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Senator Sam Brownback, Chairman
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
www.csce.gov
June 29, 2005

HELSINKI COMMISSIONER PRAISES CONGRESSIONAL BACKING
FOR FAIR ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA


(Washington) - Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) called today for free and fair elections in Albania. He also praised his colleagues for their recent passage of House Concurrent Resolution 155, urging the Government of Albania to ensure that parliamentary elections scheduled for July 3, 2005, be conducted in accordance with international standards for free and fair elections.

“As one of the 55 participating States in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Albania is obligated to recognize the highest standards of human rights, and to hold elections that are honest, transparent and impartial,” said Smith.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

“With the help of the OSCE and other international assistance, the Albanian Government has been gradually improving its electoral and legal framework, the goal now is to see to it that the trend continues with this election,” said Smith.

On June 27, H.Con.Res. 155, urging that the Government of Albania ensure that parliamentary elections to be held on July 3 be conducted in accordance with international standards for free and fair elections, passed the House of Representatives by 369-1. The bipartisan measure was sponsored by Co-Chairman Smith. The Commission held a hearing on July 20, 2004, entitled “Advancing Democracy in Albania,” at which attention was given to the particular reforms needed to ensure success at Sunday’s elections.

“I am proud that the Helsinki Commission and the House of Representatives have been able, in some small way, to assist the people of Albania in getting their democracy on a decent footing. The Commission will be sending staff to observe the election, and with passage of H.Con.Res.155, the House is on the record as saying that freedom, in every country matters,” added Smith.

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Media Contact: James E. Geoffrey, II
202.225.1901
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