Weekly News Update 

WASHINGTON, D.C. June 27, 2014

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director


Dear Friend,


In a historic moment today, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the economic part of the Association Agreement with the European Union. The EU also signed similar trade agreements with Moldova and Georgia today. As a result of these agreements, import tariffs between the countries will be cut, opening markets for greater trade in goods and services.

In addition to sweeping implications for the economies of the three countries, the agreements require the countries to comply with the EU regulations, which should encourage political reform and help reduce corruption.

With the signing of the agreement today, Ukraine comes full circle (the pact's rejection by former President Viktor Yanukovych triggered the Maidan revolution). The agreement's signing represents a symbolic victory for the Maidan protesters and President Poroshenko, who pledged closer integration with the West.

Russia has strongly opposed its neighboring countries' moves toward greater European integration. In a statement today, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said the agreements' signing will "have serious consequences."

Meanwhile, a new round of talks opened between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk today, as the expiration time of a temporary ceasefire announced earlier this week draws closer. The Ukrainian government, however, said the pro-Russian separatists have already violated the ceasefire. According to media reports, the number of foreign fighters in Eastern Ukraine is growing, including militants from Central Asia and the Caucasus. The U.S. and the EU warned Russia of additional sanctions if it doesn't act to stop unrest in Eastern Ukraine.

I had an opportunity this week to participate in a U.S. State Department briefing, by the U.S. Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, on the global rise of anti-semitism, together with B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Dan Mariaschin and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Director of Communications Arthur Berger.

This week Congress presented two Congressional Gold Medals. One honors Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King. For those who don't know, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an early proponent of the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate.

The other medal honors Israeli President Shimon Peres. Upon reception of the Medal, President Shimon Peres gave a heart-felt speech reiterating the importance of the strong bond between the U.S. and Israel. I was fortunate to represent NCSEJ at both presentation ceremonies.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with President Putin on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. According to media reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu urged Russia to ensure enforcement of provisions that prevent Iran's developing nuclear weapons.

In Belarus, rights activist Ales Bialiatski was released last week. The move was interpreted by some analysts as a sign of President Lukashenko's intention to improve the country's ties with the West.

I would like to highlight an op-ed by Matthew Rojansky and Amb. Kenneth Yalowitz in this week's update, which examines the long-term implications of the Ukraine crisis on the bilateral U.S.-Russian relationship.

Finally, the NCSEJ 2013 Annual Report is now available online at



Mark B. Levin

Executive Director

Please visit for NCSJ's Weekly News Update.


Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.

NCSEJ Website: http://WWW.NCSEJ.ORG 
Phone: 202-898-2500

NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations.
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