Council of American Ambassadors Mission to Estonia, Lithuania and Poland by Ambassador Timothy A. Chorba and Ambassador G. Philip Hughes

Ambassador Chorba, President of the Council of American Ambassadors (CAA), and Ambassador Hughes, Senior Vice President of CAA, contributed a Mission Report to the American Ambassadors Review on the Council's latest mission to Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. Takeaways from the trip that are covered in the report include insights into Russian threats and NATO, U.S. troop presence in Poland and the Baltics, energy security against Russia, the three countries' involvement in the European Union, and judicial reform and controversies in Poland. Read here .

1. Huawei Ban

What's going on
The Trump administration added Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei to an exports "blacklist," the Commerce Department's Entity List. Huawei lashed back saying the ban will lead the United States to use inferior technology and lag behind other countries. The United States is home to one in four of Huawei's suppliers, making the ban a huge problem for the company's success.
What Ambassadors are saying
”There are legitimate reasons why the U.S. and our allies should be concerned with Huawei’s behavior and the risks it brings to our national security. And there are legitimate reasons why the U.S. government should consider taking actions like those announced last week. The Obama Administration undertook similar action against ZTE, Huawei’s smaller peer, and it has been publicly reported that the criminal investigations that led to last week’s Commerce Department action (putting Huawei on the Commerce BIS Entity List) and the earlier arrest in Canada and indictment of Huawei’s CFO also began under the Obama Administration. It is crucial, however, that these actions are based purely on law enforcement and national security considerations. They must not be treated as political bargaining chips in the perilous Sino-American trade war that the president is waging.” (Ambassador C. Donald Johnson, former U.S. Ambassador in the Office of the United States Trade Representative)
2. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visits the White House

What's going on
Last Monday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited President Donald Trump for his first visit to the Oval Office in over 20 years. President Trump said to PM Orban in a joint appearance, "A little bit controversial, but that's OK...you've done a good job, and you've kept your country safe." Orban was the only European Union head of government to endorse Trump's 2016 campaign, but failed to get an invitation to the White House after more than two years of trying. Hungary has frequently been at odds with the EU and last year the European Parliament voted to pursue disciplinary action against Hungary for breaching the EU's core values. European and U.S. officials have expressed concern over Hungary's democratic backsliding.
What Ambassadors are saying
“I heard time and time again from Hungarians that it was virtually impossible to get high-level meetings at the White House, National Security Council or the State Department - hardly the mark of smart U.S. diplomacy, particularly when a resurgent Russia was invading countries in Eastern Europe, and both China and Russia were swarming into the region unchallenged. Open channels of communication are the bedrock of effective diplomacy, even when there are differences...It took the bold leadership of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to break with almost a decade of failed policy. And it took the grit and intellectual gravitas of a handful who knew the region well to mend relations with some of America's most crucial but fragile allies." (Ambassador April Foley, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, The Washington Times )
3. Ousted Sudanese President charged with inciting violence

What's going on
Last Monday Sudan's former President Omar al-Bashir was charged with inciting and participating in the killing of protesters during mass protests that led to his ouster and the end of his decades-long rule. At least 100 people are estimated to have been killed by security forces since December 2018. Later on Monday, at least 10 people were wounded by security and paramilitary gunfire during a protest sit-in in Khartoum. Crowds camped outside military headquarters in Khartoum demand the military council that replaced al-Bashir to cede power.
What Ambassadors are saying
"Now more than ever, the Sudanese people need international support to push for real change in the country, not just a shuffling of personalities at the top. Right now the military has seized control, and canny securocrats are working to protect their privileged access to power and wealth...The United States and others should deliver clear, specific, and credible messages about what they would be willing to do to help Sudan recover. At the same time, they must make it plain that Bashir’s ouster alone is insufficient, and no one should be left with any delusion about continued counterterrorism cooperation being the sole determinant of American support. Informed by the demands of Sudanese civil society, and in concert with other donors and regional powers, the United States should articulate the transitional milestones and political conditions that must be met to gain access to each tranche of a recovery package that will address Sudan’s massive debt and help jumpstart the sickly economy." (Ambassador Michelle Gavin, former U.S. Ambassador to Botswana, CFR )
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