Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

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


Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Statement of Co-Chairman Ben Nighthorse Campbell

"Milosevic's Crackdown in Serbia and Threat to Montenegro"

July 27, 2000

Next week is the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act. The last quarter of a century in Europe
should be remembered in the history books for the struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms, for good
democratic governance and for the opportunity to prosper and give the next generations a future.

Thanks in large part to the Helsinki process, so much has been achieved, particularly in the last decade with the
end of the artificial division of Europe. Yet, as the title of our hearing today reminds us, the struggle continues due
to certain individuals in places like Serbia who have gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain personal power.
While authoritarian regimes continue in places like Belarus and in countries of Central Asia, nowhere in the OSCE
region have the principles enshrined in the Final Act been trampled upon more than they have by the regime of
Slobodan Milosevic, an indicted war criminal responsible for genocide at the end of the 20th century.

At the start of a new century, Milosevic continues to squelch the rights of the people of Serbia, and I would note
that this includes but is not limited to Serbs. In Vojvodina, for example, there are many other ethnic groups living
under precarious circumstances, the largest of which after the Serbs are the Hungarians. They, along with their
Serb neighbors in the province, first saw their political autonomy stripped. Then they found themselves living in a
country waging a nationalist war against its neighbors, a war they did not support, which forced many younger
people from Vojvodina to flee and which ultimately flooded their towns and villages with refugees. Now they
remain, vulnerable as minorities, isolated in a undemocratic country devastated by conflict and replete with
criminal activity.

I hope that as we hear the expert testimony of our witnesses, they can provide us with an assessment of the
situation throughout Serbia, including Vojvodina, and what can be done to protect vulnerable minority populations
there. I also will be deeply interested in the comments made regarding Montenegro, given the threat that republic
faces, which was the focus of our very first Commission hearing at the beginning of this year. As we approach the
end of the year, the situation appears particularly perilous as Milosevic intensifies his crackdown at home and
threatens to destabilize neighboring Montenegro.