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Recommending Integration of Croatia into NATO

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Location: Washington, DC


RECOMMENDING INTEGRATION OF CROATIA INTO NATO -- (House of Representatives - December 14, 2005)

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GENERAL LEAVE

Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

There was no objection.

Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 529, a resolution introduced that supports the accession of Croatia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Since achieving their independence in 1992, the people of Croatia have built a democratic society based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, and a free market economy. In addition, they have sent troops to Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led security force in support of the war on terrorism and have provided strong support to the U.S. nonproliferation efforts.

Mr. Speaker, just last week the one remaining impediment to Croatia's entry into NATO was removed when General Ante Gotovina, the alleged Croatian war criminal, was arrested in Spain. General Gotovina has been transferred to The Hague to stand trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. His arrest last Thursday in the Canary Islands confirms the truthfulness of the statements by the Croatian Government that Gotovina was not hiding in Croatian territory.

House Resolution 529 commends Croatia's significant progress in strengthening its democratic institutions, its support for the global war on terrorism, and its ability to make significant contributions to NATO. It also applauds their ongoing cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal.

Finally, the resolution states that once it meets NATO's guidelines and criteria for membership, Croatia should be invited to join NATO at the earliest possible date.

Mr. Speaker, Croatia is not only a strong ally of the United States. The American and Croatian people share a love of freedom and democracy. Croatia has been a steadfast friend, and it will make an important contribution to security and peace in Europe and throughout the world as a member of NATO. Both the Europe and Emerging Threats Subcommittee and the House International Relations Committee unanimously approved House Resolution 529, and I urge its adoption in the full House.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to respond to Mr. Kucinich.

Mr. Speaker, while I am not aware of the specific details that Mr. Kucinich outlined, I want to make it very clear I do appreciate his comment about Croatia and his feeling about its accession to NATO.

I would like to say, while I am not familiar with that specific incident, I firmly believe that Croatia's overall record has significantly improved in human rights over the past decade. Although Croatia may not be perfect, just 14 years ago the Croatian people were living under a communist dictatorship and in the intervening period has made great strides in human rights and I believe has a very free press.

Mr. Speaker, Croatia, like many other former communist states in Eastern and Central Europe, are relatively new democracies. There are still some areas that need improvement. However, there should be no doubt that the Croatian Government respects human rights and civil liberties.

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Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I would like to personally go on record to make the firm commitment to my good friend Mr. Kucinich from Ohio to work with him on this issue. I think we are on the same page, and I look forward to working with him.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith).

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Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would just like to thank my good friend, the ranking member of the full committee, whom I have had the honor and pleasure of working with for many years, and thank him not only for his support, but powerful words this evening in support of this resolution. I ask our colleagues to join with us in passing this resolution tonight.

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