U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MARCH 15, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, March 15, 1995 Briefer: David Johnson DEPARTMENT/STATEMENTS Commemoration of the First Anniversary of Federation of Bosnia-Hercegovina & ............................1 Inaugural Session of the Friends of Federation .....1 --Representatives ..................................1,7 Luncheon Hosted by Secretary of State Christopher ..1 Background Briefing by Senior Department Official ..1 Secretary of State Christopher's Trip to Geneva ......1 Nat'l. Performance Review/Reinventing Gov't. Efforts .2 --Independence of USIA, USAID, ACDA ................2-5 --Proposed Consolidation of Foreign Affairs Agencies .......................................2-5 GUATEMALA Report of Subversive Activities Charge against Harbury ...........................................5-6 Reported UN Commission Conclusions on HR Abuses ......5-6 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Next Steps for Federation ............................6-7 Reported UNHCR Request for Airdrops of Food over Bihac .............................................7-8 Reported Remarks by A/S Holbrooke on Croatia/Bosnia ..8-9 CYPRUS Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, Richard Beattie & Special Cyprus Coordinator, James Williams, Trip to Turkey .....................................8 TURKEY Fighting/Demonstrations ..............................9 --Prime Minister's Remarks on Human Rights ...........9 NORTHERN IRELAND Gerry Adams--Compliance w/Terms of Visa ..............9-10
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 1995, 1:14 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon. I've got a couple of statements before we begin with your questions today, if you would give me a moment.
The first concerns the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Federation. Tomorrow, March 16, at 11:00 a.m., the Secretary will host an event at the State Department in the Benjamin Franklin Room to mark the first anniversary of the Washington Accords, the agreements establishing the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. There will also be an inaugural session of the "Friends of the Federation," an informal support group of the nations led by the United States and the European Union, which will also serve as a six-month review of the Federation Accords. The latter session will be chaired by Assistant Secretary Richard Holbrooke.
The Federation will be represented by President Zubak. Croatia will be represented by President Franjo Tudjman, Foreign Minister Granic and Defense Minister Susak. The Bosnian Republic will be represented by Member of the Collective Presidency Ganic and Mijatovic, a Member of the Collective Presidency representing the Serb community.
Following the commemoration event, Secretary Christopher will host a small luncheon at the State Department in honor of our Bosnian and Croatian guests.
I would also like to draw your attention that at 2:15 this afternoon, in approximately an hour, a senior State Department official will provide a background briefing on tomorrow's events.
Second thing I'd like to draw your attention to before we begin today's questions is that, as previously announced in the Middle East, Secretary of State Christopher will travel to Geneva next week for meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev. The Secretary will depart for Geneva on Tuesday the 21st and return to Washington on or about Friday, the 24th.
A sign-up sheet will have been posted in the Press Office for those press interested in applying for a seat on the Secretary's aircraft. Applications will close and the sign-up sheet will come down at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, March 16.
With that, I'll be pleased to attempt to answer your questions.
Q There's a move on the Hill to revive the idea of consolidating the State Department with four other agencies, and is being led by Congressman Gilman and Senator Helms. I just wonder whether you have a reaction?
MR. JOHNSON: A few things to say about that. First of all, two years ago the Administration began a broad effort to reinvent the Federal Government and that effort included the State Department and the other foreign affairs agencies. That effort continues, and it's known as the National Performance Review.
Phase II of that Administration effort got underway just after the first of this year. We believe that the Administration's foreign affairs reinvention efforts are resulting in millions of dollars of savings already.
We reject the notion that consolidation equals reform, and we believe that the missions of arms control, public diplomacy, and sustainable development and humanitarian assistance are essential elements in the conduct of foreign policy, and they are best carried out by independent agencies operating in close coordination with the State Department and under the overall foreign policy guidance of the Secretary of State.
We believe that any attempt to consolidate all of these agencies right now would interrupt the conduct of foreign affairs. We believe that the Secretary and the President need the tools that they have at their disposal now to pursue our interests and to pursue broad engagement around the world.
Q In his presentation of it this morning, Senator Helms made the point that this reorganization plan was essentially the same one put forward by Secretary Christopher when his views were solicited by the Vice President. Is that correct?
MR. JOHNSON: I would say that this is not the Secretary's plan, by no means; that when the Vice President asked, shortly after the first of the year and the beginning of Phase II of the National Performance Review, to think of some different ways to approach things, we considered some various options. We considered them carefully, and we found them wanting. We found that the best way to pursue the foreign policy objectives of the Administration and the protection of American interests abroad was through reinvention of the foreign affairs agencies as currently constructed and the maintenance of the independence of those four agencies that operate in close coordination with the State Department and under the overall guidance of the Secretary of State.
Q Was the Secretary informed of the Helms plan in advance of its publication?
MR. JOHNSON: We've been speaking with the Senator at various levels. I think the plan itself was first unveiled today at the press conference.
I'd also say that this is the beginning of a rather lengthy process and just one of the first issues, or first encounters that we will have on it. We will see where things go.
Q Do you have a more detailed response? I mean, for the general public it's kind of obscure -- where an agency is located. But you may have very specific policy reasons, or reasons of organization for not consolidating, which your general statement did not really explain.
For example, putting the USIA under the State Department sounds like a plausible action. I'm not quite sure what all the objections are to it.
MR. JOHNSON: At this point, just having had this initiative launched at 11:00 this morning, I'm not in a position to respond to it in detail.
I would say that we found the independence of USIA in working abroad, in developing exchanges broadly for the American Government, in organizing the American Government's broadcast efforts, and in being an independent -- a voice with independent leadership that projects America's voice abroad has been helpful in our foreign policy efforts. We believe it's a tool that should remain at the disposal of the President and the Secretary of State and continuing to pursue American engagement abroad.
I would also say that it's likely that you'll hear other responses from around town as the day goes on.
Q How much independence does USIA have? You place a lot of importance on the extent to which these agencies are independent, but when you come right down to it, what does that mean? If the Secretary of State wants something done one way, and the head of USIA suggests it should be done another way?
MR. JOHNSON: The distinction should be drawn between their independence from the Department of State and from the Secretary of State. If you look at our configuration as currently done, those individuals who head those agencies operate under the leadership of the Secretary of State, but they're not a corporate component of the Department of State.
We have believed and continue to believe that the type of independence that they have as organizational structures has helped maintain the tools of foreign policy at our disposal that we need to pursue the interests of America abroad, including broad engagement on foreign policy issues with foreign publics.
Q Why is it better for AID to remain independent?
MR. JOHNSON: Because we believe that the organizational structure that they bring, the expertise which they bring, has enabled us to have a broad foreign assistance plan which pursues development and brings economies and countries to a point where they can become self- sustaining. We believe that this structure, which they currently have and which they've had over several years, is the one which can help us best do that in the future.
They and we have often pointed to some of their earlier success stories. I think the Republic of Korea is considered one of their stars in terms of having been a previous recipient of development assistance, and is now beginning its own development assistance program.
Q How is it better as an independent agency? I don't understand why the function couldn't be folded into this building and continue to operate and to have successes.
MR. JOHNSON: We just believe that the independence that it has, the independent voice it brings to development, in coordination with the Department of State, in pursuit of overall foreign affairs and foreign policy interests of the United States, has been the most effective way to pursue those interests. We believe that independent voice should be preserved and enhanced.
Q ACDA was created by the Congress deliberately to create an interest in arms control and sort of a bureaucratic momentum for it, but that was at a much different time. What's the logic today of ACDA remaining an independent agency?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't think anyone would argue that arms control has ceased to be an issue in American foreign policy, an interest for America that needs to be pursued vigorously. In fact, one could argue and I would, that it's become much more important as we've moved away from simply direct bilateral interest in arms control with what was the former Soviet Union to broader multilateral interests in issues, including non-proliferation, including control of proliferation of chemical and biological weapons -- things that were, of course, important in years before the Cold War ended but becoming much more important now.
The independent voice that they bring in articulating that interest and in keeping that interest in our foreign policy equation, we believe, is very important.
Q Senator Helms would create an Under Secretary for International Security, which would put a heavy focus on non- proliferation. Is there really, for the general public, a great difference between having an Under Secretary, which is really a top official being responsible for this, and an independent agency?
MR. JOHNSON: I think for the general public, as well as for the pursuit of American interests, it is very important to have the type of independence that comes from a separate agency with a focus interest on a particular set of issues, particularly when it is in something as essential to American security as arms control.
Q Guatemala. I have two questions.
MR. JOHNSON: I may not have any answers, but I'll do my best.
Q Okay. First, the Government of Guatemala has reacted to the suspension of some military -- U.S. military (inaudible) by charging Mrs. Harbury with subversive activities. Does the United States have any evidence that Mrs. Harbury has been involved in subversive activities?
MR. JOHNSON: Not having seen the charge, not knowing what the Government of Guatemala means by "subversive activities," I would hesitate to respond directly to that. I have seen no evidence that Mrs. Harbury is interested in doing anything but finding out the safety and the whereabouts of her husband.
Q Second question. The United Nations commission in Guatemala have just concluded that most of the increase of human rights abuses in that country come from the security and paramilitary forces. Is the United States going to take further steps to pressure the military to stop their violence?
MR. JOHNSON: I think the statement that we issued last Friday was a rather broad one that outlined our views on the issue of reconciliation in Guatemala, and I'm going to stay with that for a while. I'll look into the question which you raise and see if we want to say anything further.
Q But this was yesterday.
MR. JOHNSON: I understand that.
Q A question about the Bosnian Federation. Realizing that there will be background briefing on this, but just for the record, what needs to happen in the next -- specifically, I guess, in Washington or more generally in the next days and weeks, in order for this Federation to work, and why is it so important that -- what's at stake?
MR. JOHNSON: I think tomorrow's events are going to start a process, including this founding of the "Friends of the Federation," which we hope will put us on a track to further establishing an entity in Bosnia that can support what we hope will eventually be an end to the conflict there and begin to foster a process of peace. In concert with that, we are pursuing at the U.N. the adoption of a resolution which will permit the installation of a force in Croatia which will help, we hope, avoid the further outbreak of hostilities which we all feared would occur in the next few weeks, in the absence of any change there.
I think that I would prefer not to get any further into that, not so much because of the backgrounder later this afternoon, but because I think that those events will become clearer tomorrow, and I'll let the Secretary speak for himself on that issue.
Q Can you say what have been the main obstacles? There seems to be widespread agreement from a political point of view, at least, that the Croatians have really gone very little beyond the cease-fire stage. Can you say what those obstacles are and what specifically has to be overcome in order to get beyond that?
MR. JOHNSON: I think I'm going to defer that type of question to a little later in the afternoon.
Q Can I follow-up on that? When you talk about insertion of a new force into Bosnia, would that include any U.S. forces in -- I realize it's going a little further, but --
MR. JOHNSON: I think we've made very clear from this lectern and from others in the U.S. Government on a number of occasions what would be required before we would entertain the notion of inserting United States' troops in a peacekeeping role.
There is the possibility of the use of a few U.S. individual soldiers in a communications role, but that is not associated with this new U.N. Security Council authorized force which may become the replacement for UNPROFOR in Croatia. That's associated with NATO's potential plans to assist in withdrawal of UNPROFOR, should that become necessary. Those communication forces would be dedicated to that.
Q And they would be essentially out of NATO troops?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes.
Q This may be a semantic piece of trivia -- maybe not, though. There's a new word that has crept into your various vocabularies lately -- Bosniac. What is a "Bosniac," and how does it differ from a Bosnian?
MR. JOHNSON: I think that is the adjectival form that the persons who live in Bosnia have preferred that we use. I don't think that -- I think that is in semantic form a distinction without a difference from our point of view.
Q I think it refers mainly to Muslims.
MR. JOHNSON: Okay, I will accept your characterization.
Q I've got a question on the same subject. I was going to ask, tomorrow's ceremonies, Turkish Foreign Minister is also participating, right? Did you mention that?
MR. JOHNSON: Was that in my statement? Or are you asking me if -- I don't have a full participants' list. I'll see if I can get you something fuller than I have. I was just able to mention those who would be representing the Federation tomorrow. I don't have a list of those who will be there as other participants beyond those with a speaking role.
Q The U.N. High Commission for Refugees has asked repeatedly for Western countries, including the United States, to resume airdrops of food supplies over Bihac, and it's been turned down repeatedly. I wonder if you could explain what the reasons are.
MR. JOHNSON: My only surmise is that we've declined to do so for safety reasons. I'd prefer to see if my colleagues at the Pentagon have something they can help me with on that before I go any further than that.
Q There was a story on Reuters this weekend that, as I understand it, said there were also policy reasons, diplomatic reasons - - apparently a desire not to ruffle the Bosnian Serbs or maybe the Krajina Serbs -- I don't know who exactly -- who are engaged in delicate negotiations now over cease-fires, over new arrangements in Krajina.
Can you check whether that is the case -- whether there's any reason other than safety? And, furthermore, I don't even understand the safety reason. This is -- we're talking about the U.S. Air Force dropping food. They've dropped it before. Why can't they do it now?
MR. JOHNSON: I would leave it to the Air Force to describe what their safety concerns are. I wouldn't pretend to be someone who could explain to them or to tell them when their aircraft are and are not in harm's way. They are cargo aircraft which fly relatively slowly, so I would imagine the safety concerns are slightly more than those that you describe. I will look into the question if there's anything beyond safety.
Q Cyprus Special Envoy Richard Beattie just paid a visit to Turkey. Could you tell us your evaluation of that visit?
MR. JOHNSON: I'll tell you what I can about that. Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Richard Beattie and Special Cyprus Coordinator James Williams traveled to Turkey, March 6 through 9. They met with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. They both conveyed U.S. resolve that a solution be found to the Cyprus problem. They reaffirmed U.S. support for the U.N. Secretary General's good offices mission to Cyprus and the establishment of a bicommunal, bizonal federation.
The Prime Minister expressed Turkey's desire to assist in finding a solution and assured Mr. Beattie of her government's support in that regard.
Q (Inaudible) linkage with the European Union? Was it?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything beyond what I said, but I wouldn't assume so.
Q Thank you, Mr. Johnson. Back to Bosnia for a moment -- not to Bosnia, but really to Croatia. Ambassador Holbrooke was very upbeat in an interview this morning over -- well, in conjunction with his appearance at the House International Relations Committee, and basically what he said was that this deal in Croatia is made, and he's turning his attention now to Bosnia. He was hurrying off, I believe, to meet Mr. Tudjman, but he said now his focus will be Bosnia. Have you any comments on that very bright report?
MR. JOHNSON: I would only say that we are all quite gratified that we were able to come up with an agreement, supported by Tudjman, to find a solution to the problem of withdrawal by the 31st of March, but that we still have some work to do on that.
But I wouldn't take issue with the notion that now would be the time for us to turn our attention in addition to other areas, because we have made a good start on solving this one and we would want to finish the job, but that there are other areas that are crying out for attention as well, and I wouldn't argue with the Assistant Secretary saying that those might need more of his attention now than they did a couple of weeks ago.
Q Villages fighting, demonstration going on in Turkey last week. As an ally of Turkey, are you concerned over the developments in Turkey?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say that Turkey's experiencing a difficult period of major political, economic and social change, including human rights problems that have to be addressed; that the occurrences of the past few days are a product of a continuing transformation toward a more modern society and more modern democracy, and that we have every confidence in Turkey's evolution toward a more democratic future.
In that connection, we noted with pleasure the Prime Minister's March 14 speech calling for a series of reforms to strengthen democracy and human rights in Turkey. We see her action plan as a strong reaffirmation of Turkey's commitment to a democratic future, and we urge that it fully be supported both at home and abroad.
Q Different subject, David. The subject of Gerry Adams' visit here. Is the U.S. satisfied that Gerry Adams is doing all he can to -- in the decommissioning of IRA weapons and in terms of the visa under which he came here on his visit that allowed fund-raising -- is the U.S. satisfied that it's worth the price it's paid in terms of the strain with the British over this?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say that we -- in terms of the visa issue that we took a chance and are taking a chance to help establish peace in Northern Ireland; that I think that no one could argue that the chances that we've taken over the last several months with respect to Mr. Adams have not been ones that are paying off; and that while we might occasionally differ with the Government of the United Kingdom on some of the tactical issues regarding the pursuit of peace in Northern Ireland, I think there is no distinction of opinion on our goals. I have seen nothing to tell me that Mr. Adams is not complying with the terms of his visa.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:38 p.m.)
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