Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Statement of Hon. Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Co-Chairman - Helsinki Commission


Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Promoting and Protecting Democracy in Montenegro

Tuesday, February 1, 2000


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your calling this hearing on the important issue of protecting democracy in

Throughout the 1990s, the American public was confronted with the human tragedy associated with the virtual
disintegration of Yugoslavia. In Croatia, Bosnia and last year in Kosovo, the media brought home images of
literally millions of refugees, of concentration camps, of rape and torture victims. Each time we see these images,
we are confronted with the difficult question of what to do in response.

Coddling a ruthless dictator -- who is now an indicted war criminal - ultimately led to more deaths, displacement
and crimes against humanity. Many have been torn between sympathy for these innocent victims of brutality, and
concern over the enormity of the effort it takes to stop those responsible for such heinous acts. In Bosnia and
Kosovo, that effort included putting thousands of American men and women in harm's way, both to make peace
and then to keep it.

I had the opportunity to meet with some of our men and women in uniform who are serving in Kosovo when I
visited the region last year and again just a few weeks ago. Many of our soldiers are being asked to perform jobs
that have nothing to do with military action, but may be helpful in restoring order and the rule of law. While I may
not agree with certain aspects of their mission, it is important that we support our troops when they are at risk in
foreign lands.

Against this backdrop, common sense makes clear that timely efforts to prevent the outbreak of conflict are worth
pursuing. We are fortunate today that we can focus on developments in Montenegro where the prospects for
democracy offer one of the few glimmers of hope in a region torn by conflict and ethnic hatreds.

Almost 25 years ago, the Helsinki Final Act laid out the premise that respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms are essential for true peace. Montenegro seems, in recent years, to have chosen that path, yet it is in the
precarious position of being part of a larger Yugoslav federation in which human rights are violated and
democratic developments are ruthlessly crushed.

Today's hearing offers an important opportunity to explore the possibilities of averting yet another costly and
protracted conflict in the Balkans. I look forward to hearing from our three distinguished witnesses about the
current situation and the prospects for democracy in Montenegro as well as in Serbia.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.