U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/10/06 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, October 6, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT Welcome to Arab Journalists; Dr. Marie McHugh, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, Boston College; and Ellen McHugh, Georgetown University .................1 CUBA President Clinton's Announcement re: New Initiatives .....1-7 Enforcement/Violation of Economic Embargo ................1,5,6-8 Radio/TV Marti ...........................................4,6-7 Report of Time-Warner-sponsored Trip to Cuba .............7 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Secretary Christopher/Ambassador Ross' Mtgs. w/FM Shara ..9,12-13 --Syrian-Israeli Track ...................................9-12 --Terrorism ..............................................13 COLOMBIA U.S.-Colombia Relations ..................................13-14 NATO NATO Expansion ...........................................14-15 --Report of Russian Response re: Baltics .................15-16 RUSSIA Prime Minister Chernomyrdin's Decision re: 1996 Elections ..............................................16 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Proximity Peace Talks in U.S. ............................16-17,19 Assistant Secretary Holbrooke's Diplomatic Mission: Mtg. w/President Tudjman; Contact Group Mtg.; Return to U.S.; Return to Region .................................17-18,20 Sec. Perry, Gen. Shalikashvili, D/S Talbott Discussions w/Russian MinDef Grachev: Peace Implementation Force ...18,20-23 Continued Fighting .......................................18-19 Ceasefire Agreement: Croatian Adherence ..................19-20 Agreement of September 8 .................................20 UN Implementation of Ceasefire, Eventual Withdrawal ......22-23 TURKEY Prime Minister Ciller's Formation of New Government ......23
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1995, 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. It's a pleasure today to welcome a number of journalists from the Arab world. Welcome. Good to see you here. It's also a pleasure for me to welcome Dr. Marie McHugh who is the Dean of the College of Arts of Sciences at Boston College, and Ellen McHugh from Georgetown University. Let just note for the record, they are both Red Sox fans and will be rooting for the Red Sox tonight.
Q My condolences.
MR. BURNS: Your condolences. Someone said, your condolences.
Q The President had one interesting paragraph this morning on the new initiatives concerning Cuba. Can you expand on that paragraph at all?
MR. BURNS: I thought there were several interesting paragraphs in the speech, but perhaps that was the most interesting paragraph in the speech. Let me do that, George. I'll be glad to do that.
The President announced a series of measures toward Cuba which are designed to enhance support for the Cuban people and to promote a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba which we believe is the future, or should be the future for the Cuban people.
This package includes steps that will enhance our ability to enforce the economic embargo on Cuba which we believe must remain in place. It also contains a series of steps which we hope, following the Cuban Democracy Act, will help enhance communication between the American people and the people of Cuba.
Specifically, these measure include licensing U.S. non-governmental organizations to provide assistance to Cuban non-governmental organizations; not to entities of the Cuban Government, but to private voluntary organizations within Cuba itself. This might include in the future direct United States Government funding for U.S. non-governmental organization projects within Cuba. This could include licensing the sale and donation of communications equipment to some of these organizations in Cuba, and we hope licensing the establishment of reciprocal news bureaus between the United States and Cuba.
We also hope, as part of this effort, to adjust and clarify the standards for travel between the United States and Cuba for researchers and journalists and for cultural and educational activities. We anticipate that Western Union will open an office in Cuba in order to make money transfers from the United States to Cuba more possible. We certainly would hope to provide a general license for Cuban-Americans to make one visit a year to Cuba in the event of extreme humanitarian emergencies.
So those are some of the steps that the President took today. We believe that they are true not only to the spirit, George, but to the letter of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992. They are intended, broadly speaking, to help the Cuban people receive a better flow of information about what's happening in the world; to enhance the ties between the people of the United States and the people of Cuba; and we hope in the long term they'll be part of our effort to provide more leverage on the Cuban Government to change. Cuba is the only non-democratic government in this hemisphere. Cuba is clearly behind the times, and we hope that the Cuban people will now have a chance in the coming years to enjoy a much greater measure of freedom and liberty than they do have now.
Q Can you answer the question as to how the President can unilaterally permit U.S. news organizations to open bureaus in Cuba if it is forbidden by the embargo? How can he do it without legislation?
MR. BURNS: He can do it without any further legislation because we believe that the two tracks of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 call for this; specifically, the track that calls for enhanced communication between the peoples of Cuba and the United States. There is no need for the Congress to provide new legislation for these steps to be taken. The President has the authority under the existing law of 1992 to do this.
Q Has there been any discussion with the Cuban Government about this?
MR. BURNS: The Cuban Government was not consulted in advance about these steps that the President mentioned this morning. We did not negotiate them in advance.
Our top diplomat in Havana, Joe Sullivan, and his colleagues there are briefing the Cuban Government on these steps this morning. We hope that they will welcome these steps. We hope that they will make it possible, for instance, for news bureaus to establish themselves in Havana. We think that's long overdue, and we think it will be a positive thing for the Cuban Government, because right now most of their information is coming from Cuban state-run media, which is not at all objective, which restricts the flow of information to the Cuban people. We think it will be a good thing if Western news organizations were in a position to provide objective information and views.
Q One of the problems has been for news organizations opening businesses there -- opening operations there -- has been the use of money, that we're not allowed to spend money there. Would we now be able to spend money? Would this have to be done on a barter arrangement?
MR. BURNS: No. These measures are intended to allow Western news organizations, educational establishments to be able to establish themselves. That would mean of course Western news organizations would be able to spend money in Cuba.
What we are not going to do, however, is take steps that would allow the Government of Cuba to gain financially, especially in terms of its foreign exchange holdings. If we were to license and make possible tourist travel or normal business travel to Cuba, that certainly would benefit the Government of Cuba. It would prop up a failing regime. We don't want to do that.
So the expenditure of money in this case -- most of the expenditures, we assume, would be for private purposes and to private people in Cuba.
Q But for TV people, we would have to have studio space, camera crews, booking of satellite time. The only outlet there is the Cuban Government.
MR. BURNS: We want to make it possible for American networks and American newspapers, American news agencies, wire services to establish themselves. We don't believe that the amount of money spent on this is going to represent a financial windfall to the Cuban Government.
If we were to permit unfettered American tourist access to Cuba, that would be quite a different thing. That would really undercut the leverage that we have through applying the embargo towards Cuba. So we're going to keep that in place. It will not be possible for American tourists or American business people to travel to Cuba following the announcements made by the President this morning. It will be possible, we hope, for news organizations to establish themselves.
Q The money will be spent in Cuba. Won't this have the incidental effect, at least, of helping the Cuban economy which succeeding Administrations have tried their darnedest to totally cripple?
MR. BURNS: It's not going to be an overwhelming amount of money. I think the higher value here, Barry, is to provide the Cuban people with access to objective information that AP, Reuters, UPI and others will provide.
Q Isn't Radio Marti doing that?
MR. BURNS: And right now --
Q Or is that just propaganda?
MR. BURNS: And right now that's not possible. Radio Marti is not a commercial news organization, if you had missed that story.
Q It's all been a very interesting experience watching the Administration defend what is really an opening to Cuba, which a lot of people think is long overdue. You've talked about this despot in the hemisphere. You deal with people who at least are on the same level with him. You have them come to Washington, you involve them in all sorts of peace diplomacy efforts and other things.
I just don't know -- I guess I do know why you make such a special case of Cuba. Hence, this question: Was this tried out in advance with the anti-Castro lobby that's so active and so avid and, apparently, is able to influence every Administration from Florida?
MR. BURNS: I think both the White House and the State Department consulted with a number of organizations here in the United States, particularly Cuban-American groups.
Q Did they think it was a good idea?
MR. BURNS: I can't tell you what the result of every conversation was.
Q No, no, but overall, what kind of --
MR. BURNS: The President met some of these people this morning before he gave his speech at Freedom House. They are certainly an important constituency for this Administration.
We took these measures, which are not going to be popular with everybody in the United States, certainly, because we felt it was the best way for the United States to continue to have an effect for change in Cuba. That's the point of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992. We wanted to implement what we thought was the full measure of that Act; and we hope that the effect of this will be that the Cuban people will have greater access to information.
Q While you're feeding their minds and in a very, very small way helping their economic situation -- people will be hired, jobs will be created, money will circulate -- has the Administration begun to reconsider the wisdom of impoverishing people because you don't like their leader?
MR. BURNS: If you're referring to the economic embargo, there will be no change in the economic embargo.
Q No matter how --
MR. BURNS: That's been applied for more than three decades. It is the primary point of leverage that the United States has with Cuba.
Castro is the remaining holdout in this hemisphere. He's the remaining totalitarian dictator. There will come a time when Castro will pass from the scene. It may be soon, it may be later. We don't know. But in the meantime, we have an obligation to help the Cuban people understand what our society is all about and hopefully receive adequately an objective accounting of what is happening in the world every day. That's why we've taken these steps.
Q Castro has called this initiative an attempt to subvert Cuba from within. Would you argue with that?
MR. BURNS: It's an attempt to give the Cuban people a greater sense of what is happening in the United States and in the world, to help those in Cuba who want to push for change -- to help those people, those who stand for democracy, reform, civil liberties. Certainly, it's an attempt to reach out to those people and to help them.
Q Nick, there seems to be a sticking point in the eyes of the Cuba Government about Radio Marti and TV Marti, saying that if we insist upon having those two entities enter Cuba, that they would not allow this; they would not allow commercial journalism -- one.
A second follow-up would be, is there going to be an unlimited amount of money and an unlimited access allowed by the U.S. Government for U.S. citizens -- U.S. news organizations?
MR. BURNS: Bill, as I said, we have not done anything here this morning to affect the United States embargo, which continues to be in place against Cuba. That means that American tourists are not permitted to travel to Cuba, and American business people are not permitted to invest there or to travel there. This will allow in a very small but we hope significant way ultimately for some changes in the way the American people can communicate with the Cuban people.
Some of these measures are designed to help the Cuban-American community communicate with relatives in Cuba.
Q This is without -- on money and access -- without restriction for journalists; is that correct? For American journalists?
MR. BURNS: American journalists. Yes.
Q Without restriction --
MR. BURNS: The changes pertain to the right of American journalists, news organizations, and so forth to establish offices there.
Q What about the possible rub here with Radio Marti and TV Marti?
MR. BURNS: We would like the Cuban Government to seriously consider, on a reciprocal basis, the initiatives we've put forward this morning. We certainly hope that they will respond positively to our desire to have Western news organizations establish themselves in Havana and elsewhere in Cuba.
Radio Marti has never been popular with the Cuban Government, but it has strong Congressional support. It will continue.
Q Do you expect the Cuban Government to allow these Western news organizations to operate freely, but leave it up to them whether they choose to stay there should they come under some sort of censorship or control?
MR. BURNS: We would certainly expect that the Cuban Government would not place restrictions on American news organizations which choose to establish themselves in Cuba. It will obviously be up to the American news organizations to determine if they can operate freely and normally in Cuba itself.
Q Would the U.S. Government attempt to place, impose any rules on what is a proper journalist, how long he might stay? Or once you have -- or, have you gotten to that level of detail yet?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if the initiatives have been spelled out in that level of detail. I'm not sure that it's going to be a problem.
We know what valid news organizations are. We recognize them as we see them. If AP, for instance, wants to set up in Havana, we'll --
Q I mean that line between a visitor, a traveler, and a journalist. You're not going to try to -- if someone says he's a journalist and he has proper credentials, he's a journalist?
MR. BURNS: People have to conform to United States law. They have to understand that. If people disguise themselves as journalists and are actually business people or tourists, then they'll have to submit to United States law and understand that they will pay the penalty if they're found to be in violation of U.S. law.
Q You said U.S. businessmen can't travel to Cuba. As I understand it, the Miami Herald is saying today that Time-Warner is sponsoring a trip today by 50 U.S. businessmen to Cuba. Could you look into that?
By the way, this trip received the blessing of the Clinton Administration.
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to look into it. David.
Q You may have already been asked this, and forgive me, if so. In what ways is enforcement of the embargo going to be increased under this announcement? Specifically, I'm interested in, in what ways, if any, the Administration plans to crack down on companies from third countries which are using things like mines that belonged to Americans before the revolution?
MR. BURNS: In addition to announcing the initiatives this morning, the President also directed Attorney General Reno to step up enforcement of the American embargo on Cuba -- the Embargo and Neutrality Act -- specifically by increasing the number of staff at the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. I think that speaks directly to your question, David. We are concerned about some illicit business activities and connections that do exist not only between the United States and Cuba but between subsidiaries of American corporations in Cuba.
The step that the President took today in beefing up the Treasury operation is intended to help combat that problem.
Q Under U.S. law, without having a Burton or a Helms amendment, do you have the legislation you need, in any way, to go after, for example, a Canadian company that might perhaps be using a mine that, in fact, belongs to Americans, or did before the revolution?
MR. BURNS: None of the initiatives taken today speak to that particular problem. That is an issue that has been raised in our negotiation with the Congress of the Helms-Burton legislation. We're not at the end of that yet.
Q Would you favor a tightening of the law in any way to --
MR. BURNS: Certainly, the way the draft legislation has been written on that particular issue we think would not be beneficial to either the embargo or to U.S. relations with a number of our allies in Europe. So we have had some reservations on that particular issue.
I'm a little bit hesitant to go into it in detail because it is now being negotiated before the conference with the House and Senate.
Q How many people are going to be added to the Treasury Department's enforcement effort?
MR. BURNS: I don't have specific numbers. We can get that for you.
Q Another subject?
MR. BURNS: Another subject.
Q What can you say about Dennis Ross' meeting with Shara?
MR. BURNS: Let me just say, in general, the Secretary had a thorough discussion of the issues on the Syrian-Israeli track with Foreign Minister Shara yesterday afternoon. It lasted about two hours. The Secretary also had a phone conversation with Minister Shara last evening. Dennis Ross just concluded about an hour ago a one-and-a- half hour meeting with Minister Shara at his hotel here in Washington.
I would say, looking at all of these discussions -- the two the Secretary had yesterday with Minister Shara and Dennis Ross' discussions this morning -- they were useful to us because it provided a basis for us to have a thorough discussion of all the issues on the Israeli-Syrian track. We feel we can build on these discussions. We certainly are determined to work with both Israel and Syria to bridge the gap that clearly exists now on security issues. We'll be doing that over the next several weeks.
Q Was the Secretary able to, or Ambassador Ross, or Mark Parris for that matter, able to bridge any of the gaps this time around?
MR. BURNS: I can't point to any specific breakthroughs, but I can say that we think these discussions were useful.
We are patient, and we understand that in this particular part of the world progress can sometimes be evolutionary. It can sometimes be slow.
The Secretary has taken 13 trips to the region. It did take over two-and-a-half years for the United States and the parties -- Israel and the Palestinians -- to make the progress that we saw last week. It may take some more time for Israel and Syria to make progress. But the Secretary is determined to stay with this and to work at it. That was the message that he conveyed to Minister Shara yesterday.
Q Do you think it will take as long for this revolution, this process to happen as it for man to evolve from chimpanzees?
MR. BURNS: It's an interesting question, Sid. I had never quite thought of it that way, but you might want to reflect on that.
Q Did anybody bring up the suspension of the military talks which you thought you had the Syrians committed to? Did they say anything about it? Will they be resumed?
MR. BURNS: That was absolutely discussed in some detail. The security issues are really at the heart of the Syrian-Israeli track right now. Of course, along with that were the understandings that were reached in mid-June last year when the Secretary was in Damascus and Jerusalem. That was discussed, but I can't point to any breakthroughs on that issue, Barry.
Q You realize I'm asking you about procedure which is kind of a stark thing that stands on its own. You agree to send people here and then you don't. You come and see the Secretary of State and he says, "What happened?" Or he says, "See you at the end of the month?" How do you leave that? You had a commitment. Do you just accept it is sort of evaporating, or are you patient on that, too?
MR. BURNS: Procedures are sometimes very important and they affect the substance. There has to be an attempt to unite procedure and substance on some of these issues.
On security issues, I think that is particularly important, and we're trying to do that.
Q Nick, in June, when the Secretary was in the Middle East, there was a great sense of optimism and a great sense of urgency to almost every utterance.
Is it fair to say now that he accepts the fact that there is going to be no deal by the end of the year, and in fact it could take quite a long time to reach a deal -- that there's been a realization over the last few months that this process can't be brought to closure any time soon?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to cite a timetable. We're hopeful for progress. It is true that in June there was some hope in the Middle East, in the region, that there could be significant progress on the Syrian-Israeli track. We've seen that there are some differences of opinion and some disagreements that remain. We're trying to overcome them.
I don't want to say that it's not going to be possible to make progress by the first of the year 1996. It may be possible to make that progress. It may not.
I think one thing that we've learned over the past couple of decades -- this is the United States now -- but certainly what this Administration has learned over the past few years is that you've got to stay at it. You've got to remain determined and focused, and you can't allow temporary setbacks to deter you from the major objective, which is peace.
I think the President and others said it well ten days ago. There are two empty chairs here in the Middle East peace process: Syria and Lebanon. We hope they'll be filled, and that will take the efforts not only of Syria and Lebanon but of others in the region, including, of course, the efforts of the United States.
So the Secretary, I think, feels -- he's calm about this. He's patient. But he's also determined. He's determined to push forward, and he'll be doing that personally.
Q Nick, can we go back to a basic on this, because we've got to review these basics. Things can shift so imperceptibly. He used Israel and the PLO as an example. Of course, they did most of their negotiating themselves. The U.S. jumped in when they could see the finish line and, of course, presided over the celebration and took the bows. But a lot of the work they did themselves.
Is there any change in the view that if there's to be an Israel- Syria agreement, it essentially has to be worked out by the parties in direct negotiations, or is the Secretary going to assume the type of approach that a Kissinger used, a Shultz used, to try to, you know, do the heavy-duty work himself or through intermediaries?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I don't think your characterization of the Israeli-Palestinian track is really very charitable.
Q They did most of the work themselves.
MR. BURNS: I told you about our shuttle diplomacy --
Q They negotiated.
MR. BURNS: -- our shuttle diplomacy by telephone --
Q I know --
MR. BURNS: -- and the patient American diplomacy, and I think that Peres and Arafat gave a lot of credit to the United States --
Q They did. They had reason for --
MR. BURNS: -- for our role as an intermediary, and they did have reason to.
Q They had reason to.
MR. BURNS: The Syrian-Israeli track is not synonymous with the Israeli-Palestinian track. Different tracks and different actors, different set of problems, a different history concerning the Golan Heights and a number of wars that were fought in the Middle East.
So the dynamics of that track are different. The substance is different. In this case the United States is being asked to play a significant role, as we did in the Israeli-Palestinian track. It's going to be a little bit different, but I can't forecast whether or not this will look like a shuttle mission from 1973 to 1974.
I think the Secretary is determined that the United States use its influence that it clearly has with Syria and Israel to make a difference -- a positive difference -- and he'll continue to do that.
Q Yes, but my long-winded question did have a point, and the point was, is it still the U.S. position that Israel and Syria must work out their own agreement in direct negotiations, which apparently have stopped? I don't see you beating on the lectern and demanding the Syrians send their commanders here.
Is it still the U.S. view, Dennis' view, the Secretary's view that only through direct negotiations can Israel and Syria come to terms?
MR. BURNS: The United States cannot make a peace between two countries that are unwilling to have a peace. They have to sit down together, face to face, and make the peace together. We can facilitate discussions. We can sometimes be a very active intermediary. Ultimately, it's up to the two countries to make the peace and to sign a peace agreement and to implement it.
Q I assume you saw Foreign Minister Shara's comments yesterday outside the State Department. Just sort of general, do you have anything to say about it? Apparently it's sort of the same line we've heard from Syria for four years now -- not one inch of movement. Was it different inside the conference room?
MR. BURNS: I remember reading the first paragraph of Minister Shara's comments which were quite, I thought, constructive. He said he had good talks. He was thankful for the opportunity to sit down and review the issues, and I was impressed by that particular part of his remarks. It is consistent with the way we put things.
Q (Inaudible) You're awful easy to please.
MR. BURNS: Very easy to please today, Barry.
Q Has anybody come out and said "These were rotten talks I just had"? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: I can --
Q I mean, you know, Milosevic is going to come out and say --
MR. BURNS: Actually yesterday --
Q -- "I had a swell time." You know that.
MR. BURNS: When we talked about U.S.-Colombian relations yesterday, I think that we verged on that, but not in the Middle East.
Q (Inaudible) yesterday that Syria would oppose any Israeli presence whatsoever on the Golan Heights on the ground. Does the U.S. think that Israeli security can be assured without any presence at all on the Golan Heights?
MR. BURNS: This is a question that Syria and Israel have to resolve themselves. It is the central question in these negotiations. It's what they have been talking about for quite a long time. We have views. We've asserted those views. We've done it privately. That is the best way for us to maintain our effectiveness as an intermediary.
Q Nick, yesterday you --
MR. BURNS: Still on Israel?
Q Israel, yes. Not Israel -- this is Syria. Yesterday you said that the Secretary will be discussing with the Syrian Foreign Minister the bilateral relations. I believe a part of the bilateral relations is the Syrian support for terrorism. Did they discuss about this subject?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if the Secretary raised that issue specifically yesterday, but that issue is routinely raised as part of our ongoing dialogue with Syria.
Q Can you check to --
MR. BURNS: Be glad to look into that, yes.
Q Can I change the subject?
MR. BURNS: Certainly.
Q Since you brought up Colombia. There's a report today that the United States has recalled Myles Frechette from Colombia. Is there any truth to that report?
MR. BURNS: No. There's no truth to it. Ambassador Frechette is on a well-deserved vacation in Europe. He has not been recalled by the Administration; and after his vacation in Europe, he'll return to Bogota.
But I can tell you that what I said yesterday stands. We are looking for a greater measure of cooperation from the Government of Colombia on the primary effort here that both countries have to be concerned with, and that's the fight against narcotics trafficking from the Cali cartel and from others.
We continue to be highly disturbed and displeased by a number of the allegations and unfounded rumors that have been made by prominent people in Colombia. We issued a public statement on this yesterday. We have made our views abundantly clear in private to Colombian authorities.
Q You say he's going to Europe for a vacation.
MR. BURNS: He's in Europe.
Q And he's not swinging back through Washington for consultations on his way?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if he -- Ambassadors sometimes do that. But he has not been recalled, in the diplomatic sense of that word. Sometimes when countries are angry with other countries or they want to protest an incident, they recall the Ambassador for consultations. We did not do that. He was on a regularly planned vacation, and the Embassy
is now headed by his DCM, who is Charge d'Affaires.
Q Was the Ambassador here in Washington last week, though?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I can look into that. I did not see him, but I can look into it.
Q On another subject. There's been some reports in the last couple of days about NATO having decided to slow its plans for expansion -- put it off until after the '96 U.S. elections and other things. Is there any truth to that?
MR. BURNS: No truth whatsoever that the process of NATO enlargement will be slowed. The President and, indeed, the NATO leaders said at the January 1994 summit in Brussels -- and they have said repeatedly since -- that the process of NATO enlargement will be a gradual, evolutionary process.
"Gradual" means that it will be deliberate, and we are discussing right now why NATO should be expanded and how that will be done. We are not discussing when it will be done and who will be the new members, and that is certainly the case leading up all the way through the NATO Ministerial planned for Brussels in early December and throughout 1996.
So we're not talking about having speeded it up or slowed it down. We've maintained a very deliberate pace here, and we have been very careful to consult with the Russian Government and others on this.
Q To follow up on that, there have been some remarks out of Moscow recently to the effect that if NATO were to expand to include the Baltics, that Russia may be provoked to put troops back into the Baltics; and I understand that the Lithuanian Ambassador was here to protest that with a demarche the other day.
MR. BURNS: This, I believe, can be attributed to an article in Komsolmolskaya Pravda, and I believe that Foreign Minister Kozyrev has said publicly that he's not aware that Russia has made any such decisions.
I would just refer you to something that Vice President Gore said in Tallinn, in Estonia, in March when he visited there. He said "The security of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is of direct and material interest to the United States, and any note by anyone in Russia -- maybe people outside the Russian Government -- that somehow Russia has the right to station its troops or to station nuclear weapons outside the borders of Russia is irresponsible. It's inconsistent with international law. It's inconsistent with the commitments that Russia has made to the sovereignty of these countries when it withdrew its troops from Estonia and Latvia in 1994."
The United States has made it very clear to the Russian Government as well as to the Governments of the Baltic countries that we do have an interest in the security of the Baltic countries: in their territorial integrity, in their independence, in their sovereignty. These words are important. They're important to the Baltic peoples who were occupied for 52 years.
So that's a very clear enunciation of our policy. Fortunately, it seems that the Russian Foreign Ministry is trying to distance itself from these reports and remarks. One report was that a bill was being drafted in the Russian Duma to this effect, and we would hope very much that the Russian Government would do everything in its power to argue against this bill.
Q But so far as anything Kozyrev may have said publicly, has he told the U.S. Government directly that this is not the predilection of the Yeltsin Government, and that it in fact would fight any effort to --
MR. BURNS: I don't know if he has told us that affirmatively. I can tell you, however -- and I was with the Secretary when he saw Minister Kozyrev last week -- that we have not been told the reverse either. We have not been told that the Russian Government supports this kind of initiative.
But I think it's very important, since it may be debated in the Russian Duma -- it's certainly being debated in parts of Russian society -- that the United States make its views abundantly clear here.
Q Nick, is the Clinton Administration disappointed that Vice President (sic) Chernomyrdin has made clear he doesn't want to run for President?
MR. BURNS: Prime Minister Chernomyrdin made a statement in Canada, I think the other day, that he would not run for President in the June 1996 elections. We're not surprised by this, and we're not disappointed.
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin is part of President Yeltsin's inner circle. He's part of President Yeltsin's team. He has been a very effective member of the government. In fact, he's been the leading member of the government in many ways in supporting the course of economic reform.
We don't want to get involved in Russian politics, but we were neither surprised nor disappointed. It's something really for the Prime Minister to decide for himself.
Q Could I ask you about Bosnia a little bit. Is the sitrep picture a little clearer now so far as the details of this get together? Will Tudjman be there? Will that election get in the way? Will you have to, to make it convenient for everybody, move the date a little bit to the end of the month? And I guess in our minds is whether the Secretary will be bound for Amman, or there already -- whether he will or would have or would like to have had, at least get it going? Can you touch on some of these questions that remain after yesterday's --
MR. BURNS: I would be glad to.
MR. BURNS: The Secretary will definitely be involved in the Proximity Peace Talks here in the United States. I believe that as a result of Dick Holbrooke's conversation with President Tudjman in Zagreb yesterday that it's more likely now that these talks will begin around the 30th or 31st of October rather than the 25th of October, for a very good reason.
Croatia, which is one of the three major parties to these talks, will be holding national elections around the 25th of October. President Tudjman requested a delay by about a week in the convening of our talks here in the United States, and we have agreed to that.
We have still not determined what specific site we will use for these talks in the United States. It will be an isolated site. It will be away from a major urban area -- although it may be close to a major urban area, but certainly outside that area -- because we want a Camp David-like setting without going to Camp David. We want to give these leaders the opportunity -- three heads of state -- to sit down with each other as well as with the United States, the European Union and Russia to discuss these very complex issues.
A couple of things, Barry: As a result of the meeting that Dick Holbrooke had with President Tudjman, we are very pleased that the Croatian Government will, in effect, abide by the terms of the cease- fire agreement that was successfully negotiated and announced yesterday. This is significant. You remember that Croatia was not a signatory to this particular agreement, but Dick Holbrooke has been assured by President Tudjman that Croatia will abide by the terms of the agreement, and that means that by one minute past midnight on October 10, of course, there should be a total cessation of military operations throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina.
I can also tell you that I believe it's Dick Holbrooke's intention to take one more shuttle mission to the region after his current shuttle mission concludes tonight. He's in Rome today for a meeting of the expanded Contact Group. He may stay on in Europe for a couple of days on a personal basis. He'll be returning to the United States early next week. I would then expect at some point late next week or in the following week, he'll return to the Balkans and to Europe for a further round of shuttle diplomacy to sharpen the agenda for the U.S.-held talks in late October and to try to establish a firm agenda that we hope will be successful for those talks.
In addition to that, I think the Pentagon announced yesterday that Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will be traveling to Geneva this Sunday for discussions with the Russian Defense Minister, Minister Grachev.
These discussions are intended to review in a fair amount of detail the options that will be available to us to implement the peace in Bosnia if a peace conference succeeds. This is a very important point. NATO, we believe, will be the center of the peace implementation efforts, but NATO would like to cooperate with Russia in helping to insure the peace in Bosnia. There are a number of options that have been developed by the Russian Government, by NATO planners in Brussels, and by the United States, and they'll be reviewed on Sunday in Geneva.
Q Can I pick you up on -- pick up on a couple of things? Croatians, blessed be the peacemakers, but they're sure squeezing a lot of action in before the cease-fire. The U.N. reports that 3,000 Croatian troops are engaged, even possibly within Bosnia right now, to grab as much -- to help the Bosnian Government pick up as much ground as it can before the cease-fire takes effect.
Does the U.S. have a view of this frenzied, hurried, last-minute military activity?
MR. BURNS: We don't approve of it. All military operations must cease by October 10. We would certainly prefer that they cease now. The fact that Croatia, Bosnia and the Bosnian Serbs continue to fight in northwest Bosnia, in western and central Bosnia, south of Sarajevo -- and there are reports of fighting today in all those regions -- we think is futile.
The territory has exchanged hands a number of times during the last four years, a number of times during the last three or four weeks. There is a rough equilibrium now. We believe this is not an exact measurement of the map, but a rough equilibrium between the territory held by the Bosnian Serbs and the territory held by the Federation -- the Croatians and the Bosnians.
This provides a good basis for beginning the Proximity Peace Talks in the United States. There's nothing to be gained from further offensive military action except bloodshed, except loss of life, except the continuation of the flow of refugees. We call on the Croatian Government, the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serbs to stop their activities.
Q You talked about possibly moving the start of the Camp David- like, not-at-Camp-David talks through the 29th -- I don't know what's wrong with Camp David, but that's another matter -- 30th or 31st, but the Secretary will be in the Middle East. You said he wants to participate. Do you mean he will not kick them off, but, when he comes back, he will dive in. Is that what you mean?
MR. BURNS: He hasn't decided yet.
Q He may not leave right away?
MR. BURNS: We have not set a specific date for the convening of the conference. I said on or about the 30th or the 31st.
Q But Amman is a specific date.
MR. BURNS: Amman is specific. The Secretary will be leading the U.S. delegation to the Amman economic conference. I believe the starting date is October 29, Sunday the 29th, and he intends to be there.
What he hasn't done is make specific plans for what will be the specific opening date of the conference -- whether he will be there at the opening or whether he'll come a couple of days later. But I think for the most part the majority of these discussions will be chaired by Dick Holbrooke throughout the course of these Proximity Peace Talks.
The Secretary will be there. He'll play a role when it is needed, and he intends to do that. But he will not be there for the entire process. That will be Dick Holbrooke, Carl Bildt, and Minister Ivanov.
Q If I might follow on Tudjman, Nick. Will there be an attempt to get Tudjman to sign on with the other signatories, in some other fashion perhaps, but to sign up formally Croatia to keep the cease-fire. There was an instance a few weeks ago where they said they were in cease-fire, and they were not. They were on the offensive. And there was a report a couple of weeks ago also about Croatians taking a Muslim village and expelling Muslims, an ethnic cleansing on their part. So is the United States going to attempt to pin him down?
MR. BURNS: On the first question, this was an agreement achieved yesterday between the principal parties to the conflict within Bosnia itself, the Bosnian Muslims and the Bosnian Serbs -- the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serbs.
There is no need, we think, to have a Croatian signature on this agreement. There is an absolute need, however, to have Croatian adherence to this agreement; and we have been told by the President of Croatia that that will occur. His word is important, and the conversation that we had yesterday is important. We have every confidence that the cease-fire will be observed by Croatia.
On the second issue, Bill, I think we've said every day this week that the United States is highly disturbed by the allegations that when entering the Krajina region in early August, Croatian military forces may have executed a number of elderly Serb civilians. They certainly were engaged in the plundering and looting of Serb towns and Serb houses.
This is an issue for the international community to investigate. The United Nations intends to do so. The War Crimes Tribunal is interested in this issue, and we support the activities of the War Crimes Tribunal.
Q Do we believe that Tudjman's word is a bond for Croatia?
MR. BURNS: President Tudjman told Dick Holbrooke yesterday that Croatia would abide by the cease-fire, and we certainly expect that will be the case.
Q Nick, have any of the agreements, either written or otherwise, that have been worked on so far by Mr. Holbrooke's team set out anything about what the role of the Bosnian Croats would be in a new Bosnia? Is there going to be, for example, any area that they will govern locally or have control of?
MR. BURNS: The September 8 agreement that was negotiated in Geneva calls for one state with one set of borders, obviously -- secure borders -- and two entities within that state. It does not call for three or four, and the two entities are presumed to be a Bosnian Muslim entity and a Bosnian Serb entity.
Q Is there a way for Russia to participate in a NATO peacekeeping mission without being under NATO command? Does the U.S. have any ideas for this?
MR. BURNS: General Grachev has said publicly that Russia does not intend to place its troops under NATO command. We understand that. We think the questions is, instead of talking about Russia in NATO, how can Russian cooperate with NATO. What Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili and Strobe Talbott will be discussing specifically on Sunday is options that we have worked up and the Russians have determined that would allow Russia to play a significant role in implementing a peace agreement, but a role that would be in conjunction with NATO, as opposed to a role that would be inside a NATO command.
Q How can you have a theater of operations that you don't control completely and expect for it to go the way you want it to?
MR. BURNS: Russia a very important part of the equation here because it has historic interests in the region; it has influence in the region; and I think not only because of its political/military interest, but because of its economic infrastructure. The role of GAZPROM, the Russian state gas company, in turning on the gas next Monday evening and Tuesday morning in Sarajevo is critical; and Russia has assured us that the gas will be turned on.
We don't think that we can make a peace that excludes Russia. So we're looking for a way that Russia can participate while respecting Russia's obvious interest not to subordinate its own troops to NATO control. There are going to be many missions under the general rubric of a peace implementation force. There will be missions, certainly, having to do with reconstruction; missions for border control and assurances; missions probably to separate the parties in some areas; many missions. We certainly need and will value the support of Russia in that. But it hasn't been clearly defined, and that's why President Clinton in his phone conversation with President Yeltsin last week suggested that Secretary Perry and Minister Grachev sit down to discuss the issue that you asked about.
Q As far as the U.S. is concerned, at the end of the day who will command that theater of operation?
MR. BURNS: I think it's very clear that American troops will only serve under NATO command. We do believe that NATO, because of the contribution of American troops that President Clinton spoke about this morning, French and British troops -- NATO will be the heart of this operation. But there is certainly room for others -- Russia and others -- to participate in this overall effort, and that's what we seek to define this weekend.
Q I guess you answered the question. I didn't know there had been a decision that it's exclusively a NATO peacekeeping force, and it isn't, is it? Or is it?
MR. BURNS: I did not use the word "exclusively."
Q Well, you didn't, but you were speaking as if there were some exception that might be made for Russia. I thought other countries are likely to contribute peacekeeping troops or participate in peacekeeping operations, but the U.S. will be part of a NATO force.
MR. BURNS: Absolutely. NATO is going to play, we think, a central role in the peace implementation force, because there are already French and British troops on the ground. They are the two countries that have the most troops on the ground, and the United States is committed to a substantial American ground troop presence.
Q There are Ukrainian troops on the ground, too.
MR. BURNS: There are some Ukrainian troops, and there are Bangladeshis and there are others. We would welcome the participation of many countries outside NATO, including Russia. The trick will be to make it work militarily, to assure adequate command and control, to assure the rule of logic and reason -- I think, Sid, is what you're talking about -- and we are concerned about that.
It needs to be carefully worked out by military people, and that's why our top two military leaders will be in Geneva on Sunday.
Q But it's clear that all these other troops, except for Russia, will willingly come under NATO command. That's not an issue.
MR. BURNS: No, I don't believe that some of the other countries -- for instance, some of the Asian countries -- will necessarily be under NATO command. That has not been determined.
Q About that, will, let's say, the Rapid Reaction Force, the French, British force, will that be converted from a U.N. force to become a part of the NATO force? Will they just change helmets there?
MR. BURNS: The U.N. remains in Bosnia. The U.N. will have overall authority for insuring the implementation of the current cease-fire that goes into effect on Tuesday. The U.N. has said, and the Secretary General of the U.N. has said, that once peace is established by a peace agreement, then the role of the United Nations will be over, and the United Nations would withdraw. He said that a couple of weeks ago.
In that event now, the international community, because we want to insure the peace, has to establish a new peace implementation force for Bosnia. That's what we intend to do. Since this will be in many respects a NATO operation, the United States will play a role because we're the leading member of NATO and because we cannot turn our backs on peace once it's been established. That wouldn't be logical at all.
We've led the effort to stop the war and to begin the peace movement now, and we've had a tremendous amount of success. What was special about yesterday is that not only did we achieve a cease-fire, we achieved an agreement for talks, which is unique, and they are promising. I don't think any of the parties believe that there can be a successful implementation of the peace agreement without the United States present on the ground.
Q But the issue I was speaking to was you have a core -- a Rapid Reaction Force there. That will become a core of NATO.
MR. BURNS: They will remain under the control of NATO, absolutely.
Q Okay. So you've got something on the ground. Then the others that are non-NATO, that are U.N. forces now that are on the ground will leave, is that correct?
MR. BURNS: That's what the Secretary General has said. All this remains to be worked out. But before any of this can happen, we have to have a successful peace conference, and that's where our attentions are focused now.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: We have another question.
Q Last night, Prime Minister of Turkey Ciller, she established a new government, and the President of Turkey, he approved a new government list. Do you have any comment on the subject?
MR. BURNS: We understand that Prime Minister Ciller has formed a new government, which President Demirel approved -- you're right -- yesterday. We congratulate the Prime Minister. We congratulate President Demirel, all of the Turkish political spectrum. Turkey is an important ally. We don't get involved in Turkey's domestic politics, but we do follow events there closely.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:47 p.m.)
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