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U.S. Department of State
96/08/13 Press Conference with NATO Secretary General Solana, Brussels
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 13, 1996
PRESS CONFERENCE WITH
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
AND NATO SECRETARY GENERAL JAVIER SOLANA
August 13, 1996
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Good afternoon. It is always a pleasure to
have Secretary Christopher here at NATO Headquarters. Let me tell you
that we have had a very positive meeting. As you can imagine, we have
talked about a lot of things, but without any doubt, the most important
part of our discussion has been related to Bosnia. As you well know, I
just returned yesterday from Sarajevo, where I had the opportunity to
evaluate the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
We are facing a very crucial moment, the moment of the elections, the
moment in which the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina will have the
opportunity to elect their representatives, and have the possibility of
looking forward, looking into the future, and stop looking to the past,
and therefore, reconstruct their country.
I want to tell you that, as far as IFOR is concerned, we will do our
best to cooperate with the OSCE so that the elections are a success.
But if you allow me to give you a personal impression: yesterday, it was
about a year that I was in Bosnia, a year ago, at the time that I was
the Chairman of the European Union, the president of the Council of
Ministers. I remember arriving in Sarajevo, and when I was trying to
get across the city of Sarajevo, I was shot at. I had to spend the
night in a Holiday Inn that was absolutely destroyed, without water,
without lights, without windows. Yesterday, I had the opportunity of
walking around the streets of Sarajevo with people in the coffee bars,
with the Holiday Inn put up. So we have done quite a lot in this period
of time, in the very short period of time. I want to take advantage of
this opportunity to convey to you how grateful we have to be to the
different countries which have cooperated in NATO, in IFOR, which
actually brought to Bosnia-Herzegovina the most important thing, which
was peace. It was war a year ago, and now it's peace. That is a thing
we have to remember and the most important thing we have been able to
achieve in this period of time.
But this is not the end. As I said before, we have in the coming months
a crucial moment, which will be the electoral process. I can guarantee
you that as far as IFOR is concerned, we will do our best so that the
elections are a success. The election will not be perfect, because as
you know very well, Bosnia is a country that is coming out of too much
suffering, where too much hatred accumulated, and therefore we will do
our best. We will probably find some bumps on the road. We found bumps
on the road yesterday, as you know, and fortunately we were able to
solve the problems that we found yesterday. There was non-compliance
with the Dayton Agreement. I would like to say publicly that IFOR will
do its best so that no violations are permitted to the Dayton Agreement.
The Dayton Agreement is the one which has to be respected by everybody.
We will not tolerate any non-compliance with the Dayton Agreement.
That is what we have been talking about today with Secretary
Christopher, but, as you can imagine, we have talked also about the
agenda, the dense agenda, that NATO has in the months to come, beyond
IFOR and beyond Bosnia: enlargement; the adaptation of the Alliance;
the relations with Russia. All those things have been in the very
productive, very constructive conversation with Secretary Christopher
and his team that I appreciate very, very much. Although you may not
believe it is summertime, in Brussels it always rains in summertime, and
while others are on vacation, we are working. And you are working.
Thank you very much for being here today.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you. It is a great pleasure for me to be
here today with my friend Javier Solana in what is an extraordinarily
challenging period for NATO. NATO is very fortunate to have Javier
Solana's wise and strong leadership during this critical period. His
leadership is enabling the Alliance to meet its great responsibilities
as the central institution for trans-Atlantic security.
Of course the most immediate challenge is in Bosnia, where NATO is
working with the civilian agencies to try to give the people of that
country a better life in the future. Since IFOR was deployed only eight
months ago, it has successfully directed compliance with the military
aspects of the Dayton Agreement.
Yesterday, as the Secretary General said, we saw an example of IFOR's
continuing determination to ensure that all the military aspects of the
Agreement are fully carried out. The Secretary General and I, today in
our conversation, re-affirmed our intention to see that all the parties
fully comply with their Dayton obligations. It was the kind of
determination that the Secretary General showed yesterday that will
ensure that peace in Bosnia can endure.
Now IFOR is called upon to lend its strength to supporting the September
14th elections, which, of course, is the next key step in the
implementation of the Dayton Agreement. Most of our meeting today was
focussed on how we can work together and how IFOR can assist in ensuring
that the elections will be effective, democratic elections.
The most critical priority in the coming weeks is to ensure that there
will be a secure environment, and there will be the kind of freedom of
movement which makes possible a democratic election. IFOR is also
prepared to use its very considerable logistical abilities to assist in
tasks which are so important for the elections, such as establishing
rural voting stations and distributing voter forms and lists. IFOR also
will establish a Joint Elections Operations Center with the OSCE, and
that is something that I had a good discussion of with Ambassador
Frowick this morning, who places a lot of store in the value of that
My meeting this morning with General Joulwan gave me great confidence
that the IFOR responsibilities will be carried out with the same skill,
the same dedication, that has characterized everything that has been
done by IFOR up to this point, and of course my meeting with Secretary
General Solana only underscored and affirmed those matters.
We will be discussing tomorrow, in Geneva, how we can ensure compliance
with the Dayton Accords. There in Geneva I will be joined by General
Joulwan, by High Representative Bildt, and by Ambassador Frowick in the
meetings with the three Balkan presidents. As the Secretary General
said, of course, in addition to talking of Bosnia, we reviewed the many
other things and the very heavy agenda that NATO has over the next
month, and over the course of the next year. The continuing internal
adaptation of the Alliance, the progress toward enlargement, the
tremendous progress that is being made in the Partnership for Peace, and
the steps toward strengthening the relationship between NATO and Russia.
We are, of course, pointing toward the meeting of the North Atlantic
Council in December when a number of these critical issues will come
into focus. But for the time being, our principal focus is on the
elections in Bosnia, which are only 31 days away now.
Q: Mr. Secretary, does the discovery of the hidden weapons shake your
confidence in the immediate parties and in fact, in their patrons? Do
you think it is possible there are more weapons floating around? How
can you have, really, peace, if these kind of things keep cropping up?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Barry, was that to me or to the Secretary
Q: Oh, I am sorry Mr. Secretary. It was to you.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think the way that IFOR has handled that, the
dispatch with which they have handled it, is an indication that there
will be no deviation from the compliance that is being required. I
think that the message that the Secretary General and General Joulwan
gave yesterday sends a strong message, a strong lesson, to any of those
who might consider not being in full compliance.
Barry, we have always known that the Dayton Agreement was complex. We
have known that it would require constant monitoring and attention.
That is why I have three times convened the presidents of the three
Balkan countries, why we've been working on these matters virtually
every day and certainly every week, with visits to the region by
Assistant Secretary Kornblum and others, with just constant attention to
this matter. And I think that when matters come up, it is not a
surprise that they have come up. What is necessary is to resolve them
quickly with precision and determination, and that is exactly what has
been done here.
Q: ITAR-TASS News Agency, Alexandre Minuev. The question to Secretary
Christopher. You said you have discussed the issue of NATO-Russian
relations. Can you elaborate on this question now?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think we are in a period now that the Russian
elections are behind us, and which the pace of the discussions between
NATO and Russia should accelerate. It is important that that go forward
on a track that is generally parallel the enlargement discussions. I
think we are in a period where real progress can be made on that
subject. The Russian government has now just been formed. It is now
timely to develop a relationship between NATO and Russia that will lead
to the further integration of Europe and will show that we can work
cooperatively with all of Europe.
Q: Mr. Secretary, moving away from Bosnia a bit to Turkey, your
spokesman yesterday expressed some concern and confusion over Turkey's
quick willingness to engage commercially with Iran. I am wondering two
things. First of all, has there been a determination whether that
violates this new U.S. law? And secondly, what your message would be to
the Turks as regards this kind of contact with Iran?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, as you know, we have a deep concern about
Iran for its projection of terrorism, for its opposition to the peace
process, for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. We
simply think that they should not be encouraged or given the resources
to carry out those desperate acts. We want to convey that to our friend
and ally, Turkey. There has been no determination as to whether or not
this violates the new statute. We think there is a risk that it may,
but the Turks have taken the position that it is a trade agreement
rather than a violation. I think the main thing we would say to the
Turks is that, in dealing with Iran, you have to recognize them for what
they are, a country that does project terror and is an enemy of the
peace process. We would nevertheless, or because of that I think, want
to call this to the attention of Turkey. But we will go on in these
discussions. These discussions are only beginning with what is
essentially the new Turkish government. We hope that we can persuade
them, as we are hoping we can persuade others, that it simply is not
good business, it is not good international citizenship at this point to
deal with Iran.
Q: I have a question to both gentlemen. I can hardly understand your
satisfaction as I read the news agencies. The visit of NATO, of IFOR
troops, to these certain barracks were kind of a state visit. The
President of the Serbs Republic and the NATO Commander together, whereas
the Dayton Agreement asked for an unannounced inspection of any military
points there. How can you be satisfied with what has happened today?
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: I can tell you very frankly why I am
satisfied. Because 24 hours ago, it was not allowed for the IFOR troops
to inspect what should be inspected. As you said, it should be
inspected without any previous announcement of it. We worked very
carefully with that, we worked strongly yesterday, and we achieved that
that violation of Dayton was no longer a violation. Let me tell you
that this morning at nine o'clock in the morning, without previous
advertising of what time we would be, the forces of IFOR were there. A
while later, the President of the Republica Srpska was there also. And
that, of course, is not going against the idea that you inspect all the
barracks when you think you have to inspect them. And something that
yesterday -- or the day before yesterday -- was impossible, was a
violation of Dayton, today is compliance with Dayton. That is what I
think is the show of my satisfaction as Secretary General of NATO.
Because Dayton has been in compliance.
Q: This morning, sir, you had a series of meetings with General
Joulwan, Ambassador Frowick, and the Secretary General, on the question
of elections in Bosnia. You have said that one of your concerns is
security for the return of refugees. Are your concerns about this now
allayed? Do you think that IFOR can provide adequate security for
refugees to return to vote?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Betsy, when I come to NATO, I am always
encouraged because of the strength and precision of the operation here.
You can not help but feel encouraged when you talk to General Joulwan
and Secretary General Solana. They are making plans, they are
determined to try to ensure mobility within Bosnia insofar as possible.
We have no illusions about the difficulties in Bosnia. We are certainly
not complacent about it. That was a war, a very bitter war, conducted
over a four-year period against a history of centuries of antagonism.
So it is a very difficult situation. But I come here and I see how well
organized NATO is. I see how well organized Ambassador Frowick is for
the elections. I am certain that there will be problems, but these
elections are very important as a unifying factor for the country, as a
way to ensure that we are taking further steps forward. As the
Secretary General did, when I compare where we were just a year ago with
where we are now, I am encouraged, and I'm also determined that we shall
proceed forward on a step-by-step basis, dealing with problems as they
arise, on a day-to-day basis, but nevertheless, with our eye firmly on
the target of maintaining peace in that war-torn country and giving the
people of Bosnia an opportunity to develop the institutions of democracy
and to develop, if they wish to do so, a multi-ethnic country.
Thank you very much.
SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Thank you very much.
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