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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING (June 2, 1995)

From: hristu@arcadia.harvard.edu (Dimitrios Hristu)

Subject: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING (June 2, 1995)


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

I N D E X

Friday, June 2, 1995

Briefer: Alexander Watson

Harriet Babbitt

Christine Shelly

[...]

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

Missing U.S. Pilot ......................................11-13,15-16

Status of Release of Hostages; Defense Ministers Mtg. ...11-12,14

Sec. Coun. Discussions on Sec. Gen. Report ..............12

Ambassador Frasure Mtgs. w/Milosevic ....................14-16

U.S. Call for Release, End of Harassment of Peacekeepers 13-14

TURKEY

State Department Report to Congress on Human Rights/

   Cyprus ...............................................16-18

Law of the Sea Issue ....................................18

[...]

GREECE

State Department Report to Congress on Compliance

  w/Serb Sanctions ......................................20

[...]


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #80

FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 1995, 12:49 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[...]

Q Are you going to be able to shed any further light on what is going on in Bosnia, particularly in connection with the missing plane?

MS. SHELLY: I'm not. That is basically going to be handled by the military authorities. There was one briefing, as I think you know, that was over at the Pentagon a short while ago -- a backgrounder -- where they just basically gave very few details related to the incident. They're still trying to collect information on that, and my guess is that either the Pentagon or possibly the command -- NATO command -- out in Naples will be the front line for the press work on this. But essentially, until such time as there is more to say on the details of the incident, it's off my screen.

Q Anything new about the hostages?

MS. SHELLY: I don't really have anything new on the hostages. As I think you know from what's been in the public domain, there were reports earlier today that their release might not be imminent, but it appears that Mr. Karadzic seemed to have walked back or have suggested that somehow there was confusion regarding what his position on this was.

I'm not aware that any have been released, but it doesn't seem to be moving in quite the same direction that it had been, or at least what the appearance was a couple of hours ago.

Q What's the status of the diplomatic effort?

MS. SHELLY: The status of the diplomatic effort is a number of meetings which I think you know are going to be coming up on this. The first meeting is the meeting that's going to be taking place in Paris that the Defense Secretary will be attending, as well as General Shalikashvili. My understanding is that it's not a meeting where they're expected to get out there and take decisions, but they're supposed to get out there and have some discussions related to the issues that came up in the series of meetings that took place in Europe this week which have to do with the issue of strengthening the mission of UNPROFOR.

I don't have any changes to that scenario to indicate. Did you want --

Q Well, I'd have to say that's not strictly diplomatic. That's more like militarily -- or military reinforcement.

MS. SHELLY: Right, but that's following up on the NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting which, of course, followed also a Contact Group Ministers' meeting and also followed an EU Ministers' meeting. So there had been the decisions within the context of the political meetings in Europe that had taken place earlier this week.

Now there is the meeting which is being hosted by the French with military authorities coming to talk about how UNPROFOR's mission might be strengthened. So I think it's certainly their intention to hear more from the British and the French about what some of their ideas are for strengthening UNPROFOR, but we're not looking to this weekend's meeting as a decision-making meeting.

Then also, as you know, there will be some discussions beginning this afternoon in the Security Council which relate to the Secretary General's report to the Security Council members on Bosnia. Again, we're not expecting Council action on that, but simply a meeting for a kind of preliminary discussion on those topics.

As you know, Ambassador Frasure is still in Belgrade, and I don't have much in the way of news on that score to report. He continued with his meetings with Milosevic today. As you know, he represents the Contact Group position that was agreed at the Contact Group meeting in The Hague. I've mentioned already the Defense Ministers' grouping to coordinate a response to the most recent developments in Bosnia and Secretary Perry going there; and the discussions up in the Security Council in New York.

The State Department, of course, is involved in all of the U.S. Government meetings related to this issue, and I think that's where things stand.

Q In a general sense, though, do you feel that the principals in this drama, including the Bosnian Serbs, Milosevic, Bosnian Muslims, are hardening their positions?

MS. SHELLY: I think it's really difficult for me to say at this point. The development today was obviously a tragic development, very worrisome, but I think it's one incident, and I think you have to keep that in perspective. The issue which is probably foremost in everyone's minds right now is the issue of the peacekeepers, and we call again upon the Bosnian Serbs to release them and to end their harassment of U.N. peacekeepers.

As Secretary Christopher himself said, this is not an issue for negotiation. They should simply do it. That's obviously a point of great concern, and certainly the main agenda item is the issue of the strengthening of UNPROFOR. The decisions on this are going to take some days. There needs to be a thorough discussion of all of the issues concerned. The military planners who are involved in this obviously need to do the requisite military planning before the political decisions can be taken, and that's what I think you're going to see on the horizon for the next several days.

Q Christine, does the United States have anything to say to Serb forces into whose hands this pilot might fall?

MS. SHELLY: Sid, I'm just going to have to not answer that question, because again it touches directly on the incident, and at this point I don't believe that it's helpful or useful for me to get into questions on that.

Q You describe it as a very tragic and worrisome development. I mean it looks like an act of war.

MS. SHELLY: Again, there have been briefings on this. I certainly don't want to take myself down the slippery slope on this. As much as I would like to be helpful and responsive to your questions, I just really can't engage on the incident.

Q It doesn't sound like anything has changed in terms of all the discussions going on, all the plans being made; that this is just being taken as a road accident on the way, but it's not. It's a deliberate shooting down of an American plane by people who have the equipment -- and an American plane in a U.N. operation that is internationally approved.

MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to take specific issue with that. I might not necessarily agree with every single word, but again it gets me down that track, a track I'm not prepared to go on at the moment. It's something which has taken place, but I think at this point it's simply too early to offer a position on what the consequences of that particular action are going to be, both for the schedule of meetings which is already on the horizon and certainly its impact on those decisions. I mean, there certainly can be an impact. I'm certainly not going to rule that out, but I think it would be irresponsible of me to speculate on what that impact might be.

Howard.

Q With all the emphasis we've put on negotiating directly with Milosevic, is there confidence that he's a free agent, that he has the capacity to act on any pledges he might make?

MS. SHELLY: I think that we would expect him to live up to any commitments that he would make.

Q And politically he has that much strength?

MS. SHELLY: I think that requires a very careful consideration before responding, and I think that I would want to give that more reflection before giving it just an off-the-cuff.

Betsy.

Q After the military people meet, will there be another Foreign Ministers' meeting in order to decide politically what's going to be done? I mean, I assume it isn't the Contact Group that will decide. It must be governments that must decide.

MS. SHELLY: I think at this point it's hard to pin that exactly down. I think at this point it's still in the discussion phase; it's not in the decision phase, and I think when the issues are ready for decision, all of the governments concerned will decide in what forum and at what level of representation those decisions can best be made.

Q Could you just say what you understand the status is on this release of the hostages? Is that, you think, now no longer a valid offer? What is the status exactly of that?

MS. SHELLY: I think the only thing I can really offer on that, which is not very much, is simply that it was an issue. We've been calling for the release of the hostages. There have been many calls from the international community, and there had been some indications which had at least been relayed across the media, including most recently on CNN this morning, that in the context of discussions that the Bosnian Serbs had been having with the ICRC, that there were indications that perhaps the Bosnian Serbs were considering releasing the hostages or beginning to release some fairly shortly.

But again the most recent news, as I've heard it reported by CNN, is that there may be some confusion related to how Karadzic's remarks were interpreted. I'm simply not in a position to make that judgment.

Sid.

Q Christine, this pilot was shot down more than four hours ago, and I find it hard to believe that there is no response, not even the mildest form of condemnation, from the U.S. Government on this or the mildest warning for the safety of the pilot. Can you explain that?

MS. SHELLY: First of all, there has been one briefing already in terms of trying to give as many facts to the press as we can about what's happened. It's obvious that that would not be a State Department lead, and I'm sure that you will be hearing throughout the course of the day from appropriately senior people about what the official U.S. response is. I'm simply not the person who's giving that at this moment.

Q Christine, just as a general matter which affects the negotiations, does the State Department believe that President Milosevic has any influence now over the Bosnian Serb Government and Karadzic?

MS. SHELLY: Certainly, our general view is that he has influence.

Q And does he have control?

MS. SHELLY: I think that's not a question that I'm really in a position to answer.

Q In other words, even if he does make -- come to an agreement with Frasure, is there any guarantee that it will have any impact on the behavior of the Bosnian Serbs?

MS. SHELLY: I think that's a very important question, and I think it's a question that it's not possible to give a definitive answer to. As you know, the first item of business that Ambassador Frasure was raising with Milosevic was, of course, the issue of the peacekeepers who were being held as hostages.

I think that that is obviously also an indication, once we see what the result of that is, where we can perhaps make some assessments about the capacity of President Milosevic to influence events. It's a very valid question and certainly the best and most immediate test case of that will be what happens to the U.N. peacekeepers who are being held.

But until such time as there is action on that, I think we would have to reserve any kind of final judgment.

Betsy.

Q Can you characterize Frasure's meetings at all with Milosevic? Is progress being made?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have any specific progress to report, except to report the facts of the meeting.

Q Christine, did he ask President Milosevic if he could help in this situation with the pilot? Did Ambassador Frasure ask?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that.

Q How long is Mr. Frasure staying? Is it indefinite now?

MS. SHELLY: I certainly wouldn't characterize his stay as indefinite, but a decision was made that he would be there today for meetings. I don't have any information about his onward travel plans.

Q Did he issue a protest to Mr. Milosevic regarding the shooting down of the pilot?

MS. SHELLY: I think I was just asked that question in another way, and I said that I didn't have any information on that yet.

Q Would you check up on that, because, you know, there's some indication that the air defense around Banja Luca is manned by people from the Yugoslav army.

MS. SHELLY: I will try to check and see what additional information I can get for you.

Q Perhaps you'll think this is the same question Sid asked, but I think it's slightly different. Was Ambassador Frasure instructed by the Department to ask Milosevic about the safety of the pilot?

MS. SHELLY: Again, as this relates to the incident and as I've told you, I'm not in a position at this point to address specific questions on that. I can't answer that now. I'm certainly aware of your interest in the answer. I also recognize that as a distinct question, and I will see what I can find out to try to share with you for later in the day.

Q Different topic.

MS. SHELLY: Sure.

Q About the State Department's report on Turkey that was released yesterday.

MS. SHELLY: Yes. I had a suspicion this might be the area.

Q I have one two-part question. There seems to a policy recommendation in the conclusions section which says the military approach alone cannot succeed, and Turkey needs to combine this with a civil approach to the problem in the southeast. Well, what is a "civil approach" exactly, and how is it -- if it is different from another phrase that was used previously, the "political solution."

MS. SHELLY: The phrase used previously which was what?

Q Political solution. There were talks about that there needs to be a political solution to the problem. Now we are seeing the civil approach. Can you comment on this? What does the Administration understand from a civil approach?

MS. SHELLY: I think that the civil approach means the opposite of a military approach. I don't know how else to define it, and I think it's obviously a mixture of many elements, and I think that the report -- in fact, having looked through it once again quite recently, it seemed to me that the report was really pretty straightforward on this point.

Q I know the dictionary meaning of "civil approach," but can you tell us about the components? Obviously, a lot of thinking went into this conclusion section.

MS. SHELLY: I think what's important in terms of addressing this report yesterday and today is to really focus on what the purpose of the report is and not get into the prescriptive part and also what we might be touching upon in our exchanges with the Turkish Government.

The point of the report was to respond to a congressionally imposed requirement to report on human rights abuses by the Turkish military and the situation in Cyprus. That's what the report is about. I think that, since this is the first time that this report has had to be prepared, it goes into rather considerable but also rather exhaustive and comprehensive treatment of the subject matter, which is not intended to get into the policy prescription, although I don't differ with your point that there is a general prescription in that regard in the approach.

The point of the report was to comply with the Congressional requirement and to report on the situation in southeastern Turkey. That's what the report is about. It doesn't get into other types of issues and questions, and particularly those types of issues. I think those are not issues that we feel would be best handled in a detailed public discussion.

Charlie.

Q North Korea talks.

Q Same area.

MS. SHELLY: Can we stay on the Turkey report for a minute.

Q Any comment on the actions in Greece concerning the Aegean?

MS. SHELLY: I did do this yesterday.

Q Not much.

MS. SHELLY: No. I know. (Laughter) But I don't really have a lot to say on this except to note the facts in connection with the situation which we already covered yesterday. As you know, I think that there are longstanding positions which are well known by both Greece and Turkey on the Law of the Sea issues.

The Turkish Foreign Minister has also suggested recently that the two governments hold talks on the issue. It's our view thus far that both governments have properly handled the issue in a low-key manner. We will certainly continue to encourage them to engage in dialogue in order to try to resolve this and other bilateral disputes that revolve around the Aegean issues.

That's, I think, about as far as we want to take it. It's sensitive. We know that. We covered the factual basis of the action before, including the Greek position, and I think that that's about as far as we wish to go at this point.

[...]

Q Have you seen the report on Greece coming out today?

MS. SHELLY: I'm told that the report on Greece may be delivered today, but it's also possible it might not go until Monday. So it has not been delivered yet. I can tell you that. But we expect it will be shortly, and obviously we'll also, as soon as that has been delivered, we'll make it available; and, since I don't have it prior to today's briefing, I assume that means I'll be handling it at Monday's press briefing.

END

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