(E) CAA hosts Rep. Henry Hyde and Jeff Kuhner
For Immediate Release:
"CAA hosts Rep. Henry Hyde and Jeff Kuhner at Annual Banquet"
March 17, 2004, Chicago, IL - The Croatian American Association held its 14th annual banquet in Chicago on Saturday, March 13. Several prominent speakers included Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican and Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Democratic Presidential Candidate Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio and Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan D. Schakowsky. Mr. Hyde, Mr. Kucinich and Ms. Schakowsky pledged their full support for Croatia's fast-track entry into NATO and the European Union. Former Rep. Ed Derwinski also echoed the views of his fellow representatives.
Rep. Henry Hyde's warmly received visit was made possible by a close working relationship with the Croatian American Association on issues that are of concern for Croatians who live in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Rep. Hyde will continue to work with the CAA, principally, on Croatia’s entry into NATO although this issue depends upon Croatia's willingness to cooperate with the U.S. on the non-extradition of U.S. service-members to the International Criminal Court that was mandated by an Act of Congress sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde entitled the ‘American Service-members' Protection Act of 2002’.
Continued success for the CAA was expressed through a congratulatory letter from Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and a personal greeting by Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka. Since mid-March represents an election cycle in Illinois, the CAA event included campaign stops by Cook County Treasurer and U.S. Senate Candidate from Illinois Maria Pappas, Dorothy Brown in her re-election bid for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Candidate Frank Avila for Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Candidate Jeanne R. Cleveland Bernstein for the Circuit Court Judge of the 9th Subcircuit. Diplomatic representatives from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina also provided remarks. Priests from local Croatian Catholic parishes led in solemn prayers for the continued success of the CAA. A festive atmosphere was provided by a home-cooked Croatian dinner and a Croatian folk dance performed by the Cardinal Stepinac dance group.
The event's main speaker was Jeffrey T. Kuhner, the New Europe columnist for The Washington Times and communications director of the Ripon Society, a centrist-leaning think tank based in Washington, DC. In his speech, Mr. Kuhner praised the CAA for its leading role in garnering support of the Bush administration for Croatia's entry into NATO. Mr. Kuhner also stressed that the indictment issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia against Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina is legally groundless and should be rescinded immediately. "The Gotovina indictment is a clear example of prosecutorial abuse of power by the office of chief ICTY prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte. The charges brought against Gen. Gotovina are legally unsustainable and morally untenable," Mr. Kuhner said. "Mrs. Del Ponte is seeking to use the Gotovina indictment as a means to criminalize Croatia's homeland war and its legitimate struggle for independence. The government in Zagreb needs to make clear that Mrs. Del Ponte has a legal and ethical obligation to drop the indictment."
At a question and answer session the next day, Mr. Kuhner and CAA President George Rudman announced that they will be spearheading an initiative to either start-up or purchase a major daily newspaper in order to offset the leftist bias rampant in the Croatian media. "I will be asking numerous Croatian business leaders in the Diaspora and within Croatia itself to help provide the funding for a major daily that will have a patriotic, center-right and independent editorial policy," Mr. Kuhner said. "The days of the neo-communist nomenklatura's stranglehold on the Croatian media are coming to an end."
Mirjana Rasich, National Secretary