On April 19, 2016, the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) comprised of a number of diaspora organizations including the Georgian Association in the USA, hosted a Policy Brief on Capitol Hill entitled “NATO’s Stance on Russia – Vision or Reaction?”. Speakers included Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter, Former Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, Senior Staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Damian Murphy and, the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of the Lithuanian Embassy in the US Mindaugas Zichkus. The meeting was opened by Marju Rink-Abel of the Estonian-American National Council and moderated by Mamuka Tsereteli, Georgian Association in the USA.
Key points raised by the speakers included:
- NATO is not a threat to any country, it is a defensive security organization;
- NATO members should push back on Russia to counter misinformation and propaganda about NATO’s intentions; NATO honors all agreements that it has with Russia;
- The “Open Door Policy” should remain intact and qualified members should be invited to join;
- European members of NATO need to increase their defense budgets to reach their NATO membership obligations;
- NATO needs to support an international brigade committed to the defense of Poland and Baltic states;
- NATO should focus more effort to ensure Russia honors Minsk agreements.
- NATO should remain firm and resist Russian attempts to re-design the current security architecture in Europe that would position Russia to limit sovereignty of other countries in choosing their military or economic alliances and partnerships.
Discussions were followed by a reception, with brief comments provided by the Ambassadors of Ukraine and Montenegro, the Georgian DCM and, a representative of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Mr. Michael Sawkiw.