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U.S. Department of State
96/02/04 Press Conference in Belgrade
Office of the Spokesman

                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                          Office of the Spokesman 
For Immediate Release                            February 4, 1996

                          PRESS CONFERENCE GIVEN BY

                           Intercontinental Hotel
                               February 4, 1996

MR. BURNS:  Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, the Secretary of State 
has a short statement to make.  Following that he will be glad to take a 
few questions.  If you'd like to ask a question I just ask if you could 
signal to me and identify yourself, your name and your news 
organization, and there will be a microphone that you need to speak 
into.  Mr. Secretary. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you.  I think the last two days have 
brought home to all of us that peace is beginning to take hold in the 
former Yugoslavia and that the remarkable changes that have taken place 
there must somehow be preserved.  This weekend I took every opportunity 
to remind Presidents Tudjman, Izetbegovic, and Milosevic of their 
enormous responsibility, their unequivocal responsibility to seize this 
moment for peace.  I want to say a few words about yesterday which was 
truly one of the most remarkable days in the three years that I've been 
Secretary of State. 
We were deeply moved to be with our soldiers in Tuzla.  I feel enormous 
admiration for what they've already accomplished.  Across Bosnia the 
warring parties have withdrawn from what was once a five hundred mile 
long confrontation line.  IFOR has succeeded in its first, most critical 
phase, a phase that will set the tone for the remainder of the operation 
in Bosnia.  The soldiers to whom I spoke made it clear that they are 
ready for the challenge they are facing, they know how vital their 
mission is and that they are determined to succeed.  When I heard 
yesterday that one of our courageous soldiers had been killed, it hit 
home to me with remarkable clarity that underscored the courage and the 
commitment that these men and women have in carrying our their task in 
the search for peace.  The voices and faces of the men and women that I 
talked to in Bosnia and their willingness to endure sacrifice for their 
country will remain with me for a very long time. 
Yesterday, I became the first Secretary of State to visit the capital of 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the city of Sarajevo.  I saw why it had become 
such an emblem of human resilience.  Sarajevo was never conquered, but 
yesterday it felt like a liberated city.  Liberated from the fear of 
violence and the confinement of its three-year siege.  Throughout the 
city we saw crowds of people walking with confidence past buildings, 
buildings that had been shattered by gunfire, buildings where just a few 
months ago no one would have dared to venture.  At our Embassy I met 
with a group of senior Muslim, Croat, Serb and Jewish community leaders.  
Not long ago that kind of a diverse gathering would have been 
inconceivable, but today nothing is inconceivable in Bosnia.  I 
challenge those who thought that peace was impossible in Bosnia, I 
challenge them to come to Sarajevo, see for themselves the 
transformation that American and international leadership has brought to 
Of course, it would be naive to deny that many dangers lie ahead, but we 
must keep those challenges in perspective.  The hopeful developments 
that we saw yesterday should give us a very strong confidence that 
remaining obstacles to peace can be overcome. 
American leadership was essential in achieving the progress made so far 
and it remains essential as we move forward with the implementation of 
the Dayton accords.  That is one of the reasons why I've asked John 
Shattuck, our Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, to stay in the 
region to go to the Omarska mine to insist that the parties of the 
Dayton agreement meet their obligations to advance the investigation and 
prosecution of war crimes.  I am pleased to announce that we are making 
an additional one million dollars available to the War Crimes Tribunal 
for the purpose of the excavation of mass graves. 
In another connection, I am also asking Robert Owen who has been here 
with me on this trip, a former legal adviser of the State Department, to 
be prepared to return to the region on a few days' notice to help 
resolve the remaining barriers to the success of the Federation of 
Bosnia and Herzegovina. 
In the last two days I delivered essentially the same message to 
Presidents Tudjman, Izetbegovic, and Milosevic.  I told them that each 
and every provision of the Dayton agreement must be fully and 
unconditionally implemented.  If any party does not meet its obligations 
under the Dayton agreement it will not enjoy the full benefits that the 
agreement provides.  In each capital I also had a specific message to 
deliver to the parties on the steps they should take to help achieve an 
enduring peace, and I want to refer separately to each of the three 
With President Tudjman I stressed the importance of the peaceful 
integration of Eastern Slavonia as had been agreed at Dayton.  I urge 
Croatia to investigate some sort of invigorated support for the 
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and you know a very important step 
was taken in that regard just before I came to the region.  I emphasized 
how vital it will be for Croatia to allow refugees to return to their 
homes, to respect human rights, and to cooperate with the War Crimes 
With President Izetbegovic I stressed the importance of Bosnia's 
continued commitment to an open, tolerant society, the kind of society 
that has inspired so many of its friends around the world.  I also 
stressed the need to release all the remaining prisoners of war that 
they hold and I welcome the President's commitment to complete the 
withdrawal of foreign forces from Bosnia. 
We also discussed the need to build confidence among the Sarajevo Serb 
population and to strengthen the civilian side of implementation. 
Finally, here today in Belgrade, I met with President Milosevic, urged 
him to continue to play a positive role as a guarantor of the Bosnian 
Serbs in compliance with the Dayton accords.  I expressed our 
appreciation for his assistance that he has provided to John Shattuck 
during his recent mission to Srebrenica, and I urged him to cooperate 
fully with the War Crimes Tribunal in its investigation, prosecution of 
those responsible for the war's atrocities.  President Milosevic agreed 
to allow the Tribunal to open an office here in Belgrade to interview 
witnesses and gather evidence in Serbia.  He also agreed to cooperate 
with the additional investigations that I just mentioned that Assistant 
Secretary Shattuck will be carrying out in the next few days. 
I also pointed to another issue of great importance, and that is a 
status for Kosovo that will ensure respect for the political and human 
rights of its people.  In this connection I am pleased to announce that 
with the concurrence of President Milosevic we will establish a USIS 
office in Kosovo, and I also want to announce that the USIS office here 
in Belgrade will remain open as a cultural center. 
All the issues that I mentioned in connection with each of the three 
presidents is important in its own right, but each also is important 
because it represents a test of the parties' commitment to adhere to the 
Dayton accords and to international norms.  Dayton was the beginning of 
the process and not an end.  The goal we seek is to build foundations of 
a peace that will sustain itself far into the future.  I am glad to say 
this trip has left me feeling that we are well down the road to achieve 
that end.  I'd be glad to take your questions. 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, could you elaborate a little bit on the 
message intended by opening that office in Kosovo.  Does the U.S. have a 
position on autonomy, perhaps returning to the autonomy Kosovo had, or 
maybe even moving toward statehood?  What is behind all this?  Where are 
you heading with this gesture? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We believe that Kosovo should have a status that 
will ensure the respect for the human and political rights of the 
citizens of Kosovo.  We believe that Serbia, Federal Republic of 
Yugoslavia, will never achieve full integration, will never achieve full 
acceptance into the International Community, will never achieve the full 
approbation of the United States until it reconciles the status of 
Kosovo and, as I say, permits it to achieve a status that will respect 
the human and political rights of the citizens of Kosovo. 
QUESTION:  You had said earlier that you received new assurances from 
Milosevic as to his compliance with the War Crimes Tribunal.  What 
specifically did you mean by that and did he tell you that he was 
prepared to hand over Radovan Karadzic and Mladic for prosecution? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, what I've said, I stressed to him the 
importance of cooperating with the War Crimes Tribunal.  There were some 
specific actions that he has taken today.  First, he agreed to the 
opening of an office of the Tribunal here, to interview witnesses and 
collect evidence.  He also agreed to cooperate with the visit of 
Assistant Secretary Shattuck to the mine site and I urged that he take 
further steps to cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal in all respects, 
to make available those who have been indicted by the War Crimes 
Tribunal.  This is an ongoing process.  Clearly, it's something we'll 
have to work step-by-step, and the steps that were agreed to do today I 
think have been of some importance. 
QUESTION:  In answering that question you said he agreed to make, or you 
asked him to make available, all those who have been indicted.  Did you 
specifically mention Mr. Mladic and Mr. Karadzic and just a follow-up on 
Barry's question:  You mentioned the human and political rights of the 
people there? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The answer to the first question, Steve, is 
"yes" and with respect to the second question, I don't think I'm going 
to try to define more fully than I have.  As everyone here knows there 
are many, many Albanian citizens in Kosovo, probably the majority of the 
people, even more than a majority of the people.  They feel that they 
want to have fuller recognition of their language and their right to 
participate more fully in that society, but it's something that clearly 
needs to be worked out between the people of Kosovo and the government 
here in Belgrade.  It's something in which the United States has a deep 
interest, and as I say we'd like to have a status for them that will 
recognize those political and civil rights, but it's something that 
clearly needs to be worked through carefully, between the leaders of the 
community in Kosovo and the leaders here in Belgrade and I will assure 
you that the United States will continue to take an interest in trying 
to achieve that kind of a status for Kosovo. 
QUESTION:  Having in mind all of those positive steps in Bosnia and the 
peaceful policy of Belgrade, shall we expect soon the full reintegration 
of Yugoslavia in the international community?  Thank you. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The question related to the cooperation of the 
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in connection with the Dayton agreements.  
The principal purpose of my trip here, of course, was to stress the 
importance of implementation of the Dayton agreement, compliance with 
all of its provisions.  President Milosevic is a guarantor of the 
obligations of the Bosnian Serbs in connection with that agreement.  He 
has been effective in many instances in trying to assist in the 
implementation, and as you know, I think that from the military 
standpoint there has been very strong compliance with the  
Dayton agreement.  As this process moves forward on a step-by-step 
basis, there is an improvement in the relationship between the United 
States and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Over time I expect to 
see a greater improvement in those relations as we move forward in this 
process, but I am not prepared today to make a timetable, but I am 
prepared to say that friendly relations will ensue as we move down this 
road, if there is the kind of cooperation that we've had in the past. 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, the last visit to Belgrade by a Secretary of 
State was in June 1991 before the war began.  Could you comment on the 
differences in U.S. policy towards this part of the world between then 
and now, and why it took four years for the United States to act 
decisively in ending the war? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, Secretary Baker was here at a time of 
crisis as this region plunged into the conflict that has embraced this 
area and has been so tragically witnessed by all of you.  However, we 
are in a different time now, a much more hopeful time.  A confluence of 
events here in 1995 and in 1996 made it possible for the United States 
leadership and the cooperation of the international community to finally 
forge the agreement at Dayton and the deployment of IFOR and to bring 
peace and the prospects of peace to Bosnia.  So, it's a much different 
time than it was four years ago.  It took United States leadership to 
bring the conflict to an end.  It's taking United States leadership to 
implement the Dayton accords.  I think there is no particular purpose, 
at least for me, in trying to compare the times.  Now we have a hopeful 
opportunity for the future, and as I said in my statement I think all of 
us must, and particularly the leaders of these three countries, reach to 
grasp this opportunity.  They have unequivocal responsibility to do so, 
and I hope they all accept it. 
QUESTION:  Form the Greek television Omega:  Mr. Secretary, these days 
after Bosnia we were close to another conflict on the south of Balkans, 
between Greece and Turkey.  The question is:  whether the United States 
supported more the position of Turkey and have you in your plans to 
visit soon Athens and Ankara? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I am very sorry.  Could someone help me with 
that question, or could you just repeat it?  I didn't hear the 
introduction to it. 
QUESTION:  Did the United states support in this case more the positions 
of Turkey?  Have you plans to visit soon Athens and Ankara? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Did I support the position of Turkey? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Oh, I am sorry.  You are talking about the 
conflict that arose over the island last week? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I was deeply involved in that and contacted the 
Foreign Ministers of both countries, and also talked briefly with Prime 
Minister Ciller.  Our aim in that situation was to urge restraint on 
behalf of both of the parties, to urge them to draw away from the 
confrontation.  We did not take sides in the matter.  We simply said to 
both NATO allies that we thought the matter ought to be resolved 
peacefully by discussions between the two of them and I strongly urged 
that on the two Foreign Ministers and I am very glad that the outcome 
was a peaceful one and I certainly don't want to characterize the United 
States as taking sides between either of the parties.  I don't have any 
present plans to travel to those countries, but I wouldn't be surprised 
if I do so before the year is out, and other members of the State 
Department will be following through, to see if we can be helpful in 
that matter as the two countries themselves move to discussions and 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the positive step that President 
Milosevic has taken in opening up the investigating office for the War 
Crimes Tribunal here.  Did he indicate to you, or do you believe he 
accepts the legitimacy of the War Crimes Tribunal now?  And, also, is 
extradition of indicted Yugoslav army officers a condition for 
normalization of relations with the former Republic of Yugoslavia? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  President Milosevic has stressed from the time 
of Dayton to now that he thinks every country has an obligation to 
prosecute war crimes, that he feels that they have a sound procedure 
here, within this country, for doing so.  He indicated a commitment to 
cooperate in the prosecution of war crimes, and we're going to be urging 
all the countries, not just Serbia, but all of the countries to turn 
over to the War Crimes Tribunal and any of those who were indicted and 
who were residing within their countries.  That's something that we're 
going to be urging all parties as we move through this really quite new, 
unusual process of the War Crimes Tribunal, which does not have very 
many precedents, but to which United States has devoted so much of its 
energy, so much of its determination.  I think we can say with a certain 
sense of pride that we've been more supportive of the War Crimes 
Tribunal in terms of resources, in terms of our commitment to it, in 
terms of our leadership to begin with any other country and we are going 
to continue in that vein.  Thank you very much.   
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