Sunday, October 5, 2008

CSIS New European Democracies Project conference

Above: Janusz Bugakski, McCain's Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Kori Schake, Romanian Amb to US, and Meto Koloski

October 3, 2008

The Following write up was sent to me by an individual that was at the Conference. The following is a small writen up he has shared with me from this event.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies ‘New Democracies Project’
held a forum called ‘New Allies and the New U.S. Administration: Priorities for CEE-U.S. Relations’ on Thursday, October 2, 2008. The forum had the senior foreign
advisors for the McCain and Obama Presidential Campaign. The forum participants
asked questions and comments on US foreign policy in Central/Eastern European.
A long list of around 50 people attended the forum.

The New Democracies Project is directed by CSIS think tank scholar named
Janusz Bugajski. Bugajski is a Pole from Poland who in the past has hosted
topics advocating Kosovo independence before the notion of independence was on the table. He has been author of books such as ‘Kosova Rising: From Occupation to Independenc’e (Koha, 2006), ‘Atlantic Bridges: America’s New European Allies’(2007),
Cold Peace: Russia’s New Imperialism (Praeger, 2004). He chairs the South Central Europe Area Studies program for U.S. Foreign Service Officers at the Foreign Service Institute and has testified before various congressional committees, including the Helsinki Commission, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the House Defense Appropriations Committee. Bugajski holds an M. Phil. in social anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has written many articles including articles that were published Modern Greek Studies Yearbook (2001).

CSIS is the only institution of its kind with resident experts studying the transformation of all of the world's major geographic regions. CSIS specialists seek to anticipate changes in key countries and regions–from Africa to Asia, from Europe to Latin America, and from the Middle East to North America.

At this forum, the following groups attended as participants; Hungarian American Coalition, The FYROM lobby so-called ‘United Macedonian Diaspora’, American Polish Forum, American Friends of the Czech Republic, Friends of Slovakia, Georgian Association, Lithuanian American Community, National Albanian American Council, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, American Hungarian Federation, Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, Joint Baltic American National Committee, Estonian American National Council, American Latvian Association, Lithuanian American Council, and Foundation for Democracy, Liberty, Culture from Romania.

The core sponsorship in terms of money for this day long Forum came from the Skopian Lobby outfit called ‘United Macedonian Diaspora’, American Polish forum, and Hungarian American Coalition. The main organizer for this forum was the CSIS
under Janusz Bugajski.

Bugajski opened the forum with comments saying how the US has 22 million Americans of Central European ancestry. He grouped the Poles, Balts, Czechs, Hungarians, Romanians, etc together. He said how this group can be force in the upcoming and future elections concerning issues of importance.

The Senior Policy Advisor for the McCain campaign, Kori Schake, came to speak to the forum participant group about his foreign policy objectives in Central and Eastern Europe. Schake is a Hoover Institute fellow. She spoke how McCain favors a Democratic alliance. She gave very anti-Russian tones by saying how Russia is not a ‘democracy’ and how they want to help Russia be more democratic. They condemned Russia’s threats and invasion into Georgia. She made no mention about Greece or NATO in the beginning. McCain supports a league of democracies.

McCain Campaign “The Greeks ought to move on.”

Questions were asked only by the main forum participants/sponsors of the CSIS conference. Meto Koloski of the Skopian lobby asked a question to Schake.
Koloski asked ‘At the Bucharest Summit, two precedents happened, Skopia was blocked into NATO by Greece over the name unilaterally and the rest such as Germany and France did not support Georgia or Ukraine into NATO. What is the McCain position on this?

Schake replied ‘McCain favors Ukraine, Georgia, and Skopia(called it Macedonia’) into NATO to create stable, fledging democracies.’ She said how NATO creates stability.
She says this will strengthen their democracies.

A last question was asked by Skopia’s hired lobbyist, Joe Foley. Foley represents the National Croatian Federation, and the Skopian Lobby(United Macedonian Diaspora)/ Skopje government.

Foley asked how Croatia and Albania were accepted into NATO while Greece unilaterally vetoed FYROM in to NATO while Greece rejected two names by Nimetz before the Bucharest Summit and that his friends from the Defense Department noticed a large Russian military purchase of Greece If this is true and with Russians benefiting from this. What is the campaign’s view.

Schake replied, “ It is unfortunate that Greece blocked Macedonia into NATO. I think it would be a friend and ally of the USA if Greece accepted them. It would be self-interest for the U.S.A.. The Greeks ought to move on. Greece is not a back-door Trojan horse into NATO for Russia.”

Panel Discussion-Jamestown Foundation attacking Greece over the Burgas-Alexandropouli pipeline

The first panel discussion arranged after the McCain advisor left the room was about various topics on Central Europe, Ukraine, Russian intentions, etc. However, the relevant comment came from Vladimir Socor who deals with energy policy for the Jamestown Foundation of Washington DC. In one of his list of recommendations, he said the EU needs to find the Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline unacceptable since it’s Russian oil.

Obama Campaign ‘ The only way out of this is to over the name’

Philip Gordon spoke on behalf of Mark Brzezinski as the Europe Expert to
the Obama campaign. His presentation did not include detail policy briefings
for each European country. He spoke how the US lacks diplomacy and inspire not with the military. He said how Obama has personal interest in Europe due to his
ties with Chicago’s ethnic groups. He said the US can’t achieve things without strong allies. When he spoke about NATO enlargement, he mentioned Ukraine and Georgia. He said how Obama favors NATO expansion for Ukraine and Georgia. Gordon did not
mention Skopia.

In the question/answer period, the first one to ask a question was Meto Koloski of the Skopian Lobby outfit(United Macedonian Diaspora). He asked Gordon
how “there is concerns on FYROM. Senator Obama has cosponsored S.Res. 300 about the propaganda against Greece by Skopia. At the Bucharest Summit, Greece denied entry to Skopia over its name, two days prior to the summit, they denied the name. Now, what will Senator Obama do to solve this problem…by keeping out Skopia of NATO?”

Gordon replied how ” Senator Obama is a cosponsor of S.Res. 300. He said how it does say that country refrain from spreading propaganda in a place where it’s known to take place. He said how the countries involved should find a solution. There is no other way around this. This is not stabilizing. The only way out of this is to talk over the name. I would encourage the process for this.”

Views of Skopian Lobby against Greece

The second panel discussed the Fulbright program which was not relevant. At the end of the whole panel discussion, the various European groups involved gave a brief
speech to end the forum. By this time, the room emptied out of people who came to hear the McCain and Obama campaigns.

Meto Koloski told the forum how his group’s biggest issue is the name issue of Macedonia with Greece. He said it’s unacceptable how one member state in NATO blocks the country. He gave recommendations to the next US Administration. The Skopian lobby is pushing an alternative to the Burgas-Alexandropoli pipeline. He says this route lacks support or funding. The pipeline they are proposing is from Bulgaria-Skopia-Albania. The second is they are proposing an East-West highway from Durres, Albania-Skopia-to Bulgaria to bypass Greece. They are pushing Skopia into the Black Sea Region cooperation group which Greece is a member. He cited how Skopia is a net exporter of security and is helping U.S. against terrorism, political Islam, etc. The last issue he spoke of concern was for the rights of minorities in Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, including the Macedonian minority. A lady from the Lithuanian organization asked what name they favor. Meto replied that he favors only ‘Macedonia’. He gave an example of the country of Georgia, state of Georgia. He gave how there is a province in Belgium called Luxembourg and a country called Luxembourg. He said how ‘Macedonians’ have a right to self-determination.

The Greek Embassy led by Panayiotis Giotopoulos responded to Meto’s allegations by saying how they are talking to FYROM over the name issue. He also said how FYROM is inventing minorities and gave a quote how nationalism is like a cheap drunk which can be toxic.

Meto gave a reply how his family is from Greece and we’re discriminated in Greece. He said his family comes from Thessaloniki.

The whole forum ended by 3:30pm with this exchange of Meto.