US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #158, Friday, 10/18/91

Snyder Source: Press Office Director Joseph Snyder Description: 1:07 PM, Washington, DC Date: Oct 18, 199110/18/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Eurasia, Europe, Caribbean Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, USSR (former), Haiti, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Philippines Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, Arms Control, Military Affairs, Trade/Economics, Terrorism, Nuclear Nonproliferation (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Because this is my first briefing, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Joseph Snyder. I'm the Director of the Press Office here at the State Department. I would like to begin with a statement on Yugoslavia. In connection with today's session of the Conference on Yugoslavia in The Hague, the following tripartite statement is being released in Washington, The Hague, and Moscow. The U.S., the European Community and its member states, and the USSR are deeply concerned by the continuing violence and bloodshed in Yugoslavia. None of the cease-fire accords agreed over the last three months appear to have been implemented in full. We are convinced that cease-fire accords offer the only path away from further worsening of this conflict and toward a peaceful and just resolution. We call upon the Presidents of the republics, who will participate in Friday's plenary meeting of the Conference on Yugoslavia, to reaffirm their commitment to the peace process and to adhere absolutely to the commitments they have already made. In calling for an end to hostilities and observance of the cease-fire agreements, we are motivated by concern for the fate of all the peoples of Yugoslavia, for the rights of all ethnic minorities, and for the future of the Balkan region, and of Europe as a whole. We are distressed by the terrible violence and loss of life that has occurred and by the possibility of even worse suffering if the conflict is not resolved. We are particularly disturbed by reports of continued attacks on civilian targets by elements of the federal armed forces and by both Serbian and Croatian irregular forces. The continuation of military activities in Croatia threatens to extend the armed confrontation to other regions of Yugoslavia. Our common desire is to promote a speedy and complete halt to all military activities as an essential precondition to a settlement. We condemn the use of force for the settlement of political differences. We also reject the use of force to change established borders, whether internal or external. Such actions are totally unacceptable in 1991 in the heart of Europe. The principles of CSCE with regard to borders, minority rights and political pluralism guide our approach toward resolution of this conflict and should be respected and adhered to by the parties in Yugoslavia themselves. We will not accept any outcome which violates those principles. Croatia and the Yugoslav military should make a serious start with discussion about the status of the Yugoslav military in the interim period. The EC, through its monitor mission or otherwise, could facilitate this process. The U.S. and the USSR reiterate their full support for the efforts of the European Community and its member states, under mandate by the CSCE, to mediate a peaceful resolution to the Yugoslav crisis, in particular, through the Conference on Yugoslavia and the arbitration commission set up within its framework. The U.S. and the USSR express their readiness to support restrictive measures applied by the EC to help achieve a successful outcome of the Conference on Yugoslavia. The U.S., the EC and its member states, and the USSR also endorse the U.N. Secretary General's efforts to further the prospects for a peaceful settlement. I'll be happy to take your questions. Q Can we have a copy of that? MR. SNYDER: Yes, we will post that. Q Besides participating in that statement, is there anything the United States is doing diplomatically to advance these goals? MR. SNYDER: We are, of course, in contact with all the parties inside Yugoslavia. Our Ambassador in Yugoslavia has, for the entire duration of this conflict, been in close contact and made our views known. We think, though, at this period the EC is making a serious effort in The Hague, and we think that this offers right now the best possibility of moving forward. Q Where do you think the blame lies for this continued fighting? MR. SNYDER: As we have said many times, and also in this statement, there is blame in several areas. But the Yugoslav armed forces and Serbian authorities share the bulk of the blame. Q And are they operating independently, or are they operating as an arm of the Serbians? Do you know? MR. SNYDER: I don't want to characterize how they're working exactly together. Q Joe, when you say that this civil war threatens "other regions of Yugoslavia," what are you talking about? What regions? MR. SNYDER: We have seen some of the same tensions in Croatia expressed in Bosnia-Hezegovina. And, of course, there have been for a long time nationality difficulties in Kosovo. Q Do you see an imminent threat to those areas because of this unrest? MR. SNYDER: Not necessarily an imminent threat, but all rational observers of the scene can see the possibilities of there being some spread. Q If I can follow up on that. At various times, the Yugoslav forces have asked permission to fly over Hungarian air space and also to use part of the Danube that I believe belongs to Romania. Do you include these neighboring states in your concern about the spread of the violence in the region? MR. SNYDER: Without specific reference to your antecedent, of course, there are already refugees going into neighboring countries, so we are concerned about the possible repercussions on immediate neighbors of Yugoslavia. Q Why do you think that this statement will have any impact? There have been words before, many statements of outrage from this podium and others, and they seem to have absolutely no effect. MR. SNYDER: I think it's important to remember that all interested parties have got to continue this effort to get the peoples of Yugoslavia together to resolve this conflict. This statement is significant in that it unites virtually of the immediate interested parties -- the EC, the Soviet Union, and the United States -- behind the EC effort that's going on. All of the interested parties from Yugoslavia are also gathered in The Hague today. We hope that this combination of forces is going to persuade the parties to step back and reconsider the future of the country. Q Your statement said that the United States supports the restrictive measures of the European Community. Do you know what those are? MR. SNYDER: The EC is looking at, actually, a broad range of potential measures, and I would refer you to the EC Presidency for further details on what those are. Q Since the three of you -- the U.S., the USSR, and the EC -- are very much concerned to stop the fighting, why do you not enforce a real arms embargo to those militants which have been armed illegally by unknown forces so far by partrolling the land and sea borders of Yugoslavia? MR. SNYDER: We all do, of course, have an embargo in effect which is being enforced by the governments who have declared the embargo. Your question relates to why we have not taken military action to enforce the embargo? Q No, no. The question: to enforce a real arms embargo and partrolling also the land and sea borders of Yugoslavia? Because some of the militants, they are taking illegal arms from somewhere. MR. SNYDER: That is possibly true, but I think the important thing is that the concerned governments are taking measures in accordance with their own laws to try to minimize and, if possible, eliminate such action. Q How can Croatia find so much force to fight the federal army and the Serbian army? MR. SNYDER: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the question. Q How has Croatia found so much force to fight the federal army today? MR. SNYDER: I'm not in a position to answer that question. Q New subject: I believe all of the election, or most of the election monitors have returned now from Bulgaria. Is the United States in a position to comment on the elections? MR. SNYDER: Yes. Although international observer groups noted some administrative difficulties in conducting a very complex voting process, neither they nor any participating party has raised any claim of serious, widespread irregularities in the elections in Bulgaria. Based on the information we have received from our Embassy in Sofia and other sources, we subscribe to the report issued October 14, 1991, by the observer mission organized by the National Democratic and Republic Party Institutes, which characterizes the elections as "a success." The people of Bulgaria should be congratulated for the peaceful and orderly conduct of these elections, for the apparently high turn-out registered, and for the successful completion of the first of Eastern Europe's second round of parliamentary elections. Q Have you seen the reports that at least two of the Soviet republics have not accepted membership in the economic union, or whatever it's being called these days? Do you see that as fatal? MR. SNYDER: I'm not sure I'm going to comment on the last adjective, but as we understand the situation, Russian Republic officials have reconfirmed their intent to sign the treaty on economic community, despite the statement by the Ukraine. Apparently the only other republic that has indicated, at least for now, that it will not sign is Georgia. As the President and Secretary Baker have said all along, we firmly believe that relations among the republics are for the Soviet peoples themselves to decide. At the same time, we believe that some form of economic cooperation will be necessary for the successful transition to a market economy. Above all, it is important that all levels of Soviet society commit themselves to implementing major free-market economic reforms immediately. Q So you're saying now some sort of economic cooperation will be required, but you're not specifically saying that an economic agreement or this economic agreement, is important, or the fact that the economic agreement that has been signed doesn't have unanimous approval? MR. SNYDER: Carol, we have never specifically stated that this economic agreement, or any particular form of agreement, is necessary. Our concern is with some sort of economic cohesion being necessary for reform in the Soviet Union. Q So even if all the republics, or the remaining republics, don't sign an economic agreement, you still think that economic cooperation can proceed and sufficient economic cooperation so that investment will come and investors will feel that there is some sort of stability and cohesion there? MR. SNYDER: It's a long sentence, and I think, unfortunately, it started with an "if." I don't think I want to deal with a hypothetical question. We believe that some form of economic cooperation is necessary, and we want to see all levels of Soviet society commit themselves to implementing economic reforms immediately. Q The fact that the Ukraine and Georgia apparently are staying out this formalized union, does that in your mind mean that the necessary cohesion or cooperation will not be present? MR. SNYDER: I wouldn't necessarily say that, no. Q So, in other words, you think that they still can work it out another way? MR. SNYDER: We understand that the Russian Republic is going to go ahead working on the treaty. Q The Bulgarian election again: It was reported yesterday -- in the Washington Post, actually -- that the U.S. Government somehow advised the Bulgarian Government, including President Zhelev, to accept a Turkish political party for the one million Turks there in the recent Bulgarian elections. I'm wondering, however, if the U.S. Government, by the same token, advised the Turkish Government, including President Ozal, to accept a Kurdish political party in the upcoming Turkish election this coming Sunday for the more than 15 million Kurds who constitute 82 percent of the population in the southeast of Turkey -- the 25 percent of the entire Turkish population? And the Turkish Government, even today, refused the existence of the Kurdish people and called them "mountain Turks." MR. SNYDER: I am, first of all, not sure -- I don't know that I can confirm what you said about our advising the Bulgarian Government. I'm not so sure that that's necessarily true. We certainly look forward to seeing the election in Turkey that's coming up and encourage the Turkish people to participate in the government. As for advising the government on the conduct of the election, I really don't have anything. Q There was a lot of discussion here in Washington when Zhelev was here, in the context of human rights. In one particular case, you have the idea that the Turkish political party should be formulating the Bulgarian society, but not for Turkey, where we have more than 50 million more Kurds. This is the question: Why the partiality in the difference? Mr. SNYDER: I'll see if I can get something else for you. Q Some Russian officials, fairly senior, are saying that there is no central control over the nuclear arsenals in the Soviet Union. Does the United States still believe that these are safe and that the command structure there is intact, or is there some concern about what's going to happen to them? MR. SNYDER: Yes, to the first part of the question. Yes, we are convinced that the control over nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union is safe, and we have no concerns. Q There was a statement issued today by the NATO Ministers expressing some concern about the nuclear weapons there. Does that mean the United States dissents from this? MR. SNYDER: No, of course, we don't dissent from a NATO statement. We, obviously, agree with what the NATO statement says. I have not yet seen the text of the NATO statement, but the President and the Secretary of State have addressed themselves many times in the past to this subject. I think we should let what they had to say stand. Q Can you take the question, though, because there does seem to be a bit of discrepancy between saying that we still believe everything is fine and at the same time we're participating in joint statements of concern? MR. SNYDER: I still would rather rest with what the President and the Secretary of State have said. Q Your response to my question yesterday that "inquires" involving NATO excercises should be directed through NATO channels means, (1) rejection of the Greek protest with the U.S. Government, and (2) that those violations of the Greek air space over the Aegean have actually occurred, but are of NATO character? MR. SNYDER: I'm sorry, could you please repeat the question. I didn't follow it. Q The question is -- I asked the question yesterday about the violations over the Aegean, and the response today was here "inquires involving NATO exercises should be directed through NATO channels." I'm asking, that means the rejection of the Greek protest with the U.S. Government? And second, that those violations have actually occurred, but are of NATO character? MR. SNYDER: I don't know exactly what you would mean by violations being of a "NATO character." I would just reaffirm that you should direct your questions concerning NATO exercises to NATO. Q Why do you think the Russians have full control of the nuclear weapons? What makes you so sure? MR. SNYDER: Again, I would prefer to leave this subject with what the President and the Secretary of State have said. Q Do you have any comment on the elections in Armenia and the election of Ter-Petrossian as President? MR. SNYDER: No. Q Joe, a couple of questions, to follow up my question of yesterday, about the Philippines. Has the United States Government been in touch with the Philippine Government on this matter? MR. SNYDER: Yes, we are. Q Towards what end? Is there a desire to get the Justice Department or the FBI involved at the U.S. end? MR. SNYDER: We are looking at the situation with the Justice Department to see what U.S. Government action is appropriate, if any. We're also in touch with the Philippine Government. We also understand that the Philippine Senate has announced its own investigation of the matter. Q Are you saying it's more plausible than it seemed yesterday? MR. SNYDER: No. We have found no credible information to support the allegations. They have seemed to us and they still seem to us to be extremely implausible. Q Since you're very much concerned to stop the fighting in Yugoslavia, as you mentioned before, how do you assess the recent decision by the Turkish Government to arm and guarantee the territorial integrity of the so-called Macedonian Republic of Yugoslavia? MR. SNYDER: I am not aware of that. Q It's in the FBIS text. It was reported from Hungary. It was a dispatch. MR. SNYDER: I'll see if we can get something for you. I'm not aware of that. Q Back to the Haitian coup d'etat, what is the Administration's position on President Aristide -- Jean-Bertrand Aristide? There's a demonstration going on in Washington today, and many Haitians living in the U.S. seem to feel that President Bush and the Administration are backing away from support for Aristide. MR. SNYDER: I can assure you that the U.S. Government is not backing away from its support for Aristide. We've stated our concerns. I, unfortunately, don't have that material now. But we've stated many times from this podium our position towards Aristide, and that has not changed. Q There was an article in the Boston Globe on October the 8th that cited a State Department official as saying that democracy or constitutionality could be restored with or without Aristide. Do you care to comment at all on that? MR. SNYDER: That's not our position. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:30 p.m.)