One Hundred Eighth Congress
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
January 27, 2003
Support the Independence of Kosova
Today we introduced a resolution (H. Res. 28, which is at the end of this email) expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should declare its support for the independence of Kosova.
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.
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. To cosponsor H.Res.28, please contact Keith O’Neil at 225-6735 (Lantos) or Greg Galvin (Hyde) at 225-5021.
TOM LANTOS HENRY HYDE
Member of Congress Member of Congress
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;
(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.