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U.S. Department of State
95/12/08 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman
                           U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                           Office of the Spokesman 
                              PRESS AVAILABILITY 
                              EUROPEAN ISSUES 
                           Friday, December 8, 1995 
     MR. BURNS:  Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.  
Welcome to the State Department.  Secretary of 
State Christopher will have a short statement on 
European Issues to make to you.  He then will have 
a couple of minutes to take your questions. 
     Mr. Secretary. 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, Nick.  I wanted 
to share some thoughts with you this morning on 
what was a genuine watershed week in Europe -- a 
watershed week for American leadership. 
     Across Europe, from Northern Ireland to the Balkans 
to the Baltics, last week's events have brought us 
closer to the goals America has sought in Europe 
for half a century:  peace, stability, prosperity, 
and an undivided continent. 
     These events demonstrate once again that American 
leadership in Europe is essential.  Our commitment 
to provide that leadership is unequivocal.  Any 
thought that the United States and Europe should 
be allowed to let their historic ties wither is 
simply misguided and wrong. 
     After returning from my recent trip, I'm more 
convinced than ever that our nation has a vital 
interest in European security.  For 50 years, we 
have stood with Europe and Europe has stood with 
us.  Walking away now is not an option.  It would 
be shortsighted and damaging to American interests 
and American values. 
     Nowhere is it more critical that members of 
Congress take the long view than in connection 
with Bosnia. 
     I've been around for a long time, and I've heard 
many debates about America's role in Europe.  For 
50 years our bipartisan choice for leadership and 
engagement has brought us great security and 
immense prosperity. 
     I hope that the members of Congress, especially the 
younger members, will recall this history.  I urge 
them to reflect on the responsibilities and 
benefits of leadership. 
     The plain fact is that if we don't lead this peace 
mission now, war will return to Bosnia and 
American leadership will erode. 
     The President had quite an extraordinary trip to 
Europe.  In London, Dublin, Belfast, and in 
talking with our soldiers in Germany, his words 
resonated all through the continent.  I heard this 
over and over again as I traveled in Europe. 
    He was the first sitting President to visit 
Northern Ireland where his personal involvement 
helped bring that troubled land much closer to 
     In Madrid, the President signed the Transatlantic 
Agenda between the United States and the European 
Union which commits us to joint action across the 
full range of common interests. 
     Two days later in Brussels, responding the 
President's initiative for Bosnia, NATO launched 
the largest single operation in its history and it 
did so with a clear demonstration of unity and 
     In addition, the NATO Ministers begin the second 
phase of the NATO enlargement process which 
remains on a steady, deliberate, careful course.  
We also took steps to strengthen the Partnership 
for Peace, an initiative which has exceeded all of 
its expectations and has earned for itself a 
permanent place in Europe. 
     Finally, we welcomed a new Secretary General of 
NATO, Javier Solana, to help us meet the 
challenges of the future and to guide NATO at one 
of the most critical periods of its history. 
     These were the achievements of the last week or so. 
 Let me reflect on their implications, especially 
those of the mission in Bosnia. 
     In the next few months, our most important 
challenge will be to implement the Dayton 
agreement while the minimizing the risks to our 
troops.  My counterparts and I were very much 
aware at NATO that this is a defining moment for 
     First, there can no longer be any doubt that NATO 
is here to stay as the guarantor of transatlantic 
security.  Without NATO it is clear that there 
would be no peace in Bosnia. Without a unified 
NATO-led force on the ground, the parties would 
not have the confidence to implement the peace 
agreement.  That is one reason why France has now 
agreed to participate more fully in the military 
aspects of NATO and why troops from the formerly 
neutral countries of Europe, such as Finland and 
Sweden, will serve in Bosnia under NATO command. 
     Second, it is widely recognized in Europe, and 
especially among our NATO allies, that American 
leadership is essential.  In fact, in Brussels my 
colleagues made it clear that without American 
leadership and participation, we would not have 
this chance for peace and NATO would not be able 
to carry out its mission in Bosnia. 
     Asserting our leadership in Bosnia puts us in a 
stronger position to advance our interests all 
through Europe.  It will have enormously positive 
consequences on our interests in European security 
and integration.  It will make us more effective 
in asserting our global priorities in such diverse 
areas as arms control, trade, and environmental 
     Third, the very nature of our coalition in Bosnia 
has historic implications.  Russia will contribute 
2,000 troops. Nearly every country from central 
Europe will participate. 
     Indeed, since the rise of the nation-state in 
Europe, this is the first time that soldiers from 
virtually every European power will serve together 
in a common military endeavor.  Never before have 
we been able to say with such confidence that our 
only remaining enemy in Europe is war itself. 
     NATO is able to work with its new partners so 
effectively because two years ago President 
Clinton had the foresight to propose the 
Partnership for Peace.  Now all the joint 
exercises and exchanges and training that we've 
had in the last two years will pay off in a real 
mission with real stakes. 
     That mission will enhance our ability to work 
together.  It will show that NATO and Russia can 
cooperate constructively in this kind of a 
mission.  It will give some of our partners a 
chance to show that they can meet the obligations 
of NATO membership and will be a step in that 
deliberate path that we're following. 
     Before leaving Europe, I met with the Foreign 
Ministers of the Central European and Baltic 
countries, as is my new tradition to do.  I was struck by their 
appreciation of American leadership, their 
confidence in the NATO mission in Bosnia, and 
their commitment to participate in it. 
     As we work with them to overcome the terrible 
division of Bosnia, we can also advance the 
President's concept of the importance of an 
integrated, unified Europe. 
     IFOR must succeed, first and foremost, of course 
for the sake of peace in Bosnia.  But we should 
understand that another goal is within sight -- an 
alliance that has evolved to meet the challenges 
of a new Europe -- and that is, of course, all the 
more reason to strive for success in the mission 
in Bosnia. 
     I'll be glad to take a few questions. 
     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, there has been a steady 
drum beat from the British press, trying to claim 
that the reason there is so much strikes and 
social unrest in France is because the Germans are 
demanding the French live up to the Maastricht 
     Does not this attempt to create a Franco-German 
fissure represent an endangerment to NATO, and is 
there not concern in the Department over such a 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't want to get drawn 
into European internal issues; but what I would 
want to stress is that in my three years of going 
to NATO, I have never seen NATO so unified, so 
concerted in their efforts, or indeed so 
enthusiastic about the new mission of NATO.  That 
was true for Germany, England and France.  
Whatever other problems there might be, they are 
totally unified on this mission; and the spirit in 
NATO has been better than I've ever seen it 
because NATO now has a mission.  NATO now has a 
vocation.  It is now clearly important for the 
future.  It has vindicated its purpose in Europe. 
     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you referred earlier to 
members of Congress, particularly younger members 
of Congress.  Even if they should somehow get a 
majority to oppose this, are they legally, 
constitutionally or politically in a position to 
stop the Bosnian operation, or would it go ahead 
with opposition? 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me say that I expect 
that at the end of the day, Congress will support 
our troops, support the President's decision to 
deploy the troops into Bosnia.  I think that 
there's a recognition that this is a decision that 
is made by the President and that they should 
recognize the importance of going forward on that. 
     I don't think we need to focus on the "what-if" 
hypothetical questions because, as I say, I think 
that support is growing in Congress for the 
President's decision.  Support is growing in 
Congress for our opportunity to achieve peace in 
Bosnia.  I think there's becoming a greater 
recognition that this is not troops being put into 
war but troops being sent to Bosnia to preserve 
the peace in a part of the world that's very 
important to us, and that is the center of Europe. 
     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, has the United States 
protested the Bosnian Croats' release of an 
indicted war criminal who's apparently also a 
military officer? 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We've made it clear to the 
Croats what their obligations are under the 
agreement that was negotiated in Dayton, and I'm 
sure that we'll have many occasions in the future 
to call the attention of the parties to the 
provisions that were negotiated in Dayton.  We'll 
depend on them.  We'll look to them to implement 
those provisions in a conscientious and faithful 
     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what are the implications 
of the fact that the Bosnian Croats have in fact 
released this guy?  This is a fact that has 
happened on the ground. 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's inconsistent, at least 
with the way I read the Dayton accords, and we'll 
be making that position known.  There are many 
important provisions to be carried out.  As I say, 
I think that we ought to recognize the 
comprehensiveness and complexity of this 
agreement, and I expect there will be many 
occasions in the future for us to bring to the 
attention of the parties their obligations under 
the agreement, and I think this is one. 
     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what are we asking the 
Bosnian Muslims to do specifically to reassure the 
Bosnian Serbs in the neighborhoods around Sarajevo? 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me step back from that 
for just a moment, if I can.  First, we have no 
intention of renegotiating any of the provisions 
of the Dayton agreement.  Those provisions stand, 
and they'll be implemented as they do stand. 
     President Milosevic of Serbia undertook the 
responsibility to ensure the commitment, ensure 
the observance by the Bosnian Serbs of the 
provisions of the Dayton agreement. He was 
authorized to sign for them, but he subsequently 
obtained their initialing.  So we look to 
President Milosevic to ensure that the provisions 
of the agreement will be implemented by the 
Bosnian Serbs as well as others. 
     As I've said, I think the implementation of this 
agreement needs to be done with care and concern 
for all the rights of the various parties and 
various entities within Bosnia.  Indeed, the 
Dayton agreement contains very strong human rights 
provisions, which we would expect to see 
     We have brought to the attention of the Bosnian 
Government the need to be full of concern -- 
"sensitive" is the word I used the other day -- 
about the fact that there are Bosnian Serbs living 
within an area that will be under Federation 
control.  But that's not exclusive to Sarajevo.  
It's true throughout the country.  I think there 
needs to be concern in the implementation that it 
be done with care and respect for the rights of 
the parties. 
     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, would the United States, 
especially NATO, but especially the United States, 
not be wise to back away from this plan to arm and 
train the Muslims, especially in view of the 
warnings given by Ike Skelton over at the House, 
by General McKenzie?  And former Secretary Baker 
said there would be a vendetta against U.S. troops 
for our involvement in the bombing.  Doesn't this, 
in view of what Perry -- Secretary Perry said 
yesterday about us not being neutral, would it not 
be wise to let somebody else take care of that? 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me tell you where we 
stand on that, and it's something that we've been 
saying, of course, for several days, and that is 
the agreement in Dayton calls for the achievement 
of a balance of forces by the time IFOR leaves.  
That's been a position of the United States as 
well.  We don't want to leave the area, we don't 
want IFOR to leave the area and leave one of the 
parties -- especially not the Muslim party -- 
without sufficient military power or without there 
being an sufficient equilibrium to ensure that 
they are not subject to attack.  We want them to 
have sufficient military power to have a deterrent 
     The agreement has elaborate provisions to try to 
achieve this through arms control, through 
build-down.  There are quite a lot of incentives 
for the parties without going into all of them to 
try to achieve the equilibrium through build-down. 
     But at the same time, because of the past history 
of the situation, we anticipate that it will be 
necessary for some assistance to be given to the 
Bosnian Federation to ensure that there is this 
kind of an equilibrium. 
     The United States has taken the responsibility to 
coordinate arranging for that assistance.  But 
that will not be done either by the IFOR or by the 
United States military forces acting within IFOR.  
That seems to be the most prudent approach to the 
matter.  So we want to achieve this equilibrium, 
as I say, hopefully through a build-down; but 
we anticipate that it will be necessary to provide 
some assistance.  The United States will 
coordinate this, but it will not be done by either 
IFOR or United States troops within IFOR. 
     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, would you concede that 
your battle to convince Capitol Hill to go along 
with the President's intentions is still an 
up-hill battle?  And, secondly, do you subscribe 
to the theory that part of the reason for that may 
be the large numbers of younger members who have 
never really had to cast a purely national 
security vote? 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We're working hard on that. 
 There are many meetings every day that attempt to 
achieve a greater understanding on Capitol Hill.  
I met last night with two CODELs that are going 
out.  I'm very grateful to members of Congress who 
are willing to sacrifice their weekend and make a 
very hard trip to learn about this better.  The 
CODEL last weekend, I think, was very useful in 
exposing the members of Congress to the realities 
on the scene.  I'm sure these two that are going 
out today and tomorrow will do likewise. 
     The President met with a number of members of 
Congress last night.  It was an extremely good 
exchange.  It went almost two hours.  The 
President, I thought, was very persuasive.  We're 
working hard on this. 
     I don't want to try to ascribe the particular 
reasons for people feeling as they do.  But I 
think we're making progress and we're going to 
continue to work very hard on it.  I think we'll 
achieve ultimate support. 
     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, I realize Presidents and 
Ministers don't use a lot of public 
transportation.  But Paris is a mess because of 
the strike, and there were reports that the 
signing may be delayed.  Also, there are 
suggestions it isn't the strike alone that would 
cause a delay; some dissatisfaction on the French 
Government for various matters. 
     Could you illuminate this or put the speculation to 
     SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I hope I can.  I'm planning 
to go to Paris.  I feel confident that the signing 
ceremony will take place in Paris on the 14th, as 
planned.  I think the French Government is 
committed to that.  They understand the great 
importance of maintaining the momentum and 
achieving the signing which the parties, of 
course, are committed by their initialing to do. 
     I'm sorry that I do have to go to another 
appointment.  Thanks very much. 
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