Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: The Honorable Steny H. Hoyer
Ranking Member - The Helsinki Commission

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Mr. Chairman, two weeks ago war was declared on the United States, its people, and indeed, the very concept of freedom and liberty here and around the world. Our nation is shocked and horrified by the disastrous events of September 11, 2001, but we are not shattered. As we mourn the victims and pray for their families and loved ones, we rebuild, regenerate and unite in our determination to seek out the perpetrators and punish them. We have declared war on terrorism.

Mr. Chairman, the words of the Helsinki Final Act – conceived more than two decades ago, in a different age, and in the reality of the Cold War east-west divide – ring true for us today. In the very first words of that document, the United States, Canada, the nations of Europe and the former Soviet Union committed themselves to “ensuring conditions in which our people can live in true and lasting peace, free from any threat to, or attempt against, their security.”

We pledged to work together, Mr. Chairman, “to establish peace, security and justice” throughout the OSCE region and recognized that this commitment “reflects the interest and aspirations of all peoples, and constitutes for each participating State a present and future responsibility, heightened by experience of the past.”

Mr. Chairman, the OSCE is composed of 55 participating States and covers an area of the globe ranging “from Vancouver to Vladivostok.” I believe it is imperative that we work with the OSCE to join the battle against terrorism – the greatest threat to our individual and collective security and to our most basic human rights and fundamental freedoms – as the Final Act dictates. I strongly urge the Commission to take a leadership role in this effort.

Mr. Chairman, today’s hearing focuses on the situation in Moldova, in particular the remaining Russian military presence there. Since its independence in 1991, Moldova and its people have struggled to establish the rule of law and build democratic institutions and a market economy. It has faced many challenges, not the least of which was the secessionist movement which has divided the country and isolated the Transdniestria region.

A sign of hope is the current withdrawal of Russian troops and the destruction of ordnance which the OSCE has urged and supported for many years. Hopefully this withdrawal will facilitate efforts to reunite Moldova and give its people the opportunity to build a thriving, democratic society.

I look forward to hearing the testimony of our distinguished panel of witnesses and want to welcome, in particular, my good friend from Finland, Dr. Kimmo Kiljunen, with whom I have worked in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Dr. Kiljunen has been tireless in his work on behalf of the people of Moldova.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.