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H.Res. 28 Reissued By Congressmen Lantos And Hyde

H.Res. 28, January 2004

One Hundred Eighth Congress

Congress of the United States

House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

January 21, 2004

Support the Independence of Kosova

Dear Colleague:

On January 27, 2003 we introduced H. Res. 28 (which is on the reverse side of this page) expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should declare its support for the independence of Kosova now.

Under the Yugoslav constitution of 1974, Kosova was equivalent in most ways to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia . In its position as an “autonomous province,” Kosova, in practice, exercised the same powers as a republic. It had its own parliament, high courts, central bank, police service, and defense force. Through its definition in 1968 as a part of the Yugoslav Federal System, it gained equal representation at the federal level with Serbia and the other juridical units of the former Yugoslavia.

When Slovenia and Croatia demanded independence, Western governments made similar arguments against recognizing those countries. However, eventually the same Western governments did recognize not only the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, but Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia as well, having discovered that independence for those nations involved not so much a change of borders as a change in the status of existing borders. The lines on the map remained the same, but their status was upgraded from republican to national. It is fitting that the Kosovars be allowed to follow the same path towards independence.

Since the cessation of the1999 conflict with Serbia, during which the Serbian military and paramilitary forces killed more than ten thousand Kosovar Albanians and expelled close to a million, Kosova remains under a United Nations mandate. The Kosovars, the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union are now making efforts to rebuild Kosova, revitalize its economy, establish democratic institutions of self-government, and heal the scars of war.

On May 21 we held a House International Relations Committee hearing on “The Future of Kosova,” as a next step in our efforts to insure that Kosova and the Balkans become free, safe, democratic and prosperous, and that, as a result, our armed forces may be able to withdraw more quickly from the region. Achieving genuine, long-term political and economic stability in Kosova and in the Balkans requires more than reconstruction assistance. It also demands the resolution of the final status of the area. It is time for the United States to abide by its recognition that a right to self-determination exists as a fundamental right of all people through declaring its support for the independence of Kosova.

We strongly urge that you join us in cosponsoring H. Res. 28. To cosponsor, please contact Carol Doherty at 225-6735 (Lantos) or Fran Marcucci (Hyde) at 225-5021.




Member of Congress Member of Congress

Following is recent article by Mort Abramowitz that we hope you will find interesting.


Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Snatching Defeat in the Balkans

By Morton Abramowitz

A rabid nationalist party led by an indicted war criminal emerged as Serbia’s leading political party in last month’s elections. It is just the latest manifestation of how badly things are deteriorating in the Balkans. European-American collaboration — successful in ending the war in Bosnia and the Serbian oppression in Kosovo, and in helping to rebuild the region — is now turning success into failure. The promise of integration into the European Union, however important, is not sufficient to change the Balkans. Unless the West stops putting off difficult political decisions or making bad ones, prospects for reversing the downward trend will remain dismal.

To be sure, resumption of major hostilities is not on the horizon anywhere in the Balkans. But that does not justify relegating the area to the backwater it has become, particularly with regard to the U.S. government. It’s not just that so much effort and treasure have been spent on trying to help produce decent, functioning states. Western policy is running the risk of creating mini-”black holes” in Europe where violent nationalism, crime and terrorism are rampant.

What have been the mistakes? Let’s start with Serbia, the biggest player in the region. The stench of Slobodan Milosevic’s rule still pervades Serbia. In no East European country undergoing a post-communist transition — not even in Russia — has the country’s leader been assassinated, as Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic of Serbia was. He was killed not because he sent Milosevic to The Hague for trial but because he was preparing a crackdown on some of the criminal elements that continue to wield influence in post-Milosevic Serbia.

Despite considerable Western aid and some progress, notably in economic reform, the bottom line is that Serbia is a political swamp. It remains a nationalist and quasi-Mafia state, the product of a failure by reform elements to clean house and by Western countries to face facts. The latter largely avoided putting conditions on their aid and coddled the democratic forces, repeatedly citing extenuating circumstances for their failure to deliver and turning a blind eye to their corruption.

The West made another big mistake with its intense effort to keep Serbia and Montenegro together. By preventing the last step in the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the West sought both to stave off movement toward an independent Kosovo and to have one instead of two states for the EU to consider. It bludgeoned two real states into a bizarre confederation that does not work and likely will vanish if Montenegro is allowed to have a promised referendum on independence in 2005.

Establishing Serbia-Montenegro kept senior leaders in both countries tied up for years, reducing their focus on internal reform and wasting time and effort on the fancies of Western statesmen. Worse, the effort kept Serbia absorbed in the past, B la Yugoslavia, rather than tending to its future and the critical need to democratize the Serbian state and get rid of its criminal elements.

Moreover, rather than preparing Serbia to face its Kosovo dilemma, which many Serbs seemed ready to do after the Kosovo war, the West acted as if Serbian sovereignty in Kosovo might actually be restored. Instead of encouraging Serbs to accept the reality of the loss of Kosovo, Western envoys in Belgrade encouraged — even today — Serbia’s leaders to believe there remained a serious role for Serbia in Kosovo. Part of the West’s rationale was that the new Serbian government was fragile, and it should do nothing to make life more difficult for it by discussing Kosovo’s future. You can bet the same argument will be made by Western ambassadors as Serbia tries once again to fashion a new government now after its latest elections.

Finally and more broadly on Kosovo, the West has faltered by consciously putting off consideration of its final status. Some Western governments are simply opposed to Kosovo’s independence, but for most democratic governments the attitude is simply: Why make painful decisions when you don’t have to? Few countries are willing to bear short-term costs for uncertain long-term benefits.

The West failed to act when the political possibilities for movement on Kosovo were greatest. It has more recently compounded the problem by continuing to insist, after four years, that the freely elected Kosovo government cannot run the country and that a U.N. mission must do it. Western countries have developed a formula for further delay by insisting that Kosovo meet certain wonderful standards for good governance before it may even have an effective government with real decision-making powers, and also before its final status can be considered. The West has thus dug itself an even bigger hole on the Kosovo issue, and uncertainty about the future of all three entities — Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo — has become greater, making investment and economic growth in the region all the more difficult. Delay and the recent Serbian elections have also made the partition of Kosovo more likely.

Nobody said that there is an easy solution to Kosovo. Independence, with or without partition, is a complicated matter with uncertain consequences. Certainly there will have to be negotiations between Serbs and Kosovars on any final solution. Major international considerations are also involved. But when delay has been the Western response in the Balkans, the results have invariably been bad. From the current Western approach we can look forward to deadlock, political instability, increased ethnic tensions, low-level violence, continued Mafia-dominated governments and little growth.

Cooperation between Europe and the United States is great, except when they pursue bad policies. Democratic governments are less prone to admit error and more to change the subject and rhapsodize on all the good things they think they are doing. It is time to get a concerted Western policy that truly helps reform Serbia, frees Serbia and Montenegro from their pseudo-union, allows the people of Kosovo to have a real government, and begins the painful process of resolving the Kosovo question.

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H. RES. 28

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should declare its support for the independence of Kosova.

Whereas the United States and the international community recognize that a right to self-determination exists as a fundamental right of all people;

Whereas Kosova was constitutionally defined as a sovereign territory in the First National Liberation Conference for Kosova on January 2, 1944, and this status was confirmed in the Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia adopted in 1946, and the amended Yugoslav constitution adopted in 1974 preserved the autonomous status of Kosova as a de facto republic;

Whereas prior to the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, Kosova was a separate political and legal entity with separate and distinct financial institutions, police force, municipal and national government, school system, judicial and legal system, hospitals and other independent organizations;

Whereas Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic rose to power in 1987 on a platform of ultra nationalism and anti-Albanian racism, advocating violence and hatred against all non-Slavs and specifically targeting the Albanians of Kosova;

Whereas Slobodan Milosevic subsequently stripped Kosova of its self-rule, without the consent of the people of Kosova;

Whereas the elected Assembly of Kosova, faced with these intolerable acts, adopted a Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1990, proclaimed the Republic of Kosova, and adopted a constitution on September 7, 1990, based on the international legal principles of self-determination, equality, and sovereignty;

Whereas in recognition of the de facto dissolution of the Yugoslav federation, the European community established principles for the recognition of the independence and sovereignty of the republics of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosova fully satisfied those principles as a de facto republic within the federation;

Whereas a popular referendum was held in Kosova from September 26-30, 1991, in which 87 percent of all eligible voters cast ballots and 99.87 percent voted in favor of declaring Kosova independent of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;

Whereas, from the occupation of Kosova in 1989 until the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military action against the Milosevic regime in 1999, the Albanians of Kosova were subjected to the most brutal treatment in the heart of Europe since the Nazi era, forcing approximately 400,000 Albanians to flee to Western Europe and the United States;

Whereas in the spring of 1999 almost 1,000,000 Kosovar Albanians were driven out of Kosova and at least 10,000 were murdered by the Serbian paramilitary and military;

Whereas Slobodan Milosevic was indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal and extradited to The Hague in June 2001 to stand trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Kosova, Bosnia, and Croatia;

Whereas the United Nations established Kosova as a protectorate under Resolution 1244, ending the decade long Serbian occupation of Kosova and Milosevic’s genocidal war in Kosova;

Whereas Kosovar Albanians, together with representatives of the Serb, Turkish, Roma, Bosniak, and Ashkali minorities in Kosova, have held free and fair municipal and general elections in 2000 and 2001 and successfully established a parliament in 2002, which in turn elected a president and prime minister;

Whereas 50 percent of the population in Kosova is under the age of 25 and the unemployment rate is currently between 60 and 70 percent, increasing the likelihood of young people entering criminal networks, the source of which lies outside of Kosova, or working abroad in order to survive unless massive job creation is facilitated by guaranteeing the security of foreign investments through an orderly transition to the independence of Kosova;

Whereas the Kosova parliament is committed to developing a western-style democracy in which all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, are granted full human and civil rights and are committed to the return of all noncriminal Serbs who fled Kosova during and after the war; and

Whereas there is every reason to believe that independence from Serbia is the only viable option for Kosova, after autonomy has failed time and time again:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should -

(1) publicly support the independence of Kosova and the establishment of Kosova as a sovereign and democratic state in which human rights are respected, including the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, as the only way to lasting peace and stability in the Balkans;

(2) recognize the danger that delay in the resolution of Kosova’s final status poses for the

political and economic viability of Kosova and the future of Southeast Europe;

(3) work in conjunction with the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and other multilateral organizations to facilitate an orderly transition to the independence of Kosova; and

(4) provide its share of assistance, trade, and other programs to support the government of an independent Kosova and to encourage the further development of democracy and a free market economic system.

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