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Hon. Alcee L. Hastings, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
March 31, 2008


(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), will hold a briefing entitled, “The Future of Democracy in Serbia,” on Thursday, April 3, 2008 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. in room 2220 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The briefing will look at the political situation in Serbia at this critical time in the country’s history as well as the long-term prospects for the country’s democratic institutions, including civic society. Panelists will report on their recent visits to the region and the results of recently conducted public opinion polls indicating attitudes in Serbia regarding their political leaders and their country's future direction.

Concern has been expressed about the direction Serbia is taking, especially since Kosovo's February 17 declaration of independence that has been recognized by the United States and many other countries.  In addition to the well-publicized, violent demonstrations in front of the U.S. and other foreign embassies in Belgrade on February 21, representatives of Serbia's independent media, non-governmental organizations and western-oriented political parties have also faced harassment or intimidation.  Meanwhile, Serbia's ruling coalition collapsed in early March, and new parliamentary elections will be held on May 11 and will give the people of Serbia a choice between those political leaders advocating nationalism and isolation and those advocating democracy and integration.

Participants in the briefing will include:
Ivana Howard, Program Officer, Central and Eastern Europe, National Endowment for Democracy
Robert Benjamin, Regional Director, Central and Eastern Europe Programs, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Lindsay Lloyd, Regional Program Director, Europe, International Republican Institute
WHAT: Helsinki Commission to Briefing on the Future of Democracy in Serbia

WHEN: Thursday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: 2220 Rayburn House Office Building

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.
Media Contact: Lale Mamaux
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