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U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairmen Visit RFE/RL, Call for Kosovo Recognition

(Prague, Czech Republic–February 19, 2008) Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-Florida), Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) today said recognition of Kosovo’s declaration of independence on Sunday will bring to successful conclusion a difficult chapter in the break-up of former Yugoslavia. Both U.S. legislators said they hope to persuade other members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to follow U.S. leadership in recognizing Kosovo.

Cardin and Hastings made the statement at a press conference at the headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Prague, during a two-day visit to the Czech capital to discuss human rights issues with Czech government officials.

Senator Cardin said he expected the Czech government to extend recognition shortly, adding “that is the right policy” and that Kosovars have been waiting very patiently for many years for independence.

Asked whether this will encourage aspirations to statehood of other minorities, Cardin and Hastings emphasized the role of the United Nations and the international community in implementing a planned and deliberate process for Kosovo’s independence. They said this is the model for achieving independence, not unilateral actions by individual groups.

During a two-hour visit at RFE/RL, Cardin and Hastings also met with RFE/RL broadcasters and analysts for a briefing on media freedom and human rights violations in RFE/RL’s broadcast region.

Chairman Hastings is leading a CSCE delegation to Vienna to participate in the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.