U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/06/30 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
From: Thanos Tsekouras <thanost@MIT.EDU>
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
I N D E X
Friday, June 30, 1995
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
French Defense Official's Criticisms of US policy re:
Bosnia and UNPROFOR ...................................11-13,14
Reported Bosnian Government Boycott of UN Envoy Akashi ..13-14
Reported Serbian Military Build-up in Krajina/
Serbian Round-ups of Krajina Youths ...................14-15
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JUNE 30, 1995, 12:58 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
Q The French Defense Ministry held some kind of a briefing
today for reporters, and a senior official has sharply criticized the
Administration's policy. He says that the United States backs military
action by the Bosnian Muslims and if the Europeans are neutral on this,
it could lead to a chasm of difference with the Europeans. Do you have
MR. BURNS: It's hard to comment when you don't know who is doing
the briefing, when it's anonymous, and when the French Government has
told us officially, in public or in private, anything along the lines of
As far as I know, we have not heard from the French Government,
privately, and certainly have not seen any other French Government
statements, that are consistent with the press reports that we saw from
Paris this morning. So therefore I don't want to comment on an
anonymous person who, for some reason or another, feels he or she does
not speak for the record.
Q We have Administration officials here give briefings "On
Background" from time to time as well.
MR. BURNS: We do.
Q He did make a specific charge that U.S. reserve officers are
training a Bosnian army. As far as I understand, this is the first time
a French Defense official said such a thing publicly.
MR. BURNS: And the allegation is nonsense. I'm not aware of any
information that would lead anybody to that particular conclusion.
I can certainly speak about our larger policy. I'll be glad to do
that, but I don't care to speak to remarks by an anonymous official.
I would point out again, it is inconsistent with what we've heard
privately from people that we know who speak for the French Government.
Q You speak to the larger -- this would be a bad time for a row
between the United States and its European allies. Are you concerned
about the prospect of some kind of showdown?
MR. BURNS: With our allies?
MR. BURNS: Not at all. We have had over the last three weeks a
series of consultations with our allies. They began in Noordwijk, when
Secretary Christopher met with the Contact Group Foreign Ministers.
There was unanimity in that five and a half hour meeting about what
should happen -- UNPROFOR should remain and be strengthened.
There was no criticism of the United States in those meetings
during the five and a half hours -- private meetings -- without
headlights, without the lights of the media present.
Secondly, President Chirac came to Washington for a series of very
fine meetings with President Clinton and Secretary Christopher. There
was no criticism of the United States in those meetings. In fact, there
is agreement on the strategic purpose of strengthening UNPROFOR; of
having the United States try to assemble some funds to support the
French, Dutch, Belgian, and U.K. decision to beef up UNPROFOR --
agreement on that point.
There were Defense Ministers meetings in Paris which were
harmonious, in which we found ourselves in agreement with our European
Malcolm Rifkind, the U.K. Defense Secretary, was here, and we had a
very good series of discussions with him.
So I don't see the picture of any kind of problem with our allies.
In fact, the decisions that the President made yesterday to establish a
fund to help the Rapid Reaction Force get on its feet to provide
military equipment, to provide lift, to provide communications, and to
perhaps provide further monies down the road, is an indication of the
fact that we're with our allies; that we understand one of the essential
obligations we have is support our allies when they're in a tight
position -- and they are in a tight position. They find themselves as
part of an UNPROFOR which clearly is not meeting its obligations.
I think the courageous decision taken by the European allies is to
change that situation.
The fundamental obligation that our government has is to support
our allies. We're NATO allies. We have these commitments. We can't
walk away from them.
I think you saw the letter that was issued last night by the
Republican leadership, and I think you know what the response of the
Administration is. We're going forward. We're going to support our
allies; we're going to do what we can to strengthen UNPROFOR.
Q The Bosnian Government today has said they're not going to
deal anymore with Mr. Akashi. They feel he now represents the Bosnian
Serbs. Is that opinion that is shared by the Clinton Administration?
Should Akashi be taken out of this process, because he's --
MR. BURNS: That's not a question for us. That's a question for
Boutros Ghali -- for the Secretary General of the U.N. We couldn't
comment on a question like that.
We understand, certainly, the frustrations of the Bosnian
Government at this time when Sarajevo is being shelled, when little kids
are being killed in the streets of Sarajevo, when food convoys aren't
reaching Sarajevo or the enclaves. We understand the frustration that a
lot of people in Bosnia must feel.
We have always had a great deal of sympathy and friendship for the
Bosnian Government. We have an excellent relationship.
Secretary Christopher had a very good meeting with the Foreign
Minister last week, with the Prime Minister a week before that. I just
couldn't comment on Mr. Akashi. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to do
Q The same French official said that the French and the other
UNPROFOR forces could get out of Bosnia without NATO's help and do it
much quicker, in fact. Does this sound -- have you ever heard this
before from the French or anybody else?
MR. BURNS: I'd like to meet this French official. This person has
some interesting views. The first time I've heard a number of these
NATO met the other day in Brussels. The French were a part of
those discussions. After several months of contingency planning, NATO
adopted Plan 4104, which calls for NATO, led by the United States, of
course, as a major troop-contributor, to, on a contingency basis, make
sure that a plan is ready for the extraction of UNPROFOR forces from
I'm not aware that the French Government was opposed to that plan.
In fact, I am aware and know the French Government supports it.
It would be very interesting for me to have this official surface,
and we'd be glad to talk to him or her.
Q Do you have any more information now about the Serbian
buildup in Krajina?
MR. BURNS: Roy, I don't have information beyond what we talked
about yesterday, and that is that there appears to have been some
leakage in the sanctions regime along the border. There has been a
problem with rounding up Krajina youths who are in Belgrade; a big
problem, and a lot of evidence to indicate that the Serb officials in
Serbia were complicit in that undertaking which is a clear violation of
the rights of those individuals who were rounded up. But I don't have
any new information for you.
Q If a new system has been introduced into a theater -- in
effect, a theater which is pretty volatile -- in this case, a T-84 tank,
as the Croatian Government is alleging, and in some numbers -- 25/26 --
would the U.S. Government be aware of this, or would the Western
countries be aware of this, through whatever intelligence means they
have, or would they tend to, if they were aware of it, just keep it to
MR. BURNS: I think that the U.N. would be the best place to be
aware of developments like that -- the introduction of a new type of
tank or whatever, a piece of military equipment into a theater, because
there are U.N. officials on the ground throughout the Croatia and
Q Apparently, this system was paraded the other day in the town
of (inaudible) and it was shown on Bosnian Serb television and shown
elsewhere as well.
It's interesting that after about four or five days of questioning
you, you still do not have any confirmation that this is there. Is it
not possible to confirm whether a new system has been introduced or not,
and is there in significant numbers?
MR. BURNS: We get information from a variety of sources about
activities such as this. We try to follow them up. However, we try
also to be responsible and not to make public statements or quick
judgments about events before we're able to confirm them to our
satisfaction. That is why we have not been quick to denounce activities
for which we have, at this point, initial information and for which we
have not really made any solid conclusions.
Q What is the initial information you have?
MR. BURNS: We have information that is disturbing to us of
sanctions violations and of leakages in the sanctions, not just in the
theater that you're referring to but in the Bosnia and Serbia border in
general. We've talked about that publicly. In fact, at great length
yesterday, and we are following that up.
Q Would you take this question again. If it's on their own
television, it obviously is there. The question is, is this a new
system? And what is the impact on the balance in the theater; and how
did they get there, also?
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to continue to look into this and have
people in the Department look into it, and glad to continue to take
questions and other briefings on it.
Q Have U.S. diplomats in Belgrade received complaints from the
Serbs that the Serbian police have been picking up people at their
workplaces around the republic and taking them directly to Krajina?
MR. BURNS: We're aware of information -- that's right -- that
Krajina youths -- young people from Krajina -- who are temporarily in
Serbia, because of the war, have been rounded up against their will and
are being taken for training and for deployment back in Krajina. We are
aware of that information, and we're disturbed by it. We think that the
Serbian Government -- at least parts of the government; certainly,
individual officials -- have been complicit in that undertaking, that
Q Do you have any numbers?
MR. BURNS: I don't have numbers for you, no.
MR. BURNS: Thanks.
(The briefing concluded at 1:50 p.m.)