Polish American Congress on Capitol Hill

March 24-25, 2009

Polish American Congress, Washington DC, April 6 -- On March 24th and 25th, 2009, selected members of the Executive Committee of the Polish American Congress (PAC) met in Washington for the first-ever "Polish American Congress Day on Capitol Hill." The two-day event was an effort to increase the awareness of the new U.S. Administration and members of Congress about key issues that are of greatest concern to the Polish American community and to the Organization – one of the largest and oldest Polish ethnic associations in the United States.

From Left: Bozena Kaminska, Susanne Lotarski,
Jeff Hovenier, Frank Spula, Antohony Bajdek,
Barbara B. Andersen, Debbie Majka

The PAC delegation was made up of Frank Spula, President; Anthony Bajdek, Vice President for the American Agenda; Bozena Kaminski, Vice President for the Polish Agenda; Debbie Majka, Vice President for Cultural Affairs; Dr. Susanne Lotarski, President of the PAC Metropolitan Area Division, and Dr. Barbara B. Andersen, Director of Research at the PAC Washington D.C. Office.

On March 24th, the group met with Jeff Hovenier, newly appointed director for Central and Eastern European Affairs at the National Security Council. The main topics of the conversation spanned the inclusion of Poland in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to issues relating to the missile shield defense system in Poland and cooperation between the Administration and the Polish American Congress.

Hovenier assured the PAC delegation that the issue of inclusion of Poland in the Visa Waiver Program is one of the matters that are important to the Administration and, as such, will be addressed in the near future. This will occur, he said, after more extensive analysis of the issue and after the transition period ends, when all key positions in the Administration are filled.

During the same session, matters pertaining to various aspects of the missile shield defense system, were also addressed, especially ones that deal with Poland’s security vis-a-vis Russia and Russia’s interests and “appetites” in Central and Eastern Europe. In this regard, the Administration strongly emphasized that Poland is consistently considered one of the most faithful allies of the United States and its interests will not be overlooked.

The day concluded with a meeting at the Polish Embassy with Ambassador Robert Kupiecki (first from left), Deputy Chief of Mission Wojciech Flera (fourth from left), Head of Consular Division Włodzimierz Sulgustowski and other members of embassy staff, during which the Ambassador presented the delegation with the Polish perspective on the key issues of transatlantic relations as well as selected elements of US-Poland cooperation.

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Photos: Polish American Congress

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