Hearing :: The Western Balkans: Challenges for U.S. and European Engagement











2:30 P.M.

REPRESENTATIVE ALCEE HASTINGS (D-FL):  Ladies and gentlemen, if I could call 
the hearing to order.  I’d appreciate it very much if we could get the hush in 
the back of the room toned down a little bit.  It would be deeply appreciated.

We’re in the process of a series of votes on the budget, and what’s going to 
happen is I’m just coming from a vote.  I believe some other members will be 
along shortly, but every 40 minutes it seems that we’re going to wind up having 
a vote.  So if I spend less time talking, we can hear from Lord Ashdown and the 
rest of our witnesses.

Today’s hearing on the United States Helsinki Commission focuses on the Western 
Balkans and has been convened for two reasons.  First, I would like you to know 
how each of the seven countries covered by this hearing – we would like to know 
how they are doing in regard to internal stability, democratic development, 
minority rights, anticorruption efforts and the rule of law.  Are these 
countries moving forward or moving backward, and what can we say about the 
region as a whole?

It is important to examine the situation in the OSCE countries on a regular 
basis and to raise our concern about problems which may exist.  Doing so 
constructively, as the Helsinki Commission has done for more than three decades 
now is an important mechanism for encouraging countries to move forward.

Much attention has been focused in recent years on Kosovo – I visited there 
myself – and Serbia’s opposition to Kosovo’s independence – visited there as 
well.  This situation, including internal developments in Kosovo and Serbia, 
warrant continued attention.  Recently, however, there has been growing about 
developments in Bosnia, and that country will likely receive much attention at 
this hearing today.

Meanwhile, Macedonia and Montenegro have been holding elections and Albania 
prepares for its parliamentary elections in June.  We are encouraging all three 
countries to meet OSCE election standards, and I particularly want to wish the 
people of Macedonia a free and fair opportunity to vote in the second round of 
presidential and local elections in this coming Sunday.

Finally, Croatia’s forward movement is important for the whole region, and its 
integration in Europe will help guide others along the same path.  

The second reason for convening this hearing is to look at international 
policy.  I’d like to know what role the international community is playing in 
the region, how well are the countries of the European Union doing in shaping 
overall policy?  Should the United States play a more active role or simply 
follow the European lead?  Or should the international community continue to 
downsize?  Or are trends in Bosnia and Kosovo, for example, calls for 
maintaining or even expanding the presence and powers currently in place?

I don’t believe that the international community should perpetuate a heavy 
presence in the region if it is no longer needed, but as we saw in the Balkans 
in the ’90s, stepping back prematurely and hoping for the best can actually be 
counterproductive, requiring an even greater commitment of international 

With a new administration here in Washington and today in Europe, now is a good 
time to take a fresh look at the Western Balkans, giving a new impetus to 
international affairs that could go a long way to ensuring that there will be 
no return to the past.

I would like at this time to begin this hearing.  We have witnesses today that 
are well-qualified to provide insights on developments in the countries of the 
Western Balkans, as well as to provide recommendations for U.S. policy.  

Our first witness, Lord Paddy Ashdown, of course is well-known to us all as a 
prominent British politician but also as a representative of the international 
community in Bosnia, where he used his talents and prestige to give the people 
of that country a better future.  The second panel will include people who have 
a very deep understanding of what is happening in the Balkans, both in terms of 
political developments but also in the lives of everyday people.  Their 
biographies and other information can be found on the table outside the hearing 
room and on the Web site of OSCE, which is www.osce.gov – cse.gov.  

I’ve been joined by the distinguished ranking member, my friend from New 
Jersey, Mr. Smith.  And, Chris, if you have anything you would like to say, go 

REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTOPHER SMITH (R-NJ):  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  I 
do, but I brought the wrong glasses so I can’t see it.  (Laughter.)  But let me 
just say I want to welcome our very distinguished witness.  I thank you and 
Chairman Cardin for convening this very important hearing, and I do look 
forward to the statements of our witnesses.

I will have to leave, unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, at 3:00 for a meeting with 
the Navy about a real crisis in my district – just outside my district and in 
it with regards to a base, but I will read the testimony and I look forward to 
our distinguished witnesses.  Thank you.  

REP. HASTINGS:  Thank you.

REP. SMITH:  I would ask that this be made a part of the record.

REP. HASTINGS:  It will, without objection.  Lord Ashdown?

LORD PADDY ASHDOWN:  Well, Mr. Chairman, thank you, first of all, for inviting 
me, and if I may pay a little tribute to my old colleague and much respected 
friend, Cliff Bond, who was ambassador in Sarajevo during my time there, for 
facilitating this.  It’s a real – I mean, its always a pleasure to be in 
Washington at cherry blossom time, but it’s a real pleasure to be before your 
distinguished committee.

And I would like to pick up, if I may, Mr. Chairman, with something which you 
said, wit which I profoundly agree.  There is a sad, bleak history of 
international interventions after wars, which is that we always leave too 
early.  We leave before the job is finished.  It’s 80 percent done and then we 
say, well, that’s it, and we either lose attention or move elsewhere.  And if 
there is a single message I have, the message is that is, I think, the danger 
of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the moment.  

Let me start off by also saying that in shorthand, the burden of what I want to 
say to you is that whilst Bosnia and Herzegovina is unquestionably Europe’s 
problem – it’s in Europe’s backyard – and I could share some concern, 
dissatisfaction, maybe even disappointment in Washington, if you are to 
conclude that once again Europe says it’s going to resolve a problem in it’s 
own backyard but it has to ask Uncle Sam to come in and give a hand, but I 
think that’s where we are.

Now, let me preface this by saying I’m not talking about resources, I’m not 
talking about troops, I’m absolutely not talking about returning to the days 
when a high representative used the  Bonn powers extensively, what you call the 
heavy-handed approach, so I agree with your judgment about that.  There is only 
one lever that we have to drive the process forward in the Western Balkans and 
that is the lever of the stabilization and association and ultimately 
membership process of the European Union.  That is what everybody wants, 
whatever their ethnicity or whatever their political view.  Across the Western 
Balkans, that is what the population wants.  And I think it’s very important 
that we use that lever more effectively.  So, a little bit of history but I’d 
like to talk chiefly about the future.  

Bosnia and Herzegovina, it seems to me that there are two phases in the 
post-conflict reconstruction of a country like Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Phase 1 
is stabilization; Phase 2 is building a functioning state.  Dayton was 
precisely the right framework to stabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it did a 
brilliant job.  It brought Bosnia to a stable peace, and then during my time 
there we moved out of the era of Dayton into the era of Brussels.  We moved to 
the second phase.  The issue was not to make sure Bosnia didn’t return to war; 
the issue was, how do we build a functioning state, capable of taking its place 
amongst the comity of nations?  

And we made remarkable progress.  And when I say “we,” I think Bosnia – I’m a 
Northern Irishman; I’ve seen these businesses of peace reconstruction up close 
and painful.  I think Bosnia made outstanding progress for 11 or 12 years – 
miraculous progress when you think what was actually done.  And for that I pay 
tribute not just to the international community and the United States for a 
long-term commitment to that, but also to the remarkable people of Bosnia and 
Herzegovina.  It wasn’t us that did this; it was largely them.

I have to say that, in my view, in the last three or four years that dynamic 
has gone into reverse, and I have to bluntly say to you that I think the 
progress, the forward movement of Bosnia and Herzegovina towards a position not 
just of stability but also functionality as a state has now moved substantially 
into reverse.  There are elements, largely in the Republika Srpska, who would 
wish to even undo the reforms toward statehood that have already been 
established, and indeed have been allowed to do so.  There are others.  In 
Bosnia and Herzegovina there is always a sort of Newtonian law of action and 
reaction, and I think there are others who have been acting in a leadership 
position amongst the Bosniac community and the federation who have acted, in my 
view, destructively and irresponsibly.  I’m not going to name names at this 
stage.  So instead of having a dynamic which was moving in a progressive 
fashion, we now have one moving into reverse.   

I have left with your committee a paper.  With your agreement, Mr. Chairman, I 
would not wish that paper to be read into the record verbatim.  I have no 
complaint at all if that were to be preceded and the substance put in there, 
but this is a confidential paper.  I was asked to provide some advice and views 
to three European governments – the Dutch government, the British government 
and the French government – and the paper is a synopsis of the information that 
I gave them, and I wouldn’t therefore want that to see – in its present form to 
go into the public domain, but I have no objection at all if it’s extracted 

REP. HASTINGS:  You have my assurance that your wishes will be followed.

LORD ASHDOWN:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  

The paper outlines, I think, what has happened and what I think now ought to 
happen, but let me start off by saying I do not believe that Bosnia and 
Herzegovina will return to conflict.  That is not, it seems to me, the danger.  
The situation is now very febrile.  There are rumors going around.  There is 
talk about it being like 1992.  There is discussion that, you know, hunting 
groups and private security firms are arming themselves with submachine guns.  
I don’t know if that’s happening, but the fact that it’s being talked about is 

It’s fragile.  I cannot tell you, Mr. Chairman, what would happen if some event 
that we didn’t predict happened by accident or a mosque suffered a grenade 
being thrown in or some event occurs.  We might then get instability on a wider 
scale, but that, it seems to me, is not the danger.  The danger is, rather, 
that Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes another Cyprus: divided, dysfunctional, a 
black hole, corruption heavily embedded, a space that we cannot afford to leave 
because it’s too destabilizing if we do, but we cannot push forward towards 
full statehood either.  That, I think, is the danger.

Now, here I have to be critical of my colleagues in the European Union.  I fear 
that the lever that we rely on Europe to exercise here has not been exercised 
effectively, and I don’t believe there is the kind of clarity of purpose and, 
above all, the kind of capacity to stick to conditionality that the European 
Union has laid down that can drive this process forward.  My very distinguished 
colleague, Chris Patton, once a European commissioner, a British politician 
like me who has a deep interest in the area, used to say the danger in Bosnia 
was that they pretended to reform and we pretended to believe them, and I think 
that’s where we’ve go to.

So we do now need a much more definite, clear policy in support of the new high 
representative and European Union special representative.  Europe needs to be 
in the forefront of that but, Mr. Chairman, we do need the full-hearted, 
engaged support of the United States in that process.  I am not asking the 
United States to do this; I am asking for political attention to the process.  
I’m asking the United States to use her influence to support the European 
Union, to strengthen them where they need to be strengthened to push this 
process forward.  I do not believe the dynamic can be reversed from a negative 
one to a positive one unless that happens in the present circumstances.  After 
the Lisbon Treaty it may well be the European Union will have the coordination 
of policy to be able to make itself more effective, but in the meantime we need 
you to be engaged.  

Now, my final word is this:  There are several ways that that could be done.  I 
know there has been discussion here about the possibility of a, quote, “special 
envoy.”  Well, that’s up to the United States to decide on, but my strong 
recommendation was that if there were to be anything of that sort, it ought not 
to be one dedicated to Bosnia and Herzegovina; it ought to be one dedicated to 
the Western Balkans.  The reality of it is that these countries are connected, 
and the reality of it is that one of the reasons why our policy has not, in the 
past, been as successful as it could have been is because instead of having a 
regional policy and understanding the interconnections, we have had a series of 
penny-packet policies for each of the countries, some of which are not 

I finish by giving one example.  There is talk about building up secessionist 
pressures in the Republika Srpska.  My own view is that Milorad Dodik, the 
prime minister of the Republika Srpska, does not have secession as an 
intention, as a strategic aim, but I think what he’s doing is seriously 
undermining the sense of cohesion and belief in the Bosnian state.  And I think 
what he’s also doing is placing himself in a state of grace to be able to take 
advantage of the opportunity if this comes.  In a sense, we are caught between 
two sides.  Some of the Bosniac leaders believe that if Dayton fails, the 
international community will ride over the horizon and save them once again 
and, by the way, abolish the Republika Srpska.  That’s nonsense.  It’s 
cloud-cuckoo land, and those who think that are even articulate are, in my 
view, very foolish.  

On the other side, I think some in the Republic of Serbsak take the view that 
this is all so difficult.  If they can persuade the international community 
that it’s not going to work, then the conditions will be created in which the 
Republika Srpska can break away.  It is vital that we ensure the territorial 
integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It is vital that we make a state that 
covers the whole of the region – the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – which 
is capable of governing effectively.  It may look more like Belgium than it 
does look like Britain, but that’s all right.  

And it seems to me that if we really want to make sure that happens, then – and 
this is an example of the interconnectedness – then we should make it very 
clear to the Belgrade government, the government of Serbia, that one of the 
conditions for them to progress towards European Union is to wholeheartedly and 
fully support the European Union’s policy, and indeed the United States’ 
policy, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, not just not to impede that policy but 
actively to support it and actively to join us in saying, for instance to the 
Republika Srpska, that the question of secession is not and will not ever be 
acceptable or on the table.  

Mr. Chairman, I think I’ve said enough.  I’m happy to answer any questions that 
you or the committee may have.  And I’ll just return to – the burden of how we 
go about suggesting – how we go about achieving some of the things I’ve 
suggested are in the paper that I’ve privately distributed to the committee.

REP. HASTINGS:  Deeply appreciated, as is your testimony.  And in light of the 
fact that he has other commitments I’d like to turn to the distinguished 
ranking member, Mr. Smith, now, and note that we’ve been joined by our 
colleague and commissioner, Robert Aderholt, who is from Alabama.

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Chairman, I thank you for that courtesy and thank you again 
for convening this important hearing.  And, Lord Ashdown, we thank you for your 
insights and leadership on this important issue because I do believe that 
Bosnia and Herzegovina is at a very much of a crossroads, and I think ensuring 
that it stays a solitary state remains a very high priority for us, as it 
clearly is for you.

Having been involved in the issue even before Bosnia was part of the conflict, 
I remember visiting Vukovar just weeks before it fell, then meeting with 
Milosevic in Belgrade, who denied that they were even involved in Vukovar, and 
we saw the MIGs flying over, and working with the chairman and Ben too with – 
throughout all of those years, raising the issue that we needed a robust 
European-American response.  At first it wasn’t there, as we all know.

But the concern that I have now is that there is a – almost similar to what we 
see with Holocaust deniers, there is a Srebrenica denial movement.  I recently 
went online and read for hours some of the garbage that is being promoted by 
some – it’s hard to say who they are – that Srebrenica never occurred.  I was 
with Ray Sirich (ph) two years ago when a re-internment occurred for those who 
were brutally butchered in Srebrenica, a so-called U.N. safe haven – and was 
again greatly impressed by his restraint, by his sense of inclusion.  You know, 
the form of Islam that he believes so passionately in embraces others, does not 
exclude others, and I do happen to believe that he is a model, frankly, that 
needs to be emulated because he has done such a wonderful job.

In looking through some of the garbage on the Internet dealing with Srebrenica, 
there was a picture, Mr. Chairman, when President Clinton – so former president 
at the time in 2003 – was in Srebrenica, and right below the picture it says, 
this never happened, and there’s Ray Sirich standing with President Clinton, as 
I did two years later with him at a re-internment ceremony.

So I’m very concerned that that myth-maker, which has real consequences in the 
real world, might negatively impact and lead to – and I was glad to hear you 
say you don’t think it will go back to fighting, but it could go back to some 
very nasty things.  And if you would speak to that, your view on Ray Sirich, if 
you wouldn’t mind giving that, and secondly on constitutional reform.  Like, I 
think, members of this commission, I believe passionately that, you know, we’re 
looking at a Bosnia that’s in a Dayton limbo.  They simply – you know, the 
legislators have power but it has been so carefully circumscribed by the rules 
that they can’t write laws, and we need constitutional reform.  We need – you 
know, for that democracy to break out of the blocks and really come into its 
own, they have to be able to write laws.  And small minorities can object and 
thereby kill any reforms that that wonderful country needs.

And so if you could speak to the constitutional reform issue but also Ray 
Sirich, the work that he’s done, perhaps, and this whole issue of denial of the 
horrific events that occurred in Srebrenica.

LORD ASHDOWN:  Thank you, Congressman.  You raise two very important points.  
First of all, I mean, it is a regrettable fact that you will always find 
denialists, but they tend to be a minority.  However, I have to say that you 
are absolutely right in identifying the baleful effect of this on those who 
suffered.  Now, let’s be very clear:  All three ethnicities suffered during the 
war.  There were black deeds done by all sides, but none to the extent of 
Srebrenica, and indeed of the other killings perpetrated on the Muslim 
community, largely but not exclusively by the Serbs.  It’s not to say the 
Muslims in Bosnia necessarily had cleaner hands.  They were done on the other 
side as well.  But I think my old friend Cliff Bond, who I see sitting behind 
you, used to always tell me that about 80 percent of those crimes were 
committed by Serbs.  Now, that’s not a reason to condemn the whole nation there 
of Serbs.  They’re a very great nation indeed, and in many ways people regard 
them as being the fulcrum of the Balkans.  But it is the past and we need to 
recognize the past.  So I agree with you about your concern about that. 

On Srebrenica, Mr. Chairman, I hope you don’t think it an abuse of the question 
if I were just to pay tribute to the United States government.  One of the best 
things I did, the thing that gave me personally more pride in Bosnia and 
Herzegovina – it was not part of my duties but I did it because I really 
believed in it – was to work with Ambassador Cliff Bond, and the United States 
government was really extraordinarily generous in enabling this memorial 
graveyard with its 8,000 potential spaces for graves.  I personally believe 
that, A, it’s very beautiful, and B, it will be one of the places people visit 
when they remind themselves never to allow genocide to occur again.  So the 
Srebrenica issue is indeed, Congressman, a very important one and one I hope 
that we will continue to pursue. 

On Ray Sarich, my view here is this, that we lack bridges between us and the 
wider Islamic world.  There are not many.  But the Bosnian Muslims are European 
Muslims – not new generation: 400 years old.  The great man Alija Izetbegovic 
used to say I’m a Muslim and I’m a European, and I see no contradiction between 
the two.  And I know that’s Ray Sarich’s view as well.

And I’ve been amazed at the restraint of the Bosnia Muslim population in the 
face of genocide.  And I think they can perform an extremely important role for 
us as a bridge to the Islamic community, understanding and able to explain to 
the Islamic community the reality of our Western values – what I would call our 
European, but of course they’re wider values – and also explain to us about the 
realities of Islam.

So I think there’s a really important strategic role to play here.  You know, 
and if we did allow Bosnia to become dismembered, what would that say to the 
wider strategic effort that we have to reach out to the Islamic community and 
to have a greater degree of understanding, that we allowed Bosnia once again to 
retreat down to a tiny rump of Muslims, European Muslims surrounded by an 
enemies.  I think that would say very much nor help us in the wider strategic 
battles so that’s very important.

Constitutional reform. The United States under my old colleague Don Hayes, who 
was my deputy and colleague there in Bosnia during my days, launched a process 
for constitutional reform.  Sadly the European Union colluded that 
constitutional reform – i.e., increasing the functionality of 
Bosnia-Herzegovina was not an issue for the European Union and was not a 
condition for Bosnia to join the European Union.  And therefore it seemed to me 
the leverage we had to drive forward constitutional reform – and you’re right 
in saying it is absolutely crucial if we are to create a functional state which 
we can leave – was very significantly weakened.  It was actually only the 
United States who was pushing that forward – without a primary leverage that we 
would have had to make this a condition of the stabilization and association 

I entirely agree with you, Congressman, that we have to make constitutional 
reform now a priority.  We must build a functional state here.  And I would 
hope that if we are to launch a second effort to do that, and I hope we will, 
then the European Union and the United States will this time work in concert 
because if we do, my view is that that can be completed in a satisfactory way, 
which will enable us in due course to welcome Bosnia-Herzegovina into the 
community of nations and not leave, because we never will; we’ll have our 
businessmen there, but cease this process, end this process that started with 

REP. HASTINGS:  Thank you very much, Mr. Smith.  And Mr. Addiholt, we began 
with very brief opening statements. I don’t know whether you had anything that 
you wish to add in that regard but I certainly will turn to you for any 
questions that you may pose to Lord Ashdown.

REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT B. ADERHOLT (R-AL):  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  And I 
apologize for coming in late.  Of course, as you know, there was a vote on the 
floor.  But thank you, Lord Ashdown, for being here.  And I sense your concern 
as you’ve stated your issues of regarding Bosnia-Herzegovina.  And so we thank 
you for coming today to share a little bit with us today about this.  And like 
I said, I did come in late, so some of these things you may have mentioned 
before I got here. 

But just as far as an open-ended question, as far as the vital or the 
significant interests that the United States would have at stake in the 
Balkans, could you talk a little bit about that?

LORD ASHDOWN:  Congressman, you’re saying what would the reason or –

REP. ADERHOLT:  Or, yeah – well – 

LORD ASHDOWN:  Why should you?

REP. ADERHOLT:  Or the significant interest that we have there.

LORD ASHDOWN:  Well, I mean, first of all, there is a real concern I think 
about the spread of the contingent of instability and corruption.  Let’s 
remember that many of the lines of corruption that deliver into Europe and I 
have no doubt into the United States as well – trafficking into Europe 
certainly, terrorist materials, many of those are passing through the Balkan 
corridor.  So I think this has a direct relation – stabilizing the Balkans and 
making sure that the progress that was started at Dayton continues to its final 
conclusion – has a direct relationship for trying to close off spaces for 
corruption and for the trafficking of people and materiel in an already 
dangerous world.

Secondly, as we all know, Bismarck once famously said that he didn’t think the 
Balkans were worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.  Well, we’ve 
learned that the Balkans can be a highly instable region, and the spread of 
infection can go much wider than the Balkans.  So I think it is an issue that 
we need to address on those grounds.

Thirdly, we don’t have, I’m afraid, many examples of successful post-conflict 
stabilization.  The Balkans potentially could be one.  And that I think that’s 
a very – it’s very important that we see the job through to a successful 

And my last point why it’s important to the United States – this greater 
geostrategic issue of reaching out and establishing a new relationship with the 
world of Islam, this is a crucial area for that.  If we fail again to protect 
and to ensure that there is a proper home for the European Islamic community in 
the Balkans, I think that has connotations on the wider-world scale, which 
would be very unhelpful to us in many other regions.

It’s not, Congressman, an accident that when you see al Qaeda propaganda, they 
will mention along with Jerusalem, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the genocide of 
Srebrenica.  It’s all part of that argument.

Having set our hand to this, largely under the leadership of the United States, 
I think it’s in all of our interest that that process should be completed, and 
sends a message out to the Islamic world that we are not predators upon Islam, 
that we are prepared to spend our money and risk our soldiers’ lives that 
Islamic people and Muslims can benefit from too.

So in all of those reasons – for all of those reasons, I think it’s extremely 

REP. ADERHOLT:  Thank you.  If the Obama administration does decide to go down 
the path to accept the demands of those that would want greater involvement in 
the Balkans, as you talked about, what would it mean in terms of actually 
funding or money that –

LORD ASHDOWN:  I really don’t believe you have to do very much more than you 
are doing at present.  I mean, obviously if there’s more resources that can be 
put in that, it will be very helpful.  But you’ve made a long-term commitment 
over 15 years, a very great deal of money.  I was told – and maybe I need – I 
just can’t recall the exact figure, but per head of population, as much as the 
Marshall Plan into Europe has been put into Bosnia and other areas of the 
Western Balkans and you have made a huge commitment in troops.

I don’t believe this is a moment for the United States to up that.  We know 
there are other calls on your resources, which you might reasonably argue to be 
even more urgent.  But the really important thing is the United States is 
prepared to keep an interest in the region and stand behind the European Union 
in unity.

My experience in Bosnia was when I arrived there, the international community 
was divided; it couldn’t speak with a single voice, and we could do nothing.  
We went through a process of making sure the international community spoke with 
a single voice.  The United States came in and supported what we were doing, 
and once we spoke with a united voice, we were able to move the process forward 
very fast indeed.

So what I’m calling for here I think is engagement, is support for the European 
Union’s policy, it’s unity on a single strategy, which I think should be drawn 
up between the United States and Europe, and that’s all.  I’m not calling for 
more resources and I’m not calling for more troops.

REP. ADERHOLT:  Okay.  Thank you very much.

LORD ASHDOWN:  By the way, Congressman, I don’t think there should be less 
troops.  I mean, we’ve got about 2,500 there now I think.  Until the situation 
settles down, I would not be in favor – the European Union EU4 is thinking of 
withdrawing, and some of them have withdrawn already.  I don’t believe that 
sends the right signals.  That’s not United States troops, but certainly part 
of the process of reaching a unified policy with the European Union and 
Washington would be to say to the European Union, this isn’t the time to be 
cutting – (inaudible).

REP. ADERHOLT:  So based on your testimony then, we would – the involvement 
that the United States would need to be there is to continue our troop presence 
that we have now.

LORD ASHDOWN:  You don’t have any troop presence at present in Bosnia and 
Herzegovina; they’re all European Union troops.  But the European Union should 
not – should be encouraged not to reduce those numbers.

REP. ADERHOLT:  So no American troops would be –

LORD ASHDOWN:  There are none at present.

REP. ADERHOLT:  Or would be needed.

LORD ASHDOWN:  Or would be needed.  A unity of policy with full engagement and 
energy across the Atlantic – and as I said, my view is the best way to achieve 
that would be to have something like a special envoy, not for Bosnia but for 
the whole of the Western Balkans.  I believe that would stimulate Brussels to 
have – to look at it regionally as well and maybe appoint their own envoy.  I 
think those two working together can exercise very considerable political 
leverage.  That shouldn’t be counter to anything that’s being done on the 
ground, and I think we can give the whole process a renewed energy that it 
desperately needs.  That would be sufficient in my –

REP. ADERHOLT:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. HASTINGS:  Well, Lord Ashdown, thank you.  You’ve been very clear and 
concise, and that’s deeply appreciated.  But let me put to you, do you believe 
the European Union is willing to accept Bosnia at this time.  And I don’t 
necessarily need to refer to the large indigenous or Muslim population.  It’s 
just people continue to express a variety of concerns, and I’m just curious as 
to your read on that at this time.

LORD ASHDOWN:  I’m not going to deny for a moment, Mr. Chairman, that there is 
a certain concern among European citizens about the ever-widening process of 
Europe.  But I think we need to remember that Bosnia and Herzegovina, the 
Western Balkans, is not an expansion of Europe; it’s now within Europe’s 
borders; it’s unfinished business.  It’s not about European enlargement.  I 
personally take the view that the European Union needs to deepen its 
functionality before it widens its geographical territory.

I was an instrument of the European Union foreign policy.  I was often told 
that Bosnia was very dysfunctional.  I can tell you Brussels was often more 
dysfunctional than Bosnia was.  (Laughter.)  And it’s really important that we 
should deepen that soon.  But this is now – this is not a widening of Europe; 
it’s a completion of the task to which Europe has already set its hand.  And I 
think that’s a really important point for us to make.

Now, is there a willingness in Europe to do what is necessary to drive this 
forward?  I don’t think I’d be here asking the United States to engage itself 
in this if that willingness was sufficient.  I don’t think it is across all 
European capitals. I think they’d like it to happen, but they very often don’t 
– they will the ends, but they’re not prepared to will the means sometimes.

REP. HASTINGS:  Right.  I thoroughly agree with your position.  I would be 
interested to know what influence and interests does Russia have in the Western 
Balkans, and to what extent does Moscow’s concerns and interests are – 
(inaudible) – inside our conflict with Europe or the United States?  And let me 
lay my bona fides on the table.  I’m one of those that believes very strongly 
in mutual respect and in inclusiveness as it pertains to Russia specifically.  
When I was president of the Parliamentary Assembly, I made a point of making my 
first visit to Russia to meet with the foreign minister and the then-speaker of 
the Duma.  I continue those efforts as late as two weeks ago speaking with 
Sergei Lavrov.  And I just – I don’t believe that preaching is going to 
accomplish very much for us.

LORD ASHDOWN:  I’m with you entirely.  I mean, my view was – two thoughts and 
then I’ll try and address the Balkans question.  The first is I think we 
missed, Mr. Chairman, a real, real strategic opportunity.  When we won the Cold 
War and the wall came down, we could have reached out to Russia and genuinely 
done the things that would have made them a partner.  I think we treated Russia 
with a degree of triumphalism, and sometimes, in Russian eyes, humiliation.  
And the consequence, it seems to me, was the policies which were inevitable 
given the Russian people of Vladimir Putin.

My own view is that if Russia behaves in ways which are clearly contrary to the 
kind of things that we talk about, about the freedom of nations to choose, we 
should be very, very clear to them about that.  But the position of Russia is 
such that I think we should nevertheless, as you rightly say, continue the 
dialogue on all fronts where it’s possible to do so.  Some is not, and we know 
that, and we should be clear about that, but I’m not in favor of widening the 
gap between us and Russia; I’m in favor of whilst being very clear about our 
principles, holding to the principle of dialogue and discussion.

Now, on the Balkans, look, I really do not believe Russia has a long-term 
strategic interest in the Balkans any longer.  Did they like the fact that the 
Balkans was taken away from the Russian sphere of influence and moved to the 
NATO sphere of influence?  Not very much.  It must have been difficult for 
them.  Do they use elements in the Balkans as sticks with which to beat us in 
other areas?  Yes, they do, and we know that.  They will sometimes play Kosovo 
for Russian broader policy interests.  But they are Russian a broader policy 
interest and we need to realize that.

Some of my friends in Banja Luka and in Belgrade – Banja Luka, the capital of 
the Republic of Srpska, and say, well, of course, we don’t have to go to the 
European Union because we can go to Russia.  And I invite them to go down any 
day in either Sarajevo or Belgrade and see how many – how long the queue is for 
visas outside the Austrian Embassy and the Russian Embassy, and they have their 
answer.  I know of almost nobody who is queuing up to go to Russia and almost 
everybody who’d like to go to Washington if they had the opportunity or Austria.

So I honestly think this is a piece of opportunism, and our failures to deliver 
sometimes has given the Russians to play a perfectly legitimate diplomatic game 
of using leverage there to get things elsewhere.  But do I believe that there 
is a realistic prospect that Russia could reach out and reabsorb elements of 
the Russian Balkans back into the Russian sphere of influence?  No.  Do I 
believe that there is any competition amongst the minds of the people of the 
Balkans, the citizens of the Balkans as to whether they would like to look to 
Russian cities as places their young children can go for holidays and 
education, or European and American ones?  The answer to that is no too.

REP. HASTINGS:  I thank you.  Lord Ashton, I’m fearful about our time and 
voting.  And with your permission and agreeance (ph), I’d like very much to 
have our other panelists join you.  And if you have the time –

LORD ASHDOWN:  I’d very much like to –

REP. HASTINGS:  – stay with us, then I’d like – please stay, and I’m going to 
ask them to join you at the table as well.  Ivo Banac and Ivanna Howard and 
James – do you pronounce it “Lyon” or “lion”?


REP. HASTINGS:  Lion.  Okay, roar like a lion.  What is it, France is Lyon.  
That’s the other side of it.  But I do thank you all and with your permission, 
as I indicated their curriculum vitae outside, but Professor Banac is the 
professor of history, Yale University, and president of the Croatian Helsinki 
Committee for Human Rights.  And Ms. Howard is the program officer for Central 
and Eastern Europe in the National Endowment for Democracy.  And Mr. Lyon is 
the senior associate of democratization policy council, and former senior 
Balkan advisor for the International Crisis Group.

Gentlemen, I’m always deferential to the ladies, so Ms. Howard, if you would 

IVANA HOWARD:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the 
commission.  Thank you for the opportunity to address you today and discuss the 
latest developments in the Western Balkans.  The National Endowment for 
Democracy is especially grateful for your committed interest in the region, the 
ongoing support and recognition of the need for continued international 
attention to the problems facing the Balkans.

I’ve been asked to speak today about democratic developments and civil society 
in all Western Balkan countries.  In the interest of time, I will condense my 
remarks, but I have prepared a longer written statement that I ask to be placed 
on the record.

REP. HASTINGS:  Without objection.

MS. HOWARD:  With your permission, I will devote most of my testimony to Bosnia 
and Herzegovina, and as Lord Ashton has already made the case, this country 
arguably deserves the greatest consideration at the moment.  That being said, 
however, I will briefly review the situation in other countries from the 
perspective of civil society and the challenges that it faces.  Specifically, I 
would like to draw your attention to concerns raised to me by NED grantees 
regarding freedom of information and expression in their respective countries.

And I will start with Serbia, where despite signs of improvement, following the 
formation of the new government last year, continue attention needs to be 
devoted to civil society, and especially the treatment of human rights 
defenders and the media.  Verbal or even physical violence, some of which I 
spoke of last year when I had an opportunity to brief you –

REP. HASTINGS:  Yeah, you were at our Serbia hearing.

MS. HOWARD:  Yes – is still not uncommon as witnessed several days ago when 
four journalists were attacked by a radical group organizing our commemoration 
of the 10-year anniversary of NATO bombing.  In Kosovo, attempts to expose 
endemic corruption are often met with fierce resistance by public officials who 
do not shy away from exerting political or financial pressure on watch dog NGOs 
or investigative media.  The Radio Television of Kosovo, which is the country’s 
PBS, is facing constant attempts by the government to control it.  As a result, 
journalists tend to self-censor their work, and are cautious in criticizing 
public officials.

And the head of parliamentary elections in Albania, which you mentioned in your 
opening remarks, scheduled for the summer, media is in similar situation.  The 
magazine Tema (ph) was recently evicted from its premises, rented from the 
government, and had its printing halted after it published a report on alleged 
corrupt activities by government officials.  TV News 24, generally critical of 
the government, was assessed a hefty fine for ridiculing another station’s 
promotion on the prime minister.

But the situation is perhaps the gravest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where 
pressure and media and NGOs, particularly in the Republika Srpska, remind us of 
the darkest periods in Serbia under Milosevic. Transparency International had 
to close its office in Banja Luka last summer to ensure safety of its staff 
following a barrage of verbal attacks and threats by RS officials.  Generalists 
in both entities frequently find themselves under similar pressure as evidence 
recently when a group of investigative reporters from the federal television 
FTV was attacked in Trebinje.  While their Monday night program is often 
censored and blacked out by the RS government.

But these are just some of the many problems that are found in Bosnia today, 
and Lord Ashdown has really touched on quite a few of those.  But the key issue 
in the country, which was also identified, as well as the top priority in my 
opinion for the international community can be summed up in two words, and 
those are constitutional reform.  All of us present here are quite aware of why 
Bosnia needs a new constitution.  And I’m not going to go into too much detail. 
 I will just reiterate the inherent flaw in the current system, which allows 
political elites to repeatedly use the fear of others as a mobilizing tool, 
especially head of elections.

This fear factor must be removed if Bosnia and Herzegovina is to have a chance 
at becoming a fully functional democratic state integrated into euro Atlantic 
structures.  And this is why the major task and the center point of the 
international community’s efforts should be the constitutional reform.

After the failure of the 2006 April package, few countries, the U.S. in 
particular, have a desire to tackle this issue again.  And I certainly 
understand this.  But the international community has invested considerable 
time and resources into Bosnia.  As you, Mr. Chairman, mentioned in your 
opening remarks of the November 2007 hearing in Bosnia, and I quote, “It would 
be a serious error if this international effort were allowed to fail.  We owe 
it to the people of Bosnia to encourage them to move forward,” end quote.

Therefore, I would like to offer the following recommendations for future U.S. 
and European engagement in Bosnia and the region.  The first two will very much 
echo what Lord Ashdown has already said, but I will briefly go through them.

First, the U.S. and the EU should focus again on the western Balkans and 
demonstrate a strong and consistent dedication to addressing all outstanding 
issues.  A variety of recommendations to this regard have been made, some by 
the very people speaking in front of you, including appointing a special envoy. 
 I believe that any one of these approaches would be beneficial, and in fact, 
increase attention to the region.  Hence, to have an immediate effect on the 
ground as I have witnessed myself.

For example, the simple announcement of a series of policy events in Washington 
related to the Balkans and Bosnia-Herzegovina, including this one, dampened 
nationalist rhetoric in the RS, whose leaders have remained fairly moderate in 
their statements for the last few weeks.  

Second, while no longer in the driver’s seat, the U.S. should nevertheless be – 
or could nevertheless be useful in navigating and facilitating international 
engagement in the Balkans by providing the necessary political and technical 
support to EU and Balkan partners, and the previous speaker has mentioned why 
this is necessary, and in which manner to be done.

In the case of Bosnia, the U.S. should work with its EU partners to find a 
common voice and formulate a coherent strategy with enough political will to 
see constitutional reform through as soon as possible, while securing a broad 
popular legitimacy.  And this brings me to the next point, which I consider to 
be the most crucial.  The U.S. and the EU should adopt a more pluralist 
approach to reform processes throughout the region, by reaching out to a 
broader, more diversified group of political and civic actors.

This is especially important in Bosnia’s constitutional reform, where 
self-proclaimed ethnic leaders should never again be allowed to monopolize and 
manipulate the process, as was the case in the April package.  Constitutional 
reform in Bosnia should not be a top-down process, but include a broad public 
participation and awareness and thereby ensuring popular legitimacy.  
Pro-democratic opposition leaders, as well as civil society should be 
recognized and allowed to participate as equal players in drafting, debating, 
and advocating for the new constitutional provisions.

And here I would really like to appeal to you members of the commission, 
members of Congress, and the administration to reach out to the civil society 
and meet with NGOs, and media representatives when you visit the Balkan 
countries.  Such meetings strengthen their legitimacy, not just in the eyes of 
the political elite but also in the eyes of citizens, and send a clear message 
that the opinion of civil society matters in democratic reforms processes, and 
that any form of pressure on the media is simply not acceptable.

Finally, time is of essence.  With every delay in starting the reform processes 
in the Balkans, we risk losing the democratic gains made at such a high cost.  
Bosnia’s constitutional reform in my opinion is particularly time-sensitive.  
Any attempt at constitutional reform must be swift and completed by the end of 
this year if pro-democratic, multi-ethnic forces are to have any chance in the 
October 2010 general election.  Allowing constitutional reform to be a topic in 
2010, as it was in 2006, will force citizens to again cast their votes based on 
fear and nationalist leaders can misuse the issue again to their own gain.

Thus, the international community should quickly engage all available 
resources, not the least those available locally, like I mentioned earlier, to 
help to create new constitution and by the end of 2009.  

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the commission, in November 2005 the 
secretary of state invited three Bosnian leaders to Washington to commemorate 
the tenth year anniversary of the Dayton peace accords, and pledged support to 
the constitutional reform process.  Almost four years later we remain gravely 
concerned about the country’s territorial integrity, democratic future, and 
fragile inter-ethnic peace.

The kinds of problems that NED and its grantees are doing in Bosnia and 
Herzegovina and the Balkans to strengthen democracy remain important to the 
long-term stability and prosperity of the region.  But it is only with a strong 
commitment of the United States leadership and its European partners to help to 
create the new constitution that can make Bosnia a fully democratic state and a 
stabilizing factor in the region.  If we succeed, we will have more reason to 
celebrate the 15th year anniversary of the Dayton peace accords.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to taking your questions.

REP. HASTINGS:  Thank you very much.  Professor Banac, would you proceed, sir?

IVO BANAC:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  I am very grateful for this 
opportunity to discuss the situation in the western Balkans.  I too have 
prepared a brief statement and it seems to me that it would be futile to read 
the whole statement.  It’s available.  And precisely because, at least from 
what I have heard from the previous speaker, there are many common themes here, 
I am going to stress to have some issues that we perhaps do not share to the 
same degree.

The whole point of what I am trying to convey to you today is that the process 
of stabilization of southeastern Europe has to a significant extent been 
stalled.  It has been stalled for various reasons.  One of them, and this is 
very significant, is because the Europeanization of Western alliance’s policy 
toward the western Balkans really was not successful and it cannot be sustained 
without the guidance of the United States.

So to a significant extent this is an appeal for more intense American 
engagement.  I have stressed three critical points in order of urgency.  The 
situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which I consider to be quite alarming, 
particularly in connection with the activities of Mr. Milorad Dodik in 
Republika Srpska.  I’m not going to elaborate, but I think that this is a 
situation which is rapidly getting out of hand.

I also talked about the Kosovo situation, where I think that we are frequently 
entirely too self-congratulatory without taking into account there is 
considerable discontent in Kosovo over limited sovereignty and the fact that 
the area is not fully integrated.  So this is something that too ought to be 

And thirdly, in connection with the changes in Serbia after the May 2008 
elections, despite the fact that the situation in Serbia is considerably 
improved, nevertheless I think there have been tendencies in some quarters and 
in the West to be more permissive, given the changes in Serbia, to insist 
perhaps on noncompliance in all details having to do with the international 
criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, et cetera.  My recommendation 
would be to apply the same rules and make certain that Serbia complies to the 
demands of the international community.  

Another portion of my statement has to do with the obstacles to what I consider 
to be the optimal outcome in southeastern Europe, which is to say full 
integration of these countries within the European Union and the NATO.  A 
number of things have happened during the past several years that have I think 
significantly delayed this trend.  Objectively, the EU expansion is in trouble 
as a result of the world economic crisis, obstacles to the ratification of the 
treaty of Lisbon after the Irish referendum last June, and I think also as a 
result of lack of political leadership in a number of EU countries.

We should also remember it has been negative consequences of rogue policies of 
two EU countries – Slovenia, which has obstructed – quite successfully, I 
should add – Croatia’s accession to the European Union, and the capricious 
behavior of Greece on the issue of the name of Macedonia, which has obstructed 
Macedonia’s integration into the NATO.

I think also that the fact that all EU countries have not recognized Kosovo is 
evidence that the urgency of Balkan stabilization is not grasped in all 
European capitals.  There have also been instances of euro skepticism that are 
a consequence of inconsistent policies of the European Commission.  

And I think that we ought to take the Russian role in the area somewhat more 
seriously.  I think that this is the only part of Europe that Russia can 
exercise a certain amount of influence, and it has been doing that mightily 
during the past several years, leading to I think a number of situations that 
ought to be taken under consideration.  The fact that many of the pipelines 
that are vital for European oil and gas supply run through this part of the 
world I think is something that is connected with this situation. 

Finally, I would like to make some very specific recommendations.  First of 
all, the United States should not ignore the Balkan area simply because a 
number of other problems are more pressing.  A new American diplomatic 
initiative I think is necessary for the stabilization of the whole area, 
especially in the three critical cases that I mentioned – Bosnia-Herzegovina, 
Kosovo, and Serbia.

Secondly, Bosnian situation clearly is the most important and it should have 
priority.  The U.S. government should complete the Dayton process by developing 
a new plan, new plan for the reintegration of Bosnia-Herzegovina but not with 
an ethnic yardstick.  It makes no difference whether Bosnia is effectively 
partitioned into two, three, or 23 ethnic entities.  Ethnic particularization 
always operates against the unity of complex societies such as that of 

Thirdly, I think that the new administration should reaffirm the commitment to 
the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.  This is 
terribly important, particularly when the time is running out on it, but also I 
think that there should be a new attempt to support the International Criminal 
Court through congressional ratification of the Rome Statute.  

Fourthly, the U.S. should exercise influence on the EU allies to promote and 
revitalize the EU and NATO expansion.  Serious effort should be taken against 
obstinacy in the behavior of Greece, for example, and that of Slovenia over the 
questions that I already mentioned.  In a similar vein, every effort should be 
made to promote the recognition of Kosovo among European holdouts.

And finally, the civil sector definitely should not be neglected, particularly 
in the current economic circumstances, but priority ought to be given to those 
NGOs that work with concrete cases, not the various reconciliation schemes that 
frequently operate in a political vacuum.  And I think also that the OICE 
operations should be continued, even in those cases where they have been 
significantly curtailed.

Thank you very much for this opportunity once again.

REP. HASTINGS:  Thank you very much.  And Professor Lyon.

JAMES LYON:  Thank you very much.  Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of 
the commission, thank you for the opportunity to address you today.  I’m very, 
very pleased that you’re willing to be engaged on issues of dealing with the 
western Balkans.  On behalf of the Democratization Policy Council I’d like to 
thank you for your committed interest in this region.  I would also ask that 
the longer statement that I have prepared be submitted into the record.  I’m 
going to be synopsizing.  

REP. HASTINGS:  Without objection.

MR. LYONS:  Thank you.  I would also like to add my agreement to many of the 
remarks of Lord Ashdown and Ms. Howard regarding the need for constitutional 
reform and regarding the need to focus on Bosnia.  I have been asked, however, 
to speak to some of the broader trends in the region, so I will be discussing 
several other countries, even though I will be spending most of my time on 
Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country in which the U.S. has invested quite a 
significant amount of resources.  We’ve achieved quite a great deal, and yet 
which is now of renewed concern.

Now with the exception of Kosovo, since 2001 U.S. policy towards much of the 
western Balkans is best described as leaving the region to the European Union, 
with Washington supporting whatever foreign policy Brussels would create.  As a 
foreign policy, the EU relied solely on what we call soft power – that is, the 
stabilization and association process, and the lure of eventual EU membership – 
without taking into account whether or not this would help the countries to 
overcome the legacy of the 1990s.  Today it appears that stabilization and 
association process, and by default U.S. policy, have reached the limit of 
their effectiveness.

The stabilization and association policy I believe is a one-size-fits-all 
policy based on the assumption that western Balkan states are similar to other 
Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.  
Yet those other states were by and large ethnically homogenous, with fixed 
borders, and have not been at war since 1945.  None of these assumptions holds 
true for the western Balkans.

For many of the western Balkan states, the lure of EU integration is not as 
powerful as Brussels hoped.  Internal EU disagreement over enlargement policy 
has sent a signal to the western Balkans that EU enlargement is not a priority. 
 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia have all stalled 
in the European accession process, and in the case of Bosnia the hard-won 
progress of the past 13 years has been jeopardized amid increasing rumblings of 
the possibility of renewed conflict and an ethnic carve-up.  The soft power of 
European accession, while necessary and desirable, has clearly reached its 

To understand the dynamics working against this soft power, it’s worth taking a 
brief glance at each of these five countries and the obstacles they’ve run 
into.  Kosovo is beset with serious problems ranging from organized crime to 
corruption, to dysfunctional economy, and a society whose clan structure makes 
the transition to modern political organization difficult.  The disputed nature 
of Kosovo independence, along with the presence of de facto partition and 
formulations between majority Albanians and minority Serbs means that Kosovo’s 
status struggle is ongoing and overshadows all other issues.

The potential for renewed outburst of inter-ethnic violence and ethnic 
cleansing always looms in the background.  The EU is deeply divided over the 
issue, with five member states – Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain – 
refusing to recognize Kosovo independence.  And the inability of the EU to 
reach consensus on Kosovo has led to weak international supervisory 
institutions with blurred and uncertain mandates.

Given these difficulties, Kosovo is arguably not yet ready to even begin the 
stabilization and association process.  Serbia is deeply divided.  Although 
most Serbs desire EU membership, many important constituencies among the 
economic, political, security, and opinion-making elites oppose the reforms 
necessary to move ahead.  Many Serbs are unable to move beyond Kosovo’s status 
in cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal. 

The EU carrots available are limited, and Serbia’s elites have not yet 
perceived the incentives as being sufficiently strong to overcome entrenched 
economic interests and monopolies that oppose the reform process.  EU 
membership cannot alleviate the trauma of losing Kosovo, nor can it overcome 
Serb anger at the U.S. government for supporting Kosovo independence.

As a result, the important elements within Serbia’s elites have begun to 
explore other options, not only closer engagement with Russia but also efforts 
to revitalize the nonaligned movement.  Russian activism on the energy front, 
including privatizing oil refineries in Bosnia and Serbia, as well as the 
planned South Stream pipeline, has weakened the EU’s appeal to some political 

Although Brussels believes that there is no alternative to EU membership, 
certain elites in Belgrade perceive that options may exist that require less 
change, less sacrifice, and less disruption to Serbia’s party politic than the 
EU-mandated reforms.  Macedonia is fragile internally and still susceptible to 
a possible spillover of tensions from neighboring Kosovo.  And the government 
must maintain a delicate balancing act required by the Ohrid agreement.  

Although it achieved EU candidate status in 2005 and held successful elections 
just last month, Macedonia’s accession prospects have run into a hurdle due to 
Greek opposition to its name.  Athens obstructs NATO membership and EU 
accession talks, and it’s unlikely Greece will change its position any time 

For Croatia, relations with Serbia are still very delicate and there are still 
many charges that Zagreb discriminates against its Serb minority population 
over the issue of refugee returns and proper rights.  Entrenched interests 
within the security structures and the post-1990 economic elites have slowed 
the pace of reform, yet Croatia does continue to make real progress toward EU 
membership.  Croatia faces an unusual challenge in that it has a territorial 
dispute with one EU member, Slovenia, and a budding dispute with a second, 
Greece.  And this over Greece’s objections to Croatia’s inclusion of the 
Macedonia national minority that is present in Croatia.

Now to Bosnia-Herzegovina.  The Dayton peace accords often appear to be war by 
other means, as the country’s Bosniac, Croat and Serb politicians have 
continued to pursue wartime goals via the Dayton constitutional structure, with 
Serbs obstructing true political reform at the state level, while trying to 
take state level competencies for themselves.

The Bosniacs, on the other hand, have obstructed privatization and economic 
liberalization in the federation, the institution they dominate, while the 
Croats sit back and watch.  When given the choice between pursuing EU required 
reforms, Bosnia’s politicians, Serbs in particular, have stated loudly and 
unequivocally that EU membership takes a back seat to nationalist imperatives.

Since early 2006, in spite of the appearance of progress, Bosnia has 
demonstrably slid backwards.  Today elements among all three sides talk of 
rearming, and some now mention resorting to violence or secession to achieve 
political goals.  Such talk is increasingly prevalent among political elites, 
something that was unthinkable in 2005.  The international community is in 
disarray, still undecided on what transition the OHR to the European Union’s 
special representative means, and the EU peacekeeping mission is now slated to 
be reduced to a 200-person training mission that would voluntarily give up its 
U.N. chapter 7 peacekeeping authorization.

Milorad Dodik, leader of the Serb entity, is actively undermining state 
institutions, while Hari Silajdzic, the Bosniac politician, has pulled the 
entire Bosniac political spectrum further to the right and reduced the 
maneuvering room available to more moderate politicians.  Worryingly, among the 
Bosniacs the moderates are being squeezed out in favor of politicians with more 
belligerent attitudes.  The world economic crisis may tempt some politicians to 
channel popular frustration into a more aggressive stance toward opposing 
ethnic groups.

At this moment it’s clear that Bosnia’s future as a unified state is not 
entirely guaranteed.  Much-needed constitutional reform still seems distant.  
The unanimous consensus among Bosnia’s politicians is that should the state 
fall apart, it would not be a peaceful dissolution.  Should Bosnia begin to 
unravel, its ripple effects would place U.S. relations with Russia, the EU, and 
the Islamic world under strain.  It would create refugee flows and humanitarian 
crises, and possibly create spillover in other Balkan countries such as Kosovo 
and Macedonia.

Time is not working for us.  The U.S. has an interest and a special 
responsibility, as it has spent substantial prestige and treasure in stopping 
the wars and stabilizing the region.  The Balkans also represent low-hanging 
fruit in any foreign policy calculation.  Stability can be achieved without new 
resources.  Halting Bosnia’s backward slide and preventing renewed conflict 
will require renewed and robust U.S. diplomatic engagement in support of a 
credible and strategically coherent EU policy to bolster EU soft power.  In 
this respect, the appointment of a special presidential envoy to the region 
would go a long way.  

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the commission, the U.S. must return to 
being an active player in support of its European partners.  Should it do so, 
it can secure its long-term investment and rack up a success with the EU, a 
partner it needs for so many policy priorities worldwide.  Should Washington 
remain disengaged, it will share in a policy failure that will incur 
considerable cost in the region with the EU and the wider world.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions.

REP. HASTINGS:  Thank you very much.  You may have heard that silent buzzer.  
That was the call for Mr. Aderholt and I to go over and vote on his party’s 
budget, so we probably could stay here and cancel each other’s vote out, but we 
have to go and at least be registered, all things considered.  But Robert, if 
you have a very quick question, we will take it.

REP. ADERHOLT:  Let me just ask this to either one of the panelists that would 
like.  For those that would argue that a greater or more forceful U.S. 
involvement in the Balkans would undermine efforts to encourage the local 
political leaders there and the government to take a greater responsibility for 
their own countries, just how would you address that?

In other words, the U.S.’s involvement over there in the Balkans, would that – 
how does that send a message to the local leaders there, to the politicians 
that are in that area and trying to govern, and just I’d like to get your 
thoughts on that.

LORD ASHDOWN:  I’ll make an attempt very quickly to answer this.  If the 
international community is not involved, you help the nationalist extremists.  
That gives them the excuse to say the only people who are going to protect you 
are us.  We’re your nationalist leaders, you are going to be helping them.

If the international community is involved and engaged in this process, you 
essentially provide cover to bring forward the new moderate leaders that Bosnia 
needs.  The fact that we’re involved does not mean we’re going to be doing 
things as we did in the past in the days of the High Representative when I was 
there, that we have a muscular presence and so on.  Those days are past.  But 
we have to provide a framework for the more moderate and constructive 
future-looking people to come through in Bosnian politics.

If you’re not there, you’re playing back strength into the wartime leaders who 
used the nationalist messages, and that’s what’s happened.

REP. ADERHOLT:  Thank you.

REP. HASTINGS:  I can’t thank you all enough.  We obviously will have to have a 
part two of this critically important hearing.  I’m very hopeful that I will be 
able to go as an election observer to the Albanian elections, and I certainly – 
I believe Mr. Aderholt and Mr. Smith and I as well as our colleagues who are 
not here, certainly Chairman Cardin has expressed a considerable concern.  We 
will raise the issue with our colleagues appropriately and share the very 
critical testimonies that you all have presented to us with clarity.

I normally ask for an opportunity to send you questions and ask you to answer 
them so that we can put them on the Web site, but quite frankly, your papers 
have covered the waters and it’s deeply appreciated.  

REP. ADERHOLT:  Mr. Chairman?  I agree, this is such a very important issue and 
I thank you for having this hearing today and for organizing it.  Perhaps maybe 
at some point we could have a part two to this hearing just to follow up 
because I do think this is vitally important.  The ’90s were so important.  
Everybody remembers what was going on in the Balkans and certainly, you know, 
make sure that we don’t repeat history.

REP. HASTINGS:  I know that’s right.

REP. ADERHOLT:  So we would like – so I would very much, at some point in the 
future we could have a follow-up.  And I again thank each of the panelists for 
being available today and coming and speaking, and we look forward to following 
up with you.

REP. HASTINGS:  I just wanted to share two things with you.  When my mother was 
alive and we were looking at the winter Olympics, we both commented what a 
tremendous place Sarajevo was and that we would like to live there.  Little did 
I know at some point that I would go there and be in a Holiday Inn and overlook 
that cemetery and see people who were there for memorial purposes be shot at 
while I was there.

But there was a humorous side to it, and she lived long enough for me to tell 
her that the foodstuff that we grow in the district that I’m privileged to 
serve, collard greens, also grows in Bosnia, and I was very pleased to see that.

Thank you all so very much.

(ENDED AT 3:40 P.M.)