[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE BALKANS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EUROPE AND EURASIA
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
NOVEMBER 15, 2011
Serial No. 112-112
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
DAN BURTON, Indiana GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ELTON GALLEGLY, California ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California BRAD SHERMAN, California
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
RON PAUL, Texas GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
MIKE PENCE, Indiana RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
JOE WILSON, South Carolina ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
CONNIE MACK, Florida GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas DENNIS CARDOZA, California
TED POE, Texas BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
BILL JOHNSON, Ohio CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
DAVID RIVERA, Florida FREDERICA WILSON, Florida
MIKE KELLY, Pennsylvania KAREN BASS, California
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina
ROBERT TURNER, New York
Yleem D.S. Poblete, Staff Director
Richard J. Kessler, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia
DAN BURTON, Indiana, Chairman
ELTON GALLEGLY, California GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio
TED POE, Texas
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Phil Gordon, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of
European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State........ 9
The Honorable Kurt Volker, managing director--International
Group, BGR Group, senior fellow and managing director, Center
for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International
Studies, Johns Hopkins University.............................. 38
Gerard M. Gallucci, Ph.D., former U.N. Regional Representative in
Mitrovica, Kosovo.............................................. 48
Mr. Ivan Vejvoda, vice president, Programs, The German Marshall
Fund of the United States...................................... 54
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Dan Burton, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Indiana, and chairman, Subcommittee on Europe and
Eurasia: Prepared statement.................................... 4
The Honorable Phil Gordon: Prepared statement.................... 14
The Honorable Gregory W. Meeks, a Representative in Congress from
the State of New York: Prepared statement...................... 25
The Honorable Kurt Volker: Prepared statement.................... 41
Gerard M. Gallucci, Ph.D.: Prepared statement.................... 51
Mr. Ivan Vejvoda: Prepared statement............................. 57
Hearing notice................................................... 74
Hearing minutes.................................................. 75
The Honorable Dan Burton, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Indiana, and chairman, Subcommittee on Europe and
Eurasia: Material submitted for the record..................... 76
THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE BALKANS
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2011
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:06 a.m., in
room 2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Dan Burton
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Burton. Good morning. The Subcommittee on Europe and
Eurasia will come to order. Our topic today is the State of
Affairs in the Balkans. And it is extremely timely, given the
recent events in the region.
Last week, along with Congressman Poe and Congressman
Rohrabacher, I visited Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, and Bosnia-
Herzegovina. On this visit, we were able to see and hear many
of the recent successes and ongoing issues in the region
firsthand. While we were, unfortunately, unable to visit
Montenegro last month, I had the privilege of meeting with the
country's Prime Minister Igor Luksic on the day that the
European Council announced its recommendation that Montenegro
begin its secession talks. I would like to congratulate
Montenegro on this achievement. I would also like to
congratulate Croatia on completing its own EU secession talks
earlier this year. It now looks more likely that Croatia will
join the EU probably within the next 2 years.
Serbia, too, deserves recognition for the progress that it
has made over the last decade. Let us be clear, the Serbia of
Milosevic is dead. Modern Serbia is a democratic country firmly
on the path to European integration, and is an important U.S.
partner in the Balkans. The Government of Serbia is committed
to joining the EU and the larger transatlantic community. This
commitment is visible in the Serbian Armed Forces, which has
fully adopted NATO protocols and compatibility, an amazing
achievement for a country that felt the full brunt of NATO
airpower just over a decade ago.
However, despite these achievements, the relationship
between Serbia and Kosovo remains dangerously unresolved, while
Bosnia has been unable to form a government over a year after
its elections. The United States and her European allies must
continue to work with all parties involved to solve these and
other ongoing issues in the region. However, such engagement,
whether it comes bilaterally or through our Embassies, or
multilaterally through institutions such as KFOR and NATO or
the other organizations over there, OHR, or the Office of High
Representative in Bosnia, can only play a supporting role. A
lasting peace in the Balkans cannot be imposed by the
international community. It must come from within. And that is
one of the reasons why initially I was very concerned, among
some of my other colleagues, that we were recognizing Kosovo
before talks were completed between Serbia and Kosovo. It
bothered me, since I have been on Foreign Affairs for some
time, that we have not been able to solve the problems between
Israel and the Palestinians and we have been trying to get them
together for a long, long time, and yet we unilaterally made
the decision to recognize Kosovo. And I think that kind of
exacerbated some of the problems that they have over there
right now. And I know the administration has a different
position, but that is just my view.
Serbs and Kosovars from Belgrade, Pristina, and Mitrovica
must sit down as equals, as must Serbs, Croatians, and Bosniaks
in Bosnia. During our recent visit, the leaders in Belgrade,
Pristina, and Sarajevo spoke clearly and in agreement. When the
international community appears to support one community over
another, that community loses all incentive to compromise,
believing falsely that it can dig in and wait for support from
The similarity between the international community's
decision to recognize Kosovo over Serbian opposition and
Palestinian efforts to gain U.N. Recognition outside of a
dialogue with Israel cannot be denied. The international
community must mediate between Israel and Palestine, as well as
between Serbia and Kosovo, while recognizing that in either
case it cannot impose a solution. In both cases, we must work
to support dialogue that leads to a common understanding.
In addition, the EU cannot allow the status of Kosovo to
dominate the discussion regarding Serbia's accession, to
overshadow Serbia's strengths or shortcomings regarding
economic and political development. The Kosovo issue should be
solved as a part of the accession process and not as a
prerequisite for that process to begin.
The role of the international community should also include
working with local leaders to stamp out corruption and to hold
those responsible for atrocities accountable. I am very
troubled by the findings--and we read this report last week--I
am very troubled by the findings of the report authored by the
Swiss politician and human rights activist Dick Marty regarding
inhumane treatment and harvesting of organs in Kosovo. I urge
the international community to work with the current Government
of Kosovo to fully investigate these findings. I talked with
the Kosovars and their leadership and they firmly denied that
this did occur. Nevertheless, I think that an investigation
This report and a subsequent investigation should not be
viewed as an attack on Kosovo, but as an effort to help the
government in Pristina to continue to develop. They seem to be
sincere that they want to go ahead and work out the problems in
the northern part of Kosovo with the Serbs. But these other
issues should be looked into and investigated thoroughly.
I look forward to hearing what the administration is doing
to support Ambassador Williamson, the former U.S. Ambassador-
at-Large for War Crimes Issues, who is currently heading the
investigations as an EU Special Prosecutor.
Significant economic concerns lurk behind and contribute to
the ongoing political issues in the region. Across the
southeastern European area, unemployment is high and taxes are
even higher. Despite their progress toward EU membership,
unemployment hovers around 15 percent in Croatia and Montenegro
and reaches above 20 percent in Serbia. This figure is at least
twice as high in Kosovo and Bosnia. In Croatia, we also heard
that for all the country's progress, signs of the ``Yugoslav
hangover'' remain present, with a 23 percent value added tax,
high corporate taxes and burdensome parafiscal taxes, including
historic building fees, forestry fees, and mandatory membership
in business associations.
These are difficult problems to solve. We have them here in
the United States as well. But we have to continue to work with
them to solve these problems and to try to bring them together
to solve these problems. If you don't have economic viability
and growth, you are going to continue to have problems in these
Continued economic and political development is the only
way to ensure that the peace is preserved and strengthened. As
the violence in northern Kosovo and the attack on our Embassy
in Sarajevo show, a sense of political disenfranchisement,
combined with high unemployment, creates fertile ground for
nationalist and religious extremism.
My colleague is still not here, but before I recognize
him--and I will recognize him when he comes in--I would like to
acknowledge that our Embassy staff in Sarajevo, including the
local security team and the Marine Guard, I want to thank them
for their bravery and the presence of mind that they showed in
protecting the Embassy and assisting local police during the
recent attack. The people of Sarajevo made it clear during our
visit that this was not only an attack on the United States,
but an attack on the peace that so many have worked so hard and
given so much to create. In the spirit of building on this
progress, I look forward to a productive discussion this
morning and continuing to support those working to move the
region forward. And I want to thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Burton follows:]
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Mr. Burton. Since my colleague is not here, does anybody
have an opening statement?
Do you have an opening statement?
Mr. Sires. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this
hearing today to evaluate the state of affairs in the Balkans.
Since the mid-1990s, the region has undergone a great
transformation as the wars have ended and political and
economic reforms have set in. The region has also progressed
toward greater integration with Europeans and the transatlantic
While great improvements have been made in the Balkans,
various challenges still remain, including dealing with the
impact of Kosovo's independence and the ongoing fight against
organized crime and corruption in the region. As our priorities
have shifted over the past decade toward the war on terrorism
and the Middle East, it is critical that we continue our
commitment to stabilize the Balkans in a way that is self-
sustaining and does not require direct intervention by
international forces. A secure and prosperous Balkans is in the
best interest of the United States and our transatlantic
I look forward to hearing from our esteemed witness today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.
Mr. Burton. Thank you very much.
Mrs. Schmidt. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First off, I want to
recognize I have had the chance this year to have had two Hope
Fellows shadow me for the day, and Mimoza Ahmetaj from Kosovo
is here. I just want to welcome her back.
Mr. Chairman, generally speaking, much progress has been
made in the Balkans in the last several years. As mentioned,
Albania, Croatia, and Slovenia have joined NATO. And Croatia
will be soon joining the EU. To a great extent, tragedy and
conflict are giving way to political and economic stability,
but there are still problems in the region. My concern lies
with Serbia and the problems that I believe they are creating
for Kosovo. Having declared its independence in February 2008,
Kosovo is now recognized by 86 countries, including 24 NATO
members and 22 EU members. All of Kosovo's neighbors have
recognized its independent status, with the exception of
In 2010 the International Court of Justice even released an
advisory opinion affirming that Kosovo's declaration of
independence did not violate international law. Unfortunately,
Serbia and the Serbian community in the northern Kosovo area,
refuses to accept the Ahtisaari Settlement and continues to
challenge Kosovo's right to govern its sovereign territory,
often with tragic consequences. I am sure we are all aware of
the Kosovo Serbs' recent illegal actions in which they took
control of several custom checkpoints in northern Kosovo,
killing a Kosovar police officer in the process. With the help
of the KFOR peacekeepers and the EULEX police, order was
restored and it appears that an agreement on joint customs
management at border crossings in northern Kosovo has been
Still, I think this incident and a series of incidents by
Kosovo Serbs is a great illustration as to why we need to keep
the KFOR troops, including the contingent of American troops,
in Kosovo. Further, we need to stand firm with perhaps our best
friends in the region, the Kosovars, and refuse to give
credence to the idea that some are trying to advance--the
moving of borders in northern Kosovo. I just don't think that
is an option.
Further, given Serbia's refusal to accept Kosovo's right to
govern its sovereign territory, along with Serbia's illegal
actions, such as the takeover of the customs checkpoint, I do
not believe that Serbia should be permitted into the EU at this
point. I hope the EU member nations will think long and hard
before allowing Serbia to join without a full investigation
into their actions.
Kosovo is a free, independent, and democratic state. I want
to thank my friend Eliot Engel for providing me the information
on Kosovo so many years ago when I first got here. He has been
an ardent advocate for Kosovo's right to exist along with the
other Balkan nations. I believe that every nation has the right
to chart its own destiny, including Kosovo.
I yield back my time.
Mr. Burton. Mr. Marino.
Mr. Marino. No opening statement.
Mr. Burton. Mr. Poe, did you have an opening statement?
Mr. Rohrabacher. First of all, I would like to thank the
chairman for his leadership on this issue. The fact is, he led
a codel, which I was part of, to the Balkans just a few days
ago. He demonstrated during that trip leadership and also
reaffirmed to the people there on all sides that the United
States and the U.S. Congress has not forgotten them but has a
keen interest in what happens there. So I would like to thank
the chairman for his leadership not only on this hearing but
his willingness to go and check it out firsthand.
I have been involved with this area for many, many years,
and I really felt the trip was worthwhile because I have come
to some new understandings about the various people who are
running these countries and the challenges that we face. I
would just suggest that we do have a new government in Serbia
that realizes that there were problems and crimes that were
committed in the past and that they have nothing to do with
those crimes. They are trying to leave that past behind. I was
very impressed with the sincerity of the Serbian Government to
try to find some solutions and to try to calm things down at
this point with the Kosovars.
There are, however, some very serious problems that remain
that were not taken care of by the fundamental agreement years
ago. What we have--and we have seen this happen in other
countries as well--for example, India, where the people of
Kashmir were never given a right to decide whether they were
going to be part of India or going to be part of Pakistan--
where there is continuing violence simmering right below the
surface. And sometimes in Kashmir and northern Kosovo things
come to the surface and the risk of bloodshed and extended
I have presented to both the Kosovars and the Serbian
Governments a plan that would be a delineation of the border, a
very simple delineation of the border, which would say that in
that northern part of Kosovo, where 90 percent of the people,
if not more, are Serbian, that they be permitted to become part
of Serbia. While there is a valley coming out of Kosovo into
Serbia where 90 percent of them are Kosovars, almost an equal
amount of territory and an equal amount of population, just
redesignate the border. That, I believe, would calm the
situation down dramatically.
Now, I have found--let me put it this way, not an
agreement, but a deep interest on the part of some of the
government officials in that region to this plan. I would
suggest that one of the main problems of taking such an action
would be--is the fact that our Government believes--obviously
believes--that any change of territory would result in a domino
effect that would create havoc throughout the world, not just
the Balkans, but the whole world.
I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that such an action, if we
could have an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on something
like that, it would be a dramatic first step and something that
would be very symbolic of two sides being able to work together
to try to make the situation better. There will be no
prosperity in that region and there will be no steps forward
for either country until all the issues are settled. And this
would be a first big step.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to make that
opening statement and also for allowing me to have the
discussion on that issue during the codel with the various top
leaders of the various countries that we visited.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Burton. Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher.
As you can see, Secretary Gordon, there are divergent views
on this whole issue.
Dr. Philip Gordon, our first witness, was nominated as
Assistant Secretary on March 6, 2009, and took the oath of
office on May 15, 2009. As Assistant Secretary, he is
responsible for 50 countries in Europe and Eurasia, as well as
NATO, the EU, and the OSCE. Dr. Gordon has previously served as
a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC;
director for European Affairs at the National Security Council
under President Bill Clinton; and a senior fellow,
International Institute for Strategic Studies, in London. He
has a Ph.D. and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University of
Advanced International Studies and a B.A. from Ohio University.
Dr. Gordon, we welcome you and appreciate you being here,
and we look forward to your testimony.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE PHIL GORDON, ASSISTANT SECRETARY,
BUREAU OF EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
Mr. Gordon. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for inviting
me and thanks to you and your colleagues for holding this
important hearing. With your permission, I would like to submit
my written testimony for the record.
Mr. Burton. Without objection.
Mr. Gordon. Thank you. I will just summarize some critical
While the dramatic events of the Arab Spring may dominate
press headlines, the Obama administration remains as committed
as ever to helping the Western Balkans on their path to
European integration. I was most recently there myself in June,
following a number of previous trips.
Then-Under Secretary Burns was in the region in July;
Deputy Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker, who is here today, has
been in the region on a very regular basis and remains in
continuous contact with European partners. We also welcome
congressional visits and interests in the region, including the
delegation that the chairman recently led.
The Western Balkans is a critical part of Europe--
historically, geographically, and culturally. For us, it is
impossible to speak about a Europe that is whole, free,
democratic, and at peace, without including the Balkans. Our
clear policy goal is the integration of all of the countries in
this region into Euro-Atlantic institutions. As we have seen in
the rest of Europe, this is the best means of ensuring long-
term peace, stability, and prosperity. Their success remains
vital to U.S. national security interests, as a return to
conflict would destabilize the region, hinder economic growth,
and distract from the global challenges, such as Afghanistan,
that we are addressing together with the European partners,
including our friends in the Balkans.
While there are many challenges in the region, it is worth
pausing to review the progress made in the last few years with
sustained American engagement and assistance. NATO's military
presence has decreased significantly as a result of greater
regional stability. Meaningful reforms have been made in the
rule of law, market economics, and democratic governance.
Slovenia joined the EU in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined NATO
in 2009. As was pointed out, Croatia was recently invited to
join the European Union. The North Atlantic Council said that
Macedonia will receive an invitation to join NATO as soon as
the name dispute is resolved. Kosovo is nearing the fourth
anniversary of its independence and continues to make progress
as a multiethnic democracy. Montenegro, only 5 years after it
obtained independence, already has EU candidacy status and is a
full participant in NATO's Membership Action Plan. Serbia has a
stabilization and association agreement with the EU and has
taken some notable steps toward achieving candidacy status,
including the arrest of Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic. In
September, a small group of Adriatic-5 country trainers
deployed together to Afghanistan, exhibiting a degree of
military-to-military cooperation in the region that would have
been unimaginable a decade ago. Just last week, the foreign
ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and
Serbia signed a joint declaration announcing their countries'
commitment to resolving the longstanding issue of refugees and
displaced persons in the Balkans.
So while clearly there are challenges, I do think it is
important to note the continued progress of a number of these
countries. Obviously, all of these countries have further work
to do. My written statement discusses each in turn. So if I
might, I would like to just focus some remarks here on Serbia,
Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzogovina.
In Serbia, the United States has welcomed the progress that
Serbia has made this year on internal reforms needed for EU
accession, especially its effort to reform the judiciary. With
the extradition of Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic to The Hague,
Serbia has demonstrated its commitment to justice and met its
key obligations to the International Criminal Tribunal for
former Yugoslavia. In recognition of these measures, the
European Commission made a conditional recommendation that
Serbia be granted EU candidate status. The progress report,
however, that was issued last month also made the
recommendation ``on the understanding that Serbia re-engages in
the dialogue with Kosovo and is moving swiftly to the
implementation in good faith of agreements reached to date.''
The United States welcomes the Commission's recommendation
because we strongly support Serbia's EU aspirations. However,
we also agree with our European partners that Serbia must come
to terms with the reality of an independent multiethnic Kosovo
within its current borders.
In March of this year, Serbia and Kosovo began an EU-
facilitated dialogue process. These talks are explicitly not
about reopening the issue of Kosovo's status, which we believe
is entirely resolved; rather, both sides indicated their
willingness to discuss practical solutions that could improve
the lives of people in both Serbia and Kosovo.
The United States has backed the efforts of Robert Cooper,
High Representative Ashton's appointed mediator, and has
participated as an observer in every session of the dialogue.
While the dialogue has resulted in improved technical
cooperation, significant issues remain unresolved and Serbia's
implementation has been lagging.
The United States remains concerned about the tense
situation in northern Kosovo, particularly the roadblocks that
were erected this summer by local Serbs in an attempt to
prevent freedom of movement. We have been clear that there must
be a safe and secure environment and unconditional freedom of
movement throughout Kosovo. We look to the Serbian Government
to cooperate fully with KFOR and EULEX in both the immediate
removal of the roadblocks and ensuring proper controls at the
Let me be clear on a final point. There is no way for
borders in this region to be redrawn along ethnically clean
lines. Partition and land swaps are unacceptable solutions. If
any such process is set in motion, there is no way that it can
be confined to a single boundary line or that it can end
peacefully. Any rhetoric calling for the partition of Kosovo
and questioning the ability of people of different ethnicities
to live together is harmful to regional reconciliation and
contrary to the international community's decade-long effort to
move the region beyond the brutal ethnic conflicts of the
Turning to Kosovo. This country has made remarkable
progress in the last 3 years by strengthening its political
institutions and fulfilling most of the obligations under the
Comprehensive Status Proposal. Kosovo needs to continue the
hard work of building a cohesive state and strengthening its
multiethnic, democratic institutions. The United States has
been clear that a vital part of this process includes ensuring
respect for the rights of all of Kosovo communities, including
Kosovo Serbs, and the preservation of their cultural and
religious heritage. As EU Representative Ashton has said, ``The
future of Kosovo lies in the European Union.'' The United
States strongly agrees. Like other countries that have been
motivated by the prospect of the EU integration, we believe
Kosovo needs to see concrete steps toward its European
perspective. We welcomed the EU's announcement that it will
open a dialogue with Kosovo this year. We hope Kosovo soon
receives European Council backing for concluding contractual
relations in the form of a trade agreement or even a
Stabilization and Association Agreement.
The United States supports Kosovo's efforts to take its
place in regional and global institutions. There are currently
84 countries that have recognized Kosovo, including NATO and
the European Union. We believe that even more countries will
recognize Kosovo and back Pristina's efforts to secure wider
Finally, let me say a word about Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This country has made significant progress since the horrors of
the 1990s, which is apparent when looking at its constructive
contributions toward international peace and stability. Bosnia
and Herzegovina is nearing the end of its 2-year rotation on
the U.N. Security Council, where it has provided consistent
support for U.S. priorities and its mission in Afghanistan.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a steadfast partner against
international terrorism. We saw this firsthand on October 28,
when the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo was attacked by a gunman on
the Embassy compound. We appreciate the excellent cooperation
from Bosnian authorities in response to this attack, as well as
counterterrorism issues more generally. In recent years, Bosnia
and Herzegovina has investigated and closed down numerous
terrorism-financing NGOs and deported extremists who illegally
entered the country. Given the need for constant vigilance, we
are continuing to work closely with Bosnian authorities to
strengthen their law enforcement and counterterrorism
Notwithstanding these successes, the country has not moved
in the right direction over the past 5 years. We have witnessed
a dangerous rise in nationalist rhetoric as well as brazen
challenges to state institutions and the Dayton settlement. In
addition, the reform process needed for NATO and EU accession
has stalled. Bosnia's political leaders have been too willing
to stoke ethnic fears and to place their personal political
interests over the needs of the people they are supposed to
represent. In order for Bosnia and Herzegovina to keep pace
with progress elsewhere in the region, it must be able to
function as a state that can deliver results for all of its
citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.
We have been urging--and I urged this on my last visit to
Sarajevo, both publicly and privately--urging progress in three
critical areas: Creating functioning political institutions,
demonstrating commitment to the Dayton framework, and
introducing governmental reforms necessary for Euro-Atlantic
The United States is working in very close coordination
with the European Union on these priorities, and we continue to
urge Bosnia's leaders to form a new government and address
these issues in parallel. We welcomed the arrival in September
of new Special Representative Peter Sorsenson, whom we strongly
support to lead an enhanced EU presence dedicated to guiding
Bosnia and and Herzegovina toward its European future.
Finally, if I might, let me say a word about U.S.
assistance to the region, which I know is of great interest to
this committee. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia, the United
States has remained deeply committed to helping integrate the
Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic community. In the
current climate of budget constraints and competing priorities,
we recognize that our resources are finite and cannot cover all
of the region's needs. Our foreign assistance is focused on the
core remaining challenges in Albania, Macedonia, Serbia,
Montenegro, while addressing more fundamental issues of
democratic reform and economic modernization in Kosovo and
With an eye to resource scarcity, we have begun to leverage
our assistance to attract funding from Central and East
European governments as well as the European Union. Our long-
term goal is to find ways to share assistance efforts with our
new allies in the region.
While the United States and European Union have important
roles in completing unfinished business in the Western Balkans,
the main responsibility falls on the citizens and leaders of
the regions. Local political leaders must be willing to move
past divisions and personal interests to focus on delivering
genuine reforms and making necessary compromises as demanded by
their citizens. We need partners who share this vision, who are
prepared to put the interests of the people ahead of their own
pride, who are willing to compromise for the greater good. The
international community cannot want progress and reform more
than local leaders do.
Thank you very much for your attention. I look forward to
your comments and questions.
Mr. Burton. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gordon follows:]
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Mr. Burton. I am sure you are already aware of this but
both leaders of both Kosovo and Serbia indicated that there
would be upcoming talks and they are going to try to continue
to work out their differences. I think they were both sincere.
I think those of us on the codel were impressed with the
leadership of both Serbia and Kosovo, and I think there is a
lot of sincerity there in trying to solve these problems.
Let me just ask you a couple of real quick questions. Have
you seen this report on the tragedies that took place during
and shortly after the war regarding torture, and also the
trafficking of human organs?
Mr. Gordon. Yes, sir.
Mr. Burton. Where are we on investigating that? Is there
any investigation going on right now to find out if there is
any validity to this report?
Mr. Gordon. Absolutely. Let me first say I agree with your
previous comment about the sincerity of the leaders. We have
encouraged dialogue between the two sides, and we are
encouraged that for the first time in the history of this
troubled relationship they have been willing formally to sit
down together. We also believe in their sincerity, and that is
why we strongly support that process and have participated in
On the report that you mentioned from the Council of Europe
and Swiss Senator Dick Marty alleging serious war crimes and
organ trafficking, those are charges that we take very
seriously. We have read the report carefully and we have talked
to Senator Marty and his colleagues. Alleged crimes of that
nature cannot go uninvestigated, and, if proven, unpunished. So
we have acted rigorously and together with our European
colleagues to ensure that appropriate investigations take
You referred, Mr. Chairman, in your opening remarks, to
Clint Williamson, the American prosecutor that we put forward--
experienced prosecutor in war crimes, former Ambassador for War
Crimes issues for the United States. He seemed to us to be the
individual best placed to lead a serious investigation of these
allegations. That is why we put his name forward, working
closely together with the European Union, and why he will lead
this investigation, together with EULEX, the European Rule of
Law Commission, which we also find appropriate in that this
should be done together between the United States and the
European Union. EULEX is the body to investigate the rule of
law. They have judges, they have experts. And we are going to
work very closely together. We are encouraged that all of the
parties have pledged their full cooperation. I believe that is
the message you heard in Pristina when you were there. That is
what we have heard from Kosovars, from their neighbors.
I think, to conclude, our presentation of the lead
prosecutor and the fact that we are doing this together with
EULEX is a real manifestation of our commitment to a full
investigation and our commitment to working together with the
European Union on the rule of law in the region.
Mr. Burton. Well, there are varying views on the
investigation. This yellow house, where a lot of these
atrocities allegedly took place, there was a table there. And
there was various testimony. Some people said a child was born
on that table. Others said they had the dissection of people
and their organs sold. And others said that it was a place
where they killed cattle and other farm animals. So I think it
really does need to be thoroughly investigated.
Serbia has sent their war criminals to The Hague. They are
going to send those who have not yet been prosecuted, who I am
sure will be. I think that whoever committed atrocities, on
either side, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the
law. I hope there is no hesitancy to get to the truth, whatever
it takes, because that is a horrible, horrible thing that took
Regarding the blockades on the border, we flew over there,
Congressman Rohrabacher and I, and the problem with those
blockades is the KFOR leaders we talked to said, you remove
one, and 24 hours later there is another one someplace else. So
as long as the population there is determined to keep setting
up these roadblocks, it is virtually impossible to keep them
from occurring, because you tear one down, there is another one
there 24 hours later. It just goes and on and on.
So can you elaborate just a little bit on who you think is
supporting that unrest? Is it criminally or politically
supported? Is it possible that the people of northern Kosovo
just don't want to be a part of Kosovo? What is your analysis--
or the State Department's analysis?
Mr. Gordon. Thank you for flagging that real issue of
concern to us. It is clearly a challenge to keep--ensure
freedom of movement throughout the region, which is what we
would want to see. And what you describe is accurate. When KFOR
acts to take down the roadblocks, we see them come back up and
appear in a different place. But we cannot accept that
individuals, some of which are sponsored by Belgrade, others of
which are encouraged by----
Mr. Burton. How do you know that? How do you know
individuals that are sponsored by Belgrade are putting up the
Mr. Gordon. I think we have seen plenty of evidence from
Belgrade: Political, rhetorical support; an absence of a
willingness to take measures and ask them to stand down. I am
not talking anybody behind the scenes, but visibly we have
encouraged Belgrade to join us in supporting freedom of
movement and opposing roadblocks, and have been disappointed by
the absence of such support.
I also think--you asked the question about criminal
support--I do think there are those in the region who benefit
from preventing open trade and take advantage of the lack of
freedom of movement and open trade to corner the market on
smuggling. And we have seen their actions in busing people to--
Mr. Burton. Let me interrupt you, because I have one more
question and then I yield to my colleagues. I didn't get the
impression that the people in Serbia were instigating the
roadblocks. The feeling that I had, I don't know about my
colleagues, I will let them speak for themselves, was that
there are people there that definitely don't want to be part of
Kosovo, and they are the ones that are doing it. So hopefully
during the talks that take place, they will be able to come to
some kind of resolution that will convince those people to
remove the roadblocks. But I don't think that the Serbian
leadership is involved, at least not from my perspective.
I have one more question. When we were in Sarajevo we met
with the three factions, the leaders. You have got a real
Gordian knot there. There was just no movement toward
agreement. So if you can give us an update on that real quickly
from the State Department's perspective on how you are going to
get these three factions together to solve these problems a
year after the elections, I would like to hear that.
Mr. Gordon. Sure. One final brief word on roadblocks. I
wanted to say the reason we so seriously object to this is that
to allow locals, wherever they might be, to interfere with
freedom of movement, in part for reasons I say of protecting
smuggling routes and criminal enterprises, would be a slippery
slope that would be dangerous for the whole region if we just
stood passively by and said, It's okay, if you don't want to
accept freedom of movement, to close down roads. So that is why
we take such a firm line on that issue. Of course, we agree
this needs to be talked through with the locals who live there
and with the neighbors.
I can't disagree with your assessment that political
progress in Sarajevo is a Gordian knot. We have been
disappointed. We waited for some time for last October's
elections to take place, hoping that those elections would
allow the formation of a functioning government which would be
in the interest of the people of the country. They had the
election but the political leaders have failed to reach an
agreement that allows for them to create a government.
Secretary Clinton was there just after the election. It has not
been a year. And they still have failed----
Mr. Burton. Let me interrupt because I don't want to
monopolize this. All three suggested that there might be the
need for a Dayton II Accords. Are you looking into that?
Mr. Gordon. No. We are looking at the implementation of the
Dayton Accords that exist. Nobody should think that there is
some quick fix; that if only somehow there was a different
constitutional arrangement or institutional structure, this
would be any easier than it is now.
Mr. Burton. Mr. Meeks.
Mr. Meeks. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to submit my
opening statement for the record. I apologize for being late.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Meeks follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S)] [NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Meeks. Mr. Engel and I were at a very important meeting
regarding New York State redistricting. I want to thank the
chairman because this is a timely hearing on the current state
of affairs in the Balkans. I know you recently visited there. I
wish I was on that trip. You have been focused on traveling and
taking Members so that we can see what is happening on the
ground ourselves. I just want to say thank you for this
hearing. It is very timely.
I continue to want to work with you. You had this time by
yourself. Now we are here to sit back and hear what is really
Let me say this. I do believe that the United States has a
positive role in which we can play in all these endeavors in
the Balkans. If we disengage, I think there are others lurking
out there waiting to fill the void. So it is time--and those
that want to fill the void don't necessarily have the best of
intentions. And so we have got to make sure that those
influences who stand ready in the wings to stimulate organized
crime, encourage radicalism and rekindle violence, while others
want to ensure the region's orientation is not toward Euro-
Atlantic integration but, rather, toward fears of influence
from the East. So the timeliness and the importance of us
engaging now I think is important--and not disengaging.
And I know, Mr. Assistant Secretary and the State
Department, I compliment you for what you have been doing. I
know the Secretary has visited the region, and is doing it on a
very urgent matter in trying to keep us together. So I want to
compliment you on that.
That being said, let me ask a couple of quick questions.
Europe and the United States seem to overlap greatly when it
comes to policy toward the Balkans and the Balkan region. How
would you evaluate the EU's ability to affect the region as a
result of the new-formed policy formed in Lisbon today?
Mr. Gordon. Thank you very much, Mr. Meeks. Let me just
reinforce your first point about disengaging and why that is
not in the U.S. interest. It is our view to have a stable,
democratic, and prosperous Balkans. Even when resources are
required to promote such an outcome in the region, in the long
run, just as we have seen in Central and Eastern Europe, if we
can help produce stable, democratic, prosperous trading
partners that contribute to our global missions in this part of
the world, we will be doing ourselves a favor. So I thank you
for that comment and welcome it.
On cooperation with the European Union and how that might
have changed in the wake of the Lisbon Accords, I would suggest
that our cooperation with the EU on the Balkans is closer and
more effective than ever. It is no secret that in the past
there had been differences in approach between the United
States and Europe on the region. And I think we have come to
the point where we really are following the same strategy.
I mentioned in my opening statement how closely we engage
with the Europeans, Secretary Clinton and I, Representative
Ashton. I am in constant touch with my EU counterparts. Deputy
Assistant Secretary Reeker is there on a regular basis. And we
are pursuing the same strategy. We believe that the most
compelling incentives, strategic incentives for the countries
of the Balkans, is to join the European Union. For many of
them, joining NATO is also an important goal, and we have tried
to make clear that if they do the right things and reform in
the right ways, they can join NATO as well. But overwhelmingly,
it seems that the incentive of joining the European Union is a
powerful democratizing tool for them and we support what Europe
is trying to do.
I quoted the European Commission's report on Serbia, which
was very clear. The Commission has been clear with all of the
countries in the region: Work on rule of law; work on
democracy; fight corruption; make peace with your neighbors,
and you will move down the path to European Union membership,
which will have benefits for everybody.
Mr. Meeks. Given that, how would you say the European
economic crisis is affecting it with the high unemployment now
that is going on and the whole crisis disrupted the region's
economic growth? How do you see the European economic crisis
affecting the situation?
Mr. Gordon. It is obviously a huge challenge on a number of
levels and it is a challenge that affects the enlargement
process inevitably. We hope that while resources are scarcer
everywhere, it won't divert the European Union from the core
belief, which as I just said, we share; that keeping its doors
open to countries in the region is in their interest. And it is
in their economic interest as well. Again, if their choice is
to have stable democratic trading partners as opposed to
countries that need support from outside and military presence,
it seems to us obvious what the choice should be. And I am
fully confident that the European Union shares our view on that
Mr. Meeks. If you allow me one more question and then I
will yield back. And maybe if we get a second round, we will. I
want to ask a question on Bosnia. If we were to place Bosnia on
a sliding scale between progress achieved because or through
full implementation of the Dayton Accords and progress achieved
from the EU accession, where would you put it on that sliding
Mr. Gordon. You are putting me back in graduate school and
draw a diagram of the influence of the two factors. I think
they go together. It is really not zero sum between the two, it
seems to me. Dayton is necessary. It is not enough. They need
to build on it and do more, including have the EU accession
process. But it is the absolute minimum. It provides the
constitutional structure that can allow that country to be a
functioning state and join the European Union. In the absence
of full implementation of Dayton, it just won't happen.
So I think the two, rather than alternatives, which one is
going to be the powerful factor, they go together--full
implementation of Dayton and the incentive of joining the
European Union. Ultimately, as I said, we can't do it for them.
We can support the EU in making clear what benefits they would
get by implementing Dayton and meeting the EU's conditions. But
as I also said, the leaders need to ultimately put the
interests of the country ahead of their narrow political or
personal interests. And they have in recent years failed to do
Mr. Meeks. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I really appreciate
Mr. Burton. Mrs. Schmidt.
Mrs. Schmidt. Thank you. Mr. Secretary, my concern is with
the Serbian-Croatia issue. And that is where I would really
like to focus a couple of my questions. The first is that--and
I know that there are ongoing reports on both sides--but there
are reports that Serbia has spent between $5.5 billion and $6
billion on parallel institutions in Kosovo. And my concern is
what is the intention of that money. Is it to help the people
of Kosovo or to sow division? Is the money going to northern
Kosovo undermining a resolution to the problems that are there?
Mr. Gordon. Thank you. First, since you mentioned Croatia,
just to mention we underscore its importance to the rest of
this process, because as we talk about how our strategy and
policy is to encourage all of the countries to move in the
direction of the European Union, it is important to note that
one of them is doing so as we speak.
I mentioned questioning in Europe, in part due to the
financial crisis, about the future of the European Union
enlargement. It is worth noting the lesson from Croatia is if
you do the right thing and you meet the standards on
anticorruption, rule of law, democracy, judiciary, and make
peace with your neighbors, you get in. And that is why it was
hugely positive to see the European Union offer membership.
Once the ratifications are done, it is going to be a great
message to the entire region to see that country join the
That point is related to your question about Serbia and its
support for parallel institutions. Our message to Serbia is we
are encouraged to see you also making progress on rule of law,
democracy, anticorruption, and war criminals. Those are all
positive steps toward the European Union. But it is hard to
imagine a country joining the European Union which is actively
funding separate institutions in a neighboring state and which
has unregulated, uncontrolled borders with that state, and
unrecognized. And so that is the message that we together with
the European Union are trying to convey to Serbia.
There is a final piece that needs to be managed. And it is
fully consistent with very significant self-government for the
people throughout Kosovo, including the ethnic Serbs who live
in the north. It is entirely consistent with protection of
their religious and cultural rights, indeed the whole future,
the whole notion of the European Union, as borders become less
important. Just as between France and Germany where it was once
critically important which side of the border you lived on and
what your ethnicity was, today in the European Union there is
nothing at that border. And that is the future that we would
like to see for the Balkans as well.
Mrs. Schmidt. Thank you. Just one more question. My concern
with Serbia is it seems to be aligning itself with other
countries. If Serbia wants to be part--to be aligned with the
U.S. and NATO and the European Union, my concern is their
ongoing relationship with Russia and China and other countries
that have been less helpful in the Balkans. Could you elaborate
on that, please?
Mr. Gordon. Sure. Those relationship we watch closely. But
I would say that we believe Serbia has made a strategic choice
for Europe and that it wants to be a European country, it wants
to be a European member. The chairman referred to the
Government of Serbia. They generally have turned the page on
the Milosevic era. They have a strong relationship with the
United States. And we want to encourage and support that. So,
of course, we watch all countries in the region's relationships
with others, but we don't have any doubts that Serbia's
strategic choice is for Europe. And we have tried to be clear
on what they need to do to see the culmination of that positive
Mrs. Schmidt. Thank you. I yield back my time.
Mr. Burton. Mr. Engel.
Mr. Engel. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Mr.
Secretary. Thank you for the great work that you do, that you
have been doing for many years. We appreciate it.
Mr. Chairman, I was just following you around the Balkans.
I just got back from Kosovo yesterday. And as people know, I
have been a strong supporter of an independent Kosovo for many,
many years. I know that Mr. Rohrabacher and Mr. Poe and you
were around the region as well.
Let me talk about certain observations that I made. First
of all, I was there in Kosovo to help cut the ribbon on the new
road, that Prime Minister Thaci Highway which will link Albania
with Kosovo, and hopefully Serbia one day as well. It seems to
me at a time when some countries are trying to close borders,
Kosovo is trying to open its borders. I think that is a
positive thing for Europe.
The Prime Minister of Albania was there, Mr. Sali Berisha
was there, Mr. Thaci, also the President of Kosovo. I hope one
day there will be a time when we can have a ceremony like that,
that the leaders of Serbia will be there as well. I think that
their rejectionist attitude toward Kosovo is negative--more so
negative for Serbia than anybody else, unfortunately. I think
that Kosovo is making great strides. I just wanted to throw
One of the things that some of my colleagues have
mentioned, which is very disturbing to me, is the fact of
parallel institutions that have been set up in north Mitrovica
by Serbia. I think that is a situation that cannot be
sustained. So I want to ask you, is there a plan to end the
criminality and lawlessness, to restore freedom of movement and
establish control over the borders, which is provided by KFOR's
mandate? Is EULEX doing enough to bring this about?
What I heard when I was there was there are between 50 and
200 people, mostly criminals and sponsored by Belgrade, who are
behind this. It seems to me that the majority of the Serb
population there doesn't support it and wouldn't support it.
These are criminals going back and forth.
I want to also add, which I think is important to point
out, is that most Serbs in Kosovo lie south of the river, which
cuts through Metrovica. It is the southern part. Since
independence, there are six majority Serbian municipalities
that have been established in Kosovo, where the Serbs now run
their own affairs, including local government, education, road
building, and other matters. Most importantly, I think, they
are participating in all levels of the government in the
Republic of Kosovo, from Deputy Prime Minister Slobdan Petrovic
to local mayors and council members in the municipality.
Can you also describe the progress which has come from the
plan for an independent Kosovo devised by the former President
of Finland, Martii Ahtisaari?
Mr. Gordon. Thank you, Mr. Engel. First, I appreciate your
mentioning the new highway and raising the vision of such
highways stretching not just between Albania and Kosovo but
ideally between Belgrade and Pristina. Why not think that way
and imagine that you would have transportation routes between
Serbia and Kosovo; open trade between Serbia and Kosovo;
customs being collected not by smugglers or local gangs, but by
officials who would then take the customs revenues and
distribute them to the people who live there. That is the
vision that we have for the region. And it is not an
unrealistic one. It requires a modicum of cooperation on both
sides. We hope the EU dialogue will bring the parties to talk
about these things. If the leaders are really focused on the
rights and well-being of the people who live there, that is the
vision that we should see them trying to implement.
In the meantime, we are doing all we can through KFOR and
EULEX to provide for that opening and to fight against the
corruption and the closed borders that we see. That is why we
believe we need to continue to support KFOR and EULEX, because,
alas, in their absence we would see the closed borders and the
corruption under issue. KFOR is a mandate to provide a safe and
secure environment and to ensure freedom of movement. That is
why we strongly back what KFOR and EULEX are together trying to
You are absolutely right to mention the ethnic Serbs who
live in Kosovo but not in the north, for a number of reasons.
One is that they have shown that it is possible to be an ethnic
Serb in Kosovo but also to have a very significant degree of
self-government and democracy.
You mentioned the Serb majority municipalities. They have
elected their mayors. Their democracy is functioning. I have
visited with the Serb mayors. Secretary Clinton visited with
them when she was there. It is a model for how you can have
this confident degree of self-government while being in the
borders of a democratic, multiethnic Kosovo.
These sorts of arrangements were provided for in the
Comprehensive Status Plan, which also, by the way, provides for
a voice from Belgrade. It is not as if neighbors can have no
interests or say in developments in the region. If the concern
is that locals have a significant degree of say over their
hospitals and their schools and their police, that can be
provided for within the context of a democratic, multiethnic
So we hope that is a vision that ethnic Serbs of Kosovo,
that the neighbors, Belgrade, come to share, because moving
down that path would really be the recipe for the well-being of
the people who live there and the success of both countries.
Mr. Engel. What about the fact that essentially north
Mitrovica has been blocked by the Government of Kosovo from
being able to control it? It is part of Kosovo. The Ahtisaari
plan clearly said that what is happening now should be allowed
to happen. I believe if we keep kicking the can down the road,
whether it is KFOR or whomever, it is going to be much worse,
much more difficult to resolve as the years go by. We should
not allow this lawlessness to just continue because if we do,
we are first of all not really implementing the Ahtisaari,
which was adopted. Secondly, it is only going to flare up and
be worse down the road. So I would wonder if you could comment
The last thing I want to throw in is that I am for Kosovo
and Serbia being part of the European Union. But I don't think
Serbia can get in before Kosovo because Serbia would then block
Kosovo the way it has blocked Kosovo from getting into the
United Nations. So I think it is important. I think it is
important that both countries join the EU because I think that
the EU borders aren't that important because there is
flexibility of travel among all places and borders. But I don't
think Serbia should be admitted before Kosovo.
So I wonder if you can mention about the lawlessness in
north Metrovica and the fact that we just can't keep kicking
the can down the road.
Mr. Gordon. On lawlessness, we remain strongly committed to
backing KFOR and EULEX politically and with the resources they
need to combat that lawlessness. We will stay engaged as long
as we need to until that situation is dealt with. We reinforce
it because there is only so much we can do with the presence on
the ground, with the strategy of making clear to Serbia that it
is path to European Union membership requires dealing in an
appropriate way with that situation.
I talked a bit about what that appropriate way might be. We
share the view that both countries should enter the European
Union. If they did, the borders would be far less significant
and both countries would clearly benefit.
Mr. Engel. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Burton. Mr. Poe.
Mr. Poe. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Having been to the
region, Mr. Secretary, there is no place on Earth like the
Balkans. You couldn't write a story and come up with all the
different dynamics that are taking place. I have never seen
such a thing.
I will correct you on one thing. Kosovo recognizes them as
neighbors. But Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo. So, with that
I have several questions and try to be brief in your
answers, if you will. The issue I will call, for lack of better
phrase, the Marty report and the Del Ponte memoirs, you have
read it, I have read it. We heard accusations--tremendous
accusations--while we were there about what took place. But we
also met with our Ambassador to Kosovo, Mr. Dell. He basically
took the position that it was all a bunch of nonsense. There is
no such thing. Couldn't happen. Wouldn't happen. A little
disturbing in that he didn't seem to be open-minded to trying
to find a conclusion.
I think the allegations of people being killed for their
organs anywhere in the world is about as bad as it gets. I
would hope we get to the bottom of it and resolve it one way or
another. So are we going to do that or are we just going to
hope time passes by and we never get a resolution? Because
people of all different ethnic groups that we met with really
want an answer to that question. So is the U.S. going to push
that, Secretary Gordon?
Mr. Gordon. Absolutely. As I said, these are very serious
charges. We have looked at them carefully and came to the view
that they deserved, indeed required, serious investigation. To
underscore our commitment on this, I think it really--that is
why we found and identified and put forward the best possible
candidate. That is the opposite of sweeping this under the
carpet. There are plenty of ways you can bury a report or have
someone else deal with it. And I think we did the opposite of
that. We said it needs to be investigated. We weren't convinced
that--there aren't a whole lot of experienced war crimes
prosecutors out there who are available and ready and prepared
to take on this responsibility. And so I want to tip my hat to
Ambassador Williamson for being willing to do it. We said it
needs to be a serious, credible person. We will put him
forward. And I think that is really a sign of the degree to
which we agree with you that we need to get to the bottom of
this. It is serious.
Mr. Poe. The second was about the people who have been
murdered on both sides during all this conflict. There would be
mass graves--or graves--and people in this grave would be
transported to another grave and then be moved to another grave
to try to prevent anybody from finding out where they are. You
have got mixed remains in three different graves.
Are we proceeding sufficiently enough so people in the
entire region are going to get some satisfaction about their
family members, wherever they were killed?
Mr. Gordon. It is another hugely important issue. It is
part of the dialogue. There has been real progress. There is no
doubt a lot of work needs to be done still in terms of refugees
and displaced people and missing persons. But we believe that
all of the countries of the region are committed to tackling
these problems, and even in recent months there has been
Mr. Poe. The KFOR operation, Camp Bondsteel, I was there in
2008. It is winding down. We would fly over the area where the
roadblocks--we saw a lot of roadblocks. We saw a lot of Serbian
flags; big flags at the roadblocks. You are aware of all of
that. How long are we going to be in Kosovo? How long is the
United States going to be in Kosovo because of that issue of
protecting that border area?
Mr. Gordon. No longer than necessary.
Mr. Poe. That may be a long time. The impression I got, it
is going to be a long time.
Mr. Gordon. Here is what I would say to put it in context.
I have made the case already and really defended, that without
us it wouldn't be in our interest to let this go and to let
locals put up roadblocks and do nothing about it. I would
remind us all that our initial deployment to Kosovo was more
than 40,000. And so it has dramatically come down from when we
went to Kosovo in the first place, and steadily, to the point I
think the American deployment today is around 700 troops, which
is a small proportion of the overall NATO commitment there.
Germany has twice as many troops--you saw this for yourself--as
So our contribution is important, but it is appropriate and
limited and has been steadily coming down. We would like to get
to the point where it wasn't necessary at all, but we need to
make political progress before it is possible to entirely
eliminate the military contribution that we are making.
Mr. Poe. I think the presence of the United States has made
a difference--will make a difference there, just based on my
The last question. We have heard a lot and we discussed a
lot here in this committee on northern Kosovo, the borders
being drawn really by Tito years ago. For some odd reason we
took Tito's borders and we made it the rule of law. The whole
idea of the Serbs in the north of Kosovo--we are a Nation I
think that believes in self-determination. But if the Serbs in
northern Kosovo--just assume with me in a hypothetical, they
want to be part of Serbia, why do we say you can't be part of
Serbia, you have got to be part of Kosovo, even though you
don't want to be? Assume my hypothetical is correct first, Mr.
Mr. Gordon. Going back to your first comment about there is
nothing like the Balkans, I assume part of the reason you said
that is the complexity of the region. We have the phrase
``Balkanization'' is a reflection of that complexity. There are
so many different ethnic groups throughout that region, which
makes it in some ways a wonderful place. It makes it also a
The reason we can't simply say if certain people of one
ethnic group living in one place want to be part of another
country, that they should be allowed to, as that would
literally open a Pandora's Box that could never be closed. So
if you said that Serbs--if you took your stipulation that Serbs
in northern Kosovo should be able to choose to be part of
Serbia, well, why not Serbs in Bosnia? So then some Serbs in
Bosnia become part of Serbia. What about Albanians in Serbia?
Do they then choose a different country? At what point do you
stop? What about the Serbs in the southern part of Kosovo? Do
they get to be part of Serbia? You could go on and on in
describing all of the different Macedonians, Albanians.
Mr. Poe. Excuse me for interrupting, Mr. Secretary, because
I have only got 1 minute left. I am just talking about the
Serbs in northern Kosovo, of course, seems to be the conflict.
The people in Serbia, many of them, think their families should
be able to be part of their country. The Serbs in northern
Kosovo, seem to me, they don't want to be part of Kosovo. And
there are some leaders really in both countries who think we
have got to figure out a partition or something to help the
folks in northern Kosovo because that is where the problem is.
That is why KFOR is over there, is because of that issue in
northern Kosovo, in my opinion.
So is there anything that is going to help, or are we going
to say you're stuck with the country you're in and that's going
to be the U.S. position indefinitely? Is that kind of our
Mr. Gordon. It is our assessment that there is no way to
start redrawing borders that stops in a stable place, and that
you would actually open it up for much more conflict and
complication than we have at present. Where we want to get,
frankly, is the point that borders are less important. Where
you have European Union members that trade with each other,
that there is not even a post there because it doesn't matter.
That is, frankly, where the European Union has gotten to,
especially in the Shengen arrangement on immigration. You just
don't have presences at the border. That is the way to tackle
the complicated ethnic makeup of the Balkans, ultimately.
Mr. Poe. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back my time.
Mr. Burton. Ambassador, we appreciate your testimony. It
was very enlightening.
Oh, Mr. Rohrabacher, I am sorry. Forgive me. I was
recognizing you at the end because you aren't a member of the
subcommittee. I apologize.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Back to the point that was just made. Basically, I have
been a supporter from the very beginning. I was, along with
Eliot, we are very involved in this over the last 20 years. It
was always based on self-determination; on the concept that
people have a right to determine their own destiny, which is
part of our Declaration of Independence, our statement of
nationhood. But yet it seems to me that if we believed in that,
we should be supporting these people in the northern tier that
is next to Serbia who want to be part of Serbia. They have a
right to self-determination.
Why is it if we accept your logic and our country's
position now, we should have sided with Serbia to prevent the
Kosovars from becoming independent in the first place? No, the
Kosovars had a right to be independent, and so do some of those
Serbs in the northern part of that country. Now you say there
is too much of a risk of having the mushroom and the dominoes
fall and everybody declares their independence? Well, there is
a difference. This difference is we are talking about an
agreement between two countries now--between Kosovo and Serbia.
You see, there can be no agreements between these various
countries to delineate their borders. It is up to us as, the
grand poombas of the whole globe, to determine these people
cannot make agreements with each other as to where their border
Let me remind you, Mr. Secretary, the United States'
borders were changed into the time when we became a country.
Remember the motto: 54/40 or fight? What was that all about?
That was about us saying we were going to fight unless we had
the 54/40 parallel up there with Canada, which would have given
us a huge chunk of Canada. But guess what? The people up there
didn't want to be part of the United States. They wanted to be
part of Canada, even though we were revolutionary. And we were
the ones who were for self-determination. Our Government in
1846 agreed to delineating our border with Great Britain
beneath Canada in 1846 not to 54/40 but to the 49th parallel.
I would suggest you are correct that once we get to the
point where these countries in the Balkans are independent and
part of the EU, these borders become less important and thus
the friction there and the potential of war is decreased
dramatically. How do we get to that point, is the question. And
you get to that point by trying to find agreements between
these countries. And I would suggest an agreement between
Serbia and Kosovo on redesignating their borders so more Serbs
are in Serbia and more Kosovars are in Kosovo would be a
dramatic step forward and symbolic of the cooperation that
would lead to that very point that would permit the EU to
eliminate the importance of borders.
Here is the question for you: Are we then superimposing our
will on the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo that they cannot
make such an agreement to redelineate their border so that more
Serbs are in Serbia and more Kosovars are in Kosovo?
Mr. Gordon. Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher. When you referred
to the potential deal between the two to change their borders,
I know of no agreement between the two countries to change
their borders along those lines.
Mr. Rohrabacher. That is not the question. What would our
Mr. Gordon. No one talks about such an arrangement, nor do
I know of any conceivable arrangement that actually both could
agree with, that wouldn't cause real problems for the entire
Mr. Rohrabacher. Let me note that I do. Let me note that I
do know of those things, and you don't seem to and our
Government doesn't seem to. But I am not asking whether you
know about it or not. I am asking you whether or not, with an
honest discussion between the Kosovars and the Serbians, and if
they decide to make sure there are more Serbians in Serbia and
more Kosovars in Kosovo, what would our Government's position
Mr. Gordon. You are asking a hypothetical question.
Mr. Rohrabacher. A principle question. Whether or not, in
principle, that is what we would agree to. These are
independent countries. Do they have a right to make agreements
to delineate their borders as we made with Great Britain in
Mr. Gordon. For reasons I have given, I really don't think
it is in our interest to speculate about border swaps in the
region, because once you start going down that path, you really
run the risk that you would be opening up that question in all
of the neighboring countries.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Right now you are leaving them with the
idea that no, you are sovereign countries, but the United
States is never going to go along with any agreement between
you two. You have to prove to us first before we can approve of
anything like that.
Mr. Gordon. I think changing borders in a volatile region
is a very significant matter of international concern. If and
when, to take your hypothetical, it can be done in a way that
everybody agrees with, without negative repercussions----
Mr. Rohrabacher. Let me suggest where we are really lucky,
that back in the early days of our country, number one, that we
believed in the right to self-determination as expressed in our
Declaration of Independence. But number two, that we didn't
have some huge global power suggesting to us that we couldn't
make an agreement with Great Britain over what the delineation
of our territory would be. Because instead of 54/40 or fight,
we would have had a fight.
It is when you calm tensions by allowing two groups of
people to make--have an agreement, a mutual understanding, that
you calm things down, not exacerbate them, especially if it
leads to a point where the borders become less important.
So I would suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should be
rethinking our basic strategy at least between allowing the
Kosovars and the Serbs to try to reach some understandings on
their own rather than having us--we are the big guy on the
block--to come down and tell people what agreements they can or
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Burton. Thank you, Ambassador. I am sure you are happy
to leave on that note. I got a little history lesson there.
It is a very difficult issue, the whole Balkan situation,
and we appreciate the tough work you have to face. We
appreciate you being with us today.
Mr. Meeks, the ranking member, had to run to another
meeting but he will be back.
Former Ambassador Kurt Volker is going to be with us. He is
a Senior Fellow and Managing Director of the Center of
Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University School
of Advanced International Studies. He is also a senior adviser
at the Atlantic Council of the United States and a member of
its Strategic Advisory Group. He is also managing director of
the BGR Group. Ambassador Volker was previously a career member
of the United States Senior Foreign Service, with over 23 years
of experience working on political and security issues under
five U.S. administrations. He served as Ambassador and the 19th
U.S. Permanent Representative on the Council of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from July 2, 2008, until
May 2009, leading the 156-person-strong U.S. mission to NATO.
My colleague Mr. Meeks will be returning and Mr.
Rohrabacher as well.
Mr. Gerard Gallucci served with the United Nations
Department of Peacekeeping Operations as the U.N. Regional
Representative in Metrovica, Kosovo, from June 2005, to October
2008, and thereafter in the U.N. Mission to East Timor as the
chief of staff until June, 2010. He has served over 25 years
with the U.S. State Department and retired from the Senior
Foreign Service in June 2005. Since his retirement he has
taught peacekeeping as an adjunct professor at several
universities, including the University of Pittsburgh and George
Washington University. He received his Ph.D. from the
University of Pittsburgh in Political Science in 1978 and a
B.A. from Rutgers University in 1973.
Ivan Vejvoda is currently vice president of programs at the
German Marshall Fund of the United States. From 2003 to 2010,
he served as executive director of the Balkan Trust for
Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund dedicated to
strengthening democratic institutions in southeastern Europe.
Mr. Vejvoda came to GMF in 2003 from a distinguished career in
the Serbian Government as a senior adviser on foreign policy
and European integration to Prime Ministers Zoran Djindjic and
Zoran Zivkovic. Mr. Vejvoda was a key figure in the democratic
opposition movement in Yugoslavia through the 1990s and is
widely published on the subject of democratic transition,
totalitarianism, and postwar reconstruction in the Balkans.
Mr. Volker, we will start with you. If you could keep your
remarks as close to 5 minutes as possible, we won't cut you
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE KURT VOLKER, MANAGING DIRECTOR--
INTERNATIONAL GROUP, BGR GROUP, SENIOR FELLOW AND MANAGING
DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS, SCHOOL OF
ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
Mr. Volker. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the
opportunity to be here. I do have a written statement that I
have submitted for the record and I will just try to summarize
some thoughts orally. I appreciate the opportunity to testify
at this hearing because it gave me a chance to think again--a
bit of fresh thinking--about the Balkan region, something that
I think maybe is worthwhile.
I would like to start my testimony with a thought that I
think should drive some of our policy thinking looking ahead.
The thought is this: For the past 15 years, U.S. policy has
been based on the premise that bringing the countries of the
region into the EU and NATO--so, integration in European
institutions--provides such a powerful incentive for reform
that it is going to drive change in the region, and they will
overcome their differences, much as Western Europe successfully
did at the end of World War II, getting beyond the wars of the
I would suggest that if you take a look around Europe right
now, that vision is not credible in the short term. If you look
at the EU, it is dealing with a massive debt and deficit
crisis. They are talking about whether they can keep the Euro
Zone together; about whether Greece remains in the Euro Zone;
what to do with Italy. They are not talking about which new
countries to bring in.
Likewise, NATO has slowed down on its movement toward
enlargement of NATO as well. Probably it is because candidates
are weaker, but probably also the engine and the consensus
within NATO to bring in new members has gone down. You hear
Germany in the political commentary in Germany talking, for
example, about the EU; maybe it wasn't even a good idea to let
So the notion that politically we are going to see this
move into the European mainstream, and in a near-term period of
time, just doesn't really ring true to me. And as a result, I
am not sure it is providing the incentives in the region that
need to be provided to drive that continued positive change.
As a result of that, I think that if we are basing our
presence, the troop presence that we have, the troop presence
the EU has, the financial support, on the notion that change is
going to come from inside the region, powered by the drive to
get into the EU, I think we have to look at ourselves and say,
Well, it is really not working very well right now; we have
seen stagnation, if not backsliding, in the last few years.
I had a chance to testify before a Senate Subcommittee on
Europe in April 2010. I went back and reread my testimony in
preparing this one, and I was struck at how little had changed.
As a result, it makes me think if little has changed in that
long a period of time, where are we going from here?
So I would like to suggest that we should take a fresh
look. But before giving you my thoughts on maybe some ideas we
could do, I do want to put down a marker that the U.S. should
not think, Well, if it is not going anywhere, we should
withdraw, that we should pull out of the Balkans because it is
not working; because I think that would have grave and negative
consequences. We got into the Balkans because of the negative
effect that region and the conflicts there were having on
Europe. And as we see in the financial crisis every day, Europe
does matter to the United States. And likewise, security in
Europe matters to the United States.
And we are there with relatively a modest investment
compared to where we have been: Less than 700 troops in Kosovo,
I think less than 30 in Bosnia for the United States. The EU is
there in a larger number in Bosnia. So we are not making a
massive investment. But it is a good insurance policy against
the degradation of security in the region. But if all it is an
insurance policy, and we are treading water, that is not good
enough. I do think, therefore, we should be ramping up our
diplomatic and political efforts to try to resolve some of
these lingering problems.
Let me put it this way. If the thought was that EU
integration was going to be the driver to fix the problems, and
that is not happening, maybe the way to look at it instead is
to drive hard to fix the problems to increase the prospect that
EU membership is a realistic possibility.
In that, let me mention three particular things. This came
up in the question-and-answer earlier, one of them on Bosnia. I
think the Dayton Accord is an essential foundation in Bosnia,
but it has stagnated. I do think that we need a renewed
political push to resolve those issues that were never resolved
at the time of Dayton. I would call for a Dayton II. I would
put it this way: It has to be driven by people in the region.
We can't make the decisions for them. But we can provide a lot
of international pressure and international support for genuine
new agreements to go beyond where we have gotten with Dayton
The second one, and it has been a topic of a lot of the
discussion here, is Mitrovica. There has been an effort to
stimulate dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo over the situation
in the north. As some of the other Congressmen pointed out,
that is the festering issue there. I don't believe territorial
swaps can solve the problem, but I do believe agreement between
the two sides needs to solve the problem. And I think that we
should again increase the engagement of the U.S. and the EU in
pressing both sides to come to those resolutions.
I also mention a third issue, it hasn't been brought up yet
today, which is the Macedonian name issue. I think it is a
terrible shame that a country in the Balkans that was ready for
NATO membership in 2008 has been held back because of the lack
of agreement over the name. I think that all the elements have
been on the table in the past. They can be brought back on the
table. It serves no one's interest--not Greece's, not
Macedonia's, not the people in the Balkans, not the EU, not
NATO, not the United States--to see Macedonia held back and
contribute to continued dysfunctionality in the region. So,
again, this is a third one. I would like to see a greater U.S.
and EU coordinated push with both parties to try to bring that
A final point, and then I will stop, is all of this fits in
the context of the big goal. The big goal is a Europe whole,
free, and at peace. You don't hear a lot of people talk about
that these days because it is so hard to imagine with all the
difficulties we with have the EU, with our own budget and
domestic challenges here at home, but ultimately what we need
is for Europe--all of Europe, all the people of Europe--to be
in free societies, market economies, to have stable societies,
and to be secure. Until that happens, there will always be some
latent risk. And that is a risk that affects the United States
as well, because of our need for a stable and secure Europe.
So we have got to reemphasize the big goal and in that
context keep pushing very hard on these specific issues.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Burton. Thank you, Ambassador.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Volker follows:]
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Mr. Burton. Dr. Gallucci.
STATEMENT OF GERARD M. GALLUCCI, PH.D., FORMER U.N. REGIONAL
REPRESENTATIVE IN MITROVICA, KOSOVO
Mr. Gallucci. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Griffin. Through
my 30 years career, including the State Department and the
United Nations, I have never had a chance to appear in such a
capacity in front of the U.S. Congress. Thank you for the
honor. I deeply appreciate it.
Events over the last 4 months in northern Kosovo are
unfortunate reminders of the potential for things to spiral out
of control there with consequences that could be felt
throughout the Balkans. On July 25, units of the Kosovo Special
Police, sent from Pristina, attempted to seize control of the
two northern crossing points with Serbia that, until then, had
been manned by local Kosovo police and members of EULEX. In the
next days, NATO troops, KFOR and EULEX, both in Kosovo under a
U.N. Peacekeeping mandate, sought to support the action by
transporting Kosovo police and customs officials from Pristina
to the two northern gates. The local Kosovo Serbs saw this as
an effort to subject them to Kosovo-Albanian control and to cut
them off from Serbia. They responded by peacefully resisting
and raising barricades to block further such efforts by the
Kosovo authorities or the international forces.
KFOR and EULEX reacted by confronting peaceful protests
with armed force, using live fire on September 27, and
repeatedly seeking to remove barricades and close off
alternative roads using tear gas, pepper spray, and heavy
machinery. U.S. personnel have been on the front line of these
efforts, stepping outside their U.N. Mandate without any
apparent recognition by the administration of their new role.
Let me be clear about three things. One, the NATO troops
and EU police have been acting outside their U.N. Peacekeeping
mandate by trying to impose Kosovo customs in the north without
any prior political agreement. They are there to keep the peace
while others seek to resolve the political differences. Their
actions have damaged international credibility and increased
Number two, the great majority of the local Kosovo Serbs in
peaceful protest and on the barricades are not criminals or
being forced to be there against their will. They see the
actions by Kosovo authorities and KFOR and EULEX as an attack
upon their lives and community.
Third, nothing can be gained by the effort by the Quint
countries--the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Italy--to
impose Pristina's authority through force. The Serbs rebuild
their barricades and use other means to get supplies. The
actions by NATO and the EU have only hardened their rejection
of Pristina and made compromise more difficult.
I note that last week, one person, a Kosovo Serb, was
killed and several others injured, including a local policeman,
by gunfire in a sensitive area of north Metrovica. Accounts
differ as to what happened, but it seems the gunfire came from
After 12 years of frozen conflict, it has become clear that
an effort to find practical accommodation for the north, while
Kosovo's status remains unresolved, is long overdue. The local
Kosovo Serbs have prevented through peaceful means what they
see as an effort to impose on them Kosovo institutions that
they reject. The International
Peacekeepers have reached the limits of their ability to
project political solutions that do not have the support of the
local community in the north. It may therefore be a good time
for all parties--Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs, Pristina
and Belgrade, and the internationals, including the EU and the
United States--to look for alternatives.
TransConflict, an NGO in Belgrade that occasionally
publishes my analysis on their site, has posted a paper that
looks at such a possible alternative: Status-neutral
implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan for Kosovo, the Ahtisaari
Plan, developed at the request of the U.N. Secretary General in
2007. It derives from an understanding that nothing positive
can emerge as long as the two sides continue to see the
situation in zero-sum terms; that for them to win, the other
side must lose. Rather, to avoid further conflict and open the
door to focusing on achieving economic progress, each side must
be willing to compromise and consider outcomes that recognize
the fundamental interests of the other side as well as their
own. Simply put, for the northern Serbs to be allowed to live
in their own communities without political interference in
local matters from Kosovo's central institutions and with
continued linkages to Serbia. For the Kosovo Albanians, that
the north remain part of Kosovo and function in significant
ways as part of the Kosovo system.
The paper which I wish to enter as an annex to my testimony
provides a series of detailed recommendations for the courts,
the police, municipal competencies, finance, inter-municipal
cooperation, cooperation with Serbia, and extended competencies
for north Mitrovica that could facilitate implementation of the
Ahtisaari Plan in north Kosovo. But without outside help,
Kosovo Serbs and Albanians are unlikely to be able to rise
above their history and achieve compromise. The northern Serbs
prefer outright partition and remaining part of Serbia. The
Albanians would prefer not to have a Serbian majority in the
Unfortunately, the responsible internationals, the Quint,
and most especially the United States, still support imposition
of Pristina authority and institutions in the north.
Reportedly, U.S. elements of KFOR are even now seeking to close
all alternative roads along the boundary to force the northern
Serbs to capitulate to Kosovo customs in the official crossing
points. The rest of KFOR and EULEX appears to be simply waiting
for the Serbs to abandon their barricades in the coming cold.
They refused a Serb offer to allow them through the barricades
if they do not use this access to impose Kosovo customs
officials on the boundary.
The illegal and counterproductive efforts of KFOR and EULEX
seek to force the northern Kosovo Serbs to surrender have only
increased distrust and strengthened the local resistance to any
compromise. The Serbs show no sign of being ready to take down
Since 2008, Quint policy, strongly encouraged by the United
States, has been to bully and threaten Serbia and the Kosovo
Serbs to accept the loss of Kosovo and to abandon the north to
Pristina. Some view this as one more bit of ``punishment'' for
Serbia, despite its new reality of democracy and eagerness to
become fully part of Europe. But pressure and use of force has
not worked. No Serbian leader, despite EU threats to deny the
country EU membership unless they cooperate, can simply
surrender Kosovo or end support for the north. The northern
Serbs see no alternative but to continue to resist. The Kosovo
Albanians see no reason to compromise when they have U.S.
support to continue demanding everything.
This leaves the alternatives for the north the same as they
have always been--continued frozen conflict or partition, both
of which might lead to further ethnic conflict and/or fight, or
some compromise solution. As things now stand, north Kosovo may
have to see more conflict before everyone looks to compromise.
It is a good time to look for other approaches to Kosovo than
trying to force one side to lose everything. If the United
States cannot support an effort to achieve real compromise,
then it should get out of the way and bring our soldiers home
before we get involved in one more conflict far from home.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gallucci follows:]
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Mr. Burton. Mr. Vejvoda.
STATEMENT OF MR. IVAN VEJVODA, VICE PRESIDENT, PROGRAMS, THE
GERMAN MARSHALL FUND OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. Vejvoda. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for giving
me the honor to speak before you today about these important
matters as the region moves away from the conflicts of the
nineties. History is humbling. I come from the region. I was
born into the former Yugoslavia. That country disappeared
before my eyes. As a social scientist, I didn't see it coming.
That is why it has been humbling.
Some talked about the unfinished business of Versailles.
The two countries that were made there, Czechoslovakia and
Yugoslavia, disappeared. Unfortunately, we did not have the
fortune of dismembering peacefully, as the Slovaks did, but it
was in blood and war and hell. And I think saying that, that no
one wishes to go back there, neither the people nor their
elected officials. I think it is loose talk when people say
that Bosnia is prone maybe to go into new conflicts. It would
be like saying after the U.S. Civil War, 11 years after that
war, that America would go back into a new civil war.
We need to give peace a chance. And I think that being
someone of the glass-is-half-full approach, I think that the
region has made enormous strides. As you yourself said, as
Assistant Secretary Gordon said, one needs to take a look at
the longer view here and get out of the weeds, not neglecting
in any way the huge challenges that have been exposed here
throughout the debate this morning.
I was at the same hearing as Ambassador Volker in April
2010 in front of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. I would
say that there has been progress made since then. I also reread
what I had written. Serbia arrested the two outstanding war
criminals. Many were saying Serbia would never do that; that
Mladic would somehow disappear. That is sustaining the rule of
Serbia, Belgrade, and Pristina have begun a dialogue 3
years after the declaration of independence of Kosovo. This is
a quintessential European story. There is nothing totally
specific, although everything is specific in history. And I
will not talk about the U.S.-Canada border. I will talk about
Northern Ireland. Let me just remind you that it took close to
10 years after the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998, for
Andy Pasley and Martin McGuinness to sit down and create this
transitional government, without shaking hands, if you
So that is why I say, Give these people a chance. I think
that beyond the rhetoric that we hear from both sides, and
normally politicians, and especially in pre-electoral periods,
have to do what they do best. But I would say if one takes the
deeper view of things, I think there is a clear political
determination on both sides, whether it is in Belgrade or
Pristina, and a willingness to resolve this. We all need to,
wherever we are working, facilitate, create that space which
allows for them, facilitate or not, through back channels or
not, to find that comfort zone where they will be able to live
with an agreed solution. There is no ideal solution to this. No
one will get what they want. This is the lesson from Kashmir,
from Northern Ireland, from Schleswig Holstein, South Tyrol.
You take any of these examples and they are important because
they have produced tools that are on the shelf that we can all
use here. Of course, it will be a combination of those tools.
How do you allow people to feel comfortable in something that
is the least bad solution? I think that is what the two sides
are grappling with.
My hope, as with others, is that they go back to the table
as quickly as possible to continue that. I would not be
surprised that we see forward movement that is maybe more
accelerated than we would expect this morning here in
Washington. And that is because the realities are trenchant. It
is clear that we will not move to Mars and they will not move
wherever else. We are bound together by history. We will have
to live as neighbors. And we are already living as neighbors.
And I would say that regional cooperation is in fact the unsung
song of this region.
You noted the military cooperation that all of these
countries have with the United States. What clearer sign is
there about the inclinations of all of these governments, the
number of regional meetings that occur? In my written
testimony, which I am submitting, I just mention two of the
most recent ones.
The intelligence chiefs of all of these countries met for
the third time. The ministers of defense meet; the cooperation
in the Danube Valley, in the Sava River Valley; the fact that
the railway companies of Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia have
realized that they have to join together if they want to be
competitive in this market; the economic crisis which has led
everyone to see transparently how dependent each of these small
countries that are in the region depend on each other for
economic survival. This is a micro-region of the world. Twenty
Prime Minister Djindjic, for whom I worked and had the
honor of being his senior foreign policy adviser, used to say
we are only relevant as a region of 50 million people. He was
including Romania and Bulgaria then.
Everybody knows with common sense that we are looking at
each other, that our hands are tied in the best way, and that
we have to find that path that will allow us in this world of
global economic crisis. Just yesterday, Chancellor Merkel told
us all that this is probably the greatest crisis Europe has
confronted since World War II. That is the state of affairs of
Europe in which the state of affairs the Balkans are conducting
their path forward.
I would like to say that the European Union still is a very
potent magnet. Yes, it has a lot of problems everyone sees in
the region itself. There are some declining public opinion
polls. But still we find clear majorities to join the European
Union and NATO, except in Serbia as regards NATO, but Serbia is
a member of Partnership for Peace and I think it was mentioned
it is conforming to NATO standards.
So it is very important that on the date of 9th of
December, when the European Prime Ministers and Presidents meet
for their Council, to uphold the suggestion and the opinion
that the European Commission has made in October that Serbia
get candidacy; that Montenegro get a date for beginning of
talks. And, of course, we all applaud the huge success of
Croatia in becoming a member in July 2013.
If I can put it very colloquially, we need to keep the
train moving here. Otherwise, that will help the nay-sayers,
the nationalists--the rabid nationalists--who say Europe
doesn't want us and they are being upheld by the U.S. trying to
keep us out. No. We need a strong leadership gesture which is
fully merit-based. This is not anything for free. I say that
because of the progress that hasn't been made in the region. So
I think we will all be following, whether we are here or over
there in Europe, what the leaders of Europe decide on December
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Vejvoda follows:]
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Mr. Burton. I think I will yield to my colleague, who has
been very patient, Vice Chairman Griffin.
Mr. Griffin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to hear
from you, Mr. Ambassador, on the status of our trade
relationship with the Balkans. I know that the Balkans are in
need of increased trade and foreign direct investment. As some
of the shine of Europe maybe rubs off a little bit, I am
interested to know whether we here in the United States are
taking advantage of potential trade opportunities, export
opportunities in particular, and what you think about the
general status of trade with the United States. If anyone else
from the panel wants to comment on that, that would be great.
Mr. Volker. Thank you. I will offer a couple of brief
comments. I am not sure I have enough depth to answer all of
the questions that you put on the table. But let me give you
these couple of points. One of them is that geographically the
Balkans region is much closer to Europe. It has agriculture and
small industry, and, as a result, it is naturally going to have
a larger trade relationship with the EU than it is going to
have with the United States. That is just the geography of it.
Secondly, when we talk about progress toward the EU and
integration, one of the elements of that that people talk about
is business climate. Do the countries of the region create a
good, healthy business climate, a fair marketplace, the ability
of businesses to run themselves, to get clear title to hire and
fire and not be tied up in regulations to have a clear tax
policy? They need to do more themselves on the business
And then thirdly, I want to just endorse where I think your
question is coming from. I would very much like to see the U.S.
be a stimulus to pushing those kinds of reforms internally,
including by paving the way for greater direct U.S. trade with
the region and greater U.S. investment in the region.
Mr. Griffin. Private sector investment as opposed----
Mr. Volker. Exactly.
Mr. Griffin. You probably heard that we are out of money.
What is the role--anybody that wants to comment, that would
be great--of corruption in the region in terms of attracting
economic growth and how corruption there compares to other
Mr. Volker. I will start, but I don't want to dominate the
panel here. I think corruption is a serious problem and I don't
think it has gotten meaningfully better in places. A couple
cases would be Croatia, which has really stepped toward EU
membership, and Montenegro, which has made a lot of progress as
well. When you look at the conflict zones in particular--I want
to agree with much of what Ivan Vejvoda has said. And I also
think we face a dilemma. Yes, the people of the region want
integration into Europe. But the leaders in the region continue
to hold the region back by failing to settle a lot of these
issues, and in many ways, because they profit from it, because
they have created mechanisms that reinforce the status quo and
hold back the region as a whole. I do think that is a serious
Mr. Griffin. Correct me if I am wrong, but fuller
integration, or integration into Europe, would bring great
changes for the leading class and would, as a result of the
requirements they would have to meet, may put significant
pressure on the way they do business.
Mr. Volker. Absolutely. That is part of the premise for
preparing for EU membership is that you strengthen your own
economic management institutions, rule of law, the ethics. All
of those things. That is part of the premise of joining the EU.
So it would be necessary for them to do that. That is a short-
term downside for those people who profit in other ways today.
But there is also a long-term benefit--that they are bringing
their countries forward and they will be leaders in those
Mr. Vejvoda. Congressman, I would like to add a few words,
if I may. Thank you for bringing up that issue because it is of
extreme relevance. First of all, to the livelihood of people in
these countries and then for EU accession, because it is a key
condition to move forward. Again, here the picture is gray in
the best sense of the word. There are still outstanding
problems, but I think much has been done. In fact, I am glad
Assistant Secretary Gordon mentioned the huge work that has
been done in judicial reform, for example, in Serbia. But
Croatia would not have gotten its accession without having
arrested its former Prime Minister. This is huge. A former
leader of a country that led the country to NATO is in jail
today for abuse of power and corruption. Montenegro has done
substantial work. And so has Serbia.
What I would like to underline here is that this fight is
across borders. It is the fight against organized crime that is
linked to corruption, that is linked to money laundering, and
then investment of that money into real estate and other
places. I would like to commend the huge collaboration that has
occurred with, for example, the DEA here in the U.S. or the
British Serious Organized Crime Agency and huge heists of tons
of drugs have been made in Latin America, thanks to the joint
work of Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, the DEA, and the
SOCA. I think that is a testimony to the willingness, again,
and the determination to overcome the scourge that is organized
crime, and then corruption.
In all of these countries--and I come from Serbia, and I
know more--there are judges from the high court who are in
jail. There are a number of various mafias that they call the
highway mafia, those who are taking toll-road money and
siphoning it off through very clever computer programs. The
hacking business is intense. Sports. Soccer in all of these
countries, the fixing of matches. These are some of the
variety. One could spend the whole afternoon here describing
how this is being addressed.
More needs to be done, there is no doubt. And there is huge
public grievance about the fact this is not moving as fast as
it can. But that is, again, where we come to the EU's
framework, which is one that enables this movement forward.
Just on the trade issue and U.S. investments, U.S. Steel was
the biggest exporter company from Serbia, worth 12 percent of
all Serbian exports, just before we went down into the 2008
Mr. Gallucci. I just wanted to note that open borders
between the Balkans and Europe also means open borders for
movements of people and organized crime. I think that
complicates the European view of how to handle places like
Mr. Griffin. Do I have a few more seconds? I wanted to
follow up on that and ask, if you are looking at the organized
crime activities and movements, are they tied to, for example,
Russian organized crime or are they pretty much limited to the
Balkans? The reason I ask that is there is a real problem with
intellectual property and rule of law and acknowledging
intellectual property laws here in the United States. I call
that theft. It is a big, big problem. A lot of it is driven by
Russia--folks in Russia--and some of it has to do with a
failure to enforce and respect the rule of law even by the
governmental authorities, not just organized crime.
China is the other big perpetrator with regard to
intellectual property violations. I would be interested to know
if you have heard or know of any specific problems with
intellectual property and piracy in the region.
Mr. Vejvoda. This is also an issue that is being addressed
and is still outstanding. To answer your question simply, it is
home-grown. We half jokingly, half seriously, say that the best
regional cooperation is between the criminalized groups. There
is no ethnic problem between Serbs, Albanians, Croats,
Montenegrins, Slovenians, Bulgarians, or Romanians. Their
interest is profit. And they will do everything to maintain
those good ``relations'' that they have.
But it is just, as I mentioned, the coordinated effort of
the police forces, of the intelligence services, that are now
literally working in real time, with video conferencing every
day between all of them. That is the only way to get at those
who are violating, for example, intellectual property.
Mr. Griffin. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Burton. Did you have a comment?
Mr. Volker. Just very briefly. I don't believe that
intellectual property is the biggest organized crime challenge
that we face in the Balkans. I think that some of the bigger
ones are in the area of just simple extortion. Money laundering
and trafficking in persons are the ones I am most concerned
I would also say that while it is true there is home-grown
organized crime, there is also evidence of Russian organized
crime in the Balkans as well.
Mr. Burton. Well, let me just end up by saying one of the
things that has not been discussed today by the Secretary are
the political problems. You have very vividly pointed out some
of the problems from the Serbs' point of view on the border
there, and the customs problem, and how they have been
importing police from the middle of Kosovo. The Ambassador
pointed out some of the other problems.
The one thing that I have noticed in all the testimony
today, and when I was over there, is there is a big political
problem that everybody faces. The people in Serbia, the leaders
in Serbia, I think they have an election coming up here pretty
quickly. If they throw up their hands and say, ``Okay, we are
going to accept everything that has been decided,'' then
politically they are going to get killed. There is just no
question about it. Conversely, in Kosovo, if it looks like they
are acceding any of the decisions that have already been made
to the people on the Serbian side in northern Kosovo, then they
have a political problem.
So the only thing that I can see is that there have been
some very wrong things happening. I am not sure they are going
to be solved overnight. But the one thing that I think is
extremely important is that the United States use whatever
leverage we have to get everybody to the conference table and
to have them sit down.
We had the privilege to talk to the leaders, once again, of
Serbia. I have high regard for those folks and I think that
that should have been resolved in a different way, as I said to
the Ambassador. I think we should have done like we do in other
parts of the world--get them together and try to keep them at
the conference table until they hammer out a decision that they
can live with, instead of trying to focus some kind of--force
some kind of decision from the outside, which many times
doesn't lead to a real solution but only to more problems.
But the one thing I think is absolutely imperative is that
the leaders in Serbia and the leaders in Kosovo continue to
talk. Because if they will get together and talk, I am sure
that these problems can be resolved without further conflict.
And nobody wants another civil war. Nobody wants to see a lot
of people get killed. We want to see a resolution of the
So with that, I want to thank you and you and you for being
here today. I appreciate you being so patient and waiting so
long while we questioned the Ambassador at length. But thank
you very much. We will use everything at our disposal to try to
make sure we get everybody together to solve this problem.
We are adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:06 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing RecordNotice deg.
[GRAPHIC(S)] [NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Material submitted for the record by the Honorable Dan Burton, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana, and chairman,
Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia
[GRAPHIC(S)] [NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
[Note: Additional material submitted by Gerard M. Gallucci, Ph.D.,
former U.N. Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo, entitled
``The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo,'' is not reprinted here but is
available in committee records.]
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