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BOSNEWS digest 493 - 08/12/95

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


  • [01] Clinton Wins New Bosnia Support

  • [02] Bosnia timetable: Wishful thinking or false promise?

  • [03] Excerpts From the Press Conference -- Secretary of Defense William J. Perry


  • [01] Clinton Wins New Bosnia Support

    December 5, 1995 WASHINGTON, United States

    President Clinton won new backing for his Bosnia policy Tuesday. Former President George Bush urged Congress to support the deployment of US troops even though Bush said he had questions about "what our troops are expected to accomplish, and about when they can get out and come home." In a statement issued by his office in Houston, Texas, Bush said, "What is clear, however, is that it is in our national interest to maintain the integrity of the United States' credibility in the world."

    Also on Tuesday, a bipartisan group of US foreign policy experts (The Committee for American Leadership in Bosnia) announced its support for the US deployment. The group included Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to Democratic President Jimmy Carter; Alexander Haig, secretary of state under Republican President Ronald Reagan; and Frank Carlucci, who served as Reagan's defense secretary.

    It appears that right now the administration does not have enough votes in Congress to pass a non- binding resolution of support. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole postponed debate on the issue until next week. It was supposed to begin Wednesday. Clinton, however, said he is confident he will win its support, despite its having voted twice before to oppose sending US ground forces to Bosnia. "I'm encouraged," Clinton said. "I had a good visit with the speaker about it yesterday."

    In a separate event President Clinton sent a reply to last week's letter of the French president in which Chirac asked additional guarantee for Serbs in currently Serb-held part of Sarajevo.

    In his letter Clinton reminds that joint effort is needed with regard to specific problems of Sarajevo and stresses again a part of the agreement referring to Sarajevo, says the White House spokesman, Mike McCurry.

    At the Pentagon press conference, US defence secretary W. Perry said that NATO was resolved to implement the entire peace agreement without the Sarajevo area being exempted.

    The unofficial Washington sources report that Clinton might visit Sarajevo late this year.

    [02] Bosnia timetable: Wishful thinking or false promise?

    December 6, 1995 WASHINGTON, United States

    Defence Secretary William Perry assured Congress on Wednesday that US peacekeepers will leave Bosnia in about a year, and the White House hastened to snuff out an apparent misunderstanding on that key issue. In his appearance with other top Clinton advisers before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Perry did his best to assure sceptical senators that US troops will not get bogged down in an endless Bosnia quagmire. At the same time, he tried to convince them that -- despite the firm exit pledge -- the United States will keep another pledge to help arm and train Bosnian Moslems so they can defend themselves from Serbs after the peacekeepers depart.

    Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole announced last week they will reluctantly seek Senate approval of the mission on condition that Bosnian Moslems are armed and trained for adequate self defence once the 60,000-strong NATO peacekeeping force leaves. McCain warned Perry again on Wednesday that Senate support will collapse if that pledge is not made clearer.

    Despite Perry's reassurances on Capitol Hill, the issue threatened to flare anew when two former top US officials told White House reporters that Clinton had opened the door to a possible lengthening of the yearlong duration during a briefing on Wednesday.

    [03] Excerpts From the Press Conference -- Secretary of Defense William J. Perry

    WASHINGTON, United States Tuesday, December 5, 1995 - 1 p.m. (EST)

    [NOTE: This press conference was presided over jointly by Secretary Perry and Secretary of State Warren Christopher at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.]


    Q: Mr. Secretary, at this stage, what would you like to see Congress do (about Bosnia)? Would you welcome a vote in the House?

    Christopher: Well, we would welcome an expression of support from both houses of Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Based upon what we've heard here, we would expect the Senate to go first. We hope to engender a spirit of bi-partisanship in connection with approaching this very important issue. (...) I think that this extremely important action taken here by NATO, today, will send both Secretary Perry and me home telling the Congress what a unified sense there is in the countries of NATO, how strong the belief is -- here in Europe -- that we should proceed to implement the Dayton agreement, and I have hopes that there will be a growing support for the implementation of this agreement.


    Q: Secretary of State, do you think that NATO should work to arrest the war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic? And the second question, if you don't mind, based on French voices qualifying Dayton accord that lead to a deadlock, do you think there is a kind of lack of clarification in the Dayton accord about the Serbian cities in Sarajevo?

    Christopher: The first question has to do with the war crimes tribunal and Dr. Karadzic. First, let me comment on what is involved in the Dayton agreement. As you know, under the Dayton agreement, all parties commit themselves to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of war crimes. In addition, the constitution of the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as adopted in Dayton, provides that the war criminals who have been indicted are not eligible for state office or public responsibility and also it commits the country to cooperate with the tribunal.

    Now, with respect to the responsibility of IFOR, IFOR's responsibility -- or NATO's responsibility -- is to turn over the war criminals if they come into possession of them, or if they come into contact with them, or if the war criminals do something to obstruct the implementation process. But it is not part of the NATO obligation -- not part of IFOR's responsibility -- to hunt down or to seek out war criminals. That's the responsibility of the countries involved, but it's not part of the NATO mission, except insofar as I mentioned in the course of my answer.

    With respect to the situation in Sarajevo, let me simply say that President Milosevic has undertaken a responsibility to ensure that the Bosnian-Serbs comply with the provisions of the agreement. He was authorized to sign on their behalf. He did sign on their behalf. He also -- two-days later -- provided initialing by all the leading political figures of the Bosnian-Serbs. So, we are looking to him to carry out his commitment to ensure that the Bosnian-Serbs comply with the agreement.

    I would say that I think it's up to the Bosnians -- President Izetbegovic and Prime Minister Silajdzic -- to make it clear to the Serbs who live in Sarajevo that they can live in peace and tranquillity and that their situation will be respected there. But, as far as their compliance to the Bosnian-Serbs, I think we're looking to President Milosevic to ensure that that happens.


    Q: I would like a clarification on the issue again of the war criminals, because it's clear that IFOR is not going to look for them. But if, for whatever reason, they happen to encounter these individuals, when you say their responsibility is to "turn them over," it is to turn them over to whom? Directly to The Hague tribunal? To the civil authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina? And by what do you mean, the collective presidency? And, are the IFOR command already under the particular instruction to that respect? Thank you.

    Christopher: If they come into contact with the indicted war criminals, their responsibility is to see that they are turned over to the war crimes tribunal. As far as the IFOR responsibilities, specifically in that regard, that's something that the commanders will have to have discretion to undertake as they prepare for their mission. The Dayton agreement provides broad authority for the local commanders to take action that they regard as being wise and prudent, but it doesn't obligate them to do more than to turn them over if they come into contact with them.



    The White House denied today that President Clinton had indicated to foreign policy experts, including former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, that the one-year limit on U.S. troops in Bosnia might be extended. Brzezinski and Haig, leaving a White House briefing today, said that the President had indicated "flexibility" on the deadline. Pressed by reporters, White House Spokesman Michael McCurry said in effect that U.S. troops would pull out of Bosnia in a year regardless of whether fighting had by that time resumed.

    A Louis Harris and Associates Poll published yesterday indicates that two out of three Americans oppose the Clinton Administration's plan to deploy U.S. troops to Bosnia. According to the poll, 63 percent of those who heard or read President Clinton's November 27 address explaining why he was sending the troops still oppose the deployment, while 34 percent of those persons support it.

    Secretary of State Warren Christopher said today that the Dayton peace accord needed to be implemented with "sensitivity" to the concerns of Bosnian Serbs. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke is scheduled to meet with Bosnian Serb leaders to discuss their objections to the Dayton accord during a visit to the region this weekend. Serbian nationalists have orchestrated demonstrations in Sarajevo against the accord for more than a week.

    NATO officials expressed concern today that preparation to implement the civilian provisions of the Dayton accord were "lagging." Only a fraction of the $6 billion estimated to be needed to begin Bosnia's reconstruction has been pledged by the U.S., EU, and other states and institutions. Over the weekend, the U.S. urged its European allies to pledge more funds for reconstruction, warning that it would contribute no more than 20% of the needed assistance.

    French President Jacques Chirac issued a veiled threat to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic today, warning that France would "draw all the appropriate conclusions" if two French air force pilots shot down on August 30 during NATO airstrikes in Bosnia were not released very soon. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic claimed several weeks ago that the two had been "kidnapped" from a hospital in Serb-controlled territory in Bosnia

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