Representatives Lantos and Ros-Lehtinen Introduce H. RES. 36
For Immediate Release
REPRESENTATIVES LANTOS AND ROS-LEHTINEN INTRODUCE H.RES. 36
IN SUPPORT OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF KOSOVA
IN THE 110th CONGRESS
January 11, 2007, Washington, DC —The Albanian American Civic League is pleased to announce that Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the Committee’s Ranking Republican, have introduced their resolution calling on the United States to support the independence of Kosova.
As Congressman Lantos and former Chairman Henry Hyde stated when they introduced Res. 24 in the last Congress, “the only way to address the problem of the political, economic, and social instability that plagues the Balkans, and to prevent renewed violence in the region, is to grapple with the issue of Kosova’s final status without delay.” Lantos said in the May 2005 hearing on Kosova that, “It is my belief that the sooner we deal with this problem, the better it will be for peace and stability in the region …We simply cannot go on with the continued subservience and subjugation of the Albanian people in the Balkans.”
Balkan Affairs Adviser Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi applauded the reaffirmation of U.S. support for Kosova’s independence by the leaders of foreign affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives. She said that, “Now that the international community has delayed the resolution of Kosova’s final status until after the Serbian elections on January 21 and has sent ambiguous messages about the outcome, it is immensely important that Representatives Lantos and Ros-Lehtinen have moved so quickly to send a message to the Balkans and to the rest of the world that the U.S. Congress stands firm in its support for Kosova’s independence as the only way to bring peace and stability to Southeast Europe.”
According to Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, AACL’s president, “The introduction of this resolution for Kosova’s independence by Chairman Lantos and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is another milestone in the eighteen-year work of the Civic League. 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 war in Iraq is the issue of overriding concern to the Congress and to all Americans. I want to urge all of the political leaders in Kosova to join forces in publicly supporting the Lantos/Ros-Lehtinen resolution for the independence of Kosova.”
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110 th CONGRESS
H. Res. 36
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States
should declare its support for the independence of Kosova.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
January 5, 2006
Mr. Lantos submitted the following resolution (for himself and Ms Ros-Lehtinen); which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
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 non-criminal 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) recognize the danger that delay in the resolution of Kosova’s final status poses for the political and economic viability of Kosova and its neighbors, and consequently for the future of Southeast Europe;
(2) publicly support the independence of Kosova within its existing borders as a sovereign and democratic state in which human rights, including the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, and the rule of law are respected as the only way to lasting peace and stability in the Balkans;
(3) establish a monitoring body in conjunction with the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and other multilateral organizations to ensure that the new state of Kosova achieves the standards set forth by the UN Security Council, including the protection of minority rights and security for all of Kosova’s communities, and to facilitate an orderly transition from a UN protectorate to a fully functioning democratic government;
(4) work with the Council of Europe to develop and implement anti-racism programs that would be instituted at the level of federal and municipal governments throughout the Balkans.
(5) work with the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization to facilitate the return of Albanians to their pre-war homes in northern Mitrovica and its environs and Serbs to theirs in southern Mitrovica and other parts of Kosova;
(6) 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, rule of law, and a free market economic system in Kosova and throughout the Balkans.