U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING FEBRUARY 2, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, February 2, 1995 Briefers: Christine Shelly Richard Holbrooke EUROPE A/S Holbrooke Trip to Region .....................1-2 European Security Conference in Munich ...........1-2 Federation Meeting ...............................2-6 Contact Group Political Directors Meeting ........2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Financial Support for Federation .................4 Dev. of Unified Military Command of Federation ...4-5 ANNOUNCEMENTS Press Briefing by US Ambassador Albright--2/3 ....6 Press Briefing by U/S Timothy Wirth--2/3 .........6-7 VIETNAM Opening of Liaison Office in Hanoi ...............7 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Cairo Conference/Press Briefing ..................7 Report of U.S. Lease of Property in Jerusalem ....8 Remarks by Egyptian Foreign Minister .............8-9 Request for possible Christopher/Syrian Contacts re: Cairo Conference ...........................9
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1995, 1:04 P.M
. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a guest surprise visitor for today, who is going to do a few questions at the top of the briefing.
As you all know, we indicated yesterday that Assistant Secretary Holbrooke would be traveling out to the region this weekend. He'll be participating in the Wehrkunde Conference and also having some meetings, which you will want to ask him about certainly. He was absolutely literally on his way out the door to lunch, and I grabbed him and just thought it would probably be more useful for you hear from him rather than from me about what he's going to be doing this weekend.
So he's going to make a few remarks. He'll be happy to take a few questions. After that, we'll have to release him and let him go on to his lunch. So he's happy to do questions in connection with his travel this weekend, and also if anybody has anything they might want to ask him on NATO, that's also permissible. We'll continue with the rest of the other subjects as soon as he finishes. Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: This is the first time I've been in this room since 1980, and I'm here under extreme protest, but I'll be happy to take any questions you have.
Q What do you hope to accomplish on this trip?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: First of all, the trip originally was to attend this conference in Munich, the European Security Conference, which is the annual talk-fest of Euro-Security works, some of whom are very important -- the German Defense Minister, the French Foreign Minister, Bill Perry, a Congressional delegation led by Senator Cohen and including Senator Nunn.
Then Prime Minister Silajdzic came to town earlier this week. In the course of his discussions he made Thursday, 2/2/95 several points and requests, one of which was that he shared with us his view that the Croatian-Bosnian Federation was under tremendous strain. We also have that same view from first-hand accounts from our Embassy in Sarajevo and from recent visitors to Mostar.
The EU, which is trying to deal with the Mostar situation, also shares that.
Silajdzic suggested that we convene a conference of the Croatian- Bosnian officials -- he, of course, is not only Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina, he's President of the Federation -- in Europe as quickly as possible. We moved very fast and in the last 24 hours pulled together -- well, 48 hours -- pulled together that meeting.
Silajdzic, I think he's in Moscow already -- will return to Munich. Munich is just the -- there's no historical significance to Munich. It just happens to be where the conference is. (Laughter) That just occurred to me. Silajdzic will return from Moscow. Mate Granic, Mr. Zuzul and Mr. Zubak -- Aric Schwan can give you the spellings and full names later -- and other officials of the Federation will join us.
We will also use the occasion to have a meeting of the political directors of the Contact Group -- that is, my counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, and Russia. Those will be two separate but sequential meetings. The Germans will chair the Contact Group meeting because it's in Germany; I will chair the Federation meeting at the request of Mr. Silajdzic. So that's the logistics.
What are we trying to accomplish? The Federation was born here in Washington early last year, long before I returned to Washington. It is an absolutely essential ingredient in any stabilization plan or program or policy for the region. If its president and leaders feel that it is under jeopardy, we feel a high responsibility to try to get it back on track, revitalize it.
We're putting together an action plan for this conference now, for this meeting, and I'd rather withhold the details. But the purpose is clear: To stop the fraying, to pull them back together.
The Contact Group political directors' meeting will focus on that and other issues.
Q Why are they falling apart?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: "Falling apart" is a little too strong. Let me be sure that I phrase this precisely. They're under extreme strain, and the strain is pulling them apart.
Why are they falling apart? Now that, you go into the history of the region. Why did the Croatians and the Bosnians start fighting each other in the first place in Mostar, while the Serbs sat up on the hill a thousand meters above them looking down and enjoying the spectacle? I don't know how many of you have been in Mostar, but I've been there three times in my life -- once as a student when it was one of the most beautiful cities in the world; once when the bridge was damaged but not yet destroyed; and then a couple of months ago when it looked like Berlin in 1945. That's what they did to each other.
The confrontation line down the middle of Mostar, where the Croats and the Bosnians have divided the city, is like the Korean DMZ; and yet it's in the middle of town, in the middle of all this rubble.
Last week, Reuters ran a very interesting and very indicative piece on how the Croatians wouldn't let Muslim chess players cross that line for a tournament. This is what the Federation is on the ground. And yet it is essential, and we want to do everything we can to strengthen it. They have to cooperate.
Mostar is being run by the European Union -- an extremely brave German named Koschnik, who is the Mayor of Bremen, is there trying to run the thing. The Europeans are putting vast amounts of money into the region -- more than we are -- in the Mostar region. Yet it's under constant pressure.
The answer to your question goes back into history, but the problem is real.
Could some of you identify yourselves, because I'm afraid I only know the very old-timers.
Q Judd Ginsberg, CNN. Given that gloomy assessment, and that history, what can be done to make the Federation work?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: That's the plan we're working on now. I'd rather hold back details until Sunday, because if I tell you what I want and they don't agree, it's a waste of time.
But let me stress the alternative. Negative events on the Federation would have a deleterious affect on an already dangerous situation. We're at a pretty critical time in the situation in the Balkans.
Q Let me ask it in a different way. Do you feel that your plan or the plan you're working on can circumvent the history?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: You're overdoing it when you say "plan." We want to revitalize and restrengthen it. Do I think it can circumvent history? No, I'm a history student, I don't believe anything can circumvent history. But governments and people can shape the course of events, and we've got to prevent this particular thing from going south on us -- so that we can also deal with the more dangerous situations, which is the slow slippage towards a war in the Krajina, which is now going on.
Q Sid Balman with UPI. I've been told there is going to be some U.S. money given to the Federation. Could you talk a little bit about that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: We have -- (TO STAFF) Aric, do you have the fact sheet you can hand out afterwards? There's a fact sheet on that.
I'm afraid the key word in what you said was "little". We're going to do several things. Within the limits of existing funding, we reprogrammed some money already. It's not much but it's something.
We also are going out around the world leading an effort to get more funds for the Federation from other countries. We were going to go to Japan, but the earthquake made us delay the trip for obvious reasons. We're working with the Germans, the Austrians, and others to try to form more support.
Q There's a second part to that question. There was a retired American General who was supposed to go and take the place of another one to help get -- (inaudible). There's been reports that he decided not to go; there's also been reports that you decided -- the Administration decided they didn't want to send him.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: For personal reasons, he's decided that he can't do everything we have in mind in terms of the commitment. But there will be somebody doing that job, it just won't be the particular person mentioned in one or two news stories.
Q What is that job?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: The job is to assist and advise the Federation in creating a unified military command out of two armies that recently fought each other but must cooperate on the ground within what on your maps and the newspapers are showing as a single Bosnian area. But if you looked at it more closely, you would see that it had areas of Croat predominance and areas of Bosnian predominance.
In that regard, I'd stress the maps are somewhat misleading because they show the single area. But if you get up close, right down to the city of Mostar or Gornji Vakuf, these cities are divided in half. We have to bring them together, or try to.
Q A couple of questions. This morning General Rose was at the National Press Club. He said that if the fighting should break out again in Croatia, between the Croatians and the Krajina Serbs, that there is a very high likelihood that this will spill over and break up the whole mess into a general war.
One, do you take that view as convincing? And two, where do the Krajina Serbs fit into this meeting? Will they be represented? Will they --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: Number one, I agree completely with that view. It's obvious the Krajina Serbs crossed an international border to help the Bosnian Serbs in Bihac. It's equally likely that the Bosnian Serbs would cross that international border the other way to help the Krajina Serbs if there was a war.
That is -- what you have is two groups of western Serbs who are very likely to support each other.
On your second point, there's no -- you wanted to know where the Krajina Serbs fit into the meetings in Munich? They have nothing to do with them. The Serbs are not part of the meetings in Munich. This is the Croats and the Muslims.
Q Right, but they're part of the problem. How will they be taken into consideration?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: The Krajina Serbs.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: The Krajina Serb situation relates to the efforts now going on in Croatia to prevent the resumption of the war, which ended after the Vance plan and which, as Rose must have said to you all this morning -- I don't know what he said exactly, but from what you say, it sounds logical -- is that there's a great danger that when the U.N. withdraws from the Krajina, the confrontation lines will turn into lines of fighting again. That is a very high concern.
You can see the indirect but real connection between strengthening the federation and this issue. They're separate issues but they all have the risk of metastasizing into one very serious conflict.
Q How are the -- are the Bosnian Serbs part of what you're trying to do to get the Muslims and Croats to --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: No.
Q -- against a common enemy?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: Yes. Sure. They're not part of this meeting.
Q No, but I meant behind the meeting.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: Of course. Any other questions? Okay, thank you very much.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much.
(Assistant Secretary Holbrooke concluded his briefing at 1:17 p.m., after which Ms. Shelly immediately began her briefing.)
MS. SHELLY: Let me begin with a couple of announcements. We're also going to have a guest speaker at the beginning of tomorrow's briefing. Ambassador Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., will open the briefing tomorrow at approximately 1:00 p.m. She will address U.S. objectives for U.N. peacekeeping, including the benefits to the U.S. of these operations. She will talk about the recent U.N. Security Council action on Haiti which, as you know, took place on Monday of this week.
In light of the U.N.'s 50th anniversary, she will also discuss the overall U.S.-U.N. relationship. At the conclusion of Ambassador Albright's briefing, the regular briefing will begin.
I also just want to draw to your attention an announcement that we put out earlier today from the Press Office on another activity for tomorrow. Under Secretary of State Tim Wirth will hold a press briefing on Friday, February 3, at 11:00 a.m. in the Department of State's East Auditorium to announce the first successful projects under the U.S. Joint Implementation Initiative, designed to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide through partnerships with American companies.
The details of this are available in the Press Office, for those of you who have not seen the notice. If you are interested and you don't have the notice, you can call the State Department at 202-647-2492 and get information on this briefing tomorrow. For those who would like to come, they need to provide dates of birth and Social Security numbers by fax to 202-647-5939.
I'll be happy to take your questions.
Q Isn't tomorrow also the day when the U.S. officials are going to take charge of the liaison office in Hanoi?
MS. SHELLY: I think we took charge of it last Saturday, that's my understanding.
Q I thought there was a gap there. I remember the date February 3.
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that they were taking charge of it last Saturday immediately following the signing of the agreements, but then there were several holidays which ensued.
George, my understanding was that we actually took possession, got the keys after the signing of the agreements took place, but then there were several holidays which ensued. So I'm not sure that they were actually up and functioning, open for business, until tomorrow. On that point I think you're correct.
Q Christine, on another subject, what does the United States hope to see come out of the Cairo conference, the summit conference of the Israelis and the Arab countries?
MS. SHELLY: On that, as you know, the conference is underway now, and to my knowledge it has not yet finished. We're confident that it is going to produce positive, constructive results which will support the peace process.
We understand, based on our discussion with the parties, that there will be a communique, but we'd rather not make a comment on it until it's actually issued. I'm told that there is a reasonably good possibility, if not even a firm possibility, that we can actually have a State Department official who is very well and favorably known to you give a briefing this afternoon on this, once the conference is finished and we have the communique.
So that's in the works and I think it will happen, but we don't want to get into a discussion until actually the communique is issued.
Q Without going into the results, what gives you such a high degree of confidence that something positive is going to happen?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I think that's getting into the substance of what's being discussed, and I would just as soon wait until we have our briefing on this later today.
Q Do you have anything on Bob Novak's column this morning about the U.S. supposedly having leased some territory in Jerusalem?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry, I missed that. Let me check on that.
Q Christine, on that same topic, on the Cairo conference. The Egyptian Foreign Minister had some pretty choice words that certainly undercut what you're saying about it -- the conference looking like it's going to achieve results. He was quite critical of Israel, of their security program, of their causing the demise of the peace talks. He wanted them to withdraw immediately or begin negotiations for withdrawal from the West Bank.
Two questions. First, are the Egyptian comments helpful, and how do they support the Department's observation that it will be a successful conference?
And secondly, do we think -- does the Administration think that Israel should indeed now withdraw from the West Bank?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, I'm just not going to get into that line of questioning. We've seen the comments, that I will say, but we also are aware of the fact that there is a summit going on which also reflects certainly the commitment of the leaders of all of the different countries and entities involved in this, that reflects certainly their commitment to the peace process. Frankly, I think that you can also appreciate that we don't feel that this is a moment where it is useful for us to get engaged in -- or get in the middle of either remarks that are made by one party directed at the other.
It's just simply not useful or not productive for us to get into this at this point. We'd like to keep the focus on the summit which is taking place, and we are prepared to provide you with a senior level official who would address that; and, if you want to raise the question again, I'd suggest directing it to him.
Q Can you confirm that there will be a follow-up ministerial meeting this weekend in Washington after the summit?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any announcement on that.
Q Has the Secretary spoken to the Syrian Foreign Minister or President about their non-participation in this meeting?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I'll have to check on that.
Q You'll take that question?
MS. SHELLY: I will either take it or direct it to a briefing we'll have later this afternoon. Any other subjects?
Q On the record, no doubt.
MS. SHELLY: Sorry?
Q The briefing this afternoon will be on the record, no doubt.
MS. SHELLY: It may be on the record; it may be a backgrounder. But the exact ground rules on that have not yet been determined.
Q It seems like the only substantive comment on this historic conference should come on the record from Washington. Washington's only substantive comment should come on the record.
MS. SHELLY: Yesterday I did make a comment on the record, which was in the name of the Secretary about how he felt about the conference. I think that was pretty definitive.
Q That was the day before the results -- he knew the results of the conference.
MS. SHELLY: Yes, but we don't have the results yet.
Q Right. But you will have them by the time this briefer comes here?
MS. SHELLY: Correct. We will not have a briefer before the results of the conference are known and we see the communique.
Q I'd like to put in a request that he talks on the record.
MS. SHELLY: Okay. The request will be duly passed.
Q Like the brave Mr. Holbrooke.
MS. SHELLY: He spoke on the record. He was here at the briefing.
Q Right, that's what I said. He speaks on the record. Why can't others?
MS. SHELLY: Other subjects? That's it?
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:24 p.m.)
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