US Department of State Daily Briefing #97: Wednesday, 6/24/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Jun, 24 19926/24/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, South Asia Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Libya, Pakistan, USSR (former), Israel Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Mideast Peace Process, Terrorism, State Department 12:00 NOON (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: If it's possible, I'd like to try to do this in 30 minutes. If not, obviously, I'll stay; but I have a meeting I'd like to attend. I have one statement that's more of a housekeeping matter. It concerns a speech Secretary Baker is giving tomorrow. He will travel to Boston where he will give the luncheon address to the World Affairs Council of Boston and receive the Christian A. Herter Memorial Award. The address will be delivered at the Sheraton Boston Hotel at 39 Dalton Street in Boston at noon. The speech will deal with our support for reform in the New Independent States and the need for passage of the Freedom Support Act. The event will be open to the press. Media wishing to cover the event should contact Laurie Ann Day at (617) 482-1740. Because the Secretary will be giving a speech, there will not be the regular State Department briefing at noon since that's when he will be speaking. You want me to repeat the number? Did I go too fast, John? Q Yes MS. TUTWILER: (617) 482-1740. Q Will that speech be piped into this room? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. (TO STAFF) Grace (Moe), have you all looked into that? We don't think so. We'll look into it. I know we've done that in the past. Q Will there be a Q∧A? MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe so. I think it's just a speech, presentation of the award, and he returns to Washington. Q Will we get a transcript of the speech? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. He has not even had an opportunity to look at it yet. It's just in draft form. Q Do you happen to know if he's going to be making more speeches as the campaign picks up speed? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard anyone suggest such a thing. Q Does it relate in any way to the campaign? MS. TUTWILER: No. This was a request that was probably -- I'm guessing now -- six months old. It's been on the calendar for ages. Secondly, we are very pleased to welcome back Jennifer Webber for her second summer as an intern in the Press Office. Jennifer will be a senior at the University of California at Santa Barbara next fall, majoring in Political Science. Jennifer, welcome back. Thanks for coming back and lending a hand to all of us. Glad to see you. I don't have any other housekeeping matters. I will be happy to try to answer any questions that I can.

[Former Soviet Union: Coup Attempt in Georgia]

Q Is the State Department concerned about the coup attempt in Georgia? And while you're at it, could you tell us, please, if you consider the government that Shevardnadze heads a legitimate government since it was never elected? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, you know we consider it a legitimate government. We've explained our position on that previously. To put it into shorthand, as you recall, all factions in Georgia participated in asking for Chairman Shevardnadze to come back, the creation and formation of what's called a "State Council" that all factions, as I recall, are represented on. We have stated our opinion previously on President Gamsakhurdia. On the first part of your question, we, Barry, are not using the terminology "attempted coup." That is not how it has been described to us by those on the ground. We are describing this in the following way: We can confirm that last night, 4:00 a.m., Tbilisi time, bands of supporters of former President Gamsakhurdia seized the Tbilisi radio and TV station. However, several hours later -- noon, local time -- the Georgian national guard recaptured the building and arrested the leaders of the takeover. There was some loss of life. I've seen various reports this morning, but we are unable to confirm an exact number for you. The loss of life occurred when the station was recaptured. State Council Chairman Shevardnadze has said that the government is now fully in control of the situation. We understand that Council Chairman Shevardnadze remained in Tbilisi until the crisis was resolved and then proceeded to the Black Sea port of Sochi for a meeting today with President Yeltsin. We are obviously concerned by this outbreak of violence. We strongly support Chairman Shevardnadze and the State Council of Georgia in their efforts to bring democracy and free markets to Georgia. The United States condemns the type of violence that we saw that took place last night by these bands of people. Q Margaret, can I just ask you, you call it a crisis, but you say it's not an attempted coup. Could you go into that a little more? What is the judgment within the State Department to not call this an attempted coup? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding -- Q They weren't trying to overthrow the government; is that it? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is, when you use the phraseology "an attempted coup," it is a clear-cut attempt to overthrow the government. We are unsure, other than capturing the radio and TV station -- this was, it is our understanding, a band of supporters of former President Gamsakhurdia. This, in our mind, does not characterize an attempted coup -- for the people who took over the radio station to then go take over the Parliament and take over the government. That's just not our analysis of the situation. Q Has the Secretary been in touch with Chairman Shevardnadze? MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge. Q Do we know, Margaret, whether these people were freelancing or whether they were directed by Gamsakhurdia, who was not in the country, I understand? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have that type of analysis at this point. I've seen nothing that we have received this morning from our Embassy that has any types of characterizations like that yet. Maybe after the -- I don't know what will happen or how they deal with the people who are arrested. Maybe the Georgian Government will be saying something about that. I don't know. Q Margaret, do you have anything on the elections in Israel? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a whole lot to add to what Marlin (Fitzwater) said this morning at the White House, what the Secretary of State has just said to a number of you who were at the photo opportunity with the Foreign Minister [of Pakistan]. Yesterday's elections in Israel once again reminds us of the vitality and dynamism of Israel's democracy. While the results of Israel's election appear more decisive than many had predicted, it will still take some time before a new government is formed. We are confident that we will be able to work very well with Israel's new government to deepen U.S.-Israeli partnership, enhance our bilateral relations, and promote our common objective of peace with security for Israel and for all the countries of the Middle East. During this period, which could take some days or weeks, the United States Government will not be commenting on the internal process taking place inside Israel. Q One more follow-up: The Secretary said that he would like to see the next round of talks as soon as possible right after the forming of the new Israeli coalition, but it will take some time, I believe, for the Israelis to change the members or the delegates. So it won't be very soon. MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a further characterization for you or a finer definition than the one the Secretary gave this morning. Q So the Administration will be commenting further once a government is formed; is that what you're saying? MS. TUTWILER: That would be a good deduction; right. Q Any telephone calls -- congratulations? MS. TUTWILER: This morning, none that I know of. I can't speak for the White House, but none that I'm aware of here. Q Did he call his old friend Shamir to offer condolences? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of any phone calls that have been made this morning by the Secretary of State. Q Do you want to take a swing at what "peace with security," the phrase -- I guess it's going to be our phrase now in the next few months -- it's the phrase the Secretary used. It's the phrase in your guidance. You used to talk about land-for-peace. What's peace with security? Can you just -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't want to take a stab at it. You know -- I think it was one of your colleagues tried this morning to get the Secretary more drawn into some specifics -- I believe the question was housing loan guarantees and, specifically, the peace process. He declined, and so I'm going to use my best judgment, and since I'm following about 30 minutes after him, I'm going to decline also. Q I wasn't asking about loans. You have -- I think it's a new catch phrase, and I wondered -- MS. TUTWILER: It's not meant to be. I promise. Q Margaret, the President said a couple of weeks ago, in a photo op with Mayor Kollek, that right after the elections in Israel the Administration will try to resume talks about loan guarantees with the Government of Israel? MS. TUTWILER: And the election process in Israel has not completed itself. As you know better than I do, they have to now go about the business of forming a government. The Secretary of State addressed himself to that question this morning. Mr. Fitzwater has at the White House. I now have here. If you will recall -- because you were covering the State Department previously -- when the Shamir Government was in the process of forming its new government, we, at the State Department and the White House and other Agencies in our government who might get asked questions, declined all questions while this process was taking place. I'm going to follow that example today. Q Margaret, a question on Libya: Do you see anything interesting in that proposal by the Libyan Parliament? MS. TUTWILER: No. Libya has made numerous previous proposals and public statements on this matter, all of which fall far short of compliance with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The latest being that the Libyan Congress declared that the two Pan Am bombing suspects could be delivered for trial in a just and fair court under the auspices of the Arab League or the United Nations. This falls far short of meeting the requirements of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 748. That resolution requires that the two suspects be turned over for trial in either Scotland or the United States. It also requires that Libya cooperate fully in the investigations into the bombings of Pan Am 103 and UTA 772; pay appropriate compensation; and cease all support for terrorism. Libya has yet to take those actions indicating full compliance with these Security Council demands. The United Nations Security Council resolution calls for action, not words. Q Margaret, do you have any new assessment on the impact of the embargo on Libya and the people there and their feelings towards Qadhafi? MS. TUTWILER: No, I really don't. Q There are reports in the press mentioning discontent and remarks against Qadhafi. Do you have anything to substantiate those reports? MS. TUTWILER: I really don't. As you know, we don't have a presence in Libya. We've seen those reports, but I don't have anything independent that I have. I'll be happy to look into it for you and see if the Bureau has something, but I'm not aware of something. Q You don't see any kind of positive attitude taken by the Libyans within the framework of the United Nations Security Council resolution? Up to now you never mentioned anything as positive coming from the Libyans, although I think the Europeans, at least, are seeing so many positive steps being taken. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know which Europeans you're referring to. I am aware of a number of Europeans who have a direct interest in this case -- their governments -- who are doing the same thing the United States is doing, is saying you must abide by what the United Nations Security Council resolution calls for; not make up new things that fall short. So there's nothing positive for me to respond to. Q Margaret, there's been quite a bit of activity between Pakistani officials and U.S. officials here in Washington today -- obviously, today and yesterday. I understand that one of the topics they're discussing is civil war in Kashmir. Could you give us a read on our position on what's going on in Kashmir and also on the question of nuclear tensions between Pakistan and India? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a current read for you on what's going on in Kashmir. The Secretary has just concluded a meeting that I was unable to attend in order to prepare for the briefing. Basically, what I was told briefly that was discussed in that meeting with their Foreign Minister was they discussed a whole range of bilateral issues, regional issues, including Kashmir. And on the nuclear area, they touched on it, but nothing new, basically, to report on that. I will obviously get for you a more thorough readout from someone who is in the meeting and participated. Q Margaret, is there any indication that Yitzhak Rabin may be invited to Washington in the foreseeable future before he forms the government? MS. TUTWILER: I've not heard of such a suggestion. I don't have a way -- have a crystal ball for you. I don't know of any such suggestion. Q Margaret, could you give us a readout on Yugoslavia and, specifically, whether or not General MacKenzie has reported to the U.N. on the status of his efforts to get relief supplies through to Sarajevo?

[Former Yugoslavia: Update]

MS. TUTWILER: Let me answer your second part first before I do my update. One of your colleagues called me and asked me about such a report that was supposedly due at the United Nations either yesterday or today. I don't know of such a report. He obviously sends in his normal communications to the Secretary General, but we are unaware of a specific report that is due today to the U.N. from General MacKenzie. Concerning the update, yesterday and today Serbian shelling and fighting has continued in Sarajevo. Fighting continues to be particularly heavy in Dobrinja, the neighborhood on the periphery of the airport, which Serb forces have cut off from the rest of Sarajevo for over ten weeks now. Serbian forces are continuing their "ethnic cleansing" in Dobrinja. The independent Belgrade newspaper Borba reports that Croats, Muslims, Serbs in ethnically-mixed marriages and Serbs who do not join the Serbian forces are being given only minutes to pack one bag and then forced out of their homes into combat zones. We do not know what has become of large numbers of these people. The newspaper also reports that Serbian forces are holding hostage some residents in Dobrinja, perhaps as many as 600, at the Serbian barracks. In another site outside of Sarajevo, the Serbian forces are reportedly calling their hostages a "human shield" in case of attack. We do not have independent confirmation of these reports. We understand that Serbian shelling and fighting continues in many areas throughout Bosnia. One thing I do have some new information for you on is the effect of sanctions. Serbia's textile and construction industries face major layoffs in the next few weeks because of U.N. sanctions, according to Embassy Belgrade and press reports. The textile industry, Serbia's most successful exporter, accounts for 12 percent of Serbia's GDP and employs 200,000 people, about a fourth of the total labor force. Half of the construction industry's 230,000 workers will be on paid leave during the peak summer season. Nearly 50 percent of all construction equipment is now idle; $2.2 billion in foreign construction contracts are in jeopardy. The Ikarus Bus Plant lost a multi-million dollar foreign contract, and the manufacture of Yugo autos are laying off employees. The government seems to have no plan for dealing with these mass layoffs. If the sanctions last three months, the government may have to introduce wage and price controls, along with controls on distribution of supplies. By then, Serbian businessmen predict the economy will have collapsed. Concerning convoys, I really don't have anything new on convoys. There are some small convoys that are still trying to get through. Q If the sanctions seem to be having this effect, is it having any effect on the fighting? MS. TUTWILER: Apparently not. Q So the U.S. -- I hesitate to use the word "threat," because you haven't used it -- threat to have U.S. troops participate in a multilateral force continues in effect. MS. TUTWILER: You're right that I -- nor am I aware of any other United States official has used the word "threat." What Secretary Baker enunciated yesterday in open testimony has not changed overnight. The reason we have continued to give you, when we get it -- and we think it's reliable from, obviously, our Embassy in Belgrade and other press reports there on the ground -- is, as you know, for weeks now we have been citing different instances of what is going on in Belgrade concerning a possible effect of the sanctions that the United Nations has put in. And it obviously, in our opinion, yes, has some effect. Has it succeeded in getting food and medical supplies and desperately needed humanitarian relief into Sarajevo and some of the other cities and towns in Bosnia? Not yet. Q Margaret, are you able to at least publicly share any assessment on how much longer you're prepared to wait before taking stronger action? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Margaret, Secretary Baker said -- made a number of comments yesterday, but two in particular, if you can, you could expand on a little bit. MS. TUTWILER: Expand on. Q First, was he said that we have sent military planners to the United Nations. Is that something unusual? MS. TUTWILER: No, it's not unusual. Pete Williams at the Pentagon yesterday gave quite some detail of what type of planners these people are, what types of things they do, so I would refer you to his transcript. The United States in many U.N. operations supplies and contributes United States planners for whatever the situation is. My understanding -- and again check with the Pentagon -- is these are the types of planners -- one instance is, for instance, air control traffic experts. Those types of people, it's my understanding, are the types that are helping in New York with the U.N. operation to get humanitarian relief into Sarajevo. Q The second thing that he commented on was there was apparently some hesitancy in the Administration to commit U.S. troops to a coalition command. MS. TUTWILER: The Secretary spoke of that yesterday? I don't even remember him being asked that question. Q No. He did say that. MS. TUTWILER: Then you were listening more carefully than I was. Q He said something like there's some very real concerns, legitimate concerns, and thought needs to be given before we commit U.S. troops to other than an American command by an American officer. MS. TUTWILER: That is what I've heard him express in similar situations, so it does not come as a surprise to me that he would state such a thing. That's a long held U.S. policy. Mark. Q Margaret, do you have any update on any apparent weakening of the Milosevic government and increase in strength by opposition? MS. TUTWILER: None that I have. Q Can you give us what it means to revoke the Ambassador's accredition? How far or how close it is to breaking diplomatic ties? MS. TUTWILER: The statement that the Secretary made yesterday and his recommendation to the President today, Marlin said that the President had accepted that recommendation. It did not deal with breaking ties with the government in Belgrade, and, in fact, the Secretary clearly stated that we would no longer accept at the Ambassadorial level representation from the Belgrade government, and that is indeed what the President has accepted. Q Is there an American legal obstacle for a U.S. citizen to become Prime Minister of the new Yugoslav federation? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Q There have been rumors about that. MS. TUTWILER: I'd have to ask the lawyers. I don't know. I've heard those rumors. I haven't looked into it. Q Margaret, is there a settlement possible with Milosevic in charge? Or does he have to get out as far as the U.S. is concerned? MS. TUTWILER: That's something that would be, obviously, up for the people in Belgrade to determine, not the United States Government. Q Which people -- the Serbian people? MS. TUTWILER: They now have federation, as you know, that's called -- I think it's the Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro. It would be, I assume -- I'm not that familiar with the new government they've set up -- for the people there to determine. Q You folks consider it an illegitimate government. MS. TUTWILER: We considered it an illegitimate election, if you remember, because we said it was not -- we did not judge it to have been free and fair. Q All right. Well, if that's the case, then they don't have the kind of procedures that you would bless, so if they removed their President, presumably, that would not be a legal action either. I don't understand. You want them to exercise democratic principles, but you don't really recognize the government as legitimate, so I don't quite know where you're headed with this. MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware -- Q Very simply, you know -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that we came out and ever said we did not recognize the legitimacy of the government. What I'm aware of, Barry, is that they had several weeks ago -- and I can't remember -- I think some local elections that we said we did not, in our view, think that those had been legitimate elections, because we did not view they had been free and fair. I don't believe it was an election about President Milosevic. Correct me if I'm wrong. Q No. I've wandered us past the point already. I mean, the reason I'm asking is because apparently U.S. officials are whispering around that everything would be better if he went away, and I wondered if you'd like to make that public? MS. TUTWILER: I can tell you that I'm not aware of any "whispering around" that I've heard. I have been in any number of meetings and continue to be in meetings, and that is not something that I have heard by anyone that has responsibility for determining United States policy. That is, obviously, in this case, as in other cases, up for the people there to determine. What we have called on -- whether it's President Milosevic or anyone else who has influence -- to please use their influence to open that airport and to let these convoys go through safely. Q And, of course, still even today is it true the U.S. still has no doubt that the government in Belgrade has that power? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q That the militia in Bosnia are under the control and are acting at the behest of the Belgrade government? MS. TUTWILER: They were trained by them. They were armed by them. I am not going to stand here and say categorically that every single individual that is firing a weapon there is under control. We don't make that claim. But we certainly know that they are being rearmed, resupplied. They were trained somewhere. I'm not aware of, what I would call, extremely forceful statements coming out of the leadership in Belgrade and evidence of doing everything they can to be on the side of stopping this. There are 350,000 people -- that we come out and talk about every day, that your colleagues write about who are there on the ground -- of people being rousted out of their homes, bombed out of their homes, who are, you know, in many instances starving -- 350,000 is a lot of people. Q Margaret, I don't have the exact words in front of me, but quite apart from any whispers that Barry may have heard, Assistant Secretary Tom Niles yesterday used pretty forceful language, I thought, before a House Subcommittee on Milosevic, basically saying that it didn't appear that there could be a solution with him in office. It sounds pretty close to calling for him to be -- MS. TUTWILER: I heard about this from one of your colleagues about 20 minutes before I came out here. I briefly looked at Ambassador Niles' testimony, and my characterization or my interpretation does not go as far as your characterization of what he was saying. If you look at it, as I briefly just looked at it, in context, he was not, in my opinion, saying anything differently than what I am. This is obviously something for the people of the Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro to determine. Our interest has been and will continue to be for President Milosevic to use his influence on those people who he has influence over, on the humanitarian side of this, to open the airport and let the convoys go through. Q Margaret, could we talk a little bit about future American steps in Yugoslav policy? A number of accounts of the Secretary's testimony yesterday in illustrious newspapers, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun, all seemed to get the impression that the Secretary was sending a message that the United States was moving toward the use of force at least for the purpose of putting humanitarian supplies into Sarajevo. Now, I know you've said in the past that that's not the policy. Did they get it wrong, or what was the message that the Secretary was trying to send yesterday? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not going to do a further elaboration of what the Secretary stated yesterday. His statement, I think, speaks for itself. He answered a number of questions yesterday. You all have had an opportunity to ask him for a further elaboration. In my personal opinion, he did not -- other than announcing the three new unilateral steps he was recommending to the President -- say anything, to be honest with you, that was that different than what he has said in response to your questions in Lisbon recently or in London. He once again, in my mind, what I heard, ruled out unilateral United States force. He once again enunciated what the United States interest here is, which is in the humanitarian side. He enunciated that we are not going to embroil ourselves in trying to solve the political side of this equation. And I am -- did he send a message? Yes. It's the continuing message that he sends every time he's asked, which is that this is an outrage. It continues. It's barbaric. It is beyond comprehension. He gave the example of what I further elaborated on today of people being rousted out of their homes -- men, women and children -- and then shot, and that the United States, yes, was quite concerned about this. He has never, nor has the President, ruled out any options. Q Just to continue this: Evidently, General Scowcroft, in speaking to the North Atlantic Council on Monday, did raise the possibility that there are strategic -- not simply humanitarian -- but strategic interests for the United States in Yugoslavia or in Bosnia-Hercegovina at the moment. Is this a view that the Secretary shares? Are there some important strategic interests now which are being threatened? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't asked the Secretary if he shares the view or not and, to be honest with you, I have not had an opportunity to read what General Scowcroft had to say. So I'd rather refrain from getting myself into that particular question, if you don't mind, since I'd be answering it blind. Q Could you take the question, though? MS. TUTWILER: I'll look at it. Q You said a few weeks ago that no responsible person in the Administration had even discussed the possibility of military force, and I was just wondering whether that's still the case or whether since then people have discussed it? MS. TUTWILER: The United States has always said, and I have said, that we are fully supportive of the United Nations effort. We have said that we have supported the United Nations in the past in a number and variety of capacities, and that I would not elaborate on what those would be in this case. But that we are fully supportive of the U.N. efforts and in helping them, and I believe we said on one day, in all aspects of trying to get the airport open and humanitarian aid into Sarajevo. Q But does what you said a few weeks ago about no one having discussed it still hold, or since then have there been discussions of the possibility of using military force? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of any discussions in our government concerning unilateral U.S. force. Q But through the United Nations or through NATO? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not going to get into any more levels of details. We have not been asked by the United Nations, as Pete Williams said yesterday in his briefing, for United States force. We are supplying -- as you know, the Secretary has pointed out, we have offered intelligence capabilities that we have. We have planners that are in New York right now. We will continue to be lending assistance in various, sundry ways to the United Nations. I don't have any specifics for you. Q Can you elaborate at all? MS. TUTWILER: No, I'm not going to elaborate. Q I guess you can't elaborate on intelligence capabilities we've offered. Q You're talking about the United States supporting the United Nations, as if the United Nations makes decisions and the United States chooses, if it does, to go along. Are you saying the United States is not initiating in these discussions any course of action for dealing with what the Secretary calls the "humanitarian nightmare"? MS. TUTWILER: The United States, as we have said before, two weeks ago, the Secretary told you that he was looking at additional things we could do unilaterally and multilaterally. Those discussions and considerations continue. He announced three more yesterday -- recommendations to the President. The President accepted them overnight. Marlin announced them today. There are still -- as he said in testimony yesterday -- we can still continue to consult and discuss, obviously, this issue with the United Nations and with other interested governments. Q Well, the only part then that you're avoiding is whether in these discussions you're discussing the use of collective force -- not unilateral force, collective force. Is the U.S. engaged in discussions with other governments in the United Nations, outside in the corridor, wherever these things are held -- is the U.S. discussing with them the use of force to get humanitarian aid through? MS. TUTWILER: Not discussions that I have any knowledge of. When you say "corridor talk," or you say "other conversations," you read all the time, you all will quote to me unnamed officials who say, "X, Y, Z." So I'm not going to try to stand here and be accountable for all conversations any U.S. Government official could have. Q I mean accountable officials. MS. TUTWILER: An authorized conversation, I have no knowledge of. Q Has it been discussed -- specifically discussed at CSCE? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. CSCE Senior Experts have been meeting since, I think, Monday concerning, I believe, just the Yugoslavia situation. Those meetings continue. I'm not aware -- I have no knowledge, to be honest with you, of specifically what their agenda is, other than discussing the situation in Yugoslavia. Q It's 12:30. Should we let you out? MS. TUTWILER: That would be great. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thanks. (The briefing concluded at 12:30 p.m.)