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                         THE WHITE HOUSE

For Immediate Release August 2, 1993

Statement by the Press Secretary

We welcome NATO's decision today in Brussels to prepare for air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs if they continue to strangle Sarajevo. At an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels today, our NATO allies gave their support to the American initiative to relieve the siege of Sarajevo and to promote a peaceful settlement to the conflict in BosniaHerzegovina.

President Clinton wrote to NATO Heads of State and Government on July 30 to express his view that the Serbs' efforts to strangle the city of Sarajevo -- through continued artillery attacks, military offensives, and cut-offs of food, water and fuel -- had reached a critical point, threatening a humanitarian disaster and undermining prospects for the negotiations. He proposed the use of air strikes, if necessary, to relieve the siege of Sarajevo and to promote a peaceful settlement at the Geneva talks -- in effect, putting NATO air power in the service of diplomacy. Secretary Christopher wrote his NATO counterparts the same day explaining the details of the U.S. initiative and seeking the Allies' support at an emergency session of NATO's supreme body, the North Atlantic Council (NAC).

At today's NAC meeting, the Allies confirmed the U.S. view that the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and particularly in Sarajevo, was unacceptable. They warned the Serbs and other parties to the conflict that NATO would take effective action in response. The Allies specifically agreed to commence immediate preparations to undertake air strikes against the Serbs and other responsible parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina if the strangulation of Sarajevo and other areas continues. NATO's military authorities were instructed to devise options for air strikes on an urgent basis. It was agreed that such strikes would be carried out within the framework of existing UN Security Council resolutions, and in full coordination with UNPROFOR in order to ensure the safety of UN personnel performing their important humanitarian mission. Military authorities were also asked to draw up appropriate command and control and decision-making arrangements.

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Text of NATO Resolution

The North Atlantic Council:

  1. reaffirms its support for the negotiations in Geneva to ensure a ceasefire and promote a fair and viable settlement acceptable to all parties in BosniaHerzegovina based on the principles of the London Conference, and its willingness to participate in the implementation of such a settlement under the authority of the UN Security Council;
  2. notes that the Alliance has been ready since 22nd July to provide protective airpower in case of attack against UNPROFOR in the performance of its overall mandate, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 836;
  3. regards the dire humanitarian situation in BosniaHerzegovina and particularly in Sarajevo, including repeated violations of ceasefires, as unacceptable and warns the parties to the conflict of the Allies' determination to take effective action in support of UN Security Council decisions;
  4. agrees that the Alliance will make immediate preparations for undertaking, in the event that the strangulation of Sarajevo and other areas continues, including wide scale interference with humanitarian assistance, stronger measures including air strikes against those responsible, Bosnian Serbs and others, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, under the authority of the UN Security Council and within the framework of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and in support of UNPROFOR in the performance of its overall mandate; for that purpose, full coordination will be carried out with the United Nations, including appropriate arrangements between the NATO Military Authorities and UNPROFOR and consultation with UNHCR;
  5. tasks the NMAs urgently to draw up, in close coordination with UNPROFOR, operational options for air strikes, including the appropriate command and control and decision-making arrangements for their implementation;
  6. stresses the limited humanitarian purposes of the military measures envisaged and urges all the parties to seize this opportunity to achieve a viable settlement;
  7. agrees that the Council's conclusions should immediately be conveyed to the UN Secretary General and be publicly announced, making it clear that the implementation of air strikes will be dependent upon the future actions of the parties to the conflict;
  8. decides to meet again as soon as the NMAs report in

    order to review progress in the Geneva negotiations and the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially around Sarajevo and the other safe areas, and to consider in consultation with the UN authorities, and taking account of any report from the Co-Chairman of the ICFY, whether military action by Allies, referred to in paragraph 4 above, is necessary.