Updated: Aug 7, 2018
H.Res. 28—AACL press release
For Immediate Release
Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi
CONGRESSMEN LANTOS AND HYDE INTRODUCE H.RES. 28
IN SUPPORT OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF KOSOVA
January 27, 2003, Washington, DC —The Albanian American Civic League is happy to announce that the exact text of the Gilman-Lantos resolution (H.Res. 467), which was introduced in the House on June 27, 2002 in support of the independence of Kosova, was reinstated and reintroduced today by Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, and Congressman Henry Hyde, the Committee’s Chairman. The bill, (H.Res. 28), is being sent to all members of the House with a letter stating that, “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.”
The bill, which was first introduced by Congressmen Ben Gilman (now retired) and Tom Lantos at the end of the 107th Congress, is a comprehensive analysis of the legal, political, and economic reasons why Kosova deserves independence now. Since Congress closed for recess last fall without voting on this or any other resolution, the Civic League appealed to Congressmen Lantos and Hyde to reintroduce the bill at the start of the new session out of growing alarm at Belgrade’s mounting pressure to partition Kosova and deep concern about Kosova’s staggering unemployment rate.
H.Res. 28 recognizes that Kosova was constitutionally defined as a sovereign territory in the 1940s and that, prior to the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, it was a separate legal and political entity. It outlines the dangers that continued delay in the resolution of Kosova’s final status poses for the political and economic viability of Kosova and the future of Southeast Europe. “The fate of Kosova remains the unfinished business of the Balkan Wars of the last decade. To achieve a just and lasting peace in Southeast Europe, we must give Kosova its independence—independence it has fought healing the scars of war. However, progress in Kosova—currently a United Nations’ protectorate—is being held up by its inability to determine its own fate.
When Slovenia and Croatia demanded independence a decade ago, many Western governments opposed them. But eventually, we recognized these states as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, having discovered that independence involved not so much a change of borders as much as a change in the status of borders. The lines on the map remained the same, but their status was upgraded from republican to national. It is only fitting that the Kosovars are allowed to follow the same path to independence,” Congressman Lantos concluded.
In introducing H.Res. 28 with Congressman Lantos, Chairman Hyde said that, “We need to address the problem of the chronic instability that plagues the Balkans. To achieve this, we must focus not only on the physical and social reconstruction of Kosova, but also on independence as the only solution. With more than 60 percent of the population unemployed and with more than half under the age of twenty-five, we are paving the way for another Gaza Strip, this time in the middle of Europe.” In the absence of jobs, he noted that there would be a slide into hopelessness through a vicious cycle of poverty and crime. “There will be no jobs without peace and stability,” Hyde said, “but there will be no peace and stability without an independent Kosova.”
According to AACL Balkan Affairs Adviser Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, “In introducing this bill in the new, 108thCongress, Congressmen Lantos and Hyde are bringing their leadership to the just cause of Albanians in the Balkans. They are placing themselves in the vanguard of U.S. foreign policy interests at the start of the 21st century, because the search for peace in Kosova is part of the important search for lasting peace and stability in Europe, which is in the vital interests of the United States. While the international community, including the U.S. State Department, persists in the belief that the resolution of the final status of Kosova is something that should not even be discussed, Lantos and Hyde are rightly focusing on the negative consequences of deferring independence.”
Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, AACL’s president, said that, “The introduction of this resolution for Kosova’s independence by Chairman Hyde and Congressman Lantos is a milestone in the thirteen-year work of the Civic League, in that both members lead their parties in the House in finding viable U.S. foreign policy solutions to difficult problems. In addition, both Hyde and Lantos are committed to changing the status quo through proactive legislative activities, including Congressional hearings and trips, in order to get the Bush administration to see the merit of supporting Kosova’s independence now. He concluded by saying that, “I want to thank both of my former colleagues for their foresight and courage in tackling the tough issue of peace and stability in the Balkans at a time when the crises in Iraq and North Korea are dominating the news around the world, and I want to urge all of the party and elected officials in Kosova to join forces in publicly supporting the Lantos-Hyde Resolution for the independence of Kosova.”
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