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U.S. Department of State
95/09/08 Briefing:  Bosnia
Office of the Spokesman
 
 
 
                      U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                      Office of the Spokesman 
                                                              
For Immediate Release                      September 8, 1995 
 
 
 
                         PRESS BRIEFING 
                               BY 
               SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
 
 
                      Department of State 
                       Washington, D.C. 
 
 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Good afternoon.  Today in Geneva, the Foreign 
Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and the Federal Republic of 
Yugoslavia agreed to take an important step away from the path of war 
and toward the path of peace.  They made a commitment to pursue a 
political, not a military, solution to the tragic conflict in Bosnia-
Herzegovina.  The Agreed Basic Principles that they have endorsed are 
consistent with the approach that the United States and the 
international community have been urging for over a year. 
 
Most significantly, each of the parties has accepted the continuation of 
Bosnia-Herzegovina as a single state within its current internationally 
recognized borders.  Within that state, the parties have agreed on basic 
principles that will govern their domestic affairs.  They have accepted 
for the first time the basic 5l/49 territorial parameters set out by the 
Contact Group more than a year ago. 
 
The parties have agreed to protect human rights throughout Bosnia-
Herzegovina as well as the freedom of movement of all of Bosnia's people 
and the right of displaced peoples to return to their homes.  The 
parties agreed to develop mechanisms and procedures to ensure that all 
of these rights are protected. 
 
Of course, today's agreement is just a first step and many difficult 
issues remain to be resolved over the future days and weeks. 
 
I want to commend Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and his team for the 
determined effort that they have made over the past several weeks which 
today resulted in this important agreement. 
 
Let me add that we also owe a deep debt of gratitude to Bob Frasure, Joe 
Kruzel, Nelson Drew -- the courageous American diplomats who lost their 
lives in the efforts that made this agreement possible. 
 
After a few days of consultations here in Washington, Assistant 
Secretary Holbrooke and his team will return to the region to resume 
their shuttle among the parties sometime next week. 
 
Today's agreement demonstrates that when the world confronts intractable 
problems, American leadership is absolutely essential. 
 
As I've emphasized time and again this year, it's a pure illusion to 
think that America can lead if we're not willing to spend what we must 
to maintain our diplomatic capability around the world. 
 
That's why yesterday's decision by the Senate Appropriations 
Subcommittee would, if it were ultimately enacted, deal a devastating 
blow to the President's ability to sustain American leadership around 
the world.  Funding for international affairs was cut by this 
Subcommittee almost 25 percent from the President's requested levels of 
more than $l billion.  At these levels, the Department of State would be 
forced to cut many additional posts around the world, to cut back on 
vital diplomatic and commercial activities, and to drastically reduce 
their support for United States agencies abroad. 
 
Imagine where we would be today if we did not have diplomatic missions 
in Zagreb, in Belgrade, and also in Sarajevo. 
 
The actions that this Subcommittee has taken are just not responsible 
actions.  You cannot say that you are in favor of American leadership 
and then set out to undermine it in the way that the Subcommittee did in 
the levels that they established.  I'll continue to make this case for 
adequate funding for our diplomatic activities, spurred on by 
experiences like we've had over the last week which show so dramatically 
the importance of adequate diplomatic engagement, adequate diplomatic 
facilities around the world. 
 
Thank you.  I'd be glad to take your questions. 
 
QUESTION:  Is there anything you can say, Mr. Secretary, about the 
future of the NATO bombing campaign? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I can only say what I said last night, and that 
is that it will continue.  It's really in the hands of General Mladic 
and the Bosnian Serbs as to how long that campaign will continue.  They 
know what is necessary in order to bring the campaign to an end.  It 
will continue. 
 
We had a relatively good day again today with a number of targets being 
available, I understand, in the second wave.  We attacked targets in the 
infrastructure area -- ammunition dumps, communication links -- and 
those attacks have been quite effective. 
 
QUESTION:  Has a cease-fire yet been established?  Or when will it go 
into effect?  It is not a requisite a stand-down militarily? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There's no cease-fire in effect and one was not 
agreed to in Geneva today. 
 
QUESTION:  Today's agreement brings the United States a step closer to 
putting its own troops on the ground in Bosnia to help implement a peace 
agreement. 
 
If an agreement is reached before Americans are sent, can you state 
categorically that the Serb heavy weapons will be out of Serb hands? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me say that today's step was an important 
step forward, but there are many difficult problems that lie ahead.  
Translating the general principles into a peace agreement will be a 
matter of very considerable difficulty. 
 
What I can assure you is that we'll pursue that peace agreement with 
great determination.  We will achieve it if we possibly can.  I can 
assure you that United States troops will not go into the area of 
Bosnia-Herzegovina unless there is a real peace agreement.  A real peace 
agreement, of course, would require that the parties not be firing at 
each other or not have the capacity to continue the war. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you mentioned General Mladic.  Is there any 
indication that he and the other generals are willing to accept what the 
civilian leadership of the Bosnian Serbs apparently agreed to today?  
And if they don't, what then?  Does the war go on? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, unless General Mladic takes the steps that 
are necessary, the bombing will continue.  As I've said, it's really in 
his hands to determine whether or not it will continue. 
 
We need a coordinated response from the Bosnian Serbs on the military 
field, just as we've had a coordinated response from them today at the 
Geneva meetings. I thought it was quite significant that present in the 
room were not only the negotiator for the Serbian Government in Belgrade 
but also representatives of the Bosnian Serbs. 
 
QUESTION:  What's your reaction, sir, to President Yeltsin's suggestion 
that he might send military aid to the Bosnian Serbs?  Is there any 
understanding with the Russians as to how long bombing can be allowed to 
continue? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me say on that, David, we continue to work 
closely with the Russian Government.  Deputy Foreign Minister Ivanov was 
present today in the meeting in Geneva where this agreement was worked 
out and approved.  We're consulting with the Russian Government at all 
levels.  I think that's the best proof of the fact that we're working 
together. 
 
The Russians have no less enthusiasm than we do; no less importance is 
attached by them than by us to trying to achieve a peaceful agreement of 
this tragic conflict which has been waged far too long. 
 
QUESTION:  What about the weapons -- the suggestion of weapons, do you 
take that seriously? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think one never underestimates what is said by 
other foreign leaders.  I would simply say that we're working together 
to try to achieve a peaceful settlement in which the countries can get 
back to a peaceful existence, and the furnishing of additional weapons 
at the present time would not be consistent with that. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, the War Crimes Tribunal, which was established 
by the United Nations to investigate the genocidal acts of the Serb 
leadership -- military leadership -- will it continue its work as a 
result of this agreement?  What will happen with this commission? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There will be no change in the procedure of the 
War Crimes Tribunal.  They'll continue with their activities.  It's not 
affected by today's agreement. 
 
QUESTION:  To follow up on that, Mr. Secretary, does Secretary Holbrooke 
have any instructions as to whether or not he would negotiate with the 
indicted leaders of the Bosnian Serbs -- Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic 
-- if they were part of the joint delegation?  Do you have any problem 
with that? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There are some practical logistical problems 
that might arise in that situation, but we recognize we need to deal -- 
with respect to finding a peace settlement -- with the leaders of the 
Bosnian Serbs as well as the leaders of Serbia.  So we have not ruled 
out dealing with them.  But that does not mean that we're in any way 
compromising the efforts of the War Crimes Tribunal. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, at what point does the Administration favor 
the suspension of sanctions on Belgrade? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That issue did not come up in today's 
discussion.  Presumably, it will come up in the discussions that 
commence when the team begins the next round of discussions next week. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, for some time critics of this plan have said 
it legitimizes territorial gains made through ethnic cleansing.  What 
would you say to those critics today? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I would say that today's agreement preserves a 
single state of Bosnia-Herzegovina; that there will be a single 
international personality with one seat in the United Nations; that any 
agreement with respect to territorial division would be one that's 
agreed to by the parties.  I think that's the best answer to those who 
want to achieve, apparently, an agreement different from the parties. 
 
We respect the views of the parties, and there will be difficult 
negotiations ahead. 
 
The commitment today for the very first time by the unified Serb 
delegation to a 51/49 parameter I think is an indication that they're 
going to be pulled back from the 70 percent of the territory that they 
now hold at the present time. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, do you expect to see bombing still going on by 
the time the Russians host a Contact Group meeting next week? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think the precise date of a Contact Group 
meeting and the location of it has not been set.  There will be a 
Contact Group meeting in Moscow in the near future, in all probability, 
but all I can say with respect to that is that the bombing campaign is 
continuing, and it's in the hands of the Bosnian Serbs as to how long it 
will go on, in the sense that they have within their capacity to do the 
things that would make it possible to end the bombing campaign. 
 
QUESTION:  Just a follow-up on this one.  So there's nothing the Bosnian 
Serbs can do short of removing the artillery from the hills around 
Sarajevo that would stop the bombing -- no compromise? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's certainly a very important aspect of what 
needs to be done.  But the main thing that needs to be done is for them 
to comply with the U.N. resolutions, to take the steps to bring this 
conflict to an end.  We'll be moving into a new phase now.  An important 
step has been taken today.  These basic principles have been agreed to. 
 
There will now be shuttling back and forth by the United States' team 
and regular meetings of the Contact Group to give additional direction 
that will move forward from this period of time.  But, at the present 
time, the intransigence of the Bosnian Serbs has made it necessary for 
the United States and its allies, through NATO and with the full 
concurrence of the United Nations, to continue the bombing campaign, and 
we intend to do so. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, could I just clear up one thing on the 51/49.  
Did they agree to those exact figures, or is that just a starting point 
for further negotiations? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  If you look at the precise language of what was 
stated in Geneva, it says the 51/49 parameter of the territorial 
proposal of the Contact Group is the basis for a settlement.  It goes on 
to say that the territorial proposal is open to adjustment by mutual 
agreement.  That means that the parties themselves can agree to a 
different allocation with respect to the map or different numbers if 
they do so by mutual agreement, but it will not be imposed upon the 
parties. 
 
Thanks very much. 
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