THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Paris, France) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release December 14, 1995 BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
Prince de Galles Hotel Paris, France
11:25 A.M. (L)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would like to take just a few minutes this morning on a background basis to give you a brief readout on the President's meetings that took place this morning with Presidents Tudjman, Milosevic and Izetbegovic.
He met first for about 15 minutes or so with all three presidents as a group, and then afterwards very briefly, for fewer than five minutes each, I would estimate, with the presidents individually.
The President made clear in his presentation to them that this was a day for celebration, a day for reaffirmation of the commitments to peace embodied in all the provisions of the Dayton Agreement. He expressed his appreciation to them for the strong efforts that they had all taken to ensure that the Congress knew how much they needed a U.S.-led NATO force to help them implement this peace agreement and his belief that that played a significant role in the votes that took place yesterday in the Congress that backed the President's decision.
The President made the point that they had all come a long way and had taken significant risks for peace and reaffirmed that the United States would support those who take risks for peace; that we were prepared to do our part on reconstruction; and as a very concrete sign of that, mentioned the announcement that was made earlier today of the fast disbursement package that the United States would implement very promptly.
The President pointed out that the Implementation Force would act in an impartial way; that he and all of them had great confidence in General Joulwan and in the Implementation Force that he would lead; and it would be the Implementation Force's job to help the presidents and the people of Bosnia implement their agreement. And he expected to hear from them on how that implementation was proceeding.
He stressed that it was important for Dayton to be fulfilled in all of its aspects -- refugee return, elections, war crimes tribunal cooperation, and in the military aspects.
Following his presentation, there were some brief responses from each of the presidents in turn. President Milosevic said that from his point of view the guarantee of success was that all three of them were committed to implementation of the agreement and that impartial implementation of that agreement was the key to success. President Tudjman reaffirmed that Croatia would do everything it could to see the agreement was implemented.
President Izetbegovic, who spoke somewhat longer, made the point that both the common people and their leaders wanted peace, and while splinter groups might not, with the help of the Implementation Force, the NATO Implementation Force, that they could succeed. He also, reflecting the President's comments, noted it was important that all aspects of the Dayton Agreement be implemented. Especially noted were that elections had to be free and fair, human rights had to be respected, and that refugees would have to be able to return if they chose, and that the people of Bosnia would need the help of the United States and its NATO partners to accomplish this.
The President, closing the meeting, reaffirmed that the elections had to be free, fair and had to be an opportunity to remove those who could not participate in the political process under Dayton, but that all groups would have to see that they could be part of the electoral process.
He closed by saying that the publics in the west and in the Balkans and the people of the United States had to see the confidence that they had displayed to him and see their confidence that Dayton could succeed. It was the President's belief that seeing that would, especially the people in the Balkans, seeing that would help change the psychology on the ground.
He harked back to his recent trip to Northern Ireland and noted that the 15 months of cease-fire there had changed the way people felt, and that a return to violence in Northern Ireland was now unthinkable, and it was up to them, with the help of the United States and of the NATO Implementation Force, to have to make that same statement true for Bosnia.
Following the quadrilateral meeting, the President, as I mentioned earlier, met briefly individually with the three presidents. This was, as those of you who saw the photo opportunity, which began this meeting, it was a rather large room and he just went around and spoke to them individually for a few minutes. The President in his remarks and conversation with President Tudjman talked about the importance of restraint in Eastern Slavonia. And he told President Tudjman that we would work hard to help devise a realistic plan for Eastern Slavonia that could be implemented, and that we would accelerate our work on this. And he stressed to President Tudjman the importance of Croatian support to ensure the success of the federation.
With President Izetbegovic, the President emphasized the point that elections -- free, fair and with full participation -- would be the key to success. The President stressed the importance of full withdrawal of all foreign military forces and the assurance of safety for the troops of the Implementation Force.
He also stressed the need to reassure the Bosnian Serbs of Sarajevo that they had a choice whether to remain or to leave, and it was their choice. And the President stated his belief that the arrival of the NATO-led Implementation Force would help cool the atmosphere there and make this possible.
President Izetbegovic in response told the President that they were moving forward now with dismantling the foreign military forces and that Bosnia would fulfill that aspect of its commitment under the Dayton agreements. With respect to the Bosnian Serbs of Sarajevo he noted he had a lengthy conversation with President Milosevic earlier and that they were moving forward to reassure the people there on that issue.
With President Milosevic the President noted that despite our differences in the past, he was very thankful to President Milosevic for making the Dayton Agreements possible. He stressed to him the importance of working with Admiral Smith on implementing the agreement and in doing everything possible to prevent radical Serbians from attempting to derail the Dayton Agreement.
President Milosevic in response noted that the anxiety of the Bosnian Serbs in Sarajevo was the most delicate point for him, but he knew that the Dayton Agreement provided the necessary tools and the necessary flexibility to address those issues.
Before I go to your questions I want to note one other thing for you that you may find interesting, especially those of you who covered Dayton. Bear with me just a moment.
The Dayton Daily News sponsored an essay contest for high school seniors in the Dayton area on what is more powerful, the pen or the sword. And the two winners of that contest came to Paris and are here today for the signing of this agreement. Their names are Julie Waszczak and John Kim. They're high school seniors, but I do not have their ages.
They both wrote and Mr. Kim, in particular, wrote that the pen, when combined with the backing of the sword made solutions like Dayton possible. They had the opportunity to meet with the President briefly, following his meeting with the Balkan presidents, and to give him a few things that high school seniors find important -- a Dayton pin, a tape for Chelsea that they had made --
Q Excuse me, pin or pen?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: A sign, p-i-n, button. And a Christmas card.
Q What for Chelsea?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: A tape made for Christmas. I will close this now.
END 11:40 A.M. (L)