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U.S. Department of State
93/02/10 New Conference on Former Yugoslavia
Office of the Spokesman

New Steps Toward Conflict Resolution In the Former Yugoslavia

Secretary of State Warren Christopher
Opening statement at a news conference
Washington, DC
February 10, 1993

Today I am announcing a series of new steps that President Clinton has 
decided to take with regard to the former Yugoslavia.  The President 
believes it is time for the United States to become actively and 
directly engaged in the multilateral effort to reach a just and workable 
resolution to this dangerous conflict.

We inherit, at this early point in our Administration, a tragic and 
dangerous situation.  Over the past 2 years, the states of the former 
Yugoslavia have descended into a dark period of terror and bloodshed.  
During that period, the West missed repeated opportunities to engage 
early and effectively in ways that might have prevented the conflict 
from deepening.  As President Clinton stressed during the campaign, an 
early and forceful signal might well have deterred much of the 
aggression, bloodshed, and "ethnic cleansing.''  Because those actions 
were not taken, we now face a much more intractable situation with 
vastly more difficult options.  Yet, now we must address the 
circumstances as we find them, and we are resolved to do so.

Those circumstances have deep roots.  The death of [Yugoslav] President 
Tito and the end of communist domination of the former Yugoslavia raised 
the lid on the cauldron of ancient ethnic hatreds.  This is a land where 
at least three religions and a half-dozen ethnic groups have vied across 
the centuries.  It was the birthplace of World War I.  It has long been 
a cradle of European conflict, [and] it remains so today.

Over the past year, [US Special Envoy] Cyrus Vance and [European 
Community Special Envoy] Lord David Owen have tirelessly pursued a 
negotiated settlement.  While they have made progress, their proposed 
settlement has not been accepted by the parties to the dispute, and the 
killing continues.

This conflict may be far from our shores, but it is not distant to our 
concerns.  We cannot afford to ignore it.  Let me explain why.

We cannot ignore the human toll.  Serbian "ethnic cleansing" has been 
pursued through mass murders, systematic beatings and rapes of Muslims 
and others, prolonged shelling of innocents in Sarajevo and elsewhere, 
forced displacement of entire villages, inhumane treatment of prisoners 
in detention camps, and the blockading of relief to sick and starving 
civilians.  Atrocities have been committed by other parties as well.  
Our conscience revolts at the idea of passively accepting such 

Beyond these humanitarian interests, we have direct strategic concerns 
as well.  The continuing destruction of a new UN member state challenges 
the principle that internationally recognized borders should not be 
altered by force.  In addition, this conflict itself has no natural 
borders.  It threatens to spill over into new regions, such as Kosovo 
and Macedonia.  It could then become a greater Balkan war, like those 
that preceded World War I.  Broader hostilities could touch additional 
nations, such as Greece, Albania, and Turkey.  The river of fleeing 
refugees, which has already reached the hundreds of thousands, would 
swell.  The political and economic vigor of Europe, already tested by 
the integration of former communist states, would be further strained.

There is a broader imperative here.  The world's response to the 
violence in the former Yugoslavia is an early and crucial test of how it 
will address the concerns of ethnic and religious minorities in the 
post-Cold War world.  That question reaches throughout Eastern Europe.  
It reaches to the states of the former Soviet Union, where the fall of 
communism has left some 25 million ethnic Russians living as minorities 
in other republics, and it reaches to other continents as well.

The events in the former Yugoslavia raise the question of whether a 
state may address the rights of its minorities by eradicating those 
minorities to achieve "ethnic purity."  Bold tyrants and fearful 
minorities are watching to see whether "ethnic cleansing" is a policy 
[that] the world will tolerate.  If we hope to promote the spread of 
freedom or if we hope to encourage the emergence of peaceful multi-
ethnic democracies, our answer must be a resounding no.

This is why President Clinton has decided to take the following six 

First, the President has decided [that] the United States will engage 
actively and directly in the Vance-Owen negotiations, bringing the 
weight of American diplomacy to bear.  We know [that] these negotiations 
will not be easy; we know the options have narrowed because of past 
inaction.  We do not expect miracles, but we believe [that] we can make 
a difference.  We strongly support the efforts of the United Nations and 
the European Community, through the Vance-Owen negotiations, to arrive 
at any agreement that would bring peace to Bosnia.  Now, in order to 
ensure the most effective possible communication between us, President 
Clinton has, today, named one of our top diplomats to be our 
government's envoy to those talks, Ambassador Reginald Bartholomew.  Mr. 
Bartholomew has served as our ambassador to Lebanon and Spain and is 
currently the ambassador to NATO.  He is no stranger to crises; he is 
the right person for this task.  Through Ambassador Bartholomew's 
efforts, working with [former US] Secretary [of State] Vance and Lord 
Owen, and through other means, the United States will help explore 
creative solutions to the conflict that we hope all parties can accept.

Second, the President is communicating to the Bosnians, Serbs, and 
Croatians that the only way to end this conflict is through negotiation.  
No settlement can be imposed on the parties, both on grounds of 
principle and on grounds that an imposed settlement would be far more 
difficult to sustain than one the parties have voluntarily embraced.  At 
the same time, we believe that each party must be prepared to accept a 
resolution that falls short of its goals.  Therefore, we are taking 
steps to urge the parties not to hold back from earnest negotiation.  
The responsibility for crafting a workable solution is fundamentally on 
the parties involved, but we will lend our earnest support.

Third, the President will take actions to tighten the enforcement of 
economic sanctions, increase political pressure on Serbia, and deter 
Serbia from widening the war.  We have informed the Serbians that we 
plan to raise the economic and political price for aggression.  We will 
work with our allies, the Russians, and others to achieve this result.  
We remain prepared to respond against the Serbians in the event of 
conflict in Kosovo caused by Serbian action.  In addition, we will work 
to strengthen the international presence in Macedonia.

Fourth, the President is taking steps to reduce the suffering and 
bloodshed as these negotiations proceed.  He is calling on all parties 
to stop the shelling and other violence.  He has communicated to all 
concerned that the no-fly zone over Bosnia should be enforced under a UN 
resolution.  He has urged that humanitarian aid be allowed to flow to 
those in need, and we are considering further actions to promote greater 
delivery of aid.  Moreover, we are putting together a US Government team 
to assess further humanitarian needs on an urgent basis.  The President 
is seeking the urgent creation of a war crimes tribunal at the United 
Nations to bring justice and deter further atrocities.

Fifth, the President has taken steps to make clear to all concerned that 
the United States is prepared to do its share to help implement and 
enforce an agreement that is acceptable to all parties.  If there is a 
viable agreement containing enforcement provisions, the United States 
would be prepared to join with the United Nations, NATO, and others in 
implementing and enforcing it, including possible US military 
participation.  This is a shared problem and must be a shared burden.

Sixth and finally, the President has consulted widely with our friends 
and allies on these actions.  He and I have communicated to dozens of 
world leaders regarding our intentions.  In particular, earlier today 
the President spoke with [Russian] President Yeltsin by phone to convey 
his personal request that both our nations work closely and 
cooperatively in this search for a peaceful resolution.  He is also 
sending Ambassador Bartholomew to Moscow to discuss our approach before 
Ambassador Bartholomew returns to New York for the negotiations.

Let me make clear what we hope to achieve through these steps.  We will 
attempt to help build on the Vance-Owen negotiations in a way that can 
move toward a just, workable, and durable solution.  We will seek to 
preserve the survivability of Bosnia as a state.  We hope that our 
direct involvement in the negotiations, as well as the other steps I 
have announced, will encourage the parties to move quickly to negotiate 
and embrace a solution that is mutually acceptable and that, therefore, 
has a real chance to work.  In particular, we expect that our 
willingness to participate in the enforcement of such an agreement will 
help allay concerns [that] the Bosnian Government and others have 
expressed about an agreement's workability.

Let me also make clear what we do not intend by these steps.  We do not 
intend to impose a solution on the parties.  We believe the quickest, 
best, and most sustainable way to stop the bloodshed in the former 
Yugoslavia is to help create an environment in which all parties see it 
in their own self-interest to negotiate a political settlement.

The United States is not the world's policeman.  We cannot interpose our 
forces to stop every armed conflict in the world.  Yet, we are the 
United States of America.  We have singular powers and influence.  We 
are committed to Europe's stability.  Our values and interests give us 
reason to help create an international standard for the fair treatment 
of minorities.  Therefore, we have reasons to participate actively in 
this effort.

This is an important moment for our nation's post-Cold War role in 
Europe and the world.  It tests our ability to adopt new approaches to 
foreign policy in a world that has changed fundamentally.  It tests our 
commitment to the nurturing of democracy and the support of environments 
in which democracy can take root and grow.

It tests our willingness and that of our allies to help our institutions 
of collective security, such as NATO, evolve in ways that meet the 
demands of this new age.  It tests what wisdom we have gathered from 
this bloody century and measures our resolve to take early, concerted 
action against systematic ethnic persecution.

In the wake of the devastating struggles of the 20th century, no great 
power today can take lightly the risks of involvement in a Balkan 
conflict.  Yet no great power can dismiss the likely consequences of 
letting a Balkan conflict rage.  Acting now, in close cooperation with 
our friends and allies, offers the best chance to contain these flames 
of conflict before they become an underground fire that could later 
erupt and become all-consuming.  By acting now, we can demonstrate that 
not every crisis need become a choice between inaction and unilateral 
American intervention.  In the face of great suffering and the 
imperative of our own interest, we cannot afford to miss any further 
opportunities to help pursue a resolution of this conflict.