WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) today said the prospect of expanding NATO to include Bosnia-Herzegovina should motivate the country to make constitutional and political reforms needed to fit into the alliance.
“As a member and now chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I have watched the Balkans go from a period of conflict and genocide in the 1990s to the progress we have seen in recent years,” Chairman Cardin said. “NATO played a vital, historic role in responding to the many challenges in the Balkans, and the Alliance should continue to bring positive change to the region by offering membership to additional Western Balkan countries that meet the criteria and can contribute to collective security. This includes Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite the problems that country faces today, which can only be remedied by constitutional reform. Preparing for NATO may be one of the best means for Bosnia to overcome its internal divisions.”
Senator Cardin spoke at an SFRC hearing about the future of NATO and transatlantic security, which featured testimony from former Secretary of State Madeline K. Albright and other witnesses. The Helsinki Commission held hearings on the Balkans this year, and Senator Cardin led a congressional delegation to Sarajevo in June.
Albania and Croatia became NATO Allies in 2009.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.