Hon. Joseph J. DioGuardi
Shirley A. Cloyes
Balkan Affairs Adviser
For Immediate Release
Contact: AACL (914) 671-8583
THE ALBANIAN AMERICAN CIVIC LEAGUE APPLAUDS KOSOVA’S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
CALLS ON THE U.S.GOVERNMENT TO RECOGNIZE THE NEW STATE IMMEDIATELY
NEW YORK, February 18, 2008-The Albanian American Civic League, founded in 1989 by former U.S. Congressman Joe DioGuardi and a board of Albanian Americans, applauds Kosova’s declaration of independence yesterday, and calls on the U.S. government to recognize the new state immediately. The Civic League, led by DioGuardi and Balkan Affairs Adviser Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, has worked for almost twenty years with the U.S. Congress to change American foreign policy to bring independence to Kosova and equal rights to Albanians throughout the Balkans.
From the onset of Slobodan Milosevic’s occupation of Kosova in 1989 to the early days of the war in 1998, the world watched and waited while two million Kosovar Albanians were brutalized and then subjected to genocide by Serbian forces under dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Throughout, the Civic League aggressively challenged the U.S. State Department’s inaction and insensitivity to the crisis in Kosova through Congressional resolutions and floor statements, Congressional hearings, and rallies in Washington and at the United Nations in New York City. “By working with our friends in the U.S. Congress, including Congressmen Tom Lantos, Henry Hyde, Ben Gilman, and Dana Rohrabacher, and Senators Joe Biden and John McCain, we prevented the criminalization of the Kosova Liberation Army, played a role in the indictment and extradition of Milosevic to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, pressed for the NATO bombing campaign that led to the liberation of Kosova from Serbia in June 1999, and finally convinced the State Department that Kosova’s independence was the only way to bring peace and stability to the Balkans,” Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi said today.
She added that, “Now that independence is assured, Kosovar Albanians will finally be free of the fear of genocide; Kosova Serbs will be relinquished from Belgrade’s pressure to isolate themselves and will finally integrate themselves into the new state; and both the 92 percent Albanian majority and minority populations of Serbs, Roma, Turks, Egyptians, and Ashkalli will be able to take on the major task of overcoming the country’s poverty.”
Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi introduced the first Congressional resolution for the protection of the human rights of the large Albanian minority in the former Yugoslavia, especially for the autonomous Albanian province of Kosova, as a U.S. Congressman in 1986, and again in 1987, when Slobodan Milosevic came to power on a campaign of anti-Albanian racism.” Later, after leaving the House, he urged the first Bush administration to support Kosova’s declared independence in 1992, with the introduction of a resolution sponsored by the late Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Lantos.
DioGuardi said today that, “Kosova’s declaration of independence from the barbaric tyranny of war criminal Slobodan Milosevic and his successors, who are still in power in Serbia, was a choice example of the universally recognized right of self-determination under international law, much like the thirteen American colonies did in 1776 to free themselves from the English tyrant, King George the III.”
He said further that, “Kosova’s declaration is the final gasp in the dissolution of the failed Communist State of Yugoslavia and is the first step in a future Southeast Europe where all men and women are treated equally and enjoy their fair share of human, civil, economic, and political rights under international law. This is not only in the vital interests of the Albanian people, but also of the United States, which sees the recognition of Kosova as a new beginning for our largest trading partner, Europe-wholly democratic, integrated, and free of tyranny once and for all.”