Attending the Annual OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Minsk
This week, I was in Minsk, Belarus for the annual Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see more updates as they happen.
This week, as part of my role as a member the Helsinki Commission, I was in Minsk, Belarus for the annual Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. The Helsinki Commission, or the Commission of Security and Cooperation in Europe, is a bipartisan, bicameral independent agency of the federal government that promotes human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental, and military cooperation in the 57-nation OSCE region. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine members from the U.S. House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce. I was proud to be recommended by Nancy Pelosi in 2011 to serve on the Helsinki Commission.
Representatives from several European nations and others attended the annual assembly meeting. We discussed a variety of issues such as the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, terrorism from ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Middle East and Europe, immigration concerns in countries like Greece, Italy and Turkey, and cybersecurity threats to elections around the world. The U.S. delegation consisted of Chairman of the Helsinki Commission Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Co-Chairman Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Ranking Member Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) and others.
During the assembly meeting, I offered one amendment to the Resolution on Political Affairs and Security and one amendment to the Resolution on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. Both amendments passed. The first amendment encourages political leaders, especially in the Western Balkans, to refrain from using political or nationalistic rhetoric that could inflame ethnic tensions and compromise individual rights. Promoting individual rights and committing to equal justice are fundamental to a strong democracy. You can watch my remarks on this amendment here.
My second amendment encourages the elimination of criminal defamation laws in countries where they still exist. Oppressive leaders around the world have used criminal defamation laws to silence dissident voices and imprison political opponents. I have spent my career in Congress fighting for fair defamation laws. I was proud that President Obama signed my Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage (SPEECH) Act into law in 2010. This law protects American authors, journalists and publishers from foreign defamation judgments that undermine the First Amendment and American due process standards.
Also in Minsk, Senator Wicker, Congressman Smith and I met with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. We implored him to recognize the importance of human rights and to promote democracy in Belarus. The United States has imposed sanctions on Belarus for violations of human rights. We also discussed the planned September military exercises in Belarus with the Russians and the Baltic States’ fear that it could be a precursor to an invasion. We stressed the need for American monitors during those military exercises.
On Friday, July 21 from 11am-1pm at the Parkway Village Library (4655 Knight Arnold Road), my staff will hold “Congress on Your Corner” office hours to assist Memphians with questions or problems with federal agencies such as Social Security, Medicare, FHA, the VA and more. Please mark the date on your calendar. For more information about Congress on Your Corner, visit my website at https://cohen.house.gov.
Each year billions of dollars are distributed in federal grant and loan money to institutions and organizations throughout the country. The 9th District's universities, colleges, non-profit organizations, small businesses, and local governments are well-qualified to compete for these funds. If you are interested in receiving up-to-date federal grant information, including a list of the most recent grant awards and opportunities, please click here to sign up for my Grants E-Newsletter. I also encourage you to explore the resources on my website to help you and your organization search and apply for grants.
Thanks, Z-Bo, for all of your years as a Memphis Grizzly and bringing Grit-n-Grind to the Bluff City. It embodies what Memphis is all about and needs to stay alive. We wish you and Vince Carter nothing but the best. Go Grizz!
Each week, I share a health tip in the hopes of promoting a healthy lifestyle for residents of the Ninth Congressional District. As always, it is best to check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, exercise routine or lifestyle.
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health illnesses are a leading cause for substance abuse and disability among adults and children in America. Learn more about the minority health disparities for mental illnesses and how you can raise awareness here.
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress