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U.S. Department of State 
95/09/12 Secretary Christopher Roundtable Interview 
Office of the Spokesman 

                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                         Office of the Spokesman
                               INTERVIEW OF 
                    JEAN HACKLANDER - MONITOR RADIO 
                        HOWARD MOSS - MUTUAL RADIO 
                            RON PEMSTEIN - VOA 
                       ROB ARMSTRONG - CBS RADIO 
                         JON BASCOM - ABC RADIO 
                         CAROL GIACOMO - REUTERS 
                            ANDRE VIOLLAZ - AFP 
                            SID BALMAN - UPI 

                            SEPTEMBER 12, 1995 

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I've got a relatively short statement that 
I'd like to read and then take your questions.

     A number of recent actions by the Congress raised grave concern 
about whether the congressional leadership is beginning America's 
retreat from the world.

     With the end of the Cold War, our challenges abroad have become 
more complex.  Our security depends upon fighting threats like terrorism 
and nuclear proliferation, threats that call for international 

     Our prosperity rests increasingly on foreign trade and investment 
that depends on open markets.  Meeting these essential challenges 
demands American engagement, leadership and resources, as President 
Clinton has repeatedly stressed.

     Our diplomatic engagement over the last year alone has produced 
important results.  Just imagine how we could have secured the extension 
of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty without the benefit of 
concerted, coordinated global diplomacy.  Just imagine trying to manage 
the Balkan peace process without an embassy in Sarajevo, Belgrade and 

     When the world confronts intractable problems, American leadership 
is essential and so is our diplomatic readiness.

     Yet as our appropriation bill to fund State Department operations 
goes to the floor later this week in the Senate, the Congress threatens 
our leadership around the world and jeopardizes our national security by 
resources that are really not up to the job.

     As I indicated in a letter yesterday to the Committee, the pending 
bill slashes funding for international affairs by more than $1 billion, 
from the $5.6 billion requested by the President, to $4.4 billion, a cut 
of more than 20 percent.  Such draconian reductions would have 
devastating consequences on our international affairs efforts.

     First, I would have to seriously consider closing about 50 overseas 
posts, thus crippling our ability to protect American interests around 
the world.

     Our diplomatic posts, as you know, constitute our operating 
platforms for more than 38 other agencies, including the Defense 
Department, the Commerce Department, and law enforcement agencies.

     These posts also assist Americans overseas, responding to more than 
1.7 million requests for service last year alone.  Implementing the 
budget cuts could translate into tens of thousands of unanswered calls 
for assistance or service.

     These budget cuts would also force layoffs and furloughs of many of 
our most skilled employees, leading to part-time Embassies in a world of 
24-hour crises.

     Second, the proposed cuts would prevent us from meeting our 
commitment to international organizations, such as NATO and the 
Organization of American States.  These cuts would plainly undermine our 
ability to rally international support for matters of vital interest to 
the United States.

     Third, we'd be unable to pay our peacekeeping dues to the United 
Nations.  I can't imagine that the American people want the sole 
remaining superpower to turn into a deadbeat donor.  This result would 
leave us with the unacceptable choice each time a global crisis arose, a 
choice between acting alone or doing nothing.

     Fourth, even as we stand on the verge of major breakthroughs in 
arms control and a global ban on nuclear testing, our arms control 
resource agency would be cut by more than 50 percent of its funding.

     Fifth, we would no longer be able to continue Voice of America 
broadcasts at current levels.  America's voice as to its values would be 
seriously impaired around the world.

     And, finally, I want to emphasize that strong American leadership 
demands more than just resources to be effective, although I've placed 
the primary emphasis today on resources.

     The Salt II Treaty which has had strong bipartisan support over 
several Administration is being held hostage to bureaucratic 
negotiations in the Senate.

     Our nominees for ambassadorial posts in more than 30 countries 
remain blocked in the Senate for similar reasons.  Other treaties and 
important legislative business are not moving forward.  They're simply 
stalemated.  Politics is preventing progress and American interests are 
paying the price.

     I'd be glad to try to respond to your questions.

     QUESTION:  What are the possibilities that this is posturing on the 
part of the Hill -- do you think that down the road they will see it 
your way?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I strongly hope that they will recognize 
the importance of funding the international affairs budget when they get 
to conference or as it moves through the process.  I don't have any 
confidence that that will happen unless Congress is brought to 
understand that they're cutting back on a vital national security need, 
so I don't regard it as posturing.  I think it is an extremely serious 
matter, and I wouldn't be coming here today if I didn't regard it as the 
utmost seriousness.

     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, the Russians are making very unpleasant 
noises with regard to Bosnia.  Can you tell us what you are going to do 
assuage them?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  With respect to the Russians' comments on 
Bosnia, let me emphasize that we're working very closely with the 
Russians in trying to achieve a peace agreement.  They're participating 
fully in the Contact Group, of which they're one of five country 
members.  I think we have a strong shared interest in trying to reach a 
peace agreement.

     The Russians have been critical of the United States because of our 
leadership in producing the bombing campaign to respond to the Bosnian 
Serbs' attack on Sarajevo and the other safe areas.

     That bombing campaign is the result of United Nations Security 
Council resolutions and the actions of NATO.  We think those actions are 
absolutely necessary.  We think that the Bosnian Serbs must be held to 
account for the conduct that they've had in Bosnia.

     I want to stress that the United States has been scrupulously 
careful to try to avoid collateral damage or civilian casualties.  I 
look at the photographs every morning, and I'm struck by the great care 
that our military has taken to avoid collateral damage, to avoid 
civilian casualties.  But, nevertheless, I think that the message had to 
be brought home to the Bosnian Serbs.

     Our Deputy Secretary, Strobe Talbott, will be leaving for Moscow 
within the next 24 or 36 hours to discuss the overall situation with the 
Russians, to explain to them once again what our overall strategy is.

     We have a very broad relationship with the Russians.  I believe 
that we can work together in this crisis as partners, as we have in 
other matters.  The crisis is with Yugoslavia.  It's not a crisis with 
Russia.  It's a matter on which we're working together.  We have some 
tactical differences, but I think in the end we'll be working strongly 
together to try to achieve a peace settlement in Bosnia, which is in all 
of our interests.

     QUESTION:  (Jean Hacklander, Christian Science Monitor Radio)  The 
Bosnian Serbs have repeatedly said that they cannot withdraw the heavy 
weapons from around Sarajevo because they're afraid that Serb civilians 
in the villages in the region might then be attacked by the Muslims.

     Do you think that their fear is legitimate, and is the U.S. 
considering any measures to assuage their concerns?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yesterday, President Izetbegovic of Bosnia 
made it clear that there would be Bosnian restraint if the artillery and 
other very large arms were removed by the Bosnian Serbs, as they're 
required to do under U.N. resolutions.

     Stopping the bombing is very much in the hands of the Bosnian 
Serbs.  They have it within their control to bring the bombing to an end 
by doing what they're obligated to do, and that is to move the heavy 
artillery out.

     You look back in the history here.  It's not been the Bosnian 
Government that created the risk to civilians.  Over and over again, 
it's been the Bosnian Serbs, just as it was in the last dreadful killing 
in the marketplace, just as it's been over the last several months at 
Srebrenica and Zepa.

     So on the historical record, it's the Bosnian Serbs who have been 
the villains in this piece, and I think if they would simply do what 
they're obligated to do, then the bombing can be brought to a halt.

     QUESTION:  (Jon Bascom, ABC Radio)  Can you give us, sir, an update 
on the Holbrooke mission?  Is the optimism that was expressed, albeit it 
in small form last week, still there?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We're proceeding with great determination 
with this peace endeavor.  We met with the President at some length 
yesterday.  He asked the Holbrooke team to go back to the region as soon 
as possible.  They'll be leaving tonight to go to Belgrade where they 
will be meeting with President Milosevic and engaging him in trying to 
bring maximum pressure on the Bosnian Serbs to stop the bombing, stop 
the shelling of Sarajevo, and to participate in the peace process.

     Then the Holbrooke team will go on to Geneva for a meeting at the 
Russian Embassy there of the Contact Group, which will plan the next 
steps in the shuttle.

     I would say that we proceed with great determination.  We feel that 
there are many difficult steps ahead in the road.  There was a very 
important first step taken last week in Geneva, but I wouldn't want to 
underestimate the difficulties ahead.

     The parties have been very stubborn and intransigent and we'll have 
to keep working on this system.

     But the greatest hope we have is that the parties are beginning to 
understand, I think, that the only alternative that they have is to 
continue the bloody killing, to continue the fighting.  I think that may 
bring them face to face with the reality that they need to find a 
solution here.

     That was certainly the temper of the very good statement that 
President Izetbegovic yesterday, indicating that compromises were made 
at Geneva.  He asked, "Why did I make those comprises?"  He said, "The 
only reason that I did was because the only alternative is war."  We 
want the parties the grasp the alternative of peace."

     QUESTION:  (Ted Clark, National Public Radio)  I'm wondering what 
happens if the Bosnian Serbs do not do what you want them to do?  Are 
you prepared -- is NATO prepared to continue the bombing for years, if 

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Ted, that's quite a hypothetical question.  
I hope and expect they will see the light on this subject as NATO 
continues the bombing.  We have limited our targets to those at the 
present time that minimize the risk of collateral damage.  As I said 
earlier, NATO has been at enormous pains to try to avoid civilian 
casualties.  So far as I can tell, they've done a very good job on this.

     We'll continue to let the Bosnian Serbs know that we have many 
other bombing options down the road, many other potential targets, if 
that becomes necessary.

     I just have the strongest hope that they will recognize the reality 
and that they will come to see that the only realistic alternative that 
they have is to stop the bombing and to join in the search for peace 
based upon the principles that were adopted last week in Geneva.

     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, is the United States hurting Yeltsin and 
Kozyrev by hugging them so hard?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We work closely with President Yeltsin and 
Foreign Minister Kozyrev.  They are the chosen leaders of Russia.  We 
are working with them because they have a desire to be part of the 
Contact Group.  We recognize tactical differences, but there are no 
differences in the long-term aim that we both have of seeking peace in 

     I think it's in their interest and our interest to work closely 
together, to be coordinated as well as we can.  That's, as I say, is one 
of the reasons why Deputy Secretary Talbott will be going to Moscow, a 
trip he has frequently made, as the person who has led our effort with 
respect to Russia on many, many occasion.

     QUESTION:  (Ron Pemstein, VOA)  Mr. Secretary, speaking of 
intransigent parties, since you were last in Damascus and Jerusalem, 
they haven't even fulfilled the schedule that you laid out.  I was 
wondering, are you abandoning this track for the time being because the 
parties don't seem interested?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We're certainly not abandoning the track.  
We continue to work on it, we continue to try to find the right moment 
in which to re-engage by my travel to the region.

     I continue to meet with the ambassadors here in Washington.  I met 
with Ambassador Moualem only two days ago to talk with him on that 
subject.  Although we are in a period in which the process has slowed 
down, I, nevertheless, feel that considerable progress can be made 
between now and the end of the year, and must be made.

     This particular track, as with many peace negotiations, has ups and 
downs.  We're not in an "up" period right now, but I hope that, 
energized by conversations that I'll be having between now and the end 
of the month, we'll be back in a position where that track will become 
very active again.

     No, we have not given up.  Yes, we are determined to help the 
parties make progress.

     QUESTION:  To get back to the funding issue.  There are already 
those on Capitol Hill who are talking about cutting aid to Russia.  Are 
you concerned that the heated rhetoric of the last couple of days will 
hurt Russia's case on Capitol Hill?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  First, let me say that we're naturally 
concerned about some of the Russian comments and attitudes.  But, 
nonetheless, the important thing to remember is that our aid to Russia 
is given because it's in our own national interest.

     Each of our elements of our aid, such as the aid for dismantling 
their nuclear facilities, is given because that represents what Congress 
in the past and the Administration now feels is in our national 

     It's the responsibility of those who would cut our aid to say 
exactly what they would cut.  Would they cut the aid which dismantles 
the nuclear facilities of Russia?  Would they cut the aid that goes to 
assist privatization in Russia?  Would they cut the aid that helps to 
avoid nuclear smuggling from the Russian nuclear arsenals?  That's the 
obligation that those have who would cut the aid.

     I think our aid will pass that test in each instance.

     QUESTION:  (Andre Viollaz, AFP)  You met this morning with Mate 
Granic, the Croatian Foreign Minister.  Do you have any proposal on how 
to solve the Eastern Slavonia problem?  And did you ask Mr. Granic to 
exercise restraint; not to take advantage of the military situation 
right now?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  My meeting with Foreign Minister Granic of 
Croatia this morning was a very positive one.  He and I have worked 
together on several problems in the past, particularly putting together 
the federation between the Croats and the Bosnians.  We identified the 
problem of Eastern Slavonia as being one of the principal problems that 
will be addressed in the forthcoming negotiations.

     The United States is committed to the territorial integrity of 
Croatia.  But we recognize the need to have a sound and satisfactory 
solution to the problem of Eastern Slavonia where, of course, there are 
a number of Serbs.  I emphasized the importance of fair treatment for 
the Serbs in Eastern Slavonia.

     At the present time, I would just identify that as a problem on 
which the parties need to work in this next round, and I told him I was 
hopeful that before this next round was concluded we would be able to 
identify publicly some progress on the Eastern Slavonia issue.

     QUESTION:  (Carol Giacomo, Reuters)  Mr. Secretary, how confident 
are you that a summit will take place with China this year?  What issues 
do you see as at the top of the agenda?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The question as to whether or not there 
will be a summit meeting between President Clinton and President Jiang 
of China is one that I'll be discussing with Foreign Minister Qian 
Qichen when we meet together about two weeks from now in New York at the 
U.N. General Assembly meeting.

     We both want to make sure that if there is a meeting at the summit 
level, it would be a successful meeting.  If such a meeting takes place, 
we have a broad agenda for the Presidents to address.  The agenda 
consisting of things like non-proliferation, trade issues, issues of 
intellectual property, issues relating to North Korea, issues in which 
the United States and China have a common interest such as the search 
for stability in Asia.

     All those would potentially be on the agenda between the Presidents 
just as they are on the agenda between the Foreign Minister and me.  I 
think it's desirable that the leaders of the countries meet but at the 
right time and under the right circumstances.

     The last meeting I had with the Foreign Minister was a good 
meeting.  The First Lady has gone to China, and I hope that the Foreign 
Minister and I will have a promising meeting in the latter part of this 
month in New York.  I look forward to a successful meeting between the 
two heads of state.

     But as far as an exact date, that will just have to depend upon 
developments and conversations between us at that time.

     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, were you surprised at China's position on 
the bombing of the Bosnian Serbs?

     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  My own feeling about that is that the 
bombing is taking place pursuant to U.N. Security Council resolutions.  
The attacks by the Bosnian Serbs on the safe areas, particularly the 
most recent attack on Srebrenica, had to be answered in my judgment.  It 
was something that we had to do.  We've done it.  We hope that the 
Bosnian Serbs will ensure that they can't take any comparable action by 
removing their heavy artillery from the Sarajevo area.

     I disagree with the Chinese position on this subject, and will look 
forward to an opportunity to explain more fully.

     I hope, though, in the near future we'll reach a situation where we 
can concentrate full time on the search for peace.  But as I've said 
before, it remains in the hands of the Bosnian Serbs as to when the 
bombing can be brought to an end.
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