Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, April 8, 2003

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Balkans on Threshold of New Era or Old Chaos?
Rep. Bereuter Schedules Thursday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND - The breakup of the former Yugoslavia beginning in 1991 and the ensuing 12-year conflict in the Balkans have emerged as a defining security challenge of post-Cold War Europe. Military intervention by NATO in 1995, 1999 and again in 2001 has brought a degree of stability and security to the region, but major problems persist – as illustrated by the recent assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic of Serbia. Total U.S. troop strength in this politically fragile region numbers about 5,000 – down from more than 25,000 just a few years ago. Some observers suggest that the greatest challenges in the region are the daily violence and crime, due to the absence of credible police forces, which subvert the rule of law, while others assert that the rule of law may never take hold unless police forces actively target links between organized crime and nationalist groups. The growing presence of small groups of radical Islamists, particularly in Bosnia, also raises a number of concerns about the potential for violence and terrorism in the region. The economic situation remains critical, and foreign investment is almost non-existent because of political instability. Economic recovery in Serbia, the economic engine of the Balkans, could be key to further political progress.

WHAT: Oversight Hearing: The Balkans: Assessing the Progress and Looking to the Future Subcommittee on Europe, U.S. Rep. Doug Bereuter, Chairman

WHEN: 1:30 p.m., Thursday, April 10, 2003

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: Gen. William L. Nash (U.S. Army, Ret.), Council on Foreign Relations; Daniel Serwer, Ph.D., U.S. Institute of Peace; and Mark Wheeler, Ph.D., International Crisis Group.

Questions to be raised during this hearing:

bulletDoes the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic undermine U.S.-EU efforts over the past decade to stabilize the region? How do reformers deal with widespread organized crime and official corruption?
bulletTo what extent are individuals and groups with links to terrorist organizations operating in the region?
bulletWhat is the role of U.S. military forces in the region, and what are the potential benefits of NATO transferring the mission in Macedonia to the EU?
bulletWill renewed cooperation and coordination between the U.S. and the EU in the Balkans help the Atlantic alliance deal with the fallout from disagreements over policy in Iraq?