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U.S. Department of State
96/02/03 Press Conference (with Bosnian President Izetbegovic)
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release February 3, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
BOSNIAN PRESIDENT ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC
February 3, 1996
PRESIDENT IZETBEGOVIC: We have the honored pleasure of speaking to his
Excellency Secretary Christopher. That was an open and thorough
discussion, and we have said how much we appreciate everything that he
and the United States of America have done for reaching peace in Bosnia-
Hercegovina. On behalf of my delegation and our people, I have thanked
his Excellency, Mr. Christopher, for the efforts that he made in
advancing peace. Participating in the Dayton discussions and reaching
peace in Dayton, I was a witness, and I know very well how much effort
Mr. Secretary has invested in reaching peace.
The subject of our discussions was the implementation of the Dayton
Agreements. It was with pleasure that we have stated that the military
part, the military compliance, by IFOR is developing without major
difficulties. However, the civilian part of the agreement goes slowly,
although lately there are signs of improvement. We have discussed the
issues of Sarajevo, Mostar, elections, and the reconstruction of Bosnia-
Hercegovina. As of Sarajevo, we have expressed our dissatisfaction with
the decision of Mr. Bildt that the following forty-five days there is a
presence of the Serb police in those areas. We consider it the wrong
interpretation of this part of the Dayton agreement and that the
presence of the Serb police in the following forty-five days is illegal.
We have Mr. Christopher informed about this and it is my impression that
he understood it well.
We have also made an objection to the fact that there is devastation
going on in the areas which have to be added/joined to the part which is
the Federation, not only the areas but also the factories and all the
properties being devastated. I have informed Mr. Christopher of Mr.
Krizinger's, the German ambassador to Bosnia, visit yesterday to
Vogosca, where they found a very difficult and sad situation. Mr.
Krizinger found devastated factories and equipment there. It is our
opinion that IFOR should be preventing this. If IFOR is not able to do
that, then the Serb side should be fully notified that all the damages
that they are creating will be deducted from the financial support of
the international community that is due to them.
As of the election, we have also notified Mr. Secretary that this part
of the Dayton agreements, when it comes to the freedom of the political
activities, is not developing well. The freedom of movement and freedom
of media is an absolute precondition for free and fair elections. The
American side has fully agreed, in this regard, with us.
As for the prisoners, the majority of prisoners have been released from
our side. I believe that it is today that the remaining five prisoners
will be released today in Gorazde. We have difficulties there, as you
know. The wives, the daughters, the sisters of the killed and missing
people are protesting against the release of the remaining Serb
prisoners before the destiny and the situation regarding their husbands
and their sons is being found out, from Srebrenica. They're placing
this issue before – in front of – the Dayton agreements, because that
issue is of more importance to them. We have difficulties in this. We
have informed the American side of this. The Americans are very well
informed on this situation.
It was with great satisfaction that we received the news that the
Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Mr. Shattuck will remain Bosnia-
Hercegovina, and that he is going to travel to Omarska and he'll be
going out to investigate the issue of the mass graves that we are
speaking about. The special group established by the International Red
Cross will continue to investigate the questions and the destinies of
the missing persons from Srebrenica. Mr. Christopher has expressed the
readiness of the United States of America to continue fully to cooperate
and to work on searching and investigating the destiny of the missing
persons, especially from Srebrenica. So, it was in this regard that
I've asked Mr. Christopher to, at the meeting tomorrow with President
Milosevic, ask him for the better cooperation of Serbia with the
International Tribunal in The Hague.
Mr. Christopher has also expressed the readiness of speeding up the
decisions regarding the reconstruction of Bosnia-Hercegovina. We have
informed his Excellency that there are so many delegations, so many
people, coming here to Bosnia-Hercegovina and coming in and out with
proposals and with promises, but not even one dollar reached Bosnia-
Hercegovina from the program of reconstruction of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
I have also informed the Secretary of State on the development on the
issues regarding the Federation and the issues regarding the development
of the situation in Mostar. Finally, we have agreed fully that all the
foreign forces have to leave Bosnia-Hercegovina. We have expressed, in
this regard, our full decisiveness to fully comply with the Dayton
provisions. Thank you.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you Mr. President. Let me thank President
Izetbegovic and his colleagues for their welcome here in Sarajevo. It
is a great privilege to be here and to witness the rebirth of Sarajevo
as the capital of a unified country at peace. It's not been so long
since the Dayton Accords were concluded, but the citizens of Sarajevo
seem to be beginning to enjoy the miracle of a normal life, as President
Clinton once put it. As I drove in from the airport, I could see that
the citizens of Sarajevo were beginning to fix their windows. Shattered
windows were being fixed. I think that's a simple metaphor for the
confidence that's been generated by the presence of IFOR here. Of
course, we cannot deny the wreckage of war, which is also apparent here
in Sarajevo. With peace, it is clear that everything is possible --
rebuilding, reconciliation, justice. Bosnia, once again, has a future
as a European democracy, and it's a close partner of the United States.
The fact is that the key to the future lies in the carrying out, the
implementation of the Dayton Accords. It's a very aggressive set of
documents. The agreements that were reached there reached out and
provided, with considerable precision, a road map for the future. I
must say that, although there are problems, the net pluses far outweigh
the problems that existed. The indications of compliance are enormous,
especially on the military front. The indications that there will be
compliance on the civilian front build up day by day. IFOR, now, has
total freedom of movement throughout the country. Bosnia's national
government and the government of the Federation have been appointed.
This is a very strong beginning, and, as I say, although problems
remain, nevertheless, the overwhelming weight of the evidence is that
the implementation is going well and can succeed, if we continue to work
Of course, that's one of the principle reasons that I've come here, to
try to advance implementation and to try to ensure compliance. The
United States' leadership is necessary in this regard, as it was in
connection with the Dayton Agreement and with the indications of IFOR
deployment here, and now the beginning of a peaceful process. I welcome
the President's statement that the remaining prisoners-of-war will be
released. I welcome his statement that they will ensure that the
foreign forces leave the country. As the President said, one of the
main missions that I have here is to ensure the cooperation of all
parties with the War Crimes Tribunal. We remain convinced that this is
a key to the reconciliation of the country. That's the point that I'm
going to reiterate in both Belgrade and in Zagreb, as well.
As the President indicated, the transition here in Sarajevo and the need
for concrete steps to build confidence among all the people of this
city… During the war, Sarajevo became a symbol. It captured the
imagination of the people of the world and I think that we must now seek
to help the parties, in building an open and pluralistic society here.
I know that this is a difficult process and the people here, who have
suffered through four years of war, have had bitter disappointment and
terrible devastation. But, Bosnia understands that it's destiny lies
with the nations, the institutions and the values of the West.
On behalf of President Clinton, I assured President Izetbegovic that the
people of the United States will continue to stand with the people of
Bosnia, as we work through the difficult, but resolvable, problems of
implementation. With peace everything is possible. With war, nothing
was possible. So, we have a new opportunity. We face challenges, but
those are challenges that can be resolved, as we work together to try to
bring not only the absence of war, but the blessings of full peace to
PRESIDENT IZETBEGOVIC: I would answer positively to that question, but
no we will not do that unilaterally.
PRESIDENT IZETBEGOVIC: We do not agree with that. We do agree that the
international police forces go there. That is the only solution. Since
under present conditions, there is only protection, security and safety
for the Serb part of the population and there is no protection and no
safety for the rest of the population we expelled….non-Serb population
who have to be insured to be able to go back to their homes. It is only
the international police forces who could guarantee the equal security
for both the Serb and non-Serb populations.
QUESTION: Mr. President, how many…(inaudible)?
PRESIDENT IZETBEGOVIC: There were a lot of foreign forces in Bosnia-
Hercegovina. First of all, there were Serb—Milosevic-- forces here.
There were the Croat forces here with our consent on the basis of the
Split agreement, and there were units from the Muslim Islamic countries.
I cannot tell you exact figures, but we did agree that all foreign
elements have to leave Bosnia Hercegovina, and we are going to implement
QUESTION: (inaudible) …Secretary Christopher, are you satisfied…?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: In answer to that question let me just step back
for a moment and give you a broader perspective. The Dayton agreements
are very complex, very aggressive agreements, far more than most people
thought could be achieved. For the most part, those agreements are
being carried out well. Throughout the country, the armed forces have
moved back behind the agreed lines, and IFOR has freedom of movement
throughout the country. Great progress has been made in connection with
the Federation, and all in all, it's a good beginning. With respect to
the particular question you asked, the President has assured me that
there would be a full release of prisoners. My own impression is that
the government of Bosnia-Hercegovina has made great strides in this
regard and is probably closer to compliance than the other parties. I
take his assurance very fully. I do not take it as being conditional
upon the search for missing. We want to join that search for missing.
There will be a new commission appointed by the ICRC, the United States
will cooperate fully in that search for the missing.
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