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Helsinki Commission to Hold Hearing on South Central Europe

WASHINGTON

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Chairman and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, announce that on June 15th the Commission will hold a hearing to discuss many of the human rights challenges that countries in South Central Europe face as they seek integration into the European Union and/or NATO Alliance.

 “Human Rights, Democracy, and Integration in South Central Europe”

Thursday, June 15, 2006

 2:00 p.m.

 2226 Rayburn House Office Building

The primary topics to be discussed include legal restrictions on religious activities and other attacks on religious freedom, lagging efforts to combat trafficking in persons, discrimination and violence against Roma, and the prevalence of official corruption and organized crime.  In addition, witnesses at the hearing are expected to address:

 – efforts to encourage Bosnia-Herzegovina to move beyond the limitations imposed by the Dayton Peace Agreement despite the recent defeat of a constitutional reform package, and to facilitate further returns;

– the plight of the displaced and minority communities of Kosovo within the context of Kosovo’s status negotiations, and what steps are needed to preclude renewed violence and foster interethnic tolerance;

 – the need for Serbia to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and deal more effectively with the nationalist legacy of the Milosevic years;

 – the implications of Montenegro’s recent declaration of independence;

 – the prospects for the July 5 parliamentary elections in Macedonia to meet international standards;

 – progress in implementing the Ohrid Agreement in Macedonia;

 – consolidating democratic change and the rule of law in Croatia; and

 – enhancing anti-corruption and rule of law efforts in Albania.

Witnesses:

Panel I

The Honorable Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasia Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Panel II

Daniel Serwer, Director of Peace and Stability Operations, United States Institute of Peace

Janusz Bugajski, Director of the New European Democracies Project and Senior Fellow in the Europe Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Joseph K. Grieboski, President and Founder, Institute for Religion and Public Policy

Nicolae Gheorghe, Senior Advisor, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

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