U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING FEBRUARY 1, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, February 1, 1995 Briefers: Christine Shelly Timothy Wirth John Shattuck ANNOUNCEMENTS/STATEMENTS Release of "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1994" ............................1 Thank You to Press Office ........................1 Remarks by U/S for Global Affairs Timothy Wirth and A/S for DRL John Shattuck ..................1-5 Introduction of Gracia Hillman, International Human Rights Coordinator for Women's Issues ....14 China ..........................................5-11, 17 Russia .........................................7-8, 14-15 Bosnia .........................................8-12 Mexico .........................................9 Burma ..........................................11 Rwanda .........................................12 Indonesia ......................................13 Women's Human Rights ...........................14-15 India ..........................................15-16 Turkey .........................................16 Statement on behalf of Secretary Christopher re: Announcement on ME Peace Process and Cairo Summit 2/2 .............................17 U.S. Discussions/Consultations with Parties ..17-19 GREECE Extension of Territorial Waters ..................20 CUBA Transfer of Cubans from Panama to Guantanamo .....20 Number of Cubans returned to Cuba ................20-21 BOSNIA/CROATIA French proposal for International Conference .....21 PM Silajdzic Testimony on Capitol Hill ...........22-23 Status of Z-4 Plan ...............................24 TURKEY Reported remarks by U.S. Ambassador Grossman re: U.S. position on pipeline to Mediterranean .24-25 INDONESIA Recognition of East Timor ........................25
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1995, l2:43 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you know, last night we sent to Congress the State Department's annual report, the "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for l994." We have two special briefers today who will make opening remarks and answer your questions: Under Secretary for Global Affairs Timothy Wirth and Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor John Shattuck are our guests today.
At the conclusion of their presentation, we will have our regular briefing.
Q Christine, before you get started, I think the Press Office deserves some thanks for the way they got this report out. It was a tremendous undertaking, and those of us who were here at 9 o'clock really appreciate what they did.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you, Barry. I appreciate that very much and certainly will make sure that the Press Office gets that thanks passed on. Thanks.
Under Secretary Wirth.
MS. SHELLY: It's rare. We appreciate it.
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: I will pass on to the Secretary those compliments.
Q And ask him who leaked the copy to The New York Times.
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: And who leaked the copy to The New York Times?
Q But we have our own suspicions already, so don't worry about it too much. Don't worry about asking (inaudible) --
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: I don't have to remind you all today we are releasing the Country Reports, a process required by the Congress. This is the l7th year in which it's been done, and I think we can proudly say these become better, more thorough, and comprehensive each year -- certainly, the definitive worldwide report, country-by- country, on the condition of human rights around the globe.
Foreign policy in the 2lst Century is going to become increasingly complex beyond our traditional political relationships to economics, the environment, population, refugees, international crime, narcotics, and human rights, beyond our political relationships traditionally, and beyond our traditional structures, beyond government-to-government relationships to an increasing dependence on the international community and international organizations, and an increasing dependency and cooperation with non- governmental organizations.
And it's within this change -- beyond political relationships and beyond political structures -- that we find this very important commitment to human rights.
The Clinton Administration has recognized the deep importance of these new issues, the new non-traditional issues. And some of the signature events of this Administration certainly include trade treaties, the Population Conference, the new crime initiative, our ambitious coral reef initiative, the common agenda with Japan, the Gore-Chernomyrdin approach with Russia, and this sharpened and strengthened Human Rights Report, and the administration of the Human Rights Program.
Initially, the Human Rights Reports focused predominantly on rogue governments, on oppressive-repressive central governments as the primary focus. The texture now has become more subtle -- that is, broadened beyond a focus on governments alone to recognize as well these new cross- cutting pressures that are of enormous importance to the condition of individuals and human rights overall in various countries -- for example, the pressures of population in Rwanda, which have made it increasingly easy and an increasingly ripe ground for abuses, and we saw those in a horrible way in Rwanda; or narcotics in Colombia, where we see the perversion and purchase of governments not only in the drug area but increasingly around the world; another cross-cutting pressure in the abuse of women, a new and major focus of the Human Rights Report last year and of even stronger emphasis this year.
And I would like, just very briefly, to introduce Gracia Hillman, who has joined the Office of the Secretary as the International Human Rights Coordinator for Women's Issues.
The focus on women is also a testimony to our deep commitment and engagement with non-governmental organizations. Absolutely, we could not do what we do without the deep involvement with and dependence on non- governmental organizations.
Secretary Christopher has been, as all of you know, engaged in this since his time as Deputy Secretary in the Department in the l970s and is very pleased and proud of the progress that has been made. He put out a very strong statement, which I believe all of you have; and he shares with me our great pride and support of the efforts of John Shattuck, the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, who will go into more specifics on the Human Rights Report.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: Thank you very much.
In my overview published at the beginning of this year's Human Rights Report, I have characterized, and the State Department and the Administration characterized, l994 as a year of crisis and progress -- a year that witnessed genocide in Rwanda and the return of an elected government to Haiti; a year in which democratic development took hold in new parts of Africa, Latin America, and Europe; and yet a year that ended with the assault on the human rights of thousands of civilians in Chechnya; and with the Pale Serbs pursuing their policy of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.
There is no more powerful and poignant an example of the contrasts of l994 than the fact that the most uplifting event of the year -- the inauguration of Nelson Mandela -- as President of South Africa, took place in the same month as the year's greatest horror -- the mass murders of over 500,000 Tutsis in Rwanda.
There are five major themes that stand out in the l994 Human Rights Reports.
First, the flagrant and systematic abuses of basic human rights continued at the hands of authoritarian regimes such as China, Iraq, Iran, Burma, North Korea, and Cuba. In these countries, denial of basic freedoms of expression, association and religion; persecution of minorities; and the suppression of civil society remained the norm.
The flagrant abuses were not limited to authoritarian governments. Torture, arbitrary detention, or the repression of free speech and dissent, persisted in other countries with a wide variety of governments such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Egypt, India, Guatemala, and Turkey.
A second theme of l994 is that armed conflicts had a serious impact on human rights and democracy in a growing number of countries. In Rwanda, Bosnia, Chechnya, Angola, Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, and elsewhere, mortars and machetes were wielded, killing many innocent civilians and leaving societies with bitter memories to pass on to future generations. Far too often, cynical political leaders in these places fanned the flames of ethnic and religious tension and encouraged extremists.
These flagrant human rights abuses point to the third theme of l994: steps that have been taken by the United States and others to build new institutions of human rights accountability. When countries have suffered from massive human rights violations, institutions of accountability can help them reconcile.
If, on the other hand, responsibility is covered up or ignored, there can be no peace, no justice, no deterrent to future abuses.
In countries that are torn apart by genocide and ethnic conflict, the international community has established a new institution of justice. Under the leadership of the U.S., the U.N. has established War Crimes Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, appointed outstanding prosecutors, and has begun to issue indictments. This is a major ground-breaking development for human rights and the rule of law throughout the world.
In countries such as South Africa, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua, government and opposition leaders grappled over the last year -- in some cases, in recent months -- with ways to examine what happened in the past, hold human rights abusers responsible, and move forward with national reconciliation.
The U.S. has also encouraged the growth of national Human Rights Commissions in many countries and channeled democracy assistance to promoting independent judiciaries.
A fourth theme of l994 was the role of free markets in the promotion of human rights and democracy. The growth of market economies, increasing trade, and social mobility were powerful forces in many countries last year. And while these forces have not always produced short-term human rights improvements, they're creating internal pressures for more openness, individual freedom, and the rule of law.
But there is also resistance to these pressures from authoritarian governments in countries like China. This resistance could be seen last year not only in crackdowns on political speech and dissent but also in the suppression of workers seeking to exercise their basic freedoms of association.
A fifth and final theme of l994, which our Reports reflect, was the steady gains that occurred for human rights and democracy in a wide variety of countries in all parts of the world, despite the terrible catastrophes that also marked the year. These gains reflect the long-term success of our human rights policy and the constant effort that produces results but often cannot be measured in the short term.
In South Africa, as in Haiti, in Northern Ireland, in the Middle East, in Mozambique, in El Salvador, and in Sri Lanka, dramatic progress occurred toward resolving human rights crises that had long seemed insoluble, although this progress was sometimes interrupted by renewed violence.
In Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Malawi, and Nepal, successful elections consolidated democratic progress, as they did in several countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in Albania, and elsewhere, governments confronting ethnic tensions sought the mediation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in an effort to avoid the violence that has ripped through Bosnia and Croatia.
Amidst the horror of l994 then, there is also hope, stoked by the brave activists who dedicate their lives to reform. In publishing these Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, we say to those heroes: "You are not alone. The United States is committed to helping societies move toward freedom and openness -- the factors essential to economic progress in a peaceful world -- and just, humane societies. The United States will be an advocate for human rights and democracy for the sake of those who are struggling to improve the climate of freedom in their own countries and for the security and prosperity of all Americans."
I'd be happy to answer your questions.
Q This was also the year that the President of the United States decided to abandon using pressure on China on human rights by denying them trade benefits; you've given that up.
Can you give us any specific examples, or your best -- I'm sure you can -- but can you give us your best specific examples where U.S. concern for human rights drives American foreign policy and influences what the U.S. does in its relations with other countries, particularly big countries where maybe your geopolitical interests seem to predominate over your heart and soul?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: Let me take the two big countries. Let's start with China. I think there, as you know, the conclusion of our report was that there was no improvement in many aspects of the human rights situation in 1994. There was a crackdown on dissent which has been going on for more than year; in fact, occurred both when there was MFN linkage as well as when there wasn't MFN linkage.
It was clear in our report last year and in our candid assessment of the situation at the time that the President extended MFN that issues of human rights remain very problematic in China in the short run.
The U.S. policy, in response, has been to be very firm. We are committed to pursuing a resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Commission with respect to China. We are committed to continuing to spotlight the problems and abuses of human rights in China. We are committed to a continuation of the sanctions that were imposed at the time of Tiananmen Square. We have sent a clear signal to China at the highest levels, and also the Secretary of State, that improvement in the relations depends on improvement in human rights.
On the other hand, we are very clear in our policy that isolating China is not an answer to the human rights problems that I've outlined.
At the same time, I want to make clear that the situation is far more complicated than a simple one-line assessment can make it, with respect to human rights in China.
Over the course of the last year, both during the time that there was MFN linkage and afterwards, there were some developments that were positive. There were prisoner releases; particularly, the releases of the leaders of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement. Passports to dissidents who have had them blocked were granted. There was limited information provided about the status of hundreds of prisoners on lists; and talks with the International Committee for the Red Cross initiated for the very first time over the course of the last year.
At the same time, there are longer-term currents in China, I think, that can be encouraged by the trade and market economics that occurring -- currents for more openness in the rule of law, and in some respects those are having an effect in some of the developments with respect to new legislation in China. Particularly, a new law that allows individuals to sue the government.
But I don't want to make anything but the clearest assessment that is contained in our report with respect to the last year. There has been a significant crackdown on dissent, but there are also more complicated trends at work in China. The U.S. is engaged on human rights issues across the board with respect to China and at all levels.
Q You were going to do Russia, too, you began by saying.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: Okay, I will do Russia.
Q How Russia -- and you talk about arbitrary decrees by Yeltsin; what they've done in Chechnya -- terrible jail conditions, prisoners not getting fed. And you're up on the Hill asking for increased foreign aid to Russia. What role does human rights have in formulating your Russia policy?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: A very clear role, and a clear role in the statements that have been made by the Administration, both by the President and by the Secretary, to the Russians, to the Russian Foreign Minister, with respect to our increasing concern about the human rights violations that have occurred in Chechnya, including possible violations of international obligations of the Russians.
We have conveyed these concerns. We have made public these concerns. We are also in the process of working with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe which we have helped to lead with respect to a delegation that is seeking to bring about a negotiated end to the conflict and to deliver humanitarian aid.
We're also reviewing our assistance programs to see if some can be redirected to assist refugees. These are all major aspects of our human rights and humanitarian policy toward Russia.
Q To follow on China. What was the reply of the PRC officials that you talked to when you brought your human rights concerns? And I would ask specifically with regard to religious persecutions?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: We have provided over the course of the time that the Clinton Administration has been in office a number of cases, a large number of cases of individuals who have been in prison for the exercise of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association. As I said, in some instance individuals have been released. I think there is now, finally, a more routine way of providing these lists, and they are received rather than simply being rejected which they had been out of hand in the past.
I think the strong advocacy that the President and the Secretary of State have engaged in, in raising specific prisoner cases in their discussions with President Jiang Zemin as well as Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen, speak very clearly to that point.
Q The report quotes Russia's Human Rights Commissioner, Sergei Kovalev, saying that there were human rights violations on a massive scale in Chechnya. Does the United States Government agree with that assessment?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: We have cited that assessment precisely because we have a very high regard for Mr. Kovalev which whom I have incidentally met very frequently. We have human rights dialogues with Russia. Sergei Kovalev is one of my regular interlocutors. I might also mention the very moving fact that Sergei Kovalev and his colleague, Slava Bakhmin, were both former prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union in Siberia. I think the fact of their appointment is a very significant statement of the interest in human rights in Russia.
We have cited the Kovalev assessment precisely because we have a very high regard for Kovalev, and we have no reason to believe that his serious concerns are not correct.
Q In your overview, in relation to Rwanda and Bosnia, you talk about genocide and war crimes. This Administration has not named names in Bosnia of those Serb nationalists they think should appear before the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal. Are you now prepared to name names?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: This Administration has provided nine reports to the U.N. Human Rights Commission and to the new War Crimes Tribunal which contain a great deal of information about human rights abuses and abusers and which do name names. Consistent with the investigative process, we are not going to publicize those reports until the War Crimes Tribunal itself decides to do so.
Q I notice in your report overview you mentioned that sanctions are just one element in promoting human rights and that other broader means need to be used as well.
So my question is, in the case of Mexico, which is cited in here for torture, pretrial problems, lack of freedom of speech, repression in Chechnya, extrajudicial killings there, we have a very close and friendly and non- sanctions, open and trade and relationship with Mexico, what will be the broader means of promoting human rights there? Will it be elevated to a higher level? How do you propose to use -- what methods do you --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: In fact, I think Mexico is an excellent example of the very across-the-board engagement with a country and the result is an improvement, indeed, in democracy and human rights.
Mexico had the freest and fairest election by most accounts in its history last August. The response of Mexico to the uprising in Chiapas, while initially raising very serious human rights problems, very quickly was changed to a cease-fire and negotiations with the Chiapas insurgents. Indeed, this is precisely the way that a democracy committed to the rule of law and reconciliation should be addressing these issues.
The problem of impunity, of course, does continue, as our report very clearly points out. But if you look at the process that is underway in Mexico, I think there has been improvement. In fact, it is this very kind of engagement that we're talking about.
Q May I ask a question of Secretary Wirth.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: Please.
Q The Administration had said that Most Favored Nations status would lead to improvements and that this was necessary and desirable despite the President's position on this subject when he was running for election.
Now that it has not led to improvements -- the situation has worsen -- what course can the Administration take? What will you do to stop Congress from trying to reverse the policy?
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: We're going to continue trying, Andrea. We're going to continue the dialogue in every way. John was recently there in January; I was there in December. We continue to raise the issues of human rights. We continue to work with various members of the Congress on China's, in many places very repressive population policy. We're very concerned about the engagement of UNPFA -- continued engagement in China.
There are a number of avenues, Andrea, that we are attempting to pursue. I think it's our obligation to try to explain to the Congress why we're doing that, what we want to do; that China is an extraordinarily important player in the world. There are very significant environmental problems in China that they would like us to engage in with them, and we are saying that we would like to see greater progress on their side. They're certainly aware of this. So I think probably the best answer is to say, we'll keep trying.
Q But wasn't delinking MFN from human rights, in retrospect, a mistake, because it removed a lot of pressure from the Chinese?
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: I think John explained that in his good opening statement. It was our belief that trying to open up a series of economic relationships and trying to have a broader and freer and open society would lead to the right results. We still hope that that's going to be the case.
We know that the Chinese Government is in a period of very significant transition and probably this is going to take some time from their perspective as well.
Q Could I follow that up, please, on China, broadening it. Some human rights organizations accused this Administration of following a mercantilist human rights policy in which commerce becomes more important than the abuse of human rights.
(1) Do you think that there is any justice -- is there a conflict within the Administration about increasing commerce with countries which may not have very good human rights policies? Is there a conflict of motives within this Administration on those points?
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: Of course, there is. I mean, there are conflicts at all times and many, many different kinds of policies. It's no mystery. There is not a single policy that governs what we are doing, but there are a number of things we're attempting to do.
I mean, one can in the words of a famous American President walk and chew gum at the same time. We would like to attempt to pursue aggressive open trade policies and human rights policies. I'll give you another example of where the complexity of the problem comes in.
We have had a very strong policy focused on Burma which -- at the core of that has been human rights. We are now increasingly concerned that coming out of Burma is a vast amount of heroin. There is a new heroin epidemic beginning to show in the United States, and much of that heroin comes from Burma. About 60 percent of it, we think, comes from Burma, and we are right now trying to calibrate a policy which will not only maintain our pressure for human rights but also open up the efforts that we must make, cooperating with the Chinese and with the Thais and with the authorities in Taiwan and others, on this increasing problem there.
That's another example of the fact that you have a set of policies that are interrelated and have to be. We have to pursue a number of goals at the same time.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I'd add to that. It's a very important question if you allow me just to put a couple words in here. I think the issue of trade and human rights is vastly overblown, in terms of an apparent conflict. As we said in the overview to the Human Rights Reports, there are a wide variety of instruments, both carrots and sticks, that can be and should be used and are being used by the United States with respect to efforts to improve human rights.
One important carrot is trade. On the other hand, if you use it as a stick that is much too big, it may not have the effect that you're seeking to have. I think if you look at the way in which the United States is pursuing its human rights and democracy objectives around the world, you'll see a wide variety of tools that are being used, and the delinkage of MFN as one instrument in China from human rights is by no means a signal that trade is not an appropriate vehicle under some other circumstances, including in China itself where you're going to use lesser kinds of tools.
With respect to Burma, I still want to make very clear that the Human Rights Report shows two very disturbing developments in recent days. One is the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi for the second time. The military regime in Burma has decided not to release the principal figure of democracy in that country; and, second, an invasion by the military of Burma of refugee camps in the northern area.
The United States has said that it wants very much to improve its overall cooperation and relationship with Burma, but, on the other hand, it will only continue to be very isolationist in its view to the extent that Burma does not seek to improve the situation in human rights in that country.
Q (Inaudible) the issue of genocide. It is a term that's used both for Rwanda and Bosnia in this report. There are legal implications to using that term under the Genocide Convention, because it does require that once you establish that that was the case, that the governments must to do everything they can to prevent it or to stop it.
Would you say - has the United States fulfilled the mandate under the Genocide Convention to stop these genocides as they were occurring? And, if not, why not?
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: I think the commitment of the United States to establish the first international mechanism of justice to address war crimes -- crimes against humanity and genocide in those two countries -- is a major commitment with respect to all of our international obligations, not just those of the United States, to address genocide when it occurs.
Obviously, there are many other ways in which we need to address it, including humanitarian assistance where enormous amounts of assistance have gone to the victims of these human rights abuses in both Bosnia and in Rwanda. The United States is the leading country in committing humanitarian assistance to those efforts.
Q Neither action would stop the genocide; certainly, humanitarian aid and a tribunal which is going to try people when acts are still being committed. I mean, has the United States fulfilled its obligations under the Convention to stop the genocides now that you've determined these were genocides?
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: As I say, all countries, I think in this case led in many respects by the United States, are mobilizing to address the terrible human rights abuses, some of which amounted to genocide in these countries; and also the serious efforts that are being put into the resolution of conflicts before they reach this terrible stage, particularly through the OSCE, the deep involvement of the United States throughout the Balkan region, the work that's been done in Macedonia and Albania which I mentioned in my opening statements -- these are significant commitments that the United States is making to address this crisis.
Q In what context of this year's Indonesia report - it seems to be worse than in fact last year. You say here the Government continues to commit serious human rights abuses and now with another element which is a clamp down on freedom of expression. The only real positive aspect that I can detect here on this report on Indonesia is actually their action for free-market initiatives which they pursue with extreme vigor.
On East Timor, you say you have -- no progress was made in accounting for missing people since 1991 -- killed in a massacre in 1991. The question is the same that everybody has been making here, how can you coincide a policy with these people? And I have one observation: In public statements whenever there are Indonesian rulers present here in the State Department or elsewhere, they do appear projected as partners in finding a solution for the situation there, more than actually culprits for what is going on there, while you identify them here very clearly as culprits.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I think the situation in Indonesia, as it is in some other countries that are highly authoritarian and where there are significant human rights abuses, we tell the story honestly, candidly. It is the purpose of these reports to show that there are long-term challenges that we and the rest of the world and the governments in question all face in addressing these questions of human rights abuse.
With respect to Indonesia specifically, we have engaged with them at the level of the President and the Secretary on many of these questions. We believe that the forces that are being unleashed are in fact over time going to have significant impact on the climate of openness and the prospect of change and more freedom.
There also are, I think, in Indonesia some aspects of openness. The operations of non-governmental organizations, of course, are very important in that country. But these are not problems that get resolved over time.
Q You're saying the reports are being --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: There are potential efforts to restrict those non-governmental organizations, and, of course, we've made very clear that that's wrong and inappropriate.
Q Can I just have a quick follow-up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I think I've given you two, so let me go to somebody else.
Q How far is the State Department --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I'm sorry. I want to get someone who hasn't had a question yet. Excuse me.
Q Would it be proper to hear from Ms. Hillman on one question? Could we?
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: She's relatively new to the business, but give it a shot.
MS. HILLMAN: Don't go too fast.
Q Could you just give us your assessment of how the condition of women in the world -- the human rights condition of women in the world fared in '94? Did it improve? Did it deteriorate? And what do you see as the biggest challenge for '95, and what impact can U.S. policy have on that?
MS. HILLMAN: Three questions? (Laughter) I think it would be fair to say that there has been improvement, if for no other reason than the fact that the issues are now being discussed and highlighted, not only in conversations that the United States is having with other countries, but in those countries themselves.
As you may be aware, we are preparing for the fourth World conference on Women, and as the regional meetings have been held around the world, a number of these issues have been discussed and will be included in the draft platform for action.
Then following the conference, it will be the work and the challenge of the women around the world to get their governments to address the issues, whether you're talking issues of violence -- domestic violence or the consequences of religious extremism with respect to violence against women or economic issues in parliament that women might use their micro-enterprise skills to help the economy of their countries. There are a number of issues that will be addressed in that platform.
In addition, the successful outcome of the discussions and debates at the Conference that was held in Cairo on Population and Sustainable Development, and the enthusiasm and what women have felt the progress that they're making in getting their countries to deal with their efforts, and the challenge we have here in the United States, of course, is to make certain that those issues are incorporated into overall discussion about women human rights and U.S. foreign policy.
Q John, while there's no specific legislative link anymore to trade and human rights in China, there's been a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about linking foreign aid to Russia to is performance in promoting democracy.
What kind of implications does your report, particularly the section on the invasion of Chechnya have for foreign aid to Russia? Is it a warning signal?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: Lee, we've said that the human rights performance in Russia has been uneven. Obviously, as I've said before, the massive impact of the Chechnya invasion or Chechnya effort has had on civilians is the most severe problem, but there are others as well.
On the other hand, there is an extraordinary amount of freedom of speech and general freedom of the press which I think has persisted and continued throughout some very great strains in Russia.
There are problems, to be sure, in the detention and arrest -- arbitrary arrest in some instances, but they don't seem to be centrally directed. There are many challenges in Russia, and the biggest challenge of all, of course, is the continued progress of democracy and human rights.
But it is progress that against the backdrop of an enormously repressive and totalitarian society is real, even with significant setbacks, and it's for that reason that we have characterized the performance over the course of this year as uneven.
Q Year after year the State Department comes out with a pretty damning report on the human rights violations in India and at the same time recognizes the freedom of the press, etc. Is there a policy at all on human rights violations in India? Does the Administration have any kind of a proper policy on it? Recently, Amnesty just a few days ago released a report which the government has virtually denied a lot of it. So what is the policy? Could you explain it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: The United States has raised human rights issues in India very recently, and I think a very important point to be made about the linkage between our economic and our human rights issues in some of the very strong statements, public and private, that were made by Secretary Brown in his most recent visit to India; and the United States, I think, has found a wide variety of ways of raising human rights issues in India with respect to not only the direct involvement of the State Department but other agencies as well.
India is a very large democracy and a very important democracy, and of course we are deeply committed to the process of democratic development and the growth of market economies. We believe that there is a way of involving those two instruments in the promotion of human rights, and it is in that context that many of these issues have been raised in India. But we do not shy away from pointing out all of the problems, as we have in the report this year.
Q Sir, when looking for the -- your human rights report, I mean the Turkish part, and we realize that the U.S. is fair, giving more pages than Communist China and some totalitarian regimes, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia. Even the Bosnian Serbs deserved less pages than the Turkish Government. And we realize that, even Turkey has military rule, your human rights report is almost 10 or 11 pages.
Now, it became a more open and more democratic society, and 39 pages. What is your criteria for preparing this report?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: Over the course of the last year, we have seen a worsening significantly of the human rights situation in Turkey and that indeed is the reason why the report carries that information. These reports carry, I think, broad integrity and honesty, and they appear regularly through many years. The human rights situation in Turkey was covered very extensively for the reason that there were some significant changes in that respect. I'd be happy to talk to you further about them, but I have a feeling --
Q When you compare these, even Turkey is worse than the Serbian -- the Serbs or Iranian or Iraqi -- Saddam --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: These are not comparative efforts, nor has any statement been made that they are to be compared with those other regimes. I think the situation in Turkey has involved the excessive use of force, a significant amount of torture, also a considerable amount of terrorist use of violence against civilians. And of course, we cover not only -- as Under Secretary Wirth pointed out -- not only incursions on human rights carried out by governments but by others as well; restrictions on freedom of expression, the prosecution of parliamentarians for free expression. These are all issues that are properly contained.
We are very strong allies of Turkey and see Turkey as a very significant and crucial democracy in the Middle East, and it's for that reason that we're particularly concerned about these human rights abuses.
MS. SHELLY: Last question.
Q Sir, you have been talking with the Chinese on human rights. Judging from your meetings with them, have they become more susceptible to your human rights concerns, or do they still reject them as interference in their internal affairs?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: There are many differences between our two countries on the issue of human rights, needless to say. And yet over the course of seven dialogues in 15, 16 months -- which is perhaps the most intensive amount of discussion that's been taking place anywhere -- I think there have been deeper discussions and more effort to address longer-term systemic issues, including discussions with the Chinese Ministry of Justice that were particularly useful in the last meetings that I had there.
Q Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY WIRTH: Thanks very much.
(Under Secretary Wirth and Assistant Secretary Shattuck concluded their briefing at 1:26 p.m., after which Ms. Shelly immediately began her briefing.)
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much. I'd like to begin the next part of the briefing with a statement which I'm making on behalf of the Secretary of State, which relates to the announcement made earlier today on the Middle East peace process and the Cairo Summit.
The United States applauds and endorses President Mubarak's bold initiative to hold a summit meeting in Cairo tomorrow, February 2. This meeting is not only an historic and unprecedented event; it is a dramatic demonstration of the commitment by President Mubarak, Prime Minister Rabin, King Hussein and PLO Chairman Arafat to do all they can to promote cooperation and to build peace.
These are the leaders who have, through their courage and leadership, sought to put conflict behind them and build a more hopeful future. As such, this summit is a powerful statement: the enemies of peace must not be allowed to kill the peace.
Over the past week, the United States has been in close consultation with Egypt and with the parties which will gather in Cairo tomorrow. The focus of this collective effort has been to find a way to counter the terror and extremism of recent weeks and to energize the negotiations.
In this regard, the meeting tomorrow constitutes only the first step in this effort. In the period ahead, the United States will be consulting and working closely with all of the parties to determine how best to move forward in the negotiations and to counter the efforts of those opposed to peace.
I'll be happy to take your questions.
Q Christine, on that -- your announcement there, there's one party that's not going to Cairo and that's the President of Syria, who harbors -- appears to harbor terrorists in his own nation.
Two questions. (A) Should he go to this? And (B), is he an enemy of peace?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, as to the first part of your question about should he go, this is an initiative, as you know, of President Mubarak. He extended the invitations, and I think that that's a question appropriately directed to him.
On Syria, we still believe that they're committed to the peace process, but it's, I think, up to Syria to make pronouncements about its intentions at this point.
Q Christine, is the Syrian Ambassador coming back to Washington? Is there any prospect for direct talks between Israel and Syria to resume?
MS. SHELLY: He has not returned to Washington to my knowledge, and I believe that there is certainly the possibility that discussions will resume in perhaps a variety of different ways. I don't have any announcements to signal on this at this point.
But as the Secretary also said, I think last week in testimony, that in order to have progress on this track we, of course, need to accelerate the efforts.
Q Will the U.S. be talking with the parties from here, or will Dennis (Ross) travel to the region?
MS. SHELLY: We will not be participating in this summit, although obviously, as I mentioned already, we have been engaged in close consultations with the parties in advance of this initiative.
We share the desire of the participating parties to have the summit take place at this time and at this level.
Q (Inaudible) follow-up on discussions leading from this meeting?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, we expect that there will be a follow- up to this, but I don't have specific details on this at this point.
Q Christine, just to follow up on that and to make sure I understand, there's no one from the United States Government who will be represented at these talks in any capacity, even --
MS. SHELLY: I said the United States is not participating in the summit.
Q -- even sitting there watching, even observing?
MS. SHELLY: The United States is not a participant.
Q Well, is there diplomatically a difference between the word "observe" and "participate"?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't think so. We are not participating in this event.
Q Christine, what do you hope will come out of this summit? What does the United States hope this summit will reach? Is it more symbolic, or do you hope that any sort of agreement will come out of it?
MS. SHELLY: Again, it's just too early for me to answer that. The announcement was only made today, as I've mentioned. We had been in very close consultation with the parties and we expect to remain so. We do expect that some things will be coming out of this, but the meeting will be taking place tomorrow. I think it's up to the participants if they wish to get out and publicly discuss their expectations or their agendas for this conference.
I think the fact that they decided they wanted to do this, they agreed to meet and they're going ahead with it, I think that certainly sends a very strong signal in and of itself. But I think we'd leave it to those who are participating directly in it to signal or to discuss, if they choose, what they would like to see come out of it.
Q Christine, Mubarak was hosting leaders -- Rabin, Arafat, and Hussein -- before. What is the reason that the Secretary is praising this historic event? Is this the answer to the Alexandria Summit before? Is there a special, significant importance to this gathering that was not there in the past?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't see any specific linkage between the Alexandria meeting, to which you referred, and this one. I think, again, we answered your question very directly.
Those who have decided to participate in this meeting tomorrow have signaled their desire to do so and specifically to address the issues before them in the context of the actions, the violence which has occurred, and giving their very strong signal that they want the process to go forward and that the enemies of peace will not be allowed to succeed.
Q Last week a bill was submitted to the Greek Parliament to increase Greek territorial waters to 12 miles. How does the Administration view this development?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not familiar with the details of the bill. I'll have to check on that.
Q Today the United States Defense Department is beginning the transfer of Cubans from Panama back to Guantanamo. What is our continuing policy towards these people? Are we considering allowing more of them in under the new visa requirements that you all have instituted towards Cuba? How long can they sit there?
MS. SHELLY: There isn't a time limit on that. The U.S. policy on this remains unchanged. Cubans under U.S. Government safehaven protection will not be processed for admission to the U.S. They may remain in safehaven indefinitely or, if they're eligible, they can be resettled in third countries.
They might also, as you know, wish to return home voluntarily. The only exceptions to this policy are those which we previously announced on October 14 and on December 2, and those affect categories -- the very old, the chronically sick, children and their families for whom a prolonged stay in safehaven constitutes an extreme humanitarian burden. No one will be compelled to return home against his or her will.
Q Have more Cubans been returned home? And are the Cubans accepting more readily after the recent talks in New York?
MS. SHELLY: It's my impression that the flow has been relatively steady on that. I don't think I've got the numbers. Let me get that for you after the briefing. I don't think I have an update on that at the moment on how many have gone back.
It's my impression that most of those who have asked to go back have gone or are in the process of making arrangements for them to go back. The slow pace -- in the beginning, especially -- was something that we had previously noted, and that was something that was discussed in the last round of talks that we had on the implementation of the Migration Agreement. But I'll see if I can get the numbers for you on that a little bit later.
Q Christine, what's the U.S. reaction to Juppe's proposal for a last-chance, last-gasp international conference on Bosnia?
MS. SHELLY: We're studying the French proposal for an international conference. This was one of a number of possible ways ahead which the French Foreign Minister touched on in his discussions with the Secretary when he was here a few days ago in the context of their exchanges on Bosnia.
I don't have a formal reaction at this point. But I think, clearly as a kind of first reaction, any conference of this type would certainly have to be very well prepared. We would want to know how it would relate to the Contact Group Plan. It does remain our view that the Contact Group Map should be accepted by the parties as a starting point for further negotiations.
I think you're seeing indications in the public domain, in the media, that a number of different ideas are being bandied about. There is certainly a very clear consensus that something needs to be done to get the process moving forward, and this -- I think that his ideas on this about having a conference, that's one of the possibilities that has come up, and we certainly will be trying to get more details on his thinking on this.
Q Has the United States put forward any proposals?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, the members of the Contact Group, including our own representative Charlie Thomas, have all gone back to their respective capitals for consultations. We have been meeting with him and talking about the way ahead, and also certainly tossing around some of our own ideas on this. But I don't have any announcements on this at this point.
Q And so far you have not put forward any sort of ideas to the other Contact Group members?
MS. SHELLY: We are remaining certainly in very close contact with them on Bosnia, certainly watching the situation overall on the situation in Bosnia -- possibilities for moving that forward. Obviously also we're paying a lot of attention to the situation in Croatia.
We don't have any high-level group meetings of the Contact Group scheduled for this point, but we communicate with them from our respective capitals. We will certainly remain in close touch on all of the issues which are under study, but I don't have anything more formal than that at this point.
Q Christine, Carol asked you if the United States had any new ideas. Does the United States have any new ideas?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, the effort to clarify it or characterize it as an "idea"; this is a very complex issue. There are a lot of different possible approaches to this. Certainly a lot of those approaches have been explored over the last few years as this conflict has faced us. We always have ideas. We have different ways that we look at, we examine, we do internal vetting and discussion before we put them on the table with our partners in this process.
But I'm certainly not going to stand up here and tell you that we have no more ideas.
Q Mr. Silajdzic the other day raised an idea, which was to set a deadline. Do you have some response to that? And also, just a readout of his meeting with the Secretary?
MS. SHELLY: We've already answered the deadline question.
Q Do you have any comment on the -- I don't know what your response was on that.
MS. SHELLY: The answer to the deadline question is that we did not believe that it would be useful at this point to set a deadline.
Q Not useful. Do you have any more comment then on his meeting with the Secretary of State?
MS. SHELLY: No, I do not.
Q Because there was no readout whatsoever. It implies that they had -- they did not have many points of agreement.
MS. SHELLY: I believe that there was a readout on that. I think we --
Q Hold it. Two days running, and I didn't get it.
MS. SHELLY: We did put something up on a readout on that. I'm not sure I still have that with me.
There is a readout on this; I think we did it as a taken question, but I don't have that with me. You can check with the Press Office on that.
Q Yesterday on the Hill Mr. Silajdzic mentioned that arms were continuing to flow from Serbia into Bosnia and he gave their own intelligence figures, which included tanks that were repaired, new equipment, and manpower. The figures were cited in his testimony to the Hill. Can you take this as a question to see whether there's anything to bear out what he said?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to take that as a question. That's highly unlikely that we would get into a detailed discussion of that general subject matter because most of the information we would have would come from intelligence sources, and we would therefore not comment on it.
Q But this goes right to the question of whether the sanctions are being observed. I mean -- and he's alleging specific violations and he's giving specific figures. It's not simply a matter of intelligence; it's a matter of whether the U.N. resolutions are being carried out.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the text of the statement, so I'm not going to comment on it specifically.
Q Would you like to have the figures?
MS. SHELLY: No, not particularly.
Q Could I follow on that? On that general topic of where does the United States stand with regard to extending the cease-fire beyond -- not setting a date, as you said, but extending the cease-fire, maintaining a status quo situation? Is that something that this Government would favor in that Bosnia situation?
MS. SHELLY: No. In Bosnia, it is clear that our policy on that is unchanged. We'd like to see a permanent resolution to the problems, we'd like to see negotiation, we'd like to see the Bosnian Serbs accept the Contact Group Map and plan.
Q In lieu of that, would it not be well to continue a cease-fire and a status quo?
MS. SHELLY: I think that the cease-fire is continuing at this point. The fighting picture, in fact, is probably overall significantly better than it has been for some time. UNPROFOR reports that even in the Bihac pocket fighting has eased within the last 24 hours.
Across Bosnia, I think overall the cease-fire appears to be holding. So there is not -- the fighting picture is certainly not a negative one at this particular juncture, and it certainly overall is dramatically improved from what it was six months ago, a year ago.
It perhaps is an opportunity for some progress to be made on the political track. That is certainly what we'd like to see happen. But again, it is a situation that we are still intensely engaged in and simply not in a position right now to indicate, I think, in more concrete terms what some of our ideas are.
Q Christine, do you have any reaction to the Serbian President refusing to see the Group on the Croatian settlement -- Ambassador Galbraith and the others?
MS. SHELLY: We certainly were disappointed by that decision. We thought that the Z-4 plan represented an approach vis-a-vis solving the problems in Croatia that had very good elements in it and that could serve as a basis for discussion among the various parties concerned.
He turned down the offer by the Z-4 to go and explain their proposal. He argued that a political settlement in Croatia was a matter for Croatia and for the Krajina Serbs. Our position is that it's not just that, that obviously where Milosevic stands in this, I think, is certainly a factor that would impact on the ability of plans of that kind to actually be studied, negotiated, and ultimately implemented.
We believed it was a viable framework for bringing increased stability to Croatia, and I think that we were certainly disappointed by his decision not to receive the Group.
Q Yesterday U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Mr. Grossman, at one press conference in Ankara he said that the U.S. supports a pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan, on the Mediterranean coast. We couldn't understand it; which part is the pipeline passing through? Either Armenia or Georgia? What is your support, which country --
MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen his remarks, and I'm not going to get engaged on that at all until I've had a chance to see it.
Q Can you take this question?
MS. SHELLY: I will look and see if I can get a text of his remarks, first of all, and then I'll see if there's something we'd want to say.
Q Thank you.
Q Just a second. Christine, this is a follow-up from the Human Rights Report. You might be able to take this question.
MS. SHELLY: Probably not, because I'm not doing things related to the Human Rights Report.
Q It's a general policy; that's what I consider it.
MS. SHELLY: Try me, try me.
Q The l988 position -- policy position -- on East Timor, in which you recognized the incorporation. It's a complex wording.
In view of all this, could it be changed or reevaluated? This is just a question.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything with me on this. Let me just look into this and see if we --
Q The reevaluation of the l988, I think it is.
MS. SHELLY: Let me just take the question.
Q Thanks very much.
MS. SHELLY: Thanks.
(The briefing concluded at l:44 p.m.)
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