SECURITY & COOPERATION IN EUROPE:
U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION
THE WESTERN BALKANS:
CHALLENGES FOR U.S. AND EUROPEAN ENGAGEMENT
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DIRECTOR-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS,
SWEDISH MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
THE HEARING WAS HELD FROM 10:37 A.M. TO 12:13 P.M. IN THE CONGRESSIONAL
VISITORS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C., [SEN. BENJAMIN CARDIN (D-MD), CHAIRMAN,
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2009
SEN. BENJAMIN CARDIN (D-MD): Let me welcome everybody to this hearing of the
Helsinki Commission, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. On
behalf of my cochairmen, Congressman Hastings and myself and Congressman
Aderholt, we welcome all – everyone here today for the second hearing that
we’re having on the Western Balkans, which has been a major focal point of this
commission for many, many years.
We had a hearing in April, the commission, on this subject which Chairman
Hastings conducted and requested that we pay attention to this area, which I
think was very important for us to do. Expert witnesses had brought to our
attention disturbing trends, particularly in Bosnia but also in Kosovo and some
of the neighboring countries.
So it may – we know Vice President Biden and the secretary-general of the
European Council visited Sarajevo. The vice president gave a stirring speech
to the Bosnian parliament urging an end to nationalistic rhetoric and forward
movement on reforms. And shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to lead a
delegation to Bosnia, where we met with the political leadership.
The delegation got an ample look at the wide and sometimes sharp division
between the three groups. Meeting some Bosnian students of all ethnicities
later in our visit I think was very enlightening to all members of our
delegation. They saw the gap between what is necessary for a nation to survive
and the active concerns of each of the ethnic groups.
I must tell you that my observations in visiting Bosnia was clear, and that is
that there needs to be constitutional reform so the country can function as a
country. Now, that’s not to confuse with the dangers of nationalism. They
need to have a functioning national government that respects the rights of all
of the ethnic divisions within that country, and to date, that formula has been
missing. There needs to be pride in a unified nation, and that simply was not
being promoted by the leaders during our visit, and that was very clear. And
we left that country urging them to move forward with constitutional reform.
The Obama administration grasped right away the situation in the Balkans,
particularly in Bosnia, and remains unsettled. This concern prompted the vice
president’s mission to Sarajevo, Belgrade, Pristina. We have not seen Bosnia
move forward with vigorous constitutional-reform efforts. Instead, we learn of
the continued gridlock in the central government with ethnic disputes over
appointments and hear charged rhetoric at the highest level suggesting that
Bosnia’s very existence could well be in jeopardy. The commission takes these
continued slides very, very seriously.
Meanwhile, in Kosovo, there have been additional bilateral recognitions of an
independent statehood, which obviously is extremely positive, but we do not
hear of much progress in other areas that are important, even with the
deployment of the status-neutral EU rule-of-law mission. Recent incidents
suggest the need for more active and vigorous work to build institutions and
Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia also have their own challenges, some
related to Bosnia and Kosovo and some unique to their own internal dynamics.
Even in Croatia, which has made enormous strides in the last decades, still
needs to contend with issues related to earlier conflicts. This past year I
have been in Croatia and saw a very vibrant country that is making incredible
progress, and when I reflect that it’s just a few years ago there was active
war in that country, they’re clearly making the type of progress we would like
I also had a chance to visit Montenegro. I took a commission delegation into
Montenegro. What a country, what a potential – a small country and population
that could have an incredible impact. They seem to get a long with all their
neighbors; that formula is one that we would like to duplicate in the region.
So we are encouraged by the recent breakthrough in Slovenia on border issues.
That hopefully will pave the way for Croatia soon to enter the EU. EU and NATO
accessions remain the foundation of western strategy for the entire region.
Our hearing today will touch on some of these problems. Most importantly,
we’ll focus on what the United States and the European Union are doing, are
should be doing, in response.
Is there a plan to break the continuing deadlock that threatens Bosnia’s
stability? Is it possible to make progress on badly needed constitutional
reform? Will the high representative remain in place until the job is done?
What is being done to overcome Kosovo’s ethnic divide, particularly in the
north, and to bring the Albanians and Serbs together at least to find some
common ground? Is the international presence there an effective deterrent to
renewed violence? These are just a few of the questions that I hope that we
will be able to discuss at today’s hearing. I hope our discussion today sends
a strong signal to the Western Balkans that is positive and encouraging.
Our two witnesses are key players in U.S. and E.U. policy development and
coordination. First, we’ll hear from Stuart Jones, the deputy assistant
secretary of state for European affairs and holder of the department’s Balkan
portfolio. Our second witness will be Mr. Lyrvall, the director general for
political affairs in the foreign ministry of Sweden. Sweden currently holds
the presidency of the EU and speaks collectively for its members. Let me turn
to the cochairmen of the commission, Mr. Hastings, for comments that he might
want to make.
REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D-FL): Thank you, Chairman Cardin, and I thank you for
convening this hearing today. As you mentioned, the hearing in April on the
Western Balkans and Bosnia, we had Paddy Ashdown as well as a panel of experts
based in the Balkans, and their presentations about the challenges facing the
region revealed disturbing trends, particularly in Bosnia but also in Kosovo.
And I concluded that hearing with a call for a part two, and Mr. Chairman,
before we even get into this one, I can tell you that there’s going to be a
need for a part three.
I also want to thank our witnesses for being present today. I believe that if
asked, practically every diplomat would generally express a preference that
parliamentarians go away and leave them alone, but Deputy Assistant Secretary
Jones in the State Department, however, understands not only the necessity but
the advantages of partnership in foreign-policy making across the branches of
government. Over the years, it has also become clear that this bicameral and
bipartisan commission is perhaps the best example of that partnership in action.
The goal of this hearing today is not to criticize policy but to share views
and ideas on improving policy to the benefit of the people in the countries of
the Western Balkans. As one witness noted in April, the mere holding of a
hearing in the U.S. Congress sends a signal of interest that she felt can have
its own positive reverberations in the countries of concern. Let’s hope that
today’s hearing will have that effect.
Finally, I want to thank our witness from the Swedish foreign ministry, Mr.
Lyrvall, for being here today. Sweden currently holds the E.U. presidency, and
it must be a very difficult task to speak for all 27 member states. It is
important to have Europe’s views on the Western Balkans, however, because U.S.
policy in the region is so closely tied to that of the European Union.
I want to express the commission’s particular appreciation that you responded
to our invitation on fairly short notice, after some officials from Brussels
declined our invitation to testify today. Your embassy here in Washington was
very helpful in facilitating your presence here today, and as I said to you, I
know that my good friend, the chair of foreign affairs in Sweden, will be here
with a delegation of parliamentarians, and we intend to accommodate them in
I’ll refrain from discussing specific policy options right now at the opening,
but let me conclude by noting that I’ve traveled, as you heard the chair and I
know our colleague Mr. Aderholt, as other members of the commission have,
throughout the Balkans. I’ve not only met with senior officials but talked to
citizens voting on election days, most recently in Albania. I visited camps
for displaced persons such as those that still exist for Roma in Kosovo. I
actually watched people scramble for cover away from sniper fire in Sarajevo
during the war, and I met courageous human-rights activists.
The people of the Balkans are, regardless of their various ethnicities, some of
the most sincere, hospitable and friendly people I have met. In Albania, Mr.
Chairman, honest to goodness, I saw more American flags there than we have here
on the Fourth of July, and it was very interesting to me. I didn’t know much
about Albania – I’d been to Kosovo and Bosnia and Croatia a lot, but I had only
been there at that time, and as citizens of OSCE states that have pledged to
respect their rights and dignity, they are – they deserve to be treated as such
by their leaders and by the international community. I hope that as we look at
policy options to bring stability and encourage integration in the Balkans, the
people in the region need to be – the people in the region need to be our
priority concern. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. CARDIN: Congressman Aderholt.
REP. ROBERT ADERHOLT (R-AL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also want to thank
the chairman and the co-chair for their vision of bringing this hearing today
before us to concentrate a little bit on the Balkan region. The Balkan region
is a very intriguing place, a real beautiful place. I, too, like my
colleagues, have had the opportunity to travel over there, most recently
traveled to Bosnia – actually, twice this year – and also, as well, as I
traveled to Albania and Macedonia. But the entire Balkan region is a – really
a beautiful part of the world. It has so much to offer, and it impacts the
So I’ll probably have some more comments a little bit later, but I just want to
thank our witnesses for being here today, and I look forward to your testimony
and look forward to a good hearing. Thank you.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you. Secretary Jones, we appreciate very much that you are
with us today. As I pointed out earlier, Secretary Jones is the deputy
assistant secretary of state for European affairs and holds the department’s
Balkan portfolio. Thank you for being here. You may proceed to your full
statement; it will be included in our record and you may proceed as you see fit.
STUART JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of the
commission for this invitation today. The Helsinki Commission has played, and
I’m reassured to hear you say it today that you will continue to play – ah,
thank you – that you will continue to play a significant role in fostering
stability and development in the Balkans. So I welcome this opportunity to
discuss with you the challenges ahead.
A decade of hard work has brought us much closer to realizing our goal of
including the Western Balkans in a Europe whole, free and at peace. All of the
countries have undergone dramatic political and social transitions in recent
years. With Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February 2008, the final
chapter in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia was closed. In April of this
year, Croatia and Albania became members of the NATO Alliance. Macedonia too
will receive an invitation to join the alliance as soon as the dispute with
Greece over its name is resolved. Serbia and Montenegro completed an orderly
separation and are developing their democracies.
All of these countries are committed to and have taken steps towards eventual
membership of the European Union. Perhaps even more fundamentally, publics and
political establishment throughout the region today embrace a vision of their
region’s integration into the European mainstream. They also recognize that
reform is the only path that will lead to this goal.
The United States’ commitment to the region is steadfast. Vice President
Biden’s May visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo underscored our
commitment to work to help the countries of the region realize their
Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Together, we have told the parties that the United
States and our European partners will assist where we can to facilitate
resolution of bilateral and internal disputes that obstruct integration and
reform. But in the final analysis, as Congressman Hastings said, the burden of
achieving their aspirations rests of these countries, their leaders and their
people. Mr. Chairman, to save time for the committee’s priority concerns, I
would like to highlight conditions in just three of the countries in the
To Bosnia first, and I would like to associate myself with your remarks on the
situation in Bosnia. I agree with you analysis, and as the vice president made
clear during his May 19th speech before the Bosnian parliament, we are
concerned with conditions in Bosnia today. Political discourse is polarized,
reforms have ground to a halt and in some cases are being rolled back. Twelve
months away from their next national election, political leaders appear to have
quit trying to find the compromises that would create momentum towards European
In an effort to reverse this dynamic, we are focused on two areas: The first
is completing the so-called 5-plus-2 objectives and conditions established by
the Peace Implementation Counsel. Fulfillment of 5-plus-2 is fundamental for
Bosnia to advance its goals of NATO and E.U. membership. Two of the five
objectives remain outstanding. These are resolving ownership of state and
defense property between the levels of government. It’s essential that these
be resolved in full prior to OHR’s closure to ensure the EU special
representative can begin with a clean slate.
The Peace Implementation Counsel must also make a positive assessment of the
situation in Bosnia based on full compliance with the Dayton Agreement. The
second core area, as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, is constitutional reform.
The Dayton constitution’s basic elements, such as the two-entity structure, can
and should remain intact. However, Dayton can be updated to allow Bosnia to
meet the obligations of EU and NATO membership.
Apart from 5-plus-2 and transition of the Office of the High Representative, we
have begun in formal conversations with the parties about possible reforms,
with the goal of achieving a modest initial package of reforms well in advance
of the October 2010 elections. These would be – these would improve the
functionality of the state and better position Bosnia for E.U. candidacy and
the NATO membership process. We are collaborating closely with our European
partners to develop reforms that would achieve this goal, and I’m delighted
that you are going to hear from my colleague from Sweden, Björn Lyrvall, the
political director from the Foreign Ministry of Sweden.
Moving next to Kosovo. Kosovo’s success as an independent multiethnic
democracy within its borders is now contributing to region-wide stability. A
year-and-a-half after Kosovo’s declaration of independence, its leaders have
made tremendous progress in implementing Martti Ahtisaari’s Comprehensive Plan.
They are building roads and schools as well as ministries and agencies.
Sixty-two countries now recognize the Republic of Kosovo as an independent
state, and many more supported its membership for IMF and World Bank – for a
membership in the World Bank and the IMF.
Kosovo’s independence is irreversible. Of course, much remains to be done.
Vice President Biden urged the government to redouble efforts to strengthen
governing capacity, develop a sound economy, strengthen rule of law and tackle
crime and corruption when he visited in May. Equally importantly, he urged
outreach to Kosovo’s Serb community to build dialogue, establish strong
protections for Serbs and other minorities and improve conditions for the
return of the displaced. We are actively engaged with Serbs all over Kosovo to
provide assistance and encourage their interaction with Kosovo institutions in
order to enhance the sustainability of their communities as part of a secure,
democratic and multiethnic Kosovo.
Third, a stable, prosperous, democratic Serbia is essential to regional
stability and cooperation. Vice President Baden’s visit to Belgrade in May
underlined our desire to see a reinvigorated U.S.-Serbian relationship. We
support Serbia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Our
military-to-military relationship is becoming more robust. Serbia’s
partnership with the Ohio National Guard is a model for the region. President
Tadic cemented these ties when he visited and was warmly received in Cleveland
last week. As the Vice President conveyed to President Tadic, we can agree to
disagree with Serbia over Kosovo. But together, we should also pursue
pragmatic solutions to improve the lives of Serbs in Kosovo and to ensure that
they have a voice in their communities.
Mr. Chairman, the United States remains a major assistance donor to the Western
Balkans. In 2009 alone, we allocated more than $116 million in support of
programs aimed at promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Our
continued strong support for the OSCE missions in the region adds a multiplier
effect in helping the Western Balkans develop stable institutions and
Ensuring governments uphold protections ad rights of minorities so that they
may have an equitable voice and stake in their country’s future remains a focus
of our work. Although governments have made strides, ethnic and religious
minority communities continue to face instances of abuse and discrimination.
The region’s Roma still remain among the most imperiled, and nowhere is this
program more salient than in Kosovo, where we are working to relocate Roma
living in a lead-poisoned camp in North Mitrovica. The region as a whole has
also made progress in combating trafficking in persons. All the western Balkan
countries either comply fully with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s
minimum requirements or are making significant efforts to bring themselves into
compliance. We will continue working to improve their efforts.
The conduct of elections in the region has also seen overall improvement.
March elections in Montenegro met almost all OSCE and Council of Europe
commitments. Although in Macedonia 2008 elections fell short, 2009 elections
were judged by ODIHR to have met most international standards. Albania’s June
28 elections also showed tangible progress over previous elections, including
improvements in voter registration and identification and in the legal
framework. ODIHR judged that they met most OSCE commitments but fell short of
Albania’s potential to meet the highest standards for democratic elections.
Areas for improvement were identified in ballot counting and tabulation, media
bias and pressure on public servants by political parties in government during
the campaign. But the new government of Albania has acknowledged these
shortcomings and has committed itself to address them in future legislation and
procedures. Looking ahead, Kosovo will hold municipal elections this November,
its first as an independent country, and we are providing significant support.
Crime and corruption remain serious problems hindering political and economic
development in the region. Many of our assistance programs are aimed at
reducing opportunities for bribery, building oversight and audit capabilities
and also bolstering an independent judiciary and other activities. To cite
just one example, our Model Court Initiative in Bosnia, completed in May,
helped to institute European standards in 33 local courts, upgrade court
infrastructure and improve customer service. This resulted in a reduction in
case backlogs by up to 75 percent. Bosnia is now implementing the Model Court
standards throughout its court system.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia continues to play
a central role in promoting peace, justice and reconciliation in the former
Yugoslavia. Since 1993, the ICTY has brought 161 indictments and concluded
proceedings against 116 persons, with 57 convictions and 10 acquittals. Two
fugitives, Ratko Mladi? and Goran Gaji?, have yet to be captured. They will
not escape justice by outlasting the tribunal. Our strong support for the ICTY
will continue until its work is completed.
In sum, the region has come a long way, but the journey is not complete.
America has a deep and abiding stake in the region’s success. In concert with
our European partners bilaterally and through the OSCE and NATO, the Obama
administration is intensifying our engagement with the region, pressing to
accelerate reforms that will move the Balkans towards the European mainstream.
We will continue to build on this hard-won foundation until democracy, openness
and modernity eclipse ethnic nationalism, intolerance and discrimination and so
that all the countries in the region may take their place in Europe. Thank
you, and – thank you again for this opportunity, and of course I would welcome
any questions you may have.
SEN. CARDIN: Well, Secretary Jones, let me thank you for your comprehensive
statement. (Laughter.) You’ve covered just about every point that I would
have wanted you to cover, so I thank you for the comprehensive nature.
And just to make an observation before asking a few questions, if this hearing
would have been a year ago, I think our concerns would have been different.
And that’s to point out that things have gotten, in some cases, much worse than
we had anticipated a year ago, requiring us to place priority on it. So I’m
glad you mentioned Bosnia first in your list of concerns. We obviously are
very concerned about what’s happening in Kosovo and Serbia, and I appreciate
you putting a spotlight on that, and you mentioned many other countries – every
country in the region of which we have concerns.
Let me just share with you a story about my visit to Montenegro. It was the
first U.S. congressional delegation to Montenegro since its recent
independence. And in preparation for that visit, the Helsinki Commission gives
me my normal background materials and they say, you know, you’re going to be
asked about economic ties between the United States and Montenegro because it’s
a country that is just starting to emerge and Americans don’t know much about
it; it’s a beautiful country on the Adriatic. And, yes, that was raised, but
it was not their main focus.
And then I got all of these briefing documents about how Montenegro has been
able to become independent of Serbia, maintain a relationship with Serbia yet
recognize Kosovo and have a good relationship with every country in the region.
So we were expecting that their leadership would sort of boast about that
issue, about how they’ve done that and know that they would want to talk to us
about the U.S. commitments in the region. And, yes, that was brought up; it
was not their top priority.
By far they were focused on Bosnia – focused on Bosnia. They said, if we don’t
work out Bosnia, it threatens Montenegro. There is a significant refugee issue
of people coming across the border from Bosnia into Montenegro that could
affect the stability of that country. Remember, it’s a country of under a
million people so a small shift in population can have a major impact on that
So they mentioned to me Bosnia. And then we look at what is happening; we see
the statements from the leadership of the Republic of Srpska, which are
obviously fueling the flames of nationalism in that region, and we sort of
wonder. They also question whether the high representative should leave
immediately knowing full well that that’s been, in some cases, our only break
from changes that could move that nation backwards and could lead it to
So I guess my question to you is, what do we expect from Europe and the United
States to make sure that the country of Bosnia can survive? And I really think
we’re at that point where its survival is in question.
Just a year ago, we were talking about moving forward towards integration. Now
we’re talking about trying to save a nation.
MR. JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Of course, I share your concerns and I
appreciate this opportunity to talk about the situation in Bosnia. We are very
concerned about the situation in Bosnia. We are worried about the divisive
nature of the political discourse.
So what can be done? That is the question. First of all, I think we have to
work in concert with our European partners. And I think that not only the
symbolism but the substance of the vice president’s trip to Bosnia in May with
Javier Solana, the EU high representative, sent a very important message to the
parties, that the United States and Europe are in this together, that we are
invested in finding solutions for Bosnia as we go forward and that there will
be no space between us. I think that’s an important message for all of the
Secondly, obviously, we should be moving towards – Bosnia towards transition.
The people across the board, regardless of ethnic group, support European
integration there. So that’s a common thread that we can build on.
We also find surprising support for NATO membership, though certainly not as
widespread. So I think we need to tap into the aspirations of the Bosnian
people for European and trans-Atlantic integration.
SEN. CARDIN: Just for one second, I agree with what you’re saying, including
NATO membership. But there is no way that they are going to become NATO
members unless they have a national government that can function. We’re not
going to open up NATO unless we know that there is a country that can speak for
its people – and they’re moving in the wrong direction from that today.
MR. JONES: I agree. And – which comes to your original point, which is the
need for constitutional reform. And we think that the parties need to come
together to discuss a package of constitutional reforms in the time remaining
before they get into the electoral season for their October 2000 (sic)
elections. And the electoral reform should be aimed specifically at
functionality, that the state needs to be able to function, looking towards the
day when the OHR goes away. So that is the focus of our attention: working
with the parties, thinking about which constitutional reforms will address this
issue of functionality and how we can move the parties towards compromise and
solution on these issues.
SEN. CARDIN: Let me just turn quickly to Kosovo and Serbia and how we are
progressing in our relationship with both of those countries. Kosovo has made
some progress; there is no question about it. It seems to be at sort of a
standstill right now as far as some of the reforms that we would like to see
and, of course, the relationship with Serbia vis-à-vis Russia is still unclear
as to whether Russia will let the international community move forward with
total recognition of Kosovo, particularly in the United Nations.
I appreciate your observations here. I do want to make – want to underscore
two points that you made. In regards to the International Criminal Court and
the fact that two indictees have been long-standing avoiding accountability, I
concur in your conclusion that we will not yield on this.
But it will be helpful if we send a very clear message on that to Serbia
including the conditionalities that we put that Congress continuously puts in
the appropriations bill including the fact that for complete integration, this
issue needs to be successfully resolved so that we can conclude our commitment
to bring justice to the victims who were victimized by these war crimes.
And the second point I appreciate you mentioning the Roma population. It has
been a high priority for this commission. And in Kosovo that is an issue that
needs to be dealt with and addressed. And we’ll be watching that closely. And
I am pleased to see the initiative in regards to the community whose health is
Could you just update us a little bit more as to what role you think Russia is
playing as it relates to both the U.S. and Europe’s involvement in Kosovo and
MR. JONES: Thank you. Certainly Russia’s view on Kosovo is different from
ours. They do not recognize Kosovo as a new republic. They believe that it
should still continue to be treated as part of Serbia. On this point, we just
have a fundamental disagreement. And I don’t see any prospect for these points
of view to come together in the near future.
Nonetheless, as we are with Serbia, I think we can agree to disagree on the
issue of Kosovo’s independence and work with the Russians to recognize the
rights of Serbs in Kosovo and to recognize that the stability of the region is
paramount. And that’s been the nature of my conversations with my Russian
In Bosnia, Russia, of course, is a member of the peace implementation
committee. And they are a part of our discussions on the 5-plus-2
conditionality and the eventual transition of the Office of the High Rep. And
in my conversations, again, with my Russian counterpart, there is no
disagreement between us that the 5-plus-2 needs to be fulfilled and has not yet
SEN. CARDIN: Well, let me ask you one final question on Macedonia. Your
optimism about that issue – do you know something about the Greek elections
that we don’t know?
MR. JONES: You know better than me not to bet on elections, Senator.
SEN. CARDIN: Well, I take it that regardless of what party wins in the Greek
elections, this issue would be difficult to resolve before an election. So I
take it that the elections in Greece will provide a new opportunity to engage
this issue and hopefully get a successful resolution.
MR. JONES: We certainly hope so. We have had, you know, extensive contact
with both the Macedonian and Greek governments on this issue over a period of
several months and years, of course. We have been gratified, of course, by the
statements and the behavior of the Macedonian government, particularly in the
last eight months. And I think that the Macedonian government should be
commended for improving the atmosphere, the bilateral atmosphere that would
facilitate a solution. So we’ll wait for the elections and then we will pick
up where we left off and encourage both governments to work forward.
I would also like to take note of the U.N. process that is being led by U.N.
negotiator Matt Nimitz. He, of course, has the responsibility for advancing
this process. He takes it very seriously and he had very constructive contact
with both governments through the course of the summer. So hopefully that will
bode well for the post-election atmosphere in Greece and Macedonia.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you. Congressman Hastings?
REP. HASTINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Jones. Mr. Chairman,
I do very much thank you. You have covered a lot of ground in a short period
of time. And, Mr. Jones, thank you for being as forthright as you have been.
I was handed a piece of paper just in the last 15 minutes and I haven’t had a
chance to fully digest it. But the takeaway from the head note says,
“Late-breaking developments: Serbs Repudiate Decisions by High Representative
of Brcko District Supervisor in Latest Sign of Serious Deterioration.” It goes
on to say the Republic of Srpska repudiates all decisions by this supervisor.
And then in the second section, third paragraph, I’ll read from it. It says:
“The Republic of Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik is apparently preparing
the ground for a showdown with the international community on the
radicalization of nationalist sentiment that invariably accompanies the advent
of an election year.”
Bring us current. This took place, these statements, on September 22nd and, in
addition, he alleges that he is going to, if they have not already filed suit
including against Paddy Ashdown who we had here previously. What is the upshot
of all of this?
MR. JONES: Well, thank you, Congressman. We are very concerned about the
recent political rhetoric in Bosnia, particularly surrounding the national
electric company, Transco, which is owned by the state. And recently the high
representative exercising his bond powers has reorganized that company to make
it more functional. We support that decision, but this has drawn a very sharp
reaction from Republic of Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik.
There are a lot of elements to the politics. I think it’s enough to say that
we support the high representative’s decision. We regret the sharp rhetoric
along nationalistic lines that has been employed by the prime minister. And
our ambassador in Sarajevo is working to find solutions to these problems.
But nothing that has been done is outside – in our view – is outside of the
executive mandate of the high representative. And, indeed, the measures taken
by the deputy high representative, who of course is an American, were
pre-ordained in the final award surrounding Brcko at the end of the war.
So we think that all of this has been done, handled in a careful and legalistic
manner. We regret the political difficulty that has ensued. We hope that
we’ll be able to find a swift solution to it. But certainly using
nationalistic themes to address these problems is not the best way forward.
REP. HASTINGS: Have we taken a position regarding any timetable – and I’m not
suggesting one – for the closure of the Office of the High Representative?
MR. JONES: The only timeframe – the only – certainly not a timeframe. The
only – what we have said is that when the five conditions and two objectives
are completed, and only then, will we support the idea of transition from the
high representative to the EU special representative.
Now, I should say, I look forward to the day when we can make that transition.
I think that will be a positive transition. But certainly the conditions and
objectives need to be met. And, of course, the second condition is paramount,
which is that the peace implementation committee, council, together decides
that there is stability in Bosnia under the Dayton Agreements.
SEN. CARDIN: I would like to get your views before we hear from Europe. Do
you think Europe shares that commitment of standing behind the high
representative until the goals have been met?
MR. JONES: Well, of course, Europe has 27 members and there is a range of
views. But, overall, I think that there is an understanding that we have
agreed that the 5-plus-2 has to be honored. That was what the peace
implementation council – which includes several European members, several
members of the EU in it – agreed in 2007.
So that is the assumption with which we are moving forward. Perhaps some
individual members have a different position and of course they are entitled to
it. But any decision by the peace implementation council will have to be by
REP. HASTINGS: And while the EU has immense responsibilities, just as a
general observation, it would seem to me that there have been as many things to
delay further enlargement and not exert political pressure toward implementing
the process that everybody seems to suggest that the European and Euro-Atlantic
integration of the Balkans that the United States and the EU are sharing in
Ambassador, here is where my problem is: Talk is cheap. And I came to
Congress with this issue being a vital issue and I’m sure that it has been a
vital issue of concern all of my lifetime. But in order to achieve the
objectives of the 5-plus-2 just as a for example, it would seem to me that it
would require a term that I use that I don’t believe is a term of art, “hot
diplomacy.” And I use that because I believe there have to be coordinated
And I’ve seen too many places in the world where world powers let small areas
down and those areas fomented into additional difficulties for world powers.
That said, in this particular region, it would seem to me that the United
States and the European Union would be coordinating serious ongoing efforts. I
am appreciative of the fact that the vice president visited, but if I could use
an analogy – and I mean this because I’ve seen this in my lifetime – I’ve seen
when major civil rights problems were going on, major civil rights national
leaders whose names were in the newspaper would show up at the little areas and
they would make the big statements about what they were going to do and then
they’d leave and wouldn’t a damn thing be done.
So the fact that there is no follow up is what I’m talking about. When I was
in Albania, there is added reason right there for us to be encouraging the
Albanians to complete that highway that they take great pride in going into
Kosovo. If I were to move back into the other area, I don’t hear very much in
the way of summitry (ph).
And one of the things that happens to us that the EU needs to get straight is,
in my judgment, we have a lot on our table. I mean, you know, we are talking
about this area and it’s critical we have actually had boots on the ground
there for a substantial period of time. Hopefully we are able to keep the
peace in bits and places.
I was impressed in Kosovo at the U.N. mission there, one of the best that I’ve
seen operating around the world. But then, at the same time, you know, our
president right now is having to deal with Afghanistan, the finishing up of
whatever is happening in Iraq; Iran is right around the corner. And yet I
don’t see the intense effort that I would like to see in Bosnia or in Serbia or
Croatia or Montenegro or certainly Kosovo where I see that area – me,
personally – as a tinder box that could explode at any minute.
And unless we get to that and stop fiddling around with technical talk and
start building some roads and some schools and some implementation of these
measures then I think that all we are doing is setting up part three, part four
and part ad infinitum. Okay? Thank you, Mr. Chair.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you for your comments. Congressman Aderholt?
REP. ADERHOLT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. One core issue I think you started
out in your comments talking about the Bosnia. And I think this question would
particularly apply to Bosnia but also to all of the Balkan countries. In
regard to the global economic downturn, what particular impact have you seen it
on Bosnia and the other Balkan countries and what do you expect to see in the
MR. JONES: I think that the Balkans has been impacted by the global economic
downturn, though in different ways than much of the rest of Europe. Because
some of these economies were not as integrated into the European banking system
as, say, countries in Central Europe, they have not been affected in quite that
And, yet, they are all seeing a reduction in remittances sent back by foreign
workers living in other parts of Europe. They have certainly run into now a
greater difficulty in obtaining credits. For the most part, they are adapting.
And Serbia and Bosnia are working now closely with the IMF. Croatia and
Albania have been able to find credits on the commercial market.
So they are moving through it. But we have seen a significant downturn in the
economy in just commercial activity and governments peeling back, cutting
government salaries. There is a real hardship there.
REP. ADERHOLT: Well, I know that I – as I mentioned, I was in the Balkans
twice earlier this year. And it was, of course, at that time, everything was
still in flux and was still – hadn’t really gelled as far as the economic
But when I was in Albania, you know, I was very encouraged to see the
construction of the highway there. And I have not heard updated recently – do
you have an update of when that is to be completed, the Kosovo-Albania highway?
MR. JONES: Well, the highway is largely complete. It was inaugurated in June
and it is now possible to drive from the Port of Dures all the way up to the
Kosovo border. And I agree with you, Congressman; this is a tremendous asset
for the entire region because it’s going to facilitate transport not only for
Albania and not only for Kosovo, but for all the countries in the region.
I think that there is now some additional work being done on some of the
tunnels and there is another tunnel to be opened. So it’s not – it hasn’t
reached its full scope of completion, but it – cars are going back and forth.
REP. ADERHOLT: That’s great. That’s great to hear. When I was there earlier
this year, the tunnel was being worked on. And so I know it was a major
construction project, probably one of the most major construction projects in
all of Europe.
MR. JONES: And, of course, we’re delighted that it – being – was engineered
and created by a U.S. firm.
REP. ADERHOLT: Absolutely, absolutely. But also, too, a country that also
sometimes – that is not mentioned; there are so many aspects of that country I
think should be applauded – and that’s Macedonia. You know, the information
that I have received that World Bank now has ranked Macedonia as the third in
the world for being among the best reformers, to have it approved as far as a
Also I understand that they’re continuing to work on combating human
trafficking and, of course, the issue that I think we think of most closely
when we think of Macedonia, we think of the name issue, which is the big issue
But I was over – as I mentioned – I was in Macedonia earlier this year and met
with our ambassador over there and had a good discussion with our U.S.
ambassador over there. I’ll continue to have a good relationship with our –
with the Macedonian ambassador here to the United States.
But I think their continued good faith with their – with Greece as far as the
name issue; I know it’s a very difficult issue and I think they’ve been showing
real courage to work with U.N. secretary-general special envoy on this and to
try to resolve this. So again, the troop involvement that they have in
Afghanistan should not go unnoticed. So again, Macedonia has done tremendous
good things and we have had a great working relationship with them and so we
continue to look forward to working with that country. Thank you for your
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you, Congressman Aderholt. We have been joined by the
longest-serving member on the Helsinki Commission, the former chairman of the
Helsinki Commission, the ranking Republican, the congressman from New Jersey,
REP. CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for
being late. I would ask that my full statement be made a part of the record.
SEN. CARDIN: Without objection.
REP. SMITH: And, Mr. Secretary, thank you for your testimony. I’ve just read
it and I really appreciate your insights and the comprehensiveness of your
statement, but also of your leadership.
Let me just ask you, when you talked about the elements of the two-entity
structure, the need to keep that intact because of the sharp differences
between the disparate parties, you do make the point about eventually there
needs to be change and initial package reforms need to be put into place.
Could you elaborate on what is really essential for EU and NATO membership and
where we are in terms of that state of play in terms of the various parties?
What really has to be done quickly in order to – because I, like you, and I
think like everybody on our commission believes that constitution reform is
absolutely essential if Bosnia is to emerge as a flourishing democracy. The
idea of very small numbers of parliamentarians stopping legislation from
growing forward just hinders progress beyond recognition. But if you could
talk about that package of reforms and where we are in terms of putting those
forward, and what has to be done, maybe with even some timeline focus.
MR. JONES: Thank you, Congressman. Certainly to qualify for European EU
membership Bosnia is going to have to undertake some reforms to address
shortcomings in the Dayton Agreement that are at odds with the European
Convention on Human Rights. So the Venice Commission has done an analysis of
the Dayton Agreement and has made a series of proposals. And I think that’s
largely agreed by all the parties that that should be undertaken. This would
allow, for example, a Bosnian citizen who is not a member of any of the largest
three ethnic groups to rise to senior office in the government to the
presidency, et cetera. There are several other elements of that nature.
We would also favor a look at executive powers and we think that in order to
move Bosnia forward on its European track, we think that the issues of state
competencies and entity competencies should be addressed. Now, I should be
clear – Björn Lyrvall, who will speak after me, can be more direct an expert on
this than me – but those measures are not required for European accession. And
so this is really about getting the parties together to decide what kind of
state they want to have.
But they need a functional state. They need a state that’s able to make
decisions and move towards Europe. They need a state that is going to take
responsibility for both the NATO accession process and the EU accession
process. And I think by looking at those three areas, the European Commission
of Human Rights, the issue of executive powers and the issue of competencies,
they can make great headway in that regard.
Certainly we would want to get that accomplished as soon as possible, but if we
are to get it accomplished before October elections, they have to be done by
March because of the legal provision in the Bosnian structure that requires
that all constitutional amendments be completed six months prior to the next
elections. So that’s our minimum timeframe.
I was in Sarajevo in August and people were already talking about those October
2010 elections. So I think our room for maneuver is very short.
REP. SMITH: Are there any demands being made of the Bosnians in the area of
social policy? And I point to the problems that we had with Romania and
adoption. At a time when we have the Hague Convention on Adoption, which
provides a blueprint for intercountry adoption, Lady Nicholson, who was in
charge of accession for the EU, put an onerous – and I think a totally unjust –
demand upon Bucharest to end foreign adoptions, leaving over a thousand people
in the pipeline, including 200 Americans. Are there are any social policy
impositions like that that are being put on Bosnia?
MR. JONES: Not that I’m aware of. Not that I’m aware of. But Bosnia, again,
is very early in the process. It has its SAA, it’s agreement to begin the
process, but it’s only in the very beginning of the EU process. And again, I
think this is something that Björn can speak to more effectively than I can.
REP. SMITH: Let me just ask you – what is the EU’s attitude toward the
so-called Yellow House Case, where Serbs captured by Kosovar Albanians were
taken to Albania as part of an alleged organ trafficking scheme?
MR. JONES: There have been reports for several years of alleged organ
trafficking in association with the conflict in Kosovo during that conflict.
We have not seen any reliable evidence that this trafficking occurred, though
war crimes prosecutors continue to look into it, as they should. I can’t speak
to the issue of the most recent investigations and arrests on these bases. But
we’re monitoring them closely.
Of course, it’s very divisive when you have a Serbian prosecutor looking into
possible events inside Kosovo; there’s going to be a lot of political tension
surrounding that. We’re going to continue to talk to both parties about it,
but to a great degree the Serbian judicial processes will go forward, the
Kosovo judicial processes will go forward, and the international community will
observe them and shine a light on them to ensure transparency and fairness.
REP. SMITH: And finally, with regards to Kosovo with the elections coming up.
How robust will be the participation on the part of the Serb minority? And you
indicated in your testimony that our U.S. embassy reps are working very closely
with the Orthodox Church. Has that situation improved? Many have met over the
years with Bishop Artemije and others who felt totally left out for years as
churches and seminaries and the like were being burnt to the ground, literally.
Has that situation improved somewhat, a lot, in your opinion, or what?
MR. JONES: I think it’s improved a lot since the time that you are describing.
Clearly there’s a lot of work yet to be done. And the government of Kosovo is
engaged through the so-called RIC, which is – they put aside $10 million for
the reconstruction and restoration of Serbian heritage buildings and
monasteries. The United States is participating with our million-dollar
contribution to UNESCO, and there are various programs working for it in a
positive way. Not to say that this work is – this needs continued attention on
our part; there are still some political obstacles to overcome. But there’s no
ambiguity about the U.S. view, which is that these are sites that need to
protected, and honored and should certainly be restored. And that Serbs should
be able to visit them and because they are an important element, as we know, of
SEN CARDIN: Thank you very much, and Secretary Jones, thank you for your
testimony. We appreciate it very much and we look forward to continuing
working with you on these issues.
We will now hear from Mr. Lyrvall. I have already indicated that he is the
director general for political affairs, the foreign ministry of Sweden. We
welcome you to our commission and we thank you very much for arranging your
schedule so you could be with us today. I need to point out, as you know, that
your country has been extremely active in work with our commission and the OSCE
parliamentary assembly and in the OSCE. And Mr. Lenmarker has made an
incredible contribution to the parliamentary assembly; we know that he will be
returning to the United States for some meetings, and we look forward to his
visit. Please express our appreciation to your government for your involvement
with our commission on so many areas of mutual interest.
BJÖRN LYRVALL: Thank you. Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, Mr.
Co-chairman, members of the commission. I’m honored to have been invited here
to address you representing the Swedish presidency of the European Union. I
think that the Helsinki Commission is indeed a very dynamic and highly valued
forum for trans-Atlantic dialogue. And it undertakes very important work in
relation to democracy, rule of law, human rights and security in Europe.
So I’d like to thank you all collectively for the work that you are doing, the
long-standing engagement and commitment in these issues, and I think these are
vital and important for Europe as a whole.
I’d like to say also that the trans-Atlantic relationship constitutes a
cornerstone of the EU’s external policies, and is based on shared values, such
as democracy, human rights, as well as commitment to open and integrated
economies. Some would even say that the similarity in policy outlook across
the Atlantic is the greatest in decades, and we indeed look forward to the
upcoming EU-U.S. summit in Washington later this fall.
Now, it might be a little bit confusing for an outsider that there are such a
number of different EU actors speaking on behalf of the European Union. We
have the commissioner for external affairs, we have the commissioner for
enlargement and the Western Balkans, we have the secretary-general, the High
Representative Javier Solana who personifies the common foreign security policy
and then there is the rotating EU presidency which my country, Sweden, holds
until the end of the year.
SEN. CARDIN: It’s not confusing to us; we have 535 people speak in the United
States Congress. (Laughter.) All secretaries –
MR. LYRVALL: Well, then you know where we are and what we are dealing with.
It’s indeed a challenging task now, to lead a union of 27 member states but
there is indeed a great diversity between the different countries. But at the
same time, the fact that the number of member states have increased in recent
years, I would say, has contributed to the strength of the EU. We may discuss
a lot internally, but in the end, the EU, when united, we have a powerful voice
and a big influence in many fields: in trade, development, foreign and
security policy, environmental issues, consumer policy, et cetera.
Now, we have many big issues on the plate of the Swedish presidency for the
coming months. The overriding priorities, as you are probably well aware, have
to do with economic situation in the world, employment, climate. Also, the
issue of the EU treaty is likely to dominate the Brussels agenda after the
Irish referendum this Friday.
We also focus on maintaining a secure and open Europe. We want to enhance EU’s
role as a global actor, and enlargement is also very high on our agenda. And
one of the challenges of our times, of course, is the situation in the Western
Balkans. I think it’s fair to say that EU has come a long way since its origin
as a post-Second World War peace initiative in the 1950s. The EU and its 27
member states stand as a success story in the creation of peace and prosperity
within its borders.
The wider challenge of extending that peace and prosperity beyond its borders
is clearly seen in the Western Balkans. In fact, the European Union’s common
foreign security policy has developed largely in response to the challenges
presented by the repercussions of the end of the Cold War and the
disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. In fact, it was the failure to
respond adequately to war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s that prompted
EU member states to enhance and reinforce the EU’s ability to conduct a
credible and effective common foreign security policy. And this process is
My own foreign minister, Carl Bildt, as the EU mediator at Dayton and
subsequently the international community’s first international high
representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, played an active role, both pre- and
post-Dayton, to push for a sharper EU policy when involved in crisis, and also
formulating a post-war program for conditional EU integration. What we then
called the regional approach, and which was the forerunner to EU’s
stabilization and association process of today.
In the aftermath of the Kosovo war in 1999, we saw violent crisis emerging in
the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. That was in 2001 as a result of
unsolved ethnic and social tensions. And the Swedish EU presidency at the
time, in 2001, used the still-untested common foreign security policies to
contain the crisis. The EU troika involving High Representative Solana and
then-Commissioner Pattern showed readiness to create the circumstances for
negotiations, which later resulted in the Ohrid Agreement, to be implemented in
its turn, by EU’s first European security and defense policy mission.
Given this background, which has not always been encouraging, I have to say –
Bosnia was certainly not EU’s finest hour. The EU’s common foreign security
policy has developed gradually into a more coordinated rapid and targeted set
of instruments, both military and civilian. The EU police monitors and regular
combat missions, as well as advisory missions, have proved to be effective,
although challenges still remain.
Since 1991, the EU has been the largest donor to the region, having provided
roughly 13 billion euros in assistance, among others, for infrastructure, for
institution building, for regional and cross border cooperation, for
strengthening protection of minorities and enforcing human rights. When you
include humanitarian and the bilateral assistance of individual member states,
please double that figure. Until 2013, we will spend more than 900 million
euros each year in the region. This figure did not include the costs of ESDP
missions which have been launched since 2003, and of which there are still
three missions ongoing.
Our political investments are immeasurable: Thousands of EU personnel in the
institutions are working in and with the region, in the headquarters in
Brussels, in the delegations of the European Commission, in the region and in
the three offices of the EU’s special representatives in different countries of
the Western Balkans.
But I’d like to say that even more importantly, the history of the European
Union and its enlargement tells us that EU membership is a strong guarantor of
lasting peace and social progress. With an enormous promise and incentive to
change that the European perspective holds for the Western Balkans, these
countries have embarked on the same journey from war and mistrust to peace and
reconsolidation that reunified Europe after World War II and after the Cold War.
The Western Balkans is on its way from the era of hard power to the era of soft
power, from the era of Dayton to the era of Europe. And I dare to say that the
forces of disintegration is finally about to give way to the forces of
The European perspective, with the ultimate goal of EU membership, once the
conditions have been met by each country on its own merits, releases the EU’s
transformative potential, where our democratic way of life and prosperity
exercises a strong magnetic pull that provides hope and drives reform. Despite
a certain enlargement fatigue, there is still a strong commitment of the EU
member states to the objective of the Western Balkans countries becoming
members of the European Union.
And the EU enlargement of Southeastern Europe is more than a historic mission
to finish the job of reunifying the continent; it is a matter of enlightened
self-interest and of enhancing our own economic growth, our security and our
freedom. It also creates opportunities to broaden the common EU approach in
crucial areas such as energy, security and migration.
Now, Mr. Chairman, let me turn to a few countries’ specific comments, starting
with our most advanced partner, Croatia. Croatia has indeed traveled the far –
the longest road to membership of the European Union. A remarkable transition
towards a stable democracy, rule of law and a functioning market economy has
taken place that should as a positive example for the Western Balkans region to
follow. Clearly, it is the attractive forces of European and trans-Atlantic
cooperation structures that have underpinned this momentous societal change.
Since the start in 2005, Croatia has closed seven out of 35 negotiating
chapters in this process towards EU membership. Negotiations could be
finalized by mid-2010 based on Croatia’s own merits, I need to add. This would
enable Croatia to join the EU as a full member by 2011 or 2012. Regretfully,
however, the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia has stopped Croatia
from making formal advances in the process for almost a year now.
On September 11, however, Prime Ministers Kosor and Pahor announced an
agreement, in principle, on how to proceed with solving the border dispute and
simultaneously deblocking accession negotiations. And the Swedish presidency
has confirmed its readiness now to support further talks on the border issue to
be resumed on October 2. In overcoming the heated arguments on both sides, and
re-establishing an atmosphere of mutual trust, the leaders of the two countries
have shown admirable statesmanship.
The key requirement for membership of the European Union is full cooperation
with the War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. Since there have been no
positive developments in this area, the relevant negotiating chapter on
democracy and human rights remain blocked. Croatia needs to credibly
demonstrate that it is making every effort to fulfill the needs of the chief
prosecutor. Concerted pressure from the EU and the U.S. is advisable on this
In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, we are encouraged by this year’s
presidential and local elections, which, according to observers, met most
international standards. EU relations with the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia have intensified steadily over the past few years. In 2004, a
stabilization and association agreement came into force, and the year after,
the country was officially recognized as a candidate for EU membership. End of
this year, the EU is scheduled to lift visa obligations.
For opening accession talks, eight benchmarks must be met. The former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia must, inter alia, demonstrate proper implementation of
judicial and police reforms, anticorruption legislation, measures to ensure a
depoliticized civil service. It’s also essential that the authorities foster
and facilitate a true political dialogue between the various groups in society.
According to the European Commission, the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia is close to fulfilling the benchmarks and a recommendation to open
accession talks may well be issued during the Swedish presidency.
The countries should be rewarded for their reform efforts. The unresolved name
dispute with Greece should not be an impediment to initiating negotiations;
this is a matter which must be resolved bilaterally under the auspices of the
Montenegro has made impressive progress along its European integration agendas
in its declaring independence from the union with Serbia in June 2006,
encouraged by the EU. Montenegro’s EU perspective has been quickly embedded in
a series of formal agreements. The momentum continues as Montenegro submitted
its formal application for EU membership in December 2008, and after a decision
by the council, a report is now being prepared by the European Commission.
That will be the basis for deciding whether Montenegro can become formally a
candidate country for EU membership.
At the same time Montenegro is likely to be granted visa liberalization with
the EU in the coming months. EU membership will be the logical conclusion of
this process and the timing will largely depend on Montenegro’s ability to
carry out the necessary reforms and fulfill the criteria for EU membership.
Albania has been gradually moving toward European integration, a process that
has received momentum in the recent years. At the EU foreign ministers’
meeting in a couple of weeks’ time, we hope to reach an agreement to forward
Albania’s membership application to the commission for its assessment.
However, as the June 2009 elections in Albania have shown, the path to EU
membership will not be easy. Elections were marked by unfortunate political
interference in the post-election process and that was noted by the
international election observers. Besides more efforts to meet democratic
standards, Albania also needs to strengthen its public administration, reform
its judiciary and more efficiently fight organized crime and corruption.
Serbia – well there is a stable, pro-EU government in place in Belgrade, which
was elected in order to bring Serbia closer to the EU, and it shows a new
maturity and commitment in terms of fulfilling the obligations for EU
accession. All EU member states agree that in order for the government to keep
its credibility, the country must be allowed to make progress on its path
towards the European Union. As soon as the cooperation with ICTY is judged to
be satisfactory, the contractual agreement for the accession process between
Serbia and the EU will come into force.
Progress has been considerable. This will also pave the way for a membership
application towards the end of the year. In the meantime, Serbia shows its EU
commitment by unilaterally implementing the relevant agreement. Furthermore,
we hope to be able to grant Serbia visa freedom as of early 2010.
Then to Bosnia, which is of course, currently the main challenge. Bosnia and
Herzegovina has also expressed its intention to apply in the near future for a
membership of the EU. In fact, in a country that remains deeply divided on
most issues, the prospect of EU integration is one of the few unifying factors.
There is, however, a major obstacle to this ambition: As long as the Office
of the High Representative remains in place, a Bosnian EU membership
application cannot be considered.
It is quite obvious for all of us that the OHR cannot take Bosnia to where it
wants to go. This is why it’s important that the country, as soon as possible,
reaches a situation where the political landscape allows it to move from OHR to
a reinforced EU office, strengthening, at the same time, the local political
ownership when continuing to reform itself in accordance with EU requirements.
The Bosnian stabilization agreement has been in place since June 2008. Part of
that agreement includes a favorable free trade arrangement with the EU. It’s
called the Interim Agreement, which has seen a rather satisfactory
implementation. On the one hand, the progress in implementing key partnership
priorities of the agreement has unfortunately, been rather limited. Only then,
and once the conditions have been met, can BiH make the transition from Dayton
stabilization to European integration.
There is a window of opportunity to proceed with this transition before the
2010 elections. Otherwise, there is a considerable risk that Bosnia will be
slipping behind the rest of the region. In order to achieve this transition,
we need to have a joint EU-U.S. action-oriented approach this autumn. We are
working closely with the U.S. to take steps in this direction.
Let me also say that outstanding constitutional reform in Bosnia and
Herzegovina neither is a precondition for OHR closure, nor required in order to
apply for EU membership. Nevertheless, it is an integral part of any efforts
to create a functional state, and it would incrementally constitute a
fundamental part of EU accession. Constitutional amendments must therefore be
brought into line with the European convention of human rights in order to end
the ongoing discrimination between the constituent and non-constituent citizens
of the country.
Following the decision by NATO to conclude its SFOR mission, the European Union
has, since December 2004, been responsible for the international military
presence in Bosnia through the operation ALTHEA, currently deploying more than
2,000 troops in theater. And if needed, that could be reinforced.
At some point, EUFOR must be transformed into a non-executive mission with
focus on training of the Bosnian forces. Any decision will be discussed
thoroughly with the U.S. From our perspective it is of utmost importance that
a decision on the future of EUFOR is synchronized with the ongoing efforts to
move forward on the political issues in the country. For the EU police
mission, which operates in an advisory capacity, supporting the fight against
organized crime, is moving forward and remains a priority for us as well.
And finally, Kosovo. A year-and-a-half has passed since Kosovo declared its
independence. Countries now faced with great challenges are building a
democratic and multiethnic state. These challenges include decentralization,
rule of law, economic development and engagement in regional and international
fora. Kosovo needs to build up long-term capacity to assume responsibility
over the rule of law. The EU rule of law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, can support
this process. EULEX is a visible expression of the European Union’s determined
engagement for Kosovo. During its first almost 10 months of operation, EULEX
has deployed in all of Kosovo and begun to implement its mandate.
The American contribution is a crucial component for which the EU is most
appreciative. In such a complex political context there are, of course,
difficult challenges. In the north, EULEX is moving slowly to re-establish
control over customs and to fully reopen the court in Mitrovica. The police in
northern Kosovo continue to report to EULEX.
There’s a fruitful dialogue with the authorities in Pristina on reforms
regarding justice and police. The EU remains committed to its long-term
engagement in the development of Kosovo. The fact that EU is divided about the
status of Kosovo does not prevent a fully-engaged approach as regards Kosovo’s
political and socioeconomic development in line with the European perspective
of the region.
It is clearly in the interest of the EU that Kosovo develops in accordance with
the rest of the region. In October, the European Commission will present a
study examining means to further Kosovo’s political and socioeconomic
development. This study will hopefully provide a framework for concrete
measures to be taken by Kosovo in order to move forward on its EU integration.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Co-chairman, members of the commission, thank you for giving
me, as the Swedish president of the EU, the opportunity to address you here
today. Thank you.
SEN. CARDIN: Mr. Lyrvall, first of all, thank you for that very comprehensive
report. I think it’s very helpful to us to understand that. We’re in total
agreement about the importance of integration in each of the countries in the
Western Balkans, and we certainly agree with your assessments as to what needs
to be accomplished for that to occur. And we also are in agreement that we
need a joint U.S.-EU strategy as it relates to Bosnia; I think that’s our best
chance of success.
I want to start off with Bosnia. You’re not going to get any disagreement from
any member of our commission about wanting the high representative office to go
away. I mean, that’s certainly not how a country can function. We want to
Bosnia to integrate into Europe; we understand you can’t integrate into Europe
unless you have a functioning government and the high representative was meant
to be a temporary situation. But it seems like it’s better than any other
option that we have to bring about constitutional reform and to stop the
regression that is taking place in the country by the nationalists that are
bringing about changes within their own sectors that make it more difficult for
Bosnia to have the types of reforms necessary to be able to integrate in
Europe, and to protect the country and its people.
So I guess I am somewhat concerned about the replacement of the high
representative before the constitutional changes have been made in Bosnia that
put in place the type of respect for national authority that is necessary for
the country to be respected and eligible to enter into Europe and the EU.
So I’m somewhat concerned about looking at a different mechanism at the point
that would give us a chance at preventing the breakup of Bosnia. So I
appreciate the fact, though, that you intend for it to be a EU-U.S. strategy,
because I think we have to be united on this, and we certainly need to listen
to all points of view, but I tell you, if it weren’t for the high
representative’s office I think we would be in worse shape today. You would
see the independent actions, particularly Republika Srpska, but also beyond
that that would make it difficult to put the country back together again.
MR. LYRVALL: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Indeed the problem is, in our
view, that the current situation is preventing Bosnia from moving ahead. We
are indeed as concerned as you are and I fully rally to support what my friend
Stu Jones has said as well about the situation in Bosnia on the ground.
There is a climate of retributions, of mutual accusations between the different
parties, nationalistic rhetoric. We’ve seen this reoccurring crisis of the
kind that we are witnessing and observing today. And you see the high
representative trying to deal with the problem through employing his bond
powers. We are obviously behind and supportive of the work of the high
representative, but in the long-term this is not a solution for Bosnia. The
long-term solution spells integration with the European Union because, as I
tried to indicate in my first intervention, the only thing that potentially
unites the different parties in Bosnia is the prospect of EU integration.
And the train is leaving the station. We have, this year, to deal with
applications from Albania and Montenegro. We have already the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia waiting for a date to start their negotiations. We have
Croatia well underway. Serbia, once it resolves its outstanding issues we draw
in relation to the ICTY, and I think that is within grasp. They will apply as
well, and with their very strong administrative capacity, they will probably
catch up rather quickly.
That would leave Bosnia and Kosovo, which is a little bit of a special case –
I’ll come back to that, certainly, separately – would leave Bosnia alone,
waiting for the next train, if there will be one. Bosnia will have to come
along, and the way to do it would be through resolving, obviously, the
outstanding issues: the 5-plus-2, which I think we all would wish to see fully
implemented, and we also need to see a beginning of a constitutional reform
that would not be seen as a new precondition for the transition, but which
would be making Bosnia a more functional state.
Then, the very day that you get the transition, when you get the other
opportunities to move as far as the EU application for Bosnia, then you there
will be a cumbersome, very long process started throughout which you would see
the real constitutional reform efforts carried out. Because it’s only – I
think, in our view – that by getting Bosnia inside the EU transformatory
process towards membership that you can actually achieve the changes of the
constitution that you really require. It’s not going to happen on prompt –
SEN. CARDIN: I’ll just make another observation, and that is, I agree with you
that the one unifying factor is the desire to integrate into Europe, but if you
talk to particularly the young people of Bosnia, from all ethnic communities,
all regions, they want their country to survive. They want to talk about
Bosnia, not about their regions, not about their ethnic identification. And I
think there’s stronger support in the country than their leaders are perhaps
willing to go.
My concern is that if we were to weaken or replace the Office of the High
Representative, it could be interpreted as a reward for the nationalists,
making it even more challenging more Bosnia to bring about the types of reforms
necessary to get back on track on a game plan for integration into Europe. And
that we just need to be careful that we send the right signals.
You’re correct in the history here; we were all late to get the attentions
necessary in that region, and there was a heavy price paid as a result of that.
The office was set up for a specific reason, and I would just urge us to make
sure that the seeds are there for development before we reward those would like
to prevent the maturing of the nation.
MR. LYRVALL: Yes, indeed. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think perhaps when
discussing Bosnia I need to say one positive word about development as well,
because it’s indeed a very different country today than it was when we arrived
with the Office of the High Representative in December of 1995, after Dayton.
Things have indeed progressed, and I don’t think that we fear that we would
have a relapse into a conflict – a violent conflict – in Bosnia. It should be
recalled that the EU mission has never fired a shot in anger and it’s been
there for several years.
At the same time, what we want is responsible Bosnian leadership, we want
Bosnian ownership, and we fear that the utility of the OHR is coming to and
end. We need to try to move into a new gear, and that gear will have to be
through a European integration process. And for that to start, we need to
achieve a certain transition of the current support structures of the
international community in Bosnia.
SEN. CARDIN: I’ll make one last observation. I agree with your assessment
about, particularly the ability for armed conflict. But I would suggest that
listening to the rhetoric when I was in Bosnia, I think that probably as a
result of the great progress we’ve made in the surrounding countries that would
not support that type of activity in Bosnia – that’s to our credit. That’s
part of our strategy, and you’ve given a very positive assessment in every
other country, even though obviously Kosovo is a special class and Serbia has
been of great interest to us – but there’s been progress made in every one of
Bosnia has lost ground, and it’s a major concern to all of us. And we think it
cries out for leadership, and we don’t see that at the present time. And we’re
going to do everything we can – working with EU – to encourage that type of
leadership that’s necessary in Bosnia so they can get back on track, because we
strongly agree with you: Integration is the only course that they can go, and
it is one country, and the country needs to act as a nation.
I’m going to turn the gavel over to Mr. Smith. I need to be on the floor,
actually, for another Helsinki issue on the floor of the United States Senate,
and I apologize for not listening to Mr. Smith’s questioning. I’m sure that I
will hear from Mr. Smith as to his concerns; he’s always very vocal. And just
complete it as you see fit.
REP. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Mr. Director General, thank you very
much for your testimony, for your leadership. I noted that you were with Carl
Bildt between ’95 and ’97 and it would be helpful for the commission to get
your assessment as to the attitudes on the ground with regards to the key
players. I mean, obviously everything was law and coming out of the war in
’95, the animosity was very, very thick. So your thoughts on that.
Secondly, you couldn’t have said it better about the reaction of the
international community, and that’s the late part of the Bush
administration/early Clinton administration. And the European Union – I
remember Cy Vance and Lord Carrington and many other key players – and Larry
Eagleburger – all distinguished, very smart and savvy leaders, missing one cue
after another; one clear indication that this conflict was about to go nuclear
– not nuclear per se but in terms of the death and the maiming of people.
I think we all missed it and, you know, we were a day late and a dollar short.
And frankly, in our own case, it wasn’t until Elie Wiesel said, at the
Holocaust dedication, and he turned to President Clinton and he said, do
something, Mr. President! And then, I think, our engagement became much more
robust after that.
But many of us lived it like you did – not in-country for, especially those few
years, but made frequent trips back and forth. And it has always concerned me
that we kind of look at all of the new entities that emerged, from Croatia to
Bosnia – we almost take a cookie-cutter approach.
And I wonder if you might speak to the issue – many of those on the ground in
Bosnia have expressed to me – and to other members of the commission – that
when Serbia seemingly leapfrogged in the queue – and they were making the right
moves to do so – in terms of EU ascension.
That the aggressor – and there’s no doubt in my mind, even though, in Congress
there was grave doubt when this all started as to who was the aggressor –
Milosevic, clearly, and Mladich and the others were all the aggressors – that
somehow the victimized state, the Bosnian state, is being treated with the same
sense of equality in dealing with ascension issues where they’re left with all
the residue – all the angst and the bile that’s spilled over from this terrible
conflict. So they have a much higher bar to overcome, if you will, because of
all of that residue that was left over.
And I’m wondering if there’s any thought by the EU of looking at Bosnia as a,
quote, “special case,” where criteria could be further streamlined – I mean, to
me – and maybe I’m wrong, but the quicker the ascension into the EU, even if
all of the X’s are not checked off, would have a positive and healing effect on
a country that had been so victimized.
There are those who’ve suggested to me on trips to Bosnia, as well as their
trips to the U.S. Capitol when their leadership would come here, that it had
the appearance – or at least a perception – that the fast track, if you will –
it’s probably not the right word – for Serbia was somehow linked, directly or
indirectly, with Kosovo; that it was a way of telling Belgrade that, you know,
your interests are being taken care of even though that’s a very bitter pill
for you to swallow. So whether it be direct or indirect, I don’t know, you
know, maybe that put Serbia on a faster track than would have normally been the
case. You might want to speak to that, if you would.
But this idea of a special case for Bosnia – and I would agree with our
distinguished chairman that, you know, if they’re not ready, please, the
special rep, which you know so intimately, having served right along with the
first one, really plays a vital role.
We all want constitutional reform as well, but maybe a little more healing
needs to take place. But it would seem to me, a parallel view of moving
towards EU ascension would help out in our special case.
MR. LYRVALL: Thank you very much. Well, with regard to the own historical
experience of the Bosnia file, indeed, we did set up the Office of the High
Representative back in ’95, and we met a country which was ravaged by war and
people extremely tired; lots of hostility sentiments were completely different
than they are today. I would still have to say, despite the fact that you
still see the tension in Bosnia.
Now, I think if you speak to people – I’m not traveling as frequently now as I
did before to Bosnia – I still sense that people would like Europe; they would
like normalcy. They would like the national rhetoric to go away. They would
like responsible political leadership by their own leaders, regardless if they
are Croats, Serbs or Bosniacs. And they expect more from them than we have
seen so far. They’re tired with the culture of the international community
running business for them rather than their own leaders taking responsibility.
So at least in our mind, there’s a time for change. It cannot continue like it
has for the time we have seen; it hasn’t brought Bosnia to where it wants to
be. And the Bosnian people where they want their country to be.
So indeed, there’s a need for change. We need to find and devise the
arrangements which makes this possible; Bosnia will need to fulfill the
criteria, as I’ve said before, and then move swiftly into a new process of EU
integration where there is a hope that the different parties would see
eye-to-eye and find that they have a common interest in taking their country
I would also like to add that in case you see an application of membership from
Serbia – for membership of the European Union – that would also close out some
of the options that Mr. Tadic might be contemplating as far as going it alone,
he will see that the whole region is opting for the European track. And he has
nowhere to go but to join that road, as well. So this is what we are hoping
for, and this is what we are working towards.
I mean, you ask whether one should look for a special track for Bosnia. I
think it wouldn’t serve the process long term to give some kind of shortcuts.
Because if they want to become members of the European Union, they will have to
deliver on the different criteria there – we have very clear Copenhagen
criteria which will have to be implemented or fulfilled. Now, having said
that, obviously, I don’t think that besides Kosovo, there is any country in the
region – perhaps not even in the world – that has been receiving as much
support and aid as Bosnia- Herzegovina from the European Union as far as annual
financial aid, but also with personnel, with military forces, police – through
our own EU special representative on the ground, who happens to be
double-hatted, also as a high representative.
So I see that there will be a lot of readiness to continue to work extremely
closely with a more responsible Bosnian leadership throughout an EU integration
process. And we are very grateful, I would like to say, to your commitment
here – to the U.S. commitment and the commitment of this commission – that
you’ve put Bosnia so firmly on the agenda because it is necessary; it’s very
difficult and it’s an issue that sometimes gets off the radar screen. We need
to have it firmly placed there. And to deal with it, it’s clearly an issue
which needs to get more political attention; we agree with that.
But I also would like to reassure you that we are working hard together with
our U.S. partners to see if we could use the window of opportunity in the
run-up to the elections next year to take this next decisive step for Bosnia’s
long-term European integration.
You also mentioned the question of Serbia and jumping the line. I would wish
to say that we do not share that view. I mean, there’s been a long way for
Serbia to get where they are now – as far as their contractual relations with
the European Union. And it should also be kept in mind that they have not been
implemented yet. They are doing it unilaterally on the part of the Serb side
to implement an agreement which has not yet entered into force because of the
lack of implementation of their ICTY commitments.
Now, we think that in this regard, we will all be united in the EU and find a
day when we’ll be able to take the next step, as far as implementation of this
interim agreement with Serbia. But there, I think we also agree that the Serbs
are on a good track towards fulfilling the criteria. Indeed, the reports from
the chief prosecutor, Brammertz, are very positive about the Serbian
implementation of the ICTY commitments. So we hope that we will be able to
move swiftly towards the next steps of Serbia’s EU integration, as well.
One should also recall that the conditionality of the European Union is
progressive. It becomes more difficult the closer you get to the day when you
will actually become an EU candidate member; with to start negotiate for full
membership. So we will have ample opportunity to revisit the cooperation of
Serbia with regards to the ICTY throughout the process, as we have with the
other applicants, as well.
I also want to say that, of course, there’s no question about the fact that
Milosevic was running Serbia. They were the aggressors. Having said that, of
course, one should also recall that the government after the overturn – handed
Milosevic over to the Hague during 2001, and there is a new pro-European
government in Serbia since some years back, which have had their difficulties
but which I think, overall, are showing a good performance with regard to
reform; with regard to cooperation with the international community. And also
the very sensitive issue of Kosovo, I think, has been handled – particularly
recently – in a constructive way by Belgrade.
So we are dealing with a new team in Belgrade. I think this is worth noting.
We cannot victimize the whole Serbian nation for what their leaders did back in
REP. SMITH: I appreciate that. And let me make it very clear that my view on
Serbia has been – even during the war because I remember we had one particular
student leader who testified at our commission, Geruviah (ph), who was killed,
like, on day 2 by some of Milosevic’s thugs when the bombing began, initiated
So I mean, we knew, and know – all of us, I think, on this commission – there
were many pro-democratic and pro-human rights individuals and s/he was part of
that youth group that was truly valiant during – we remember S-92 – when all
the other fine individuals who didn’t want anything to do with Milosevic’s
But let me just ask you a question, if I could – just two final questions. We
see some headlines, at times, suggesting, in Bosnia, that there could be a
powder keg somewhere in terms of some explosive – (inaudible). One headline
recently read, there will be war if it continues like this.
And I wonder if the EU force is sufficient to deter what could be, you know,
catastrophe number two if the right alignment of the stars are there and
there’s enough frustration on the part of certain individuals.
And secondly, just a brief question on the – 2 years ago in July, I was in
Srebrenica for the reinterment of several of those who were brutally murdered
in a genocide action. And I was struck by both Haris Silajdzic’s statement and
by Ceric’s statement – the grand mufti who I knew you know very well; that it
was a call for reconciliation, for true mourning. But the continued outreached
hand appears to be there on both of their parts.
But even en route to Srebrenica by car, I went by a stand that was selling
fruits and vegetables, and there was a big picture of Mladich, you know, as if
he is some kind of hero rather than someone who needs to be behind bars for the
rest of his life.
And I’m just wondering – I know you understand it, given your background, but
does the European Union have sufficient – again, making that special case
perspective about why Bosnia needs to be looked at; they are a victimized
nation rather than an aggressor nation. And we want, obviously, Serbia to have
the Konrad Adenauer view – you know, post-Germany, post-Serbia aggression – so
that they can matriculate into a full-fledged membership with you and with us;
where democracy and human rights are respected.
But I’m concerned still about, you know, the victim nation still feeling the
wounds of Srebrenica; they’re still reinterring hundreds of those who were
brutally murdered during those fateful days in July. Again, I make the case
for special case – at least to keep that under consideration – but maybe your
thoughts on Srebrenica.
And, finally, I mentioned earlier to Secretary Jones how concerned I and so
many others – I held three hearings – three Helsinki hearings – two hearings
and one in my subcommittee when I chaired the human rights committee on the
Foreign Affairs Committee – on the problem of what was imposed on Bucharest
with regards to inter-country adoption.
Now, I take – and members of this commission know – a backseat to no one on
human trafficking. And yet, the EU special rapporteur – I think would be the
right turn – put such a demand on local legislation in Bucharest precluding all
inter-country adoptions. And still, that’s the situation, which I find
Kids are still languishing in orphanages, who could be in a very happy home,
fully checked out, you know, with proper home studies, because EU ascension and
Lady Nicholson thought that adoption somehow equated with child abduction and
child trafficking. So are there any kinds of impositions being put on Balkan
countries – on Bosnia, for example – in the social area?
MR. LYRVALL: I will have to look into the laws question. I’m not absolutely
sure, to be quite frank with you. Not to my knowledge, at least. But I would
be happy to do that, and perhaps I could report back to you with some more
details on that particular issue.
On EU force, well, indeed, it’s there still with some 2,000 troops. As said,
there has been no shot in anger fired throughout the years of its presence
there. At the same time, of course, we still keep the EU force as a deterrent
in some potential hotspot areas. At the same time, I think it should be noted
that defense reforms have been relatively successful, and we sense that there’s
no real risk at the moment for another armed conflict.
However, I think the EU force is designed to be able and capable of handling
the kind of foreseen security threats that you would have in
Bosnia-Herzegovina. The strength is not random; it’s based on a thorough
assessment of the military requirements. And if necessary, there is also going
to be the strategic reserves available to further support the mission.
It’s mandated by a number of Security Council resolutions. And I think as long
as it continues as an executive mission, this mandate will be required. At
some point in time, we expect EU force to be transformed into some kind of
security sector reform mission, but frankly, as I tried to say in my first
remarks, we will not take that step without a thorough look at the current
state of the political process.
Any steps, I think, will be duly discussed with the EU and others in the
steering board before they are being taken, although, obviously, they will be
autonomous EU decisions. I think we have what we need for the moment, and we
do not foresee an immediate threat. We have to be vigilant at the same time,
The big question you’re raising about the victim status of the country and the
legacy of Srebrenica is a very difficult one to address. And, I mean, we are
acutely aware of this and I wanted to underline that we have no reason to be
proud of the policies of the European Union or the international community back
in the ’90s.
Now, at the same time, in our view, there is a need to move on. We will have
to not forget but to move on; at the same time, through cooperation inside the
country, to try to take the country forward. And I mean, I’m coming back again
to the full factor of the European Union in this respect.
We are very much aware of the sentiments in parts of Bosnia, but I think that
the best way to heal the country long term, to make it a viable country, is to
give it the necessary support, the kind of support we have been giving so far.
But also to strengthen this perspective for Bosnia; to make that more visible;
SEN. CARDIN: Director-General, thank you so much for honoring us with your
presence and your insights. Let me just say that the hearing, then, is
adjourned and I thank you again.