US Department of State Daily Briefing #92: Wednesday, 6/10/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Jun, 10 19926/10/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, Subsaharan Africa, Caribbean Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Haiti, South Africa, Cambodia, Vietnam, Libya, Austria, Russia Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, State Department, POW/MIA Issues, Democratization, United Nations, Refugees 12:00 NOON (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Former Yugoslavia: Situation Update]

MS. TUTWILER: I think what I'd like to do, if it's okay with you, is to just give you a situation update overnight on the situation in Yugoslavia. Yesterday, Serbs continued to shell Sarajevo, but not as intensively as over the weekend and on Monday. The recent Bosnian defenders' counter-offensive resulted in only limited gains. They failed to break through Serbian lines. Shelling and fighting continues today. We understand that much of the city is without electricity or water. Areas such as Dobrinja, which Serb forces have isolated, have not had electricity or water for several days. Dobrinja is a suburb of the Sarajevo airport. Food supplies in Dobrinja are said to be almost gone. Some flour remains. We understand the adults are reserving most of it for children who are eating this mixed with water. In other areas of Sarajevo, food remains in chronically short supply. Several reports I personally saw this morning said that you all were estimating -- or the reports said that the population in Sarajevo was about 300,000. What we're comfortable saying is that we believe it's somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000. The pre-war population of Sarajevo was approximately 580,000 to 600,000. Serbian forces continue to control the Sarajevo airport which remains closed. We continue to have reports of heavy fighting in many other Bosnian towns. Serb forces continue to expel large numbers of non-Serbs from Serb-controlled areas. We estimate, as I believe I mentioned on Monday, that close to one million Bosnians are now displaced by this fighting. In some areas, counter-offensives are being mounted against Serbian forces. There are no known relief convoys that we know about that are moving today. Concerning the effects: We still believe that it is too early to make a judgment on the effects of these sanctions, but we do note that both Serbia and Montenegro have introduced gasoline rationing. Some student and transit workers, including taxi drivers, threatened to strike today. We do not yet have the full extent of those strikes. Our Embassy reports widespread hoarding in Belgrade. Serbs in Belgrade continue to stock up on basic foodstuffs. Supplies of items such as oil, flour, bread and sugar appear to be available in the mornings in Belgrade, but sold out by early afternoon. The sanctions have affected the availability and price of fuel and many other items on the Belgrade market. Outside the capital of Belgrade, we believe that the effect has been even greater. That's it. Q Margaret, on that, is the United States seeking a new U.N. resolution to deny Serbia-Montenegro successor status to the old Yugoslavia? MS. TUTWILER: No. I read one report this morning of an unnamed official out of Brussels saying words to that effect. As you know, the Secretary of State, in Lisbon, expressed the United States' views concerning our position, which is that they would not automatically be the successor state. I'm not aware of a United Nations resolution for that. I am aware -- whatever you want to call it or they eventually call the former Yugoslavia -- that they would have to apply, like any other country, for new membership. That would be our view. Q Well, Margaret, can we eliminate "resolution" from that and ask if the U.S. -- I know what you said about not automatic, but that's sort of a backwards way of making a statement. Is it the U.S. position that this new federation is entitled to take Yugoslavia's place in the world -- MS. TUTWILER: No, that is not our position, and the Secretary has -- Q Well, you said "not automatic." But is it our position -- is it the U.S. position that they simply are not the legal successor, period? MS. TUTWILER: That is correct. The Secretary of State expressed that view in London, I believe, seven days ago, that our view has not changed. Q There's a difference between stating a U.S. view and seeking a U.N. resolution. The fact is that they still hold the old Yugoslav seat in the United Nations, for instance. They still hold the old Yugoslav seat in many international organizations. MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. Q Is the United States moving to deny them those seats and to make them reapply all over again? MS. TUTWILER: At this time, I do not know -- that's why I answered that there's a report in Brussels of a United States effort to either have a new United Nations resolution or in any other fora. But that does not preclude that that is a position that the United States can take in the future. Our view of this is what we have stated, but we are not at this time mounting an international effort on this. I believe others have the same view. Q Margaret, it's not just Brussels now. There are reports from the U.N. -- MS. TUTWILER: Here. Q Yeah -- that the U.S. will oppose this. MS. TUTWILER: That we would oppose? Q Would oppose having the Serbia-Montenegro federation succeed to Yugoslavia. MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q Well, the U.S. has a veto. I'm not sure how this would -- how it would proceed at the United Nations. But would the U.S. use its veto to keep them from taking that seat? MS. TUTWILER: It's a total hypothetical. Number one, I personally am not aware of an effort that is underway at this particular moment in the United Nations to pass a resolution concerning this subject. My limited understanding of United Nations rules is that you have to apply. Whether it is called the Federation of Serbian/Montenegro or it is called the Greater Yugoslavia, or whatever they determine to call themselves, they have to apply, as any other new nation, for a seat at the United Nations. That mechanism has not even begun. We have expressed, in the form of the Secretary of State, what our view would be. But I don't know anything about a resolution that is even being talked in the corridors right now. Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I'm just not aware of this. Q I just know the story is coming out of the U.N. Let me just extend it just one. Could you verbalize, or say for the record, why the U.S. feels, then, this government is not entitled to succeed Yugoslavia? What is that position based on? MS. TUTWILER: For the same reasons that we asked our military attaches to return home; for the same reasons we have done any number of things, and stopped the airlines from flying here. It is quite obvious that as long as we -- which is our view and others -- believe that the Belgrade leadership bears the majority of responsibility for what's going on in Serbia, our view is that continuing economic, political and diplomatic isolation is something the United States will continue to do. Q Margaret, since we were all here 24 hours ago, can you tell us if there has been any progress on any front towards getting humanitarian relief supplies to the people in Sarajevo? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q There's been no progress in the last 24 hours whatsoever? MS. TUTWILER: I know of no convoys that are moving. I am not aware the airport is open. That, in my mind, is how you're getting relief to these people. I personally have no knowledge of that. Q Are you -- MS. TUTWILER: I will not comment today, and it's understandable, on any operations that the United Nations is doing. It is appropriate for them to be giving out the specifics of those operations that they are attempting or contemplating, and it is nothing more than a security concern; and we view that it's a valid one, and I'm going to honor it. Q But in advance of the actual convoys going in, is the United States making preparations by prepositioning food, for example, in the region so that it can be easily lifted in? MS. TUTWILER: I addressed that yesterday, and I'll refer you to the record of where we have diverted food. I believe I mentioned a city in Croatia -- Split -- and I also talked about some sea vans, l5 sea vans that were en route, et cetera. So I laid it all out there yesterday. Q Margaret, has the Secretary talked to the Russian Foreign Minister since this latest round of negotiations? And could you tell us, please, as things stand now, how does the U.S. intend to proceed with trying to get this agreement nailed down? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have anything additional for you. To my knowledge -- I haven't seen him since l0:00 a.m. -- unless he's received a call at the White House which I know nothing about, he has not spoken with his counterpart, the Russian Foreign Minister. Q Is there any reaction to Senator Lugar's statements this morning in a press conference in which he would like the United States to play a stronger role in Yugoslavia, including joining troops -- U.N. troops -- to try to end the battle? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of Senator Lugar's comment this morning, and I make it a practice not to comment on things I haven't seen. Q This may be a little esoteric, but I -- MS. TUTWILER: That's O.K. Q -- have to ask you anyhow. Has Austria notified the U.S. Government, in any way, that it would like no longer to be considered a neutral state? You may not have it there, but I wonder if somebody could search it and see if the Austrian Government is seeking, with the U.S. and other governments, acknowledgment that it wants to abandon its neutral status? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard anything about that. I'll ask somebody to look into it for you. Q O.K. Q If I can go back to Senator Lugar for a minute. He said that we should start planning military operations now, even if there's no intention at this moment to go in. So it's simply that the planning ought to be underway. Is there any kind of planning, that you know of, for any military operations in Yugoslavia? MS. TUTWILER: I have the same answer today that I had yesterday. We have an active interagency process that is looking at a number of ways where we can be supportive of the United Nations efforts, keeping in mind that the United Nations resolution says that until there is a cease-fire even the United Nations cannot put their people into this particular situation. I pointed out that we have all kinds of capabilities -- and I refrained from being specific -- and said that we have used various types of capabilities in the past in support of various United Nations peacekeeping missions. Q Margaret, on another subject, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia apparently are balking at some of the U.N. timetables for demobilization. Does the United States consider this a problem, and has the United States spoken to China to try to get that government or any other government to put pressure on them? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll have to ask for you. Q Also on Southeast Asia, do you have anything on this Vietnamese lawyer who has been arrested by the Vietnamese Government for associating with Americans? MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't, but I'll ask the Bureau if they do. Q Margaret, are you aware of anything going on in Libya -- perhaps some threats to the regime of Colonel Qadhafi? MS. TUTWILER: No, I'm not aware of that. I'm aware of a press report concerning a press publication -- is my limited understanding of this -- in the Libyan press. You know we don't have an Embassy there. It's something that we find very interesting if, indeed, it is true; but we don't have a lot of knowledge of it. Q Margaret, do you read it as a ploy from Qadhafi or a genuine criticism of his regime coming from inside his ranks? MS. TUTWILER: We, I don't think, are in a position to judge that. We don't have an Embassy there. All we've seen are press reports of a press report in Libya. And, yes, we obviously find it interesting. Q Is there any evidence that Qadhafi is about to turn over the indicted men? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. Q Margaret, what is the Administration's position on the latest political development in Thailand? MS. TUTWILER: In Thailand, we are aware of the announcement this morning, and I really have no characterization or comment for you at this time. Q Anything from here on the Demjanjuk case? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Is anybody in the Administration going to see Chief Buthelezi? He's here today. And do you have anything on those indictments of the Inkatha men? MS. TUTWILER: A negative and a negative. I don't know that Chief Buthelezi is here. I'll have to ask for you. And, no, I don't have anything on the other. Q Margaret, does the State Department -- if not Baker, any other State Department officials -- have any qualms about meeting with Libyan opposition people? You know, while we're talking about Qadhafi, I got a call today from an informed person with a think tank who says that opposition people have been trying to see folks at the State Department and can't get an audience. And this fellow thought that was rather odd, considering the U.S.'s opposition to Qadhafi. I just wondered if there's any contact or communication with whoever these opponents are? MS. TUTWILER: Number one -- Q Some salvation group, it's called. MS. TUTWILER: Number one, I have no knowledge of anyone trying to see State Department officials from a Libyan opposition, so I'll just have to ask. I don't know. Q O.K. MS. TUTWILER: And, to be honest, I think in the three-and-a-half-plus years I've been here that's never come up. So I don't know what our policy is. I'll be happy to ask. Q O.K. MS. TUTWILER: If there's such a request. I just don't know.

[Haiti: Update]

Q Do you have an update on Haiti, either on the refugee question or on the reported initiative by the Dominican Republic to try to arrange a political settlement? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of the Dominican Republic trying to arrange a political settlement. That's new to me. I haven't heard of that. What I know of the current -- on the political situation, which I think you're aware of, is the lower house of the Haitian legislature met yesterday in closed session. It did not vote on Mr. Bazin's credentials to be Prime Minister. A session of the lower house was planned for noon today. Concerning numbers, no Haitians were picked up yesterday; 2,887 Haitians have been picked up since the new Executive Order came into effect, but only l0 Haitians have been picked up during the last week. All 2,887 have been returned directly to Haiti -- 2 on Friday and l0 on Saturday. And I don't know if you want me to go through all the screened-in, screened-out and the totals. Q No. MS. TUTWILER: O.K. The numbers haven't changed that radically. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at l2:l3 p.m.)