US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #136, Tuesday, 9/17/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:25 PM, Washington, DC Date: Sep 17, 19919/17/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Europe Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, USSR (former), South Africa, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, United Nations, Human Rights, Military Affairs (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements today, so I'd be glad to take your questions. George. Q Do you have any observations on the latest cease-fire in Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: We've just seen the press reports this morning. Certainly, we would welcome an effective cease-fire. That's something that we've always felt was important. As you know, the level of fighting in Croatia has escalated sharply since last week. Lord Carrington is in Yugoslavia today for talks. My understanding is that he'll be meeting with the Croatian President, the Serbian President, and the Defense Secretary. He, of course, has our very strong support in his efforts. I'll remind you of what the Secretary said last week at the CSCE Conference in Moscow, "We urge all the parties to reach out of the abyss of violence into which they have descended and grasp hold of this opportunity for peace." Q Do you have any views on the proposal to send lightly armed peacekeepers from the EC or the WEU in there? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, we see the issue of a peacekeeping force or other arrangements as something that would be an appropriate subject for the EC and the WEU to examine. As you know, the EC, with the full backing of the CSCE, including ourselves, has been pursuing efforts toward a peaceful solution. Q Any confirmation of those two planes being shot down in Yugoslavia? Who might have done that? There were reports yesterday, denied by the Hungarians, that they're shooting down planes that stray into their territories? MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember the full play-by-play, but my understanding was, as you say, that the Hungarians denied that they had shot down any airplanes, and we had no confirmation of an incident involving the Hungarians. We are concerned, however, about incursions into Hungarian air space by Yugoslav aircraft. Q Do you think they're deliberate or just random, accidental -- MR. BOUCHER: I can't determine that from this distance, Jim. Q Are you continuing to apportion the bulk of the blame for the current situation on the Federal army? Do you have any reaction to the statement by the Federal President today that the army was out of control? That, in effect, a coup had taken place? MR. BOUCHER: I think you know our view -- and it really hasn't changed -- that the efforts at peace were being thwarted by various parties, but most particularly, by the level of violence being perpetrated by Serbian militants and with the cooperation of the army. We felt that they deserved a lot of the responsibility for the current escalation of violence. Q Do you see any signs that the Iraqis are more willing to permit the international inspections to go forward? MR. BOUCHER: First, let me remind you that the U.N. Security Council decided that the U.N. Special Commission could use its own aircraft inside Iraq in U.N. Security Council Resolution 707. We understand that Iraq's acceptance was conditional. U.N. Resolution 707 is a mandatory resolution and Iraq is in no position to set conditions on the use of helicopters. If Iraq has finally recognized that it cannot succeed in obstructing the Security Council in this matter, then, of course, that would be a positive sign. We hope that Iraq also realizes that it cannot avoid fully carrying out the other requirements of the Security Council and that Iraq will comply with all other U.N. resolutions. At this point, we're consulting with other members of the Security Council over appropriate next steps. Q Well, have you had any sign directly or indirectly from the Iraqis that they are going to permit the U.N. group to use its own helicopters? MR. BOUCHER: I believe the Iraqis replied to the Security Council President yesterday. As I said here, we understand that Iraq's acceptance of helicopter deployments was conditional, and we don't see any opportunity here for them to set conditions. Q What are the conditions have they set? Do you know? MR. BOUCHER: I think you'll have to ask them what they said. Q Richard, do you have any comment on Saddam's other part of the statement saying that democracy in its Western form, as he called it, will never be introduced in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see those statements. I think they speak for themselves. Our views of Iraq's leadership at the current moment, I think, have been amply expressed before. Q Could you outline the next steps that you are thinking about or discussing with our allies? MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. Q Back to the U.N. for a moment. Has the United States signed off on this reorganization plan that's been talked about? MR. BOUCHER: There have been some discussions in New York, but there's really no final plan at this point. There have been informal consultations in New York on plans for restructuring the U.N. Secretariat. U.S. representatives have participated in these consultations, but these consultations continue and there have been no final plans agreed upon. The United States has been in the forefront in advocating U.N. reform, as we believe there is an overwhelming need for consolidating the current structure of the U.N. Secretariat. There is also a widespread consensus that the present Secretariat structure requires change if it is adequately to provide support for the expanding range of activities which member states expect of the U.N. and the increasingly important role of the U.N. Secretary General. I would note that the appointment of the new Secretary General presents an important opportunity for this kind of change. Q Richard, I understand that Turkey has agreed to extend the U.S. bases agreement for a year without negotiations. Do you have any details of that or what it's about? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't heard that. Are you talking about the "Provide Comfort" arrangements, or some other -- Q No. I think this is for -- or maybe it is. I don't know. All I have is that Turkey is -- MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't heard about that. I understand that whatever there is to say on the "Provide Comfort" arrangements -- I think I was asked here yesterday -- our answer for the moment is that you'll have to refer that to the Defense Department and they can tell you about what the future holds for those troops. Q Richard, I need to go back to the United Nations, if you don't mind. There has been much talk recently about the idea of an African Secretary General to the United Nations. I hope you have something about this idea of geographical distribution for the post? MR. BOUCHER: Our position on the new U.N. Secretary General is that we would want the best qualified candidate wherever he's from. There are a number of important issues facing the United Nations. We believe that the candidate should be chosen on the basis of having the abilities to carry out those tasks along with the other members of the United Nations. Q You know that at least one candidate is a woman? You said, "Wherever he may come from." MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. That was not intended, Jim. Q Richard, does the United States have any observations on the Hong Kong elections and how they turned out? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Q One more question: South and North Korea will get two seats at the United Nations later today. Would you comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: There are a number of countries that we expect will be admitted to the United Nations. We expect that the General Assembly will act to admit seven new states to membership. The seven states are the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania. The United States is pleased to have sponsored their admission into the United Nations. We believe that their presence will further the principle of universality of U.N. membership and will increase the stature of the United Nations. We would also note that 1991 will mark the largest expansion of U.N. membership in 30 years. Q Don't go away. That jogs my mind. There have been reports that local councils in Polish areas in Lithuania have been disbursed. The President of Poland, Lech Walesa, has complained about this. Lithuanian President Landsbergis has rejected his complaints as being unpresidential. Have you noticed -- have you noted these developments? Do you have anything to say about them? MR. BOUCHER: I think I've seen a few reports as to that. It seems to me it's a matter between them and not something that I need to get involved in, Alan. Q How do you think the question of citizenship in Baltic republics, where, say in Estonia, I think just over 50 percent of the population that's living there now are ethnic Estonians -- how do you think that ought to be handled? Do you think everyone who is living there ought to have the right to citizenship, or do you think that some kind of language test or some kind of longevity of residence test ought to be applied? MR. BOUCHER: Those are, innately, questions, Alan, that the governments of the countries themselves will have to determine and have to decide. I would only go back to what the Secretary has been stressing in his five principles, and that is that these kinds of questions need to be addressed in conformity with the Charter of Paris and the Helsinki Final Act. Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 12:35 p.m.)