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U.S. Department of State
96/06/02 Statement: Meeting with Balkan Leaders, Geneva, Switzerland
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release June 3, 1996
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
FOLLOWING HIS MEETINGS
WITH SERBIAN PRESIDENT SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC,
CROATIAN PRESIDENT FRANJO TUDJMAN
AND BOSNIAN PRESIDENT ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC
June 2, 1996
Good Evening. I have just completed my meetings with the three
Balkan leaders. Today's talks are a part of a determined effort by the
United States and the international community to ensure the full
implementation of the Dayton Agreement -- an effort that will certainly
continue. Each time we meet, we come closer to our goal and we make a
return to the past an even more distant prospect. Certainly, today was
I have said since Dayton that the United States will stay engaged
in this process, day in and day out, and I will personally push the
process forward with the parties in seeking a full peace.
As you know, we are approaching D + 180, the half-way point in
IFOR's mission in Bosnia. I had a full briefing this morning from
General Joulwan and Admiral Smith. I can tell you our forces have made
really remarkable strides in ensuring the transfer of territory, the
demobilization of troops, and the cantonment of heavy weapons. They
have done this in less than six months, they have already achieved what
the cynics thought was once impossible.
This progress has important implications: Though Bosnia is still
a troubled country, the prospect that its communities will once again
seek to resolve their difficulties by force is, fortunately, fading. In
addition, IFOR is now in a position to expand its presence throughout
all of Bosnia to establish a safe and secure environment for civilian
implementation. Our troops will conduct more visible and proactive
patrols throughout the country.
This will improve conditions for freedom of movement and put war
criminals at greater risk of apprehension. As General Joulwan made it
clear in our meeting this morning, IFOR considers it an important part
of its mission to apprehend those indicted war criminals with whom it
comes into contact.
We are also establishing more hopeful conditions in the region for
the people of Bosnia. In Bosnia, IFOR reports that 10,000 to 15,000
people are crossing the inter-entity boundary line every day.
Reconstruction is gaining momentum. General Joulwan told me that work
will soon begin on the road to Gorazde. This summer, the United States
will begin refurbishing 2,500 homes which were damaged in the war. As
we announced last week, President Clinton and I are sending Dick Sklar
to Sarajevo to expedite our assistance there. I am also pleased to
announce that the United States Agency for International Development
will soon open an office in Banja Luka. We strongly believe that all
those who support the peace process should see its benefits on the
In our talks today, we advanced the peace process even further.
First and foremost, the three Presidents joined together to call for
elections in Bosnia by September 14th, the date established at Dayton.
They also agreed that an exact date should be announced to provide a
focus for the work that remains prior to the elections. Let me tell you
why this is a very important development.
If we had given in to calls to delay the elections, it would only
entrench the status quo in Bosnia. It would reduce pressure on the
parties to meet their commitments, and in fact, make it less likely that
the conditions on which free elections depend will be established. As
the residents agreed today, it would risk widening the divisions which
continue to exist in Bosnia.
Holding free and fair elections is the necessary precondition to a
democratic government for all Bosnians and for the diverse communities
there. It gives us another effective way to eliminate indicted war
criminals from government, for they will not be permitted to run for
office. It is the only sure way to give the people of Bosnia -- all the
people of Bosnia -- a real chance to shape their future. They were
denied their voice by five years of war and the sooner they regain it,
Of course, to make sure that the elections can achieve their
intended goals, the parties have to meet their commitments to assure
freedom of movement and a free media. There is much work to be done.
But today, we have taken some important steps to that end.
For the first time, each side agreed to recognize the validity of
identity documents and press credentials issued by other entities -- a
precondition for free and fair elections. They also agreed that any
municipality that fails to constitute Local Election Committees will
risk losing its right to participate in the elections. They also agreed
to establish telephone links. They will also fully support an Open
Broadcast Network -- a new television network organized by the
The Balkan Presidents also agreed to instruct their negotiators to
conclude talks on arms control this week, in advance of the June 11
deadline set by Dayton. They reaffirmed the importance of beginning
arbitration on Brcko, and accepted the United States' offer to help
identify a third arbitrator, after the parties name their two
arbitrators, the Bosnians already having identified theirs.
I made it very clear to the parties today that indicted war
criminals must be removed from positions of authority and turned over to
the War Crimes Tribunal. There is a growing determination in the
international community to see that these commitments are fulfilled.
This process -- the Dayton process, and all that it involves --
has been and will remain a difficult process. And while the glass is
not yet full in Bosnia, it certainly is filling. The United States is
determined to stay engaged to keep the parties moving toward peace --
the kind of peace that I believe can only be built one step at a time.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you referred to maybe more public and more
expanded patrols. Is that a change in mission? I think you said it is
a bit of a change, but what I really would like to know is if these
prominent war criminals or others appeared in public, going skiing for
instance, or attending the funeral of a comrade-in-arms, one might say
euphemistically, would they now have been arrested under the new
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Barry, on the front part of your question, it is
not a change in mission. But, as we have said before, as IFOR completes
the military aspects of its obligations, as they for example accomplish
such things as the cantonment of weapons, it gives them more resources
and more time to accomplish other missions. As General Joulwan said
today, IFOR is going to be involved in more proactive patrolling than
they have been in the past. In that patrolling, if they come upon the
indicted war criminals, as my statement says, IFOR recognizes an
obligation to arrest the indicted war criminals and turn them over to
the war crimes tribunal. On the specific question you have asked, if
the proactive patrolling brought them into contact with the indicted war
criminals at the places you have mentioned, they would arrest them and
turn them over to The Hague.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I gather from your comments that you did not
receive from Serbian President Milosevic the kind of assurances you
wanted concerning Karadzic and Mladic. Could you tell us a little bit
about your discussions with him and what, if anything, he told you about
those two men?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, I left him in no doubt about my own views
and the views of the United States that they should be removed from
office and turned over to the war crimes tribunal. He indicated that he
had certain letters, or that certain steps had been taken, to make other
people acting President. I told him that just was not enough. What we
needed to see was real action, real movement. By real movement we mean
the removal of the indicted war criminals from office. We had a good,
firm conversation on that subject. He left here, I think, fully
understanding my views.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, at what stage, if the status quo continues,
and specifically regarding the war criminals Karadzic and Mladic, at
what stage would the United States seek to re-impose sanctions on Serbia
and the Bosnian Serbs?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: The Dayton Agreement and the following United
Nations resolution contains a very important provision. That provision
is that either the IFOR commander or the high representative Carl Bildt,
who is here, can make a finding that any of the parties has not been
complying with the Dayton Agreement. Once that finding is made, there
is a virtual, automatic re-imposition of sanctions, without any further
action by the United Nations Security Council. It's simply passed up
the chain of command, and that takes place. That is a very important
resource or tool that we have. That was pointed out today. I am not in
the business of establishing deadlines but, as I said in my statement, I
think there is a growing impatience on the part of the international
community with the situation that exists, and I think a growing
understanding of the inconsistency between the presence of indicted war
criminals and proceeding to open and fair elections.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I understood you to say that at this midterm
meeting in Florence there would be a certain date announced for these
elections. Does that mean that the OSCE will, on that date, certify
that conditions are ready for those elections? Or will the
certification come later -- and if it does comes later, is there a date
certain for that certification to come?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Steve, I do not think I referred to the Florence
meeting, but let me answer the question this way. The presidents --
that is, the three parties, the Balkan presidents -- indicated today
that the elections should take place no later than the outside date
provided for in the Dayton Agreement. That is, no later than September
14. They also emphasized the importance of that decision being made at
a relatively early time so that the parties could focus on what happens
in the future. I feel confident that date will be fixed sometime in the
month of June. I think it may be ready for announcement by the time of
the Florence meeting on the 14th of June. It will be required, of
course, to make the findings that you have mentioned. Those findings of
course will indicate that over the period of time -- the three months
between June 14th, for example, and September 14th -- there would have
to be ongoing preparations which would help to ensure -- which would
ensure -- that the elections would be free and fair, thus fulfilling the
QUESTION: Can you give assurance today that Karadzic will not still be
at liberty by the time these elections take place in September? And if
he is still at liberty, will you recommend these elections are delayed?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: As I have said before, I think that the strong
preference is that he be removed from office and turned over to the war
crimes tribunal. I do not exclude the possibility that elections might
be held if he's not been turned over to the war crimes tribunal. But
that certainly is the better approach, the preferred approach, and ones
that we are strongly urging on the parties and we hope will be achieved.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, coming in today, President Izetbegovic said
that he did not believe that elections could be held as long as Karadzic
was in office. What did you do to talk him out of that?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, you just have to read the statement that
the parties agreed on, which may not have been distributed to you yet.
In the fourth paragraph, the parties state very clearly that the most
important next step in the peace process would be to hold free and fair
elections within the time period established by the Agreement, that is,
the 14th of September. I think that President Izetbegovic, like many
others, clings to the view, maintains the view, that it would be far
preferable for Karadzic to be out of office and turned over to the war
crimes tribunal by that time. The agreed statement is quite expansive
or extensive on the subject of the elections, and we are all going to
work very hard to try to achieve that result. I think President
Izetbegovic will be one of the strongest proponents of trying to make
sure that Karadzic is out of office. Nevertheless he realizes the
importance of setting the date so the parties can focus between now and
the 14th of September on ensuring that conditions are ready for the free
and fair elections. Thank you very much.
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