm relations with Russia won't come at their expense.

The Kremlin, having seen several former communist countries of Eastern Europe enter the Western alliance, strongly opposes more of its own former republics joining. And although the Obama administration has insisted nothing has changed regarding the Georgian and Ukrainian candidacies, there's a widespread perception in the former Soviet bloc that the U.S. has opted to move more slowly.

On Thursday, an open letter whose signatories included such icons of the battle against Soviet domination as Poland's Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel urged the Obama administration not to sacrifice Russia's smaller neighbors for better relations with Moscow.

Ukraine and Georgia have drawn some comfort from Obama's explicit warning to Russia, during this month's Moscow summit, to respect its neighbors' borders. Biden's visit comes 11 months after Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war over two breakaway Georgian regions.

"This visit will be aimed at cooling the hotheads in Moscow and starting more active work on de-occupying Georgian territory," said Temuri Yakobashvili, the Georgian government minister in charge of efforts to recover South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Russia has recognized as independent despite international protest.

Biden's national security adviser Tony Blinken reiterated Washington's stance on Georgia's breakaway regions Friday. "First of all, the United States is not — will not — recognize them as independent states, and we stand firmly for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia," Blinken said.

Georgian officials are likely to look to Biden for a strong statement about Russia's posture and expanded military presence in both regions. Georgia's national security adviser, Eka Tkeshelashvili, said during a Washington visit that President Barack Obama's Moscow speech reduced the chance of further conflict.  The signal has been given very directly and very firmly in the way it usually needs to be given to Russia," she said.

Analysts say Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili also needs U.S. support for his political survival after his rule was threatened this spring by mass protests.

"It's very important for Saakashvili to show that his government is supported by the U.S. and the West, to prove that he is a respectable leader of the country and to show his political opposition that he should not be blamed for losing the war," said Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Moscow Center, a Moscow-based think tank.

Experts here say Biden has close relations with the Georgian leadership. He visited Georgia last year as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ukraine also hopes Obama proves as sympathetic an ally as President George W. Bush, who actively supported Ukraine's NATO bid despite fierce opposition from Moscow.

Blinken, Biden's national security adviser, was more cautious Friday, confirming Washington's commitment to "the broad principle that NATO's door is open to both countries, to Georgia and Ukraine." He added however, that Georgia and Ukraine must work hard to meet the membership criteria.

"The door is open, and we want to help you and work with you to get you to the point where you can meet the requirements of membership," he told reporters. Some analysts are skeptical.

"Compared with President Bush, the Obama administration is less willing to lobby NATO allies" to admit Ukraine, said Alex Brideau, a Ukraine analyst at Eurasia Group, a U.S.-based firm that advises on geopolitical risks.

Whatever is decided, neither Ukraine nor Georgia seems likely to join NATO soon. Last year's war caused some Western governments to question the wisdom of expanding NATO eastward because, had Georgia been a member then, NATO would have had to respond militarily.

Each of the 28 NATO member countries has veto power over new applicants, and France and Germany have signaled their opposition to accepting Georgia and Ukraine soon.

NOTE:  Associated Press Writers Desmond Butler in Washington, Douglas Birch in Moscow and Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili in Tbilisi, Georgia, contributed to this report.

Ukrainian News-on-line, Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Mon, July 20, 2009 

KYIV - Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oleh Shamshur predicts that Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko and US Vice President Joseph Biden will agree on creation of a bilateral commission for strategic partnership, which will coordinate the cooperation between the two countries. Shamshur gave his opinion at a news briefing.

"I think there are real grounds to believe that the negotiations between the Ukrainian president and the vice president of the United States will result in a decision to create a mechanism - probably this will be a bilateral commission - for questions of strategic partnership. This will be a commission matching the new level of our partnership," he said.

At present, the major mechanism for coordination of the cooperation between Ukraine and the United States is an interdepartmental coordination group, he said.

However, the negotiations can yield a decision to upgrade the level of officials co-chairing the commission and a start will be given to talks on higher effectiveness of the commission.

The Ukrainian ambassador also expects the negotiations between Yuschenko and Biden will yield agreements on holding a meeting of the energy security group and the second meeting of the council for trade and investment tentatively in Washington this fall.

Other questions for the discussions at the meeting will include, in the opinion of the ambassador, the provision of guarantees to Ukraine from the United States and other states in connection with the expiration of the treaty on strategic offensive arms and in connection with the events in Georgia in 2008.

Shamshur said one of the aims of Biden's visit to Ukraine is familiarization with the political situation in the country. That is why Biden plans to meet with all leading political figures of Ukraine.

The visit will also concern the questions of the coordination between Ukraine and the United States in Ukraine's execution of annual programs on joining
North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The Ukrainian ambassador said no documents are planned for signing during the visit of Biden. As Ukrainian News earlier reported, United States Vice President Biden on July 20 arrived in Ukraine. He will be on a visit to Ukraine until July 22.

Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 20, 2009

KYIV - During the visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Kyiv, the sides will discuss issues concerning Ukraine's guarantees related to the expiration of a strategic arms program, as well as the United States' support of Ukraine's European aspirations, according to the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Oleh Shamshur.

"In view of the complication of the situation with security in our region and the completion of the strategic arms program, we're serious about these two issues in order to see what guarantees exist today," he said at a briefing on Monday. Answering a question in what form the guarantees could be provided, he said: "We'd like these to be in a legally binding form."

Shamshur also said that he thinks that the sides will discuss the United States' support of Ukraine in its efforts to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic community.
"There are no reasons for me to doubt about the support of [Ukraine's aspirations for] integration into the Euro-Atlantic community, and all statements made at the level of leading members of the new Administration have been quite clear about that," he said.

Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 20, 2009

KYIV - The formation of an intergovernmental commission on cooperation between Ukraine and the United States and the launch of a working group on energy security may result from the visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Kyiv, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oleh Shamshur has told Interfax-Ukraine in an interview.

He added that the U.S. side understands the importance of reforming and restructuring cooperation mechanisms. "I also hope that a working group on energy security will be launched during the visit. It was formed earlier, there has been a decision to start its work, and we hope that we will be able to hold meetings of both this working group and the intergovernmental commission this year," he said.

Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 20, 2009

KYIV - The visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is a sign that Ukraine is an important strategic partner for Washington, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oleh Shamshur told Interfax-Ukraine in an interview on Monday.

Asked if the visit by Biden, rather than President Barack Obama, shows that the United States had decreased its level of active support for Ukraine, the ambassador said: "I think it's quite the opposite: Biden's visit, and we must take into account that this is the second [most important official] in the country, means that Ukraine is an important strategic partner for the United States first of all in the region of Central and Eastern Europe - a partner, with whom [the
United States] signed the Charter on Strategic Partnership last year."

Asked why Obama had not come to Kyiv, the ambassador said that the U.S. Presidential Administration has to make a schedule for the president's visit.
"We have to realize that [the president] is very busy, and there are a lot of foreign political challenges. But there are also a lot of domestic challenges for this administration, which relate to the financial crisis and its effect on the United States," Shamshur said.

He added that the possibility of the meeting between the presidents of the United States and Ukraine before end of this year is being considered.
The full interview with Shamshur in Russian will be posted in the Exclusive section of the Interfax-Ukraine Web site.

Gazeta Wyborcza, Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 16, 2009

The following open letter to the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama appeared in the Polish newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" on July 16:

We have written this letter because, as Central and Eastern European (CEE) intellectuals and former policymakers, we care deeply about the future of the transatlantic relationship as well as the future quality of relations between the United States and the countries of our region. We write in our personal capacity as individuals who are friends and allies of the United States as well as committed Europeans.

Our nations are deeply indebted to the United States. Many of us know firsthand how important your support for our freedom and independence was during the dark Cold War years. U.S. engagement and support was essential for the success of our democratic transitions after the Iron Curtain fell twenty years ago. Without Washington's vision and leadership, it is doubtful that we would be in NATO and even the EU today.

We have worked to reciprocate and make this relationship a two-way street. We are Atlanticist voices within NATO and the EU. Our nations have been engaged alongside the United States in the Balkans, Iraq, and today in Afghanistan. While our contribution may at times seem modest compared to your own, it is significant when measured as a percentage of our population and GDP. Having benefited from your support for liberal democracy and liberal values in the past, we have been among your strongest supporters when it comes to promoting democracy and human rights around the world.

Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, however, we see that Central and Eastern European countries are no longer at the heart of American foreign policy. As the new Obama Administration sets its foreign-policy priorities, our region is one part of the world that Americans have largely stopped worrying about.

Indeed, at times we have the impression that U.S. policy was so successful that many American officials have now concluded that our region is fixed once and for all and that they could "check the box" and move on to other more pressing strategic issues. Relations have been so close that many on both sides assume that the region's transatlantic orientation, as well as its stability and prosperity, would last forever.

That view is premature. All is not well either in our region or in the transatlantic relationship. Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads and today there is a growing sense of nervousness in the region. The global economic crisis is impacting on our region and, as elsewhere, runs the risk that our societies will look inward and be less engaged with the outside world. At the same time, storm clouds are starting to gather on the foreign policy horizon.

Like you, we await the results of the EU Commission's investigation on the origins of the Russo-Georgian war. But the political impact of that war on the region has already been felt. Many countries were deeply disturbed to see the Atlantic alliance stand by as Russia violated the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, and the territorial integrity of a country that was a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace and the Euroatlantic Partnership Council -all in the name of defending a sphere of influence on its borders.

Despite the efforts and significant contribution of the new members, NATO today seems weaker than when we joined. In many of our countries it is perceived as less and less relevant - and we feel it. Although we are full members, people question whether NATO would be willing and able to come to our defense in some future crises. Europe's dependence on Russian energy also creates concern about the cohesion of the Alliance.

President Obama's remark at the recent NATO summit on the need to provide credible defense plans for all Alliance members was welcome, but not sufficient to allay fears about the Alliance´s defense readiness. Our ability to continue to sustain public support at home for our contributions to Alliance missions abroad also depends on us being able to show that our own security concerns are being addressed in NATO and close cooperation with the United States

We must also recognize that America's popularity and influence have fallen in many of our countries as well. Public opinions polls, including the German Marshall Fund's own Transatlantic Trends survey, show that our region has not been immune to the wave of criticism and anti-Americanism that has swept Europe in recent years and which led to a collapse in sympathy and support for the United States during the Bush years.

Some leaders in the region have paid a political price for their support of the unpopular war in Iraq. In the future they may be more careful in taking political risks to support the United States. We believe that the onset of a new Administration has created a new opening to reverse this trend but it will take time and work on both sides to make up for what we have lost.

In many ways the EU has become the major factor and institution in our lives. To many people it seems more relevant and important today than the link to the United States. To some degree it is a logical outcome of the integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU. Our leaders and officials spend much more time in EU meetings than in consultations with Washington, where they often struggle to attract attention or make our voices heard. The region's deeper integration in the EU is of course welcome and should not necessarily lead to a weakening of the transatlantic relationship. The hope was that integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU would actually strengthen the strategic cooperation between Europe and America.

However, there is a danger that instead of being a pro-Atlantic voice in the EU, support for a more global partnership with Washington in the region might wane over time. The region does not have the tradition of assuming a more global role. Some items on the transatlantic agenda, such as climate change, do not resonate in the Central and Eastern European publics to the same extent as they do in Western Europe.

Leadership change is also coming in Central and Eastern Europe. Next to those, there are fewer and fewer leaders who emerged from the revolutions of 1989 who experienced Washington's key role in securing our democratic transition and anchoring our countries in NATO and EU. A new generation of leaders is emerging who do not have these memories and follow a more "realistic" policy.

At the same time, the former Communist elites, whose insistence on political and economic power significantly contributed to the crises in many CEE countries, gradually disappear from the political scene. The current political and economic turmoil and the fallout from the global economic crisis provide additional opportunities for the forces of nationalism, extremism, populism, and anti-Semitism across the continent but also in some our countries.

This means that the United States is likely to lose many of its traditional interlocutors in the region. The new elites replacing them may not share the idealism - or have the same relationship to the United States - as the generation who led the democratic transition. They may be more calculating in their support of the United States as well as more parochial in their world view. And in Washington a similar transition is taking place as many of the leaders and personalities we have worked with and relied on are also leaving politics.

And then there is the issue of how to deal with Russia. Our hopes that relations with Russia would improve and that Moscow would finally fully accept our complete sovereignty and independence after joining NATO and the EU have not been fulfilled. Instead, Russia is back as a revisionist power pursuing a 19th-century agenda with 21st-century tactics and methods. At a global level, Russia has become, on most issues, a status-quo power. But at a regional level and vis-a-vis our nations, it increasingly acts as a revisionist one.

It challenges our claims to our own historical experiences. It asserts a privileged position in determining our security choices. It uses overt and covert means of economic warfare, ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests and to challenge the transatlantic orientation of Central and Eastern Europe.

We welcome the "reset" of the American-Russian relations. As the countries living closest to Russia, obviously nobody has a greater interest in the development of the democracy in Russia and better relations between Moscow and the West than we do. But there is also nervousness in our capitals. We want to ensure that too narrow an understanding of Western interests does not lead to the wrong concessions to Russia. Today the concern is, for example, that the United States and the major European powers might embrace the Medvedev plan for a "Concert of Powers" to replace the continent's existing, value-based security structure.

The danger is that Russia's creeping intimidation and influence-peddling in the region could over time lead to a de facto neutralization of the region. There are differing views within the region when it comes to Moscow's new policies. But there is a shared view that the full engagement of the United States is needed.

Many in the region are looking with hope to the Obama Administration to restore the Atlantic relationship as a moral compass for their domestic as well as foreign policies. A strong commitment to common liberal democratic values is essential to our countries. We know from our own historical experience the difference between when the United States stood up for its liberal democratic values and when it did not.

Our region suffered when the United States succumbed to "realism" at Yalta. And it benefited when the United States used its power to fight for principle. That was critical during the Cold War and in opening the doors of NATO. Had a "realist" view prevailed in the early 1990s, we would not be in NATO today and the idea of a Europe whole, free, and at peace would be a distant dream.

We understand the heavy demands on your Administration and on U.S. foreign policy. It is not our intent to add to the list of problems you face. Rather, we want to help by being strong Atlanticist allies in a U.S.-European partnership that is a powerful force for good around the world. But we are not certain where our region will be in five or ten years time given the domestic and foreign policy uncertainties we face. We need to take the right steps now to ensure the strong relationship between the United States and Central and Eastern Europe over the past twenty years will endure.

We believe this is a time both the United States and Europe need to reinvest in the transatlantic relationship. We also believe this is a time when the United States and Central and Eastern Europe must reconnect around a new and forward-looking agenda. While recognizing what has been achieved in the twenty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it is time to set a new agenda for close cooperation for the next twenty years across the Atlantic.

Therefore, we propose the following steps:

First, we are convinced that America needs Europe and that Europe needs the United States as much today as in the past. The United States should reaffirm its vocation as a European power and make clear that it plans to stay fully engaged on the continent even while it faces the pressing challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the wider Middle East, and Asia. For our part we must work at home in our own countries and in Europe more generally to convince our leaders and societies to adopt a more global perspective and be prepared to shoulder more responsibility in partnership with the United States.

Second, we need a renaissance of NATO as the most important security link between the United States and Europe. It is the only credible hard power security guarantee we have. NATO must reconfirm its core function of collective defense even while we adapt to the new threats of the 21st century. A key factor in our ability to participate in NATO's expeditionary missions overseas is the belief that we are secure at home.

We must therefore correct some self-inflicted wounds from the past. It was a mistake not to commence with proper Article 5 defense planning for new members after NATO was enlarged. NATO needs to make the Alliance's commitments credible and provide strategic reassurance to all members. This should include contingency planning, prepositioning of forces, equipment, and supplies for reinforcement in our region in case of crisis as originally envisioned in the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

We should also re-think the working of the NATO-Russia Council and return to the practice where NATO member countries enter into dialogue with Moscow with a coordinated position. When it comes to Russia, our experience has been that a more determined and principled policy toward Moscow will not only strengthen the West's security but will ultimately lead Moscow to follow a more cooperative policy as well. Furthermore, the more secure we feel inside NATO, the easier it will also be for our countries to reach out to engage Moscow on issues of common interest. That is the dual track approach we need and which should be reflected in the new NATO strategic concept.

Third, the thorniest issue may well be America's planned missile-defense installations. Here too, there are different views in the region, including among our publics which are divided. Regardless of the military merits of this scheme and what Washington eventually decides to do, the issue has nevertheless also become -- at least in some countries -- a symbol of America's credibility and commitment to the region. How it is handled could have a significant impact on their future transatlantic orientation. The small number of missiles involved cannot be a threat to Russia's strategic capabilities, and the Kremlin knows this.

We should decide the future of the program as allies and based on the strategic plusses and minuses of the different technical and political configurations. The Alliance should not allow the issue to be determined by unfounded Russian opposition. Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region.

Fourth, we know that NATO alone is not enough. We also want and need more Europe and a better and more strategic U.S.-EU relationship as well. Increasingly our foreign policies are carried out through the European Union - and we support that. We also want a common European foreign and defense policy that is open to close cooperation with the United States. We are the advocates of such a line in the EU. But we need the United States to rethink its attitude toward the EU and engage it much more seriously as a strategic partner. We need to bring NATO and the EU closer together and make them work in tandem. We need common NATO and EU strategies not only toward Russia but on a range of other new strategic challenges.

Fifth is energy security. The threat to energy supplies can exert an immediate influence on our nations' political sovereignty also as allies contributing to common decisions in NATO. That is why it must also become a transatlantic priority. Although most of the responsibility for energy security lies within the realm of the EU, the United States also has a role to play. Absent American support, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline would never have been built. Energy security must become an integral part of U.S.-European strategic cooperation.

Central and Eastern European countries should lobby harder (and with more unity) inside Europe for diversification of the energy mix, suppliers, and transit routes, as well as for tough legal scrutiny of Russia's abuse of its monopoly and cartel-like power inside the EU. But American political support on this will play a crucial role. Similarly, the United States can play an important role in solidifying further its support for the Nabucco pipeline, particularly in using its security relationship with the main transit country, Turkey, as well as the North-South interconnector of Central Europe and LNG terminals in our region.

Sixth, we must not neglect the human factor. Our next generations need to get to know each other, too. We have to cherish and protect the multitude of educational, professional, and other networks and friendships that underpin our friendship and alliance. The U.S. visa regime remains an obstacle in this regard. It is absurd that Poland and Romania -- arguably the two biggest and most pro-American states in the CEE region, which are making substantial contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan -- have not yet been brought into the visa waiver program.

It is incomprehensible that a critic like the French anti-globalization activist Jose Bove does not require a visa for the United States but former Solidarity activist and Nobel Peace prizewinner Lech Walesa does. This issue will be resolved only if it is made a political priority by the President of the United States.

The steps we made together since 1989 are not minor in history. The common successes are the proper foundation for the transatlantic renaissance we need today. This is why we believe that we should also consider the creation of a Legacy Fellowship for young leaders. Twenty years have passed since the revolutions of 1989. That is a whole generation. We need a new generation to renew the transatlantic partnership. A new program should be launched to identify those young leaders on both sides of the Atlantic who can carry forward the transatlantic project we have spent the last two decades building in Central and Eastern Europe.

In conclusion, the onset of a new Administration in the United States has raised great hopes in our countries for a transatlantic renewal. It is an opportunity we dare not miss. We, the authors of this letter, know firsthand how important the relationship with the United States has been. In the 1990s, a large part of getting Europe right was about getting Central and Eastern Europe right. The engagement of the United States was critical to locking in peace and stability from the Baltics to the Black Sea. Today the goal must be to keep Central and Eastern Europe right as a stable, activist, and Atlanticist part of our broader community.

That is the key to our success in bringing about the renaissance in the Alliance the Obama Administration has committed itself to work for and which we support. That will require both sides recommitting to and investing in this relationship. But if we do it right, the pay off down the road can be very real. By taking the right steps now, we can put it on new and solid footing for the future.

NOTE: [Signed] by Valdas Adamkus, Martin Butora, Emil Constantinescu, Pavol Demes, Lubos Dobrovsky, Matyas Eorsi, Istvan Gyarmati, Vaclav Havel, Rastislav Kacer, Sandra Kalniete, Karel Schwarzenberg, Michal Kovac, Ivan Krastev, Alexander Kwasniewski, Mart Laar, Kadri Liik, Janos Martonyi. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Adam Rotfeld, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Alexandr Vondra, Lech Walesa.