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U.S. Department of State
96/12/09 Press Briefing in Brussels, Belgium
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 9, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
December 9, 1996
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good morning and thanks for showing up on a
night without much sleep. As every one in the room knows, one of
President Clinton's priorities in his first term and now in his second
term was emphasized yesterday by Sandy Berger: European integration.
This meeting could be a very important meeting. We will take decisive
steps in the direction of European integration. From my standpoint,
this process is very much on track. In a sense, this meeting reminds me
of the meeting three years ago, prior to the 1994 NATO Summit which was
the key point in launching this whole effort. In the December meeting
of the NAC, we prepared for the 1994 Summit in January and, in the same
sense, we are setting up a work program for the period between now and
the 1997 Summit. The last ten days have involved a number of
significant meetings leading up to the Summit, basically building blocks
for the Summit. First, of course, was the OSCE meeting in Lisbon which
set a number of comprehensive goals for European integration. A very
significant event was an agreement of the members to modernize the CFE
Treaty with commencement next year. Then at London, of course, there
were agreement on encouraging reconciliation and implementation in
Here at NATO an important decision will be taken tomorrow to have a
NATO-lead stabilization force, so called SFOR, to support that effort.
We have the decision taken, of course, assuming that the United Nation
Security Council will provide the umbrella for SFOR. When we come down
to tomorrow's meeting, I think there will be very important decisions by
the Ministers to review and implement NATO's efforts in three respects.
First, the assumption of new roles and missions for NATO, so
dramatically reflected in IFOR and now SFOR's role. IFOR comes to an
end, of course, in about a week. Second, the adaptation of NATO's
internal structures and, third, the external outreach of the Alliance to
new members, so called "Enlargement."
The meeting tomorrow will be significant in setting a date for the NATO
Summit next year, and a full agenda of decisions for that Summit. At
the same time, we move forward with NATO's cooperation with non-members
as it proceeds with enlargement. Certainly one of the things we look to
is to explore ways to institutionalize the cooperation with Russia and,
significantly also, with Ukraine. Strengthening the Partnership for
Peace will be high on the agenda, and closely allied to that will be the
proposal for the new Atlantic Partnership Council, the so called APC.
NACC is, in my judgement, really a relic of the Cold War period and
ought to be supplanted by the Atlantic Partnership Council which will be
a very important step to give a voice to all the members of the
Partnership for Peace, and it will be very significant to those who are
not in the first tranche of the enlargement.
The internal adaptation of NATO is also moving forward on a very steady
basis. The recent decision of Spain to participate fully and to join
all the integrated structures just as any other member of NATO is a big
step forward. I would not expect any final decisions on internal
adaptation tomorrow; I would not expect any final decisions on issues
like AFSOUTH, but nevertheless, we will be discussing those and moving
forward. One thing I would emphasize in that context is that
AFSOUTH is only one very small piece of a much, much broader context.
The vast overwhelming aspect of internal adaptation has already been
agreed to and I think we are now dealing with the final issues on
internal adaptation. I would expect something to be worked out over
Of course, a major question which will be addressed here will be the
NATO-Russia issues. Primakov will join in a 16 + 1 meeting which has
become a key part of these meetings. The offer that we have to Russia
to work out a Russia-NATO charter still stands. We are hopeful that
following the OSCE meeting last week, Russia will now accept our offer
for discussions. The Vice President had a good meeting with Prime
Minister Chernomyrdin in Lisbon, as you know. My own prediction would
be that this NATO meeting will authorize the Secretary General to open
discussions with Russia formally in the name of the Alliance. That will
be a decision for Russia to make. It is Russia's choice really. We
pursue those discussions on integration and I hope that choice will be a
positive one. I think it will be.
Just a word or two about Serbia, and then I will take your questions.
We have been in a quite extraordinary situation for 18 straight days now
in which there have been continued demonstrations of tens of thousands,
sometimes more than that, despite the very bad weather. There have
been, day after day, demonstrations without violence on the part of the
demonstrators. The United States has left no doubt and I leave no doubt
about our support for democratic change in Serbia. Consistently, I have
made these points to Milosevic over the long course of our meetings
together, the importance of democratic change. John Kornblum has been
echoing these sentiments very effectively in the last several weeks. We
urge Milosevic, have been and continue to, to open dialogue with the
opposition, to recognize the importance of freedom of assembly, to
accept the results of the election, and especially, to preserve freedom
of the media. I want to emphasize to him as well again the importance
of not using force in connection with these demonstrations, but to find
a way to recognize and accept the election results, and to open a
dialogue with the opposition. I think that is the only prudent course
for him to follow. I would hope and expect a unified action on the part
of NATO members reflecting the comments that I have just made.
Stability in the region of the Balkans as a whole is very important and
democratization in Serbia is a key factor.
With those opening comments, I am glad to try to take any questions you
QUESTION: Sir, if you will permit me, I would like to ask one from
Column A and one from Column B, but they are just hard questions, I will
keep them brief. Can you have that reform without the removal of
Milosevic? And so far as the NATO deliberations, can the Council ensure
the charter, the concessions, or gestures to Russia? Are there any
others that you think might come out of this meeting to make this
enlargement more digestible for Moscow?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: On the first point, Milosevic has shown himself
to be a pragmatic and flexible person, certainly his conduct at Dayton
showed he has the capacity to reverse long-standing positions and I will
hope he will reverse the long-standing positions here. I don not think
he is incapable of that. I hope he can be persuaded that it is in his
own self-interest to do that. On the second question, I do not see it,
in terms of concessions but I do see that NATO is prepared to have an
open, positive dialogue with Russia on establishing a charter that can
try to provide the way forward with a recognition that enlargement has
been long-committed by the Alliance but it does need to be in any way
hostile to Russia or to in any way impair Russia's interests.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you are meeting Mr. Primakov tomorrow. Do you
see any hope at all of getting Russia to join the U.S. in any move to
restore economic sanctions against Serbia if this continues without
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We will certainly maintain that option and I
want to talk to Foreign Minister Primakov about conditions in Serbia and
emphasize to him that I believe that Milosevic's position at the present
time is self-defeating and he should recognize the importance of
accepting the election results, having a dialogue with the opposition as
being in his own interests,
and I hope to persuade Mr. Primakov of that. Let me say, I certainly am
pleased that we have maintained the outer wall of sanctions and have not
given full recognition to Serbia. I think our judgement was right in
that regard and it gives us some remaining leverage without the need to
have multilateral sanctions but we retain the option of seeking
multilateral sanctions if the situation continues.
QUESTION: But can you do that if Russia has its current attitude?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Certainly Russia's acquiescence or support in
the Security Council would be necessary for that and that's one of the
reasons why I want to talk to the Foreign Minister about that subject.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, to follow-up on Barry's question: Have you
talked to Mr. Milosevic personally, and, if you haven not, we know that
Secretary Talbott has made representations and we know John Kornblum has
been in touch. If you have not, why have you chosen not to take this to
him directly, this question of not using violence against demonstrators,
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Charlie, in the past I have talked to him about
the importance of democratization. The last time was when we were
together in Geneva, but he cannot possibly misunderstand our position.
I have day-in and day-out authorized our Spokesman to go out in the name
of the United States and take the positions that Nick has so there can
be no doubt about that. And John Kornblum has made his positions known
on a personal basis. If I am in direct contact with Milosevic I will
certainly do that but there is no doubt about the United States'
position. The daily briefings by our Spokesman are approved on a daily
basis by me and so Milosevic should not be in any doubt as to what our
QUESTION: What would you suggest to do to avoid destabilization of
Zaire? Will have you have some consultations with some european partner
about Zaire in Brussels?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Zaire is a very important issue and it would be
surprising if, around the edges at least of the NATO meeting, that
subject were not discussed. We have, as you can tell from my opening
remarks, a very full agenda here at NATO, especially with the Serbia
issues to be confronted as well. We are continuing to consult with our
allies and friends about the situation in Zaire. The situation, of
course, changed quite dramatically from the one that we first addressed
together with the Canadians in the lead, but we continue to discuss
those matters to see if there is some basis for, some need for a multi-
lateral force. On the other hand, there are certain issues that are
internal to Zaire which really need to be addressed by that country. We
continue, though, to have great concern for the humanitarian issues
there and are following that as the situation evolves and changes
rapidly. Nevertheless, our concern remains high for the humanitarian
QUESTION: The NATO-Russia dialogue is not going forward as fast as we
all expected and it still remains that there might continue to be some
opposition to enlargement. I am wondering, leaving aside the CFE and
some of the discussions of the offers that were made during the OSCE
last week, would the U.S. consider supporting Russia's persistent demand
to bolster the OSCE perhaps as a way to advance the NATO-Russia
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We think the OSCE plays an important role in the
overall European picture but not as a treaty and not as a legally-
binding document but really in the role OSCE has played in the past.
The positions we took at Lisbon are the ones we will continue to take
but we, as I say, regard OSCE as an important building block, an
important part of this approach to European security that has been
critical to President Clinton's overall foreign policy. I would not
expect any major change though in our position on that subject. We are
anxious to proceed with discussions with Russia on a NATO-Russia
charter. As I say, it is really Russia's choice. I hope they will
choose the decision of integration.
QUESTION: Sir, just to follow-up on that. In all your discussions with
the Russians, what do you think they are waiting for before they start
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I hope and expect they will choose at this
meeting to proceed with those discussions. There have been a number of
exploratory discussions with us and with other countries. I think we
have made progress in sorting out the issues. I want to identify the
meeting between the Vice President and Mr. Chernomyrdin as being an
important part of those discussions. The discussion between my
colleague Strobe Talbott and Primakov in Lisbon could give an important
impetus to these discussions. But as I say, I think, here, what I would
anticipate is the authorization for the Secretary-General to open
discussions with Russia on a charter and, as I say, I hope that the
Russians will be in a position to accept that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, regarding the adaptation of NATO commands.
The United States has said repeatedly that it wants to see the Europeans
take a greater responsibility for their own defense. I am familiar with
the argument put forward by the administration that it cannot reject, or
cannot desist from manning SouthCom because of the importance of the
Sixth Fleet. But don't you think that the time has come for greater
responsibility to be invested in the Europeans, and that more resources
should be placed in the Commands by the Europeans themselves?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Absolutely, Bill. And part of the overall
discussion has involved that. For example, as part of an overall
package, the United States would be quite agreeable to there being a
Deputy SACEUR with special responsibility for involvement with the
European forces. I want to emphasize again that the AFSOUTH issue is
only a small percentage in the overall adaptation that will emphasize
significantly the points you make and that is greater European
responsibility. And, so often in one of these negotiations you come
down to a single point or a couple of points and those points get
magnified and the overall thrust at what is happening gets minimized but
I urge you to step back and see how much has been accomplished in the
direction of adaptation. My own hope and expectation is that we will
find a way to finish it -- not at this meeting but between now and the
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary . . .
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Steve, welcome to these sleepless nights.
QUESTION: It is not so bad. On that point, is this question not,
though, what is holding up all of the other areas that have not been
agreed on? And how can we resolve them?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, as sometimes happens, the last piece is a
difficult one but I think there are ways to address the overall
situation without in any way modifying the United States' position on
that particular issue, which is one of great tradition and historic
importance for us on which I do not expect to see change. But this is a
very broad engagement and there may be ways, in connection with other
issues, to give reassurance that there will be full European
QUESTION: Is this your last trip, really?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: (Laughter) Well, I think it is my last trip. I
have a little bit more than a month ahead of me and lots to do. But as
far as I know, this is my last overseas trip. Thank you very much.
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