Return to: Index of 1996 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies ||
Electronic Research Collections Index ||
U.S. Department of State
96/06/03 Press Briefing following NAC Meeting, Berlin, Germany
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release June 4, 1996
PRESS CONFERENCE BY
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
FOLLOWING THE NAC MEETING
Haus der Kulturen
June 3, 1996
I am very pleased we are meeting today here in Congress Hall to review
the North Atlantic Council meeting. This building, as probably all of
you know better than I, was built in 1957 as a gift from the American
people to the people of Berlin. It was a gift that was made possible by
the efforts of Eleanor Dulles, who was the sister of one of my
distinguished predecessors, John Foster Dulles. Thus it seemed a
particularly appropriate place to mark our partnership with Germany and
Europe through NATO.
Not too long ago, some people thought that NATO would not be needed in
the post-Cold War era. However, after recent events, it has become
clear that, in the real world, there is no substitute for a real
security alliance; that really means that there is no substitute for
NATO. It has been equally clear that with the evolving times, NATO
could not stand still, and the real test has been whether NATO could
adapt itself so as to respond to the new challenges without compromising
its enduring strengths.
Today, we meet to discuss and consider action by NATO which shows that
NATO has passed this test by taking a long step toward achieving the
vision laid out by President Clinton in his 1994 comments at the NATO
summit meeting. Our decisions today will give NATO the flexibility to
meet its new post-Cold War responsibilities. Today's NATO will
strengthen the European dimension within the Alliance. And today's
decision will preserve the qualities that made NATO uniquely successful
-- the core purpose of a collective defense, the integrated command
structure, and the vital trans-Atlantic link between Europe and the
The concept approved today -- the Combined Joint Task Force -- builds on
the approach that was so successfully employed by the Multi-national
Task Force during the Gulf War, and of course, it draws also from the
experience in Bosnia. It gives NATO the institutional capacity to plan
and deploy missions like IFOR so that we do not have to start from
scratch each time we have a new mission of that kind.
Our decision will also allow the European allies to take on greater
responsibilities in response to regional problems. We have agreed on a
process by which NATO assets can be made available for military
operations led by the Western European Union. The concept we approved
today brings to fruition the approach for a European Security and
Defense Identity within NATO, that, as I said, President Clinton set
forth at the NATO summit in 1994.
Our decision was made possible in part by France's decision to draw
closer to the Alliance, itself a historic step in our effort to build a
stronger NATO. Today, my colleagues and I strongly welcomed the steps
that France has taken to draw closer to NATO, and I want to, here from
this rostrum, commend them for the steps that they have taken under the
leadership of President Chirac.
In the afternoon meeting today, at the North Atlantic Council, we
discussed Bosnia, reviewing the remarkable progress that IFOR has made
in achieving the military goals of its mission: the end of fighting;
the zones of separation; the transfer of territory; demobilization of
troops; and the cantonment of heavy weapons. All of those important
steps having been taken almost flawlessly by the NATO command.
As I announced yesterday in Geneva, having completed many of its
military tasks, IFOR is now in a position to expand its presence
throughout all of Bosnia to establish a safe and secure environment for
civilian implementation. This will improve conditions for the freedom
of movement and will put war criminals at greater risk of apprehension.
It will help us achieve our goal of holding free and fair elections by
September 14, which was the Dayton deadline agreed to yesterday by the
three Balkan presidents.
As the presidents said yesterday, any delay in the holding of elections
-- that is, delay beyond the date set forth in the Dayton Agreement --
would risk widening the divisions which continue to exist in Bosnia.
Today we also confirmed our commitment to move forward with NATO's
outreach to its new democratic partners. The Partnership for Peace has
already become a permanent fixture of European security. And in the
course of today's meeting, we also reaffirmed that we continue on our
steady, gradual, deliberate path toward enlargement.
Finally, we recognized once again the importance of developing a strong
relationship between NATO and Russia, and between NATO and Ukraine. In
the last few days, two events have demonstrated the immense
opportunities our cooperation has already created. The last Soviet-era
missiles have left Ukraine under the trilateral agreement between the
United States, Russia and Ukraine. And soldiers from America, Russia
and eight other countries are participating in a major military exercise
in western Ukraine.
In short, we had another good day today, which is shaping up to be a
very good year for NATO. In all the ways I have mentioned, we are
meeting the central challenges of maintaining NATO's vitality as we move
toward the 21st century.
I will be glad to try to take your questions. Yes, Barry?
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on any given day, there seems to be a problem
with one European country or another, and not necessarily a good
(inaudible) -- Albania one day, Belarus another. Would this new NATO
force be available to move in and try to maintain stability? And could
it be used, I suppose under UN mandate, outside Europe -- in the Middle
East, in some other area of the world with a proliferation problem or
with some aggression, or whatever? Peacekeeping, peace enforcing.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: The central answer to your question, Barry, is
that this new NATO force, like all the NATO forces, would only go into
action with the unanimous approval of the North Atlantic Council, which,
of course, includes the United States, as well as the 15 other nations.
Part of reacting to the challenge of the post-Cold War era is that NATO
would have opportunities, sometimes responsibilities, to deal with
threatened matters within Europe. And I think that the list, as
Secretary General Solana said in the press conference that you just saw,
perhaps the best example of all is IFOR and that gives you an
illustration as to how far it might go in the future. But each one of
those would have to be dealt with very carefully and very responsibly by
the North Atlantic Council before the troops of NATO were committed.
QUESTION: And also outside Europe -- is it available for that, as well?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: IFOR shows that NATO troops can be used outside
the territory of NATO, and I think from there on the issue would have to
be confronted each time. As you get further from the center of NATO, of
course, I think that the chances are less. But, as I say, it would
always come back to a decision of the 16 members of the North Atlantic
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Christopher. The first question. Can you
imagine that after the international haftbefehl against Mr. Karadzic --
haftbefehl means in English "warrant" -- has been made, that there is a
special troop, like the Israelis did in (inaudible), and take Mr.
Karadzic in prison? I mean a special group, that must be secret. You
can't declare it now openly. But I just give it to think about to take
Mr. Karadzic one day, at a special time, and to bring him in prison, and
if you generally say it's possible, or -- without saying the date, or
whatever, it would be interesting because I think such possibilities the
international community should think about, too. Not being a marionette
of such terrorists like Mr. Karadzic and his general. And the last
second short question is would you support to speak openly with Russia
and others about a European security council? I mean, not having it as
something against NATO, but talking as partners about this idea. Seeing
how the ways that it can be developed to this point as a regional
security council of the United Nations. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, the first half did not seem to me to be a
question. I think it was a bit of advice to me, so I will put it to one
side, except to say that, at the present time, each of the members of
the world community has an obligation under the United Nations to turn
Mr. Karadzic over to the war crimes tribunal if they have an opportunity
to arrest him. In addition to that, we have placed special stress on
President Milosevic having a responsibility to ensure that Mr. Karadzic
is removed from his position, removed from the country, and turned over
to the tribunal at The Hague. That is the focus of our endeavor, with
respect to Mr. Karadzic at the present time. The United States strongly
believes that he should be removed from his position, removed from the
country, and turned over to the war crimes tribunal.
On the second part of your question, I expect that I will be with Mr.
Primakov on three separate occasions tomorrow: in the meeting of the
Contact Group; in the 16-plus-one meeting with the North Atlantic
Council; and finally, in the NACC meeting. On each of those occasions,
I think there will be an opportunity to discuss with him the possibility
of a special negotiation between Russia and NATO. We have held out that
possibility to Russia for some time, and we hope that those negotiations
will go forward and be pursued very seriously by Russia, so that
relationship can be negotiated in a very effective way.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just one quick point of clarification and then
a question. Does that mean you will not be having a bilateral meeting
with Mr. Primakov?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Yes, I will be having a bilateral meeting. I
guess I will be seeing him even more than I realized. I will be seeing
him several times tomorrow and I am having a bilateral in the lunch hour
time. Thank you for picking that up.
QUESTION: The question is really about substance versus ritual here.
American officials are saying that there is an attempt to give the
European Union a developing sense of security identity within NATO, but
they can't think of a way in which this might be used. And they can't
think of a way in which the United States would ever allow something to
happen that it didn't want to have happen. So could you explain, other
than the ritual, what the substance is of today's decision? Thank you.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Oh, there is real substance in today's decision.
This pursues the vision that President Clinton laid out in 1994 at the
summit, in which he identified the fact that NATO needed to prepare
itself for new missions, for new opportunities in the post-Cold War
period. And I think NATO's action in Bosnia is the best example of
carrying out this new responsibility. But it also provides for the
European nations, our European Allies, to take a stronger responsibility
in NATO by having access to NATO forces, in accordance with a decision
of the North Atlantic Council. Steve, in short, this provides for a
stronger NATO, a more flexible NATO, and gives the European Allies an
opportunity to undertake greater responsibility. Those are very
important changes. One cannot foresee all the ways that those three
things might be put to use, but this is a very important and historic
change. And what makes it possible, as I said in my statement, is the
decision of President Chirac, which was carried forward by Foreign
Minister de Charette today, for France to draw closer to NATO, to become
closer to the integrated structure. And I think history will look back
on this as a very important capping of that decision by NATO.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you say if you have any specific goals
that you want to accomplish at the Contact Group Foreign Ministers
meeting tomorrow? And the decision about IFOR's new "proactive
patrols," is that being implemented now?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We will be having a relatively brief meeting of
the Contact Group tomorrow. We felt that since all five ministers would
be here, we should review the progress. First, I think that Mr. Bildt
will be giving a review of the civilian implementation in Bosnia. That
is an area that we have to focus on now that the military side seems to
be going very well. And it will give an opportunity to assess where we
are on that subject, what more needs to be done, whether the pledges
have been met, whether we can find some way to expedite the translation
of pledges of money into actual construction on the ground. Second, I
will be bringing the ministers up to date on the meetings on Sunday in
Geneva, and I think that will produce a substantial discussion of
elections. We all have a very large stake in making sure the elections
come forward. There are lots of things to be done in connection with
elections. I am sure Mr. Primakov will have an opportunity to make
points that he might wish to make about our common endeavor. And then,
finally, I would say that the meeting will focus on the joint operations
in IFOR, which are really quite unprecedented and unique, because they
involve Russia and NATO troops operating together, a very important
precedent for the future. I am sure that will fill up more than the
hour-plus that we have.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Gyorgy Foris, Hungarian
News Agency. I feel a permanent contradiction with regard to the future
of the IFOR, or let's say the time, the post-IFOR. There is a growing
consensus that the civilian side of the Dayton Agreement will not be
completed by the time it was agreed. So a kind of massive military
presence could be necessary even after. On the other hand, the member
states of the NATO agreed that they will not stay without the U.S. And
lastly, the U.S. keeps saying that the American soldiers will go. So
what is the way out of this situation?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think that the premise of your question is one
that I cannot agree with. It was always contemplated, at least by me
and my colleagues in the United States, that the civilian implementation
would extend well after the need for military troops. Indeed, almost by
definition, I think, that is the fact. The civilian implementation, the
reconstruction of Bosnia, is something that will not take months but
will take years. So I see the goal of IFOR to provide the stability,
the environment in which the civilian implementation can begin, to
provide the security necessary for it. But there will come a time when
the entities involved will take that responsibility themselves. The
arms control agreement that is being reached in Vienna -- we are right
on the edge of that agreement -- I think it is a good example of what
will be created in order to enable the civilian implementation to go
forward. So I do not see the tension or the inconsistency that you see
here. It was made clear today that IFOR will continue through 270 days,
and there will still be a substantial IFOR presence at the end of the
year, at the end of 366 days. But they are also still on the path for
departure at the present time. But, as I say, it was always
contemplated, at least by me, that the civilian implementation would
continue long after that.
QUESTION: Charles Grant from The Economist. Reading through the
conclusions of today's meeting, on the future reform of the integrated
military structure, it appears that the French have got most of the
things they said they wanted a couple of months ago. And I gather that
the British have been very supportive of the French, and, indeed, your
own department. I also gather that some elements in the American
military have been worried that these new reforms -- the creation of the
European identity -- might actually undermine the trusty and tested
integrated military structure. Have you been able to reassure those
elements in the American military who have been worried about these
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Yes. From our standpoint, this is a win-win-win
prospect for everyone. This is a very important change that is taking
place. We have been working hard on it. We have been working together.
And I think the ultimate result is one in which we can all take a great
deal of satisfaction. Clearly, the result is one that our military have
not only supported but advocated. In a change of this kind there are
always important decisions to take, but the ultimate result is one which
we are fully satisfied about. And, indeed, as I said, it really goes
back to President Clinton's 1994 vision at the NATO summit. We started
down that road with the ESDI, and I think this is the culmination of a
very important set of decisions which modernize NATO and put NATO in a
very good format for dealing with the future. As I say, a stronger
NATO, a more flexible NATO, and one in which the Europeans have the
opportunity to take greater responsibility if they wish to do so.
One more question, before I melt down from the lights.
QUESTION: Thanks for taking German questions, as well. Robert von
Rimscha of Der Tagesspiegel, the leading upscale paper in the city. Mr.
Solana said that the elections in Bosnia will be the critical milestone
in the process of the IFOR mandate. Does that mean that September, when
the elections are due, is also the time when there will be a decision on
a possible extension of the IFOR mandate? And have there been any
discussions today of the likelihood that the necessity for an extension
of the IFOR mandate might arise?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you for asking your German question in
English. It works better that way for me. There is no doubt that the
elections will be a watershed event, and I think will be a culmination
of a long period of working up to that. The time in which a decision
would be made with respect to IFOR will be some time after that, but I
would not want to put a particular date on it. It certainly will not be
made immediately after that. What we are saying is that it is premature
to make that kind of a decision now. We can make it much better as we
get into the fall, as we get nearer to the 366 day mark. And,
interestingly enough, from my memory, there was not any discussion of
the continuation of IFOR today, because I think there has become common
ground that it is premature to try to discuss it at the present time.
We need to concentrate on the very significant tasks that we have before
us at the present time, including the elections, including the refugees,
including dealing with the indicted war criminals who have not yet been
turned over to The Hague.
Thank you very much.
To the top of this page