Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Statement of Hon. Steny H. Hoyer
Ranking Member - Helsinki Commission

Print

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Hearing on

Promoting and Protecting Democracy in Montenegro

Tuesday, February 1, 2000

STATEMENT OF STENY H. HOYER, RANKING MEMBER


IT WILL BE TEN YEARS THIS APRIL, MR. CHAIRMAN, THAT I MADE MY FIRST VISIT TO WHAT
IS NOW THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. AT THAT TIME, WE VISITED THE CAPITAL BELGRADE
AND MET WITH A VARIETY OF SERBIAN AND YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS, INCLUDING
SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC. WE ALSO TRAVELED TO PRISTINA, THE CAPITAL OF KOSOVO, AND
MET WITH SERBIAN OFFICIALS AND ALBANIAN LEADERS THERE.


AT THAT TIME, IT WAS APPARENT THAT TROUBLE WAS ON THE HORIZON. NO, I WAS NOT A
SCHOLAR ON YUGOSLAV AFFAIRS, KNOWLEDGEABLE OF THE TROUBLED HISTORY AND
CONVINCED THAT IT WOULD ONLY BE REPEATED. RATHER, IT WAS CLEAR THAT
MILOSEVIC AND HIS MINIONS, INCLUDING THOSE IN CONTROL OF KOSOVO, HAD JUST
COME TO POWER, AND WERE DETERMINED TO KEEP IT IN SPITE OF THE DEMOCRATIC
WAVE WHICH WAS SWEEPING EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE AT THE TIME.


THAT IS WHAT THEY DID THROUGHOUT THE ENSUING DECADE, ENCOURAGING
NATIONALIST HATRED FOR NEIGHBORING PEOPLES AND DEMONSTRATING THIS HATRED
THROUGH THE BRUTALITY OF ETHNIC CLEANSING, INDEED THE HORROR OF GENOCIDE.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS WERE KILLED, TENS OF THOUSANDS TORTURED AND RAPED,
MILLIONS DISPLACED FROM THEIR HOMES, IN CROATIA, IN BOSNIA AND IN KOSOVO,
FROM 1991 TO 1999. AND, OF COURSE, THROUGH ALL OF THIS, SERBS HAVE BECOME THE
VICTIMS AS WELL, INCLUDING IN SERBIA ITSELF, WHERE THEY ARE DENIED THEIR BASIC
HUMAN RIGHTS.


BEFORE US NOW IS THE QUESTION OF WHETHER MONTENEGRO WILL BE NEXT ON THE
LIST. WHILE MONTENEGRIN LEADERS WERE ORIGINALLY ACCOMPLICES IN CARRYING OUT
SOME OF THE AGGRESSIVE POLICIES FORMULATED IN BELGRADE, IN RECENT YEARS THERE
HAS BEEN A TURNAROUND. MONTENEGRIN AUTHORITIES HAVE TAKEN STEPS TOWARD
POLITICAL REFORM, AND THEY HAVE OPPOSED FURTHER BLOODSHED IN THE BALKANS.
THIS HAS MADE RELATIONS WITH BELGRADE UNTENABLE. SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE, AND I
HOPE THAT IT IS NOT PEACE.



I SUPPORT THE EFFORTS OF THE ADMINISTRATION REGARDING MONTENEGRO. WE NEED
TO SEND, HOWEVER, AS STRONG A SIGNAL AS WE CAN THAT ANOTHER MILOSEVIC-MADE
CONFLICT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. WE CAN HOPE THAT DEMOCRATIC FORCES IN SERBIA
CAN CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH SERBIAN-MONTENEGRIN RELATIONS ARE
DETERMINED, BY CHALLENGING MILOSEVIC'S RULE. UNTIL THEY DO, WE MUST BE SURE
THAT INSTIGATING NEW VIOLENCE IS NOT AN OPTION FOR MILOSEVIC, NOT A SOLUTION
TO HIS POLITICAL PROBLEMS AT HOME.


I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM OUR WITNESSES, AND I WISH TO ASSURE THEM I
WILL REMAIN ACTIVE ON THIS ISSUE.

THANK YOU, MR. CHAIRMAN