IN PRAISE OF THE TRANSATLANTIC LEGISLATORS' DIALOGUE MEETINGS HELD LAST MONTH IN PRAGUE -- HON. HOWARD L. BERMAN (Extensions of Remarks - May 04, 2009)
HON. HOWARD L. BERMAN OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I would like to call the attention of my colleagues in the Congress to a successful meeting of the Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue (TLD) that was held in Prague, Czech Republic, from April 18-20, 2009. Chairwoman SHELLEY BERKLEY, the gentlelady from Nevada, continues to provide this important interparliamentary exchange with enthusiastic leadership and a strong commitment to strengthening relations with our European allies. I commend this bipartisan delegation--which included PAUL KANJORSKI (D-PA), DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA), LORETTA SANCHEZ (D-CA), JOHN R. CARTER (R-TX), PHIL GINGREY (R-GA), VIRGINIA FOXX (R-NC), STEVE COHEN (D-TN), and RON KLEIN (D-FL)--for their contributions to an informed and productive exchange of views with Members of the European Parliament.
The Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue serves as the formal response of the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress to the commitment in the New Transatlantic Agenda of 1995 to enhance legislative ties between the European Union and the United States. The TLD involves bi-annual meetings between American and European legislators in order to exchange views on topics of mutual interest and foster transatlantic discourse. I welcome the discussion held by members at the Prague session about ways in which to deepen the dialogue and increase their communication beyond these formal meetings.
Given the recent transition in the U.S. administration and the upcoming European Parliament elections, it is essential that legislators continue their collaboration on the important issues facing citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. The financial crisis was a central topic at the Prague meeting, with presentations by European experts as well as representatives of the EU and U.S. administrations. The TLD emphasized the need for a strong and coordinated transatlantic policy response, while reiterating the importance of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) as a framework for cooperation. Members also addressed pressing foreign policy issues. Particular attention was devoted to Afghanistan and Pakistan, as TLD participants engaged in a dialogue with Richard Boucher, U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, about President Obama's comprehensive new strategy. Other foreign policy debates focused on the status of diplomatic initiatives regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, the Middle East peace process, and relations with Russia. In addition, the delegates talked about the challenge of climate change, the importance of energy security, and President Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo detention facility.
Madam Speaker, I would like to commend Representative BERKLEY for bringing the American delegation to Estonia and Lithuania in advance of the TLD meeting for important bilateral visits with these important NATO and EU allies. In both countries the delegation met with the President, Prime Minister, Speaker and parliamentarians to reaffirm our country's friendship and support for the Baltic states. These high level discussions focused on regional security, responses to the global financial crisis, and the importance of energy diversification. In Estonia, members raised the issue of citizenship laws and the importance of good relations between ethnic Russians and Estonians. In Lithuania, U.S. members thanked political leaders for their valuable contributions to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. They pressed them on the need to resolve longstanding problems with Jewish property restitution, protect a historic Jewish cemetery site, and cease investigations of Jewish partisans regarding their World War II activities. The delegation also spoke with a group of Belarusian opposition leaders who traveled to Vilnius from Minsk to brief members on the political and human rights situation in Belarus. The U.S. delegation assured them of our ongoing support of their brave efforts.
In conclusion, I would like to enter into the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD the joint statement that was agreed upon by American and European legislators at the 66th TLD meeting held in Prague. This document highlights the importance of continued transatlantic dialogue and cooperation in addressing pressing financial and foreign policy crises.