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(E) Croatians of Vojvodina
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  10/21/2004 | Politics | Unrated
(E) Croatians of Vojvodina

 

Croatians of Vojvodina


NFCA

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS


National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) Instrumental in Amending 'Sense of Congress' Resolution on Serbian Elections in U.S. House of Representatives"


Washington, D.C. ( October 12, 2004)  -  As the U.S. Congress hurried toward its elections adjournment, the Europe Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee marked up and passed H. Res. 726 on October 5th.  The Resolution commended the people of Serbia for conducting free, fair, and democratic Presidential and municipal elections on June 27, 2004.  It encouraged newly elected President Boris Tadic to further pursue democratic reforms, cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and continue down the path toward regional cooperation.

The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) was instrumental in encouraging changes in the Resolution which noted additional steps the government of Serbia and Montenegro can take to protect the rights of minorities currently living in the Vojvodina Province of Serbia.  Following the collapse of Yugoslavia, the defenseless Croats of Vojvodina suffered as a result of ethnic cleansing actions carried out by indicted war criminal Vojislaw Seselj, were forced out of their homes in 1992, and fell victim to further upsurges in ethnic attacks in 1995.  Recent violence against Croats and other minorities residing in the Province has been attributed to the resurgence of support for the extremist Serbian Radical Party.  Many of these issues were first brought to the attention of the U.S. Congress by NFCA Treasurer Zvonko Labas when he appeared before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus panel with representatives from the Center for Hungarian American Congressional Relations earlier in July.

NFCA officials, together with NFCA lobbyist Joe Foley of Foley Government and Public Affairs Inc., provided a number of suggested amendments to the Resolution that were included in the final version by the Europe Subcommittee.  At markup, Chairwoman Jo Ann Davis (R-VA) offered the new language for the Resolution which passed unanimously.  The NFCA suggested changes that were accepted as part of the passed bill are illustrated with appropriate quotations markings in the following paragraphs.

In the Preamble:   Whereas Serbia and the Serbian people "are encouraged" to remain committed to democratic reforms and regional cooperation, "respect for the rights of all minorities, including in Vojvodina," and integration into Europe and Europe-Atlantic institutions, including NATO and the EU.

In the Resolved clause a new paragraph on the third page:   That the House of Representatives (4) "reaffirms the importance of establishing security and stability by respecting and protecting the human rights of all people, including all minority groups throughout Serbia and Montenegro."

During the debate on the Resolution prior to its passage, Chairwoman Davis noted that the legislation "reaffirms the importance of respecting and protecting the economic, social, cultural, and religious rights of all minorities throughout Serbia including those Hungarian and Croat people, and others, who live in the Vojvodina region as well as those Serbs who live in Kosovo.  The Serb people and government must understand that if they are to demand respect for the Serb minority in Kosovo, they themselves must respect the rights of other minorities living in Serbia."

Due to the unique ending nature of this Congress, longtime Europe Subcommittee Staff Director Vince Morelli indicated that H. Res. 726 may see further action in the 'Lame Duck' session now scheduled to begin sometime the week of November 15th.  However, Mr. Morelli noted that this is just a possibility due to the many scheduling intangibles on Capitol Hill at this time.

NFCA President Ed Andrus noted on hearing of the passage of the Resolution: "We appreciate the fine work of Chairwoman Jo Ann Davis and her perceptive Subcommittee staff members on these important personal security issues facing Croats and other minorities in the Vojvodina Province.  The current situation remains a major concern to the Croatian American community.  We are hopeful that the amended language will help the Croats of Vojvodina. Their status has been an issue that has been overlooked by many human rights activists for a long time.  This should at least bring this issue to the forefront in America's dealings with Belgrade."  Mr. Andrus also cited the important contributions of Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), Ranking Minority Member of the Subcommittee, and Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA), as well as their talented staffs, on the success to date for this Resolution.

For further information or a copy of amended H. Res. 726, please contact Mr. Foley via www.foleycoinc.com or Mr. Erik Milman at the NFCA
Washington Office on 202-331-2830.

The NFCA is a national umbrella group of Croatian Americans whose member organizations collectively represent approximately 120,000 members.

 

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS
1329 Connecticut Ave, NW - Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 331-2830  Fax: (202) 331-0050
 

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