On October 7, 2002 the U.S. House of Representatives adopted two resolutions reaffirming U.S. support for Baltic membership in NATO–HCR 116 and H.Res. 468.
HCR 16 sponsored by Representatives John Shimkus (R-IL) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) calls for extending an invitation the Baltic Countries to join NATO at the Prague Summit this November contingent on their completion of the Membership Action Plan requirements.”Their addition furthers NATO’s goal of promoting freedom and peace and stabilizing the European continents,” stated Shimkus.
In his statement on the floor of the House, Shimkus stated, “…the Baltic countries have established stable democratic governments, free market economic systems, and exemplary respect for human rights and civil liberties.” He explained that he introduced the resolution “because it is very important for the House of Representatives to send a message to NATO leaders before the 2002 summit that the United States stands firmly behind the Baltic’s candidacy.”
HCR 116 was passed by an overwhelming loud and clear voice vote. Speaking in support of the resolution were Representatives Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Lee Terry (R-NE), Diane Watson (D-CA) and John Shimkus (R-IL).
Representative Gallegly noted that: “The total political, economic, and social transformation they [Baltic countries] have gone through in preparation for NATO and EU membership have been impressive and they deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments by being invited to join the Alliance.” He noted that HCR 116 was “complimentary” to H.Res. 468. The bipartisan resolution had 56 cosponsors.
H.Res. 468 introduced by Representative Elton Gallegy, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Europe, affirmed that the further enlargement of NATO will further the stability of Europe,
add to the security of the Alliance and is appropriate and welcome. It endorsed the candidacy of seven countries, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and noted that the candidate states “have met in satisfactory manner the criteria established by NATO through the Membership Action Plan, would likely make a positive contribution to NATO and should be invited to begin the accession process to join the Alliance at the Prague summit.”
The vote for H.Res. 468 was 358 to 9 with one abstention. Sixty-three members did not vote. The resolution had 20 cosponsors, with Representatives Bereuter, Christopher Cox (R-CA) and Lantos as original cosponsors.
In his presentation to the House, Chairman Gallegly said the recommendation to nominate the seven countries for membership in NATO was based on an extensive report prepared by the Subcommittee staff. It determined that the efforts the candidate states have made to meet the criteria for becoming members “has been impressive. Each country is a viable democracy, each is committed to market economies and each has embraced military reforms. Each provides a unique geo-political perspective or geo-strategic location.”
Others speaking in support were Representatives Doug Bereuter (R-NE), Tom Lantos (R-CA) and Diane Watson (D-CA). BAFL President Valdis Pavlovskis stated that “This is a great day for Balts” and thanked Representatives Shimkus, Kucinich, Gallegly, International Relations Committee Chairman Hyde, Ranking Member Tom Lantos, those who spoke in support of the resolutions, the cosponsors of the two resolutions, as well those who voted for them. BAFL President also thanked those who called and faxed letters, and sent E-mails to congresspersons in support of the resolutions
Pavlovskis stated that the resolutions showed that the House is not only behind the Baltic Countries but also in front of them. “It was a one, two punch for Baltic membership: 116 said Balts should be admitted to NATO if they qualify and 468 said we qualified. This is as good as it gets,” noted Pavlovskis.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia the resolutions “attest to the achievements of the Baltic States in their progress toward NATO and offer hope for a successful ratification of decisions on NATO enlargement by the US Congress.”
Floor statements and the roll call vote on H. Res. 468 are available at http://thomas.loc.gov.