SHAHEEN MEETS WITH KEY EUROPEAN LEADERS, VISITS AMERICAN TROOPS IN TRIP TO EASTERN EUROPE
Trip to Poland & Latvia Focused on Continued American Support for Central & Eastern European allies in the Face of Russian AggressionJune 16, 2015
(WASHINGTON, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) returned yesterday from a three-day trip to Poland and Latvia, during which she met with key foreign leaders, participated in a global security conference, and visited American and NATO troops. The trip focused on continued American support for allies in Central and Eastern Europe, especially in light of the threat from Russian aggression. Shaheen is the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation. She is also a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Below is a brief overview of itinerary:
Shaheen’s trip began with attendance at the Atlantic Council’s Wroclaw Global Forum in Wroclaw, Poland on Friday and Saturday. On Friday night, Shaheen presented two of the Atlantic Council’s Freedom Awards, given to extraordinary individuals and organizations that defend and advance the cause of freedom around the world. Shaheen honored those affiliated with Donetsk National University, who relocated 800 kilometers west rather than submit to Russian-backed rebels who took control of the campus last year. Shaheen also honored Nadiya Savchenko, the first woman Ukrainian military pilot, who was captured by pro-Russian forces and is currently being imprisoned illegally in Russia. Savchenko’s award was accepted by her sister, Vira. Video of the award presentations are available here.
On Saturday, Shaheen participated in a panel discussion at the conference on “America’s Role in Europe” with Stephen Hadley, former U.S. National Security Advisor (2005-2009).
The discussion was moderated by Jan Cienski, Energy and Security Editor of POLITICO Europe.
"The fact is, Putin's actions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe have probably united Congress on foreign policy more than anything since I've been there," Shaheen said during the discussion. "Europeans must ramp up their own defense spending in a way that shows they're committed.”
Full video of the discussion is available here.
While in Poland, Shaheen spoke with Lt. General Frederick “Ben” Hodges, Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe. She also met with the following European leaders, to discuss regional security:
- Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister (1991-1994) and Foreign Minister (2006-2014) of Sweden
- Natalia Gherman, Acting Prime Minister, Moldova
- Tamar Beruchashvili, Foreign Minister, Georgia
- Zoran Jolevski, Defense Minister, Macedonia
- Aivaras Abromavi?ius, Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development and Trade
- Oksana Syroyid, Deputy Chair, Ukrainian Rada (Parliament)
- Rados?aw Sikorski, Marshal of the Polish Sejm (lower house of Parliament)
- Zhanna Nemtsova, daughter of the late Boris Nemstov, an advocate for freedom and capitalism in Russia before his assassination in February.
In Riga on Saturday, Shaheen met with Andrejs Pildegovi?s, Latvian State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Solvita ?bolti?a – Chair of the National Security Committee of Latvian Parliament. On Sunday, she visited ?daži Training Base, where she was briefed on ongoing bilateral and multilateral cooperation between U.S. and Latvian Forces. Shaheen was briefed on the progress of Operation Atlantic Resolve – enhanced U.S. Security Cooperation activities along NATO’s Eastern Flank to deter aggression. She was also present during the ongoing Saber Strike exercise, a cooperative training exercise designed to improve the ability of NATO allies and partners to respond to contingencies. This year the following countries are participating: Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States. As a Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen last year helped secure $985 million in funding for the European Reassurance Initiative to support European Allies.
“Latvia is a key ally in maintaining regional security,” said Shaheen. “I’m glad that our soldiers are partnering with allied forces here in Latvia and throughout the region to defend our freedom and shared values.”
Senator Shaheen met with U.S. Army soldiers participating in the exercise and wished the U.S. Army a happy 240th birthday. A short video of her message to the Army is here.
Photos from Shaheen’s trip can be found online here.
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