WASHINGTON – 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), expressed their support for the decision of Kosovo to declare its independence:
“Since the late 1980s, Kosovo has remained an important human rights issue for the U.S. Helsinki Commission. Kosovo’s decision to declare independence begins a new chapter in its history, and we remain committed to encouraging the new state to develop democratic institutions and respect human rights,” said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin.
Hastings added, “As Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, which advocates human rights, I have expressed my continued support for the Ahtisaari plan. This plan not only acknowledges the overwhelming sentiment of Kosovo’s population, but also provides a real opportunity for the Serb community in particular to remain in Kosovo and have a future there. It is my hope that the Ahtisaari provisions can now become a reality.”
Cardin further noted, “I stand behind Kosovo’s status decision within the Ahtisaari framework and pledge my full support for recognition of an independent Kosovo. I am concerned about stability in the Balkans, but further delay would only bring greater instability by encouraging intransigence and mutual hostility. It is clear that peace can only be achieved through the respect for human rights and democratic development. This will continue to remain a priority of this Commission moving forward.”
“We remain troubled by the decision of Serbia and Russia to place the future of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo in doubt. The Mission has done considerable outreach to the Serb, Roma and other minority communities in Kosovo, much to the benefit of those communities, which must continue. It is unfortunate that the very mission concerned about the plight of minority communities is being threatened by those countries claiming to care about those communities,” said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin.