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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Kenneth H. "Buddy" MacKay, White House Special Envoy
to the Americas and Head of the U.S. Delegation
Thomas Pickering, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Peter F. Romero, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

Press Conference on Peru Resolution by the U.S. Delegation
to the 30th OAS General Assembly
Windsor, Canada, June 5, 2000

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Governor MacKay:   The United States welcomes the approval of the resolution on the Mission to strengthen democracy in Peru. This is a timely and important resolution, adopted with strong consensus, which will strengthen the hemispheric architecture on democracy. We are delighted that Canada's Foreign Minister Axworthy and OAS Secretary General Gaviria have been selected to head the mission to Peru. These two distinguished gentlemen are the best choices to facilitate dialogue on ways to rebuild democratic institutions. The adoption of this resolution is explicit acceptance that the state of democracy in one country inevitably affects us all. When one country's democracy is weakened, the entire inter-American system suffers. We welcome the Government of Peru's acceptance of this resolution and of the mission. Now, the Government of Peru and the Peruvian people must come together to tackle the hard work of reform. The Government of Peru has reiterated its commitment to strengthening democratic institutions. We note that this is a long-standing pledge, going back to President Fujimori's remarks to the OAS General Assembly in 1992. The United States, along with the rest of the hemisphere's democracies, will be watching very closely to see how the Government of Peru meets its commitments under this resolution. The Government of Peru has agreed to facilitate and cooperate with the mandate of Minister Axworthy and Secretary General Gaviria in exploring options and recommendations to strengthen democracy; in particular, reform of judicial and electoral processes and strengthening freedom of the press.

We look forward to a successful mission and are prepared to assist its activities in any way we can. However, we reserve the right to draw our own conclusion and take our own actions as appropriate in response to the progress made by the Government of Peru.

Under Secretary Pickering:   I don't have much to add to what the Governor has said. I had an opportunity to make a longer statement in the General Assembly meeting. I think it is important to note that this is a crucial issue for the hemisphere and for the future of the OAS. We express confidence that tonight coming together in consensus around a tough but straight-forward, important resolution focusing on the democratic future of Peru and a very important mission going with two very able individuals taking on that mission . . . we believe this has been the appropriate next step for the Organization of American States. We will now watch very closely, as the Governor's statement said, the outcome of this mission. We will make our judgments as it proceeds and we will reserve our right to take what actions we feel we must take as the process goes ahead. We hope the mission will be successful. We look forward to Peruvian cooperation which was promised tonight -- something that we all believe was an important step forward, and we believe that the next days and months will spell a great deal of the answer for all of us in whether Peru emerges as a stronger, more solid democracy, or one that continues, if I could put it, to fail the critical test particularly at election times, something we deeply regret.

QUESTION:   Gentlemen, are you reserving the right of sanctions or reserving the right to judge and take actions?

Under Secretary Pickering:   I think we want to be very clear in that the United States would, of course, reserve to itself the full range of activities that might be available to it. There is a joint resolution of the House and Senate -- Joint Resolution 43 -- which in effect provides authority for those sorts of steps. But I want to be very careful in my response tonight to say that we are fully backing and fully supportive of the resolution passed tonight. We hope and believe it ought to work. We think that's where the focus of attention should be. That's where the support of the hemisphere now rests. It will be a difficult test for Peru. We hope it passes that test, but in the event that it doesn't, each of the members of the Organization of American States, including the United States, will be free to judge that result and take what action it believes is necessary to take in light of that result. We want to anticipate here success but we want to hedge against failure, if I could put it that way.

QUESTION:   Could you set markers for what would be a successful mission for the Foreign Minister of Canada and Mr. Gaviria coming back?

Under Secretary Pickering:   I think it is not up to us to give them a report card in advance or to prescribe benchmarks, but we indicated in the statement I made certain things that I think are significant. One is the resolution itself contains a clear indication in the paragraphs about the institutional areas which are weak in Peru which are generally recognized as such and which require strengthening. So, the strengthening of those critical institutional areas will be one of a number of potential issues that will clearly allow countries to judge the success of the mission. I emphasize that it be timely. Foreign Minister Axworthy said that he had to have time to change his shirt, but he understood that "immediately" meant immediately and that that had an important role to play. In fact, someone asked him if it would be before the 28th of July, which I think qualifies as not immediately, and he said very clearly he expected it would be. So I think it's not up to us here to second guess these two very able people who have now picked up essentially on a mission recommended by the former Foreign Minister of Guatemala, Eduardo Stein, who went down on a special mission and the report is available and who in effect said, this is the next appropriate step. Now we look at these two very able people with lots of experience and who know a great deal about democracy to come back with their recommendations. Obviously they have our full support.

Ambassador Romero:   We see the pieces for potential success coming together, with the Government of Peru accepting and inviting the mission with two of the most able diplomats that we have in the hemisphere going down there and reporting to the Foreign Ministers on the progress. So this will be an issue that will continue. Even more importantly perhaps from those who have been here in the Peruvian opposition, there seems to be a great relief and a feeling of joy that now there is the prospect of putting together a process for putting together a kind of national dialogue and strengthening democratic institutions that are long overdue. That, coupled with what the Ambassador mentioned in terms of the recommendations put forth by ex-Foreign Minister Stein provide, I think, one with guarded optimism that this can come about in a satisfactory manner.

Under Secretary Pickering:   In fact I believe, Peter, there was statement made by the Peruvian opposition this evening which was extremely helpful both to the mission and to the work of the OAS.

QUESTION:   First it has to do with this first paragraph that says the mission will meet with both the Government of Peru and other sectors of the political community. What would you call the other sectors? In Mr. (inaudible)'s statement he only mentioned the opposition candidate. And the other thing has to do with the timing of the mission. Given that in the next 45 days in Peru things might prove to be a little raw at times. On July 28, a new administration will take over. On July 26, the opposition candidate has called for a massive mobilization of Peruvians to the capital city of Lima which could prove to be very volatile. There could be a collision heading in that direction. Could you comment on the timing, whether the mission is going to stay until this crisis is developing or do you think the mission should prevent this from happening?

Under Secretary Pickering:   Let me just say on the last one I think the mission has to go in full knowledge of everything that is happening down there but it does say "immediately." Waiting until the 26th of July or the 28th of July is not the role of the mission. If the work of the mission fortuitously can help in dealing with this problem, because it will talk to the people, I hope, who are leading that demonstration, it will talk to all the sectors in Peru, and Pete will explain that in a little more detail, maybe it can have a helpful effect. But the purpose of the mission is not to deal in specific terms with a planned public demonstration in Lima. It is to deal with that whole range of questions that exists there in that paragraph of the resolution that you cited and to find ways structurally, institutionally, and I hope, consultatively working with all of these elements to bring about a real change in the institutions, the structure and the workings of Peruvian democracy.

QUESTION:   (inaudible). What makes you think that he wants to deal with them now anymore than he did in the past?

Under Secretary Pickering:   Well, as Ambassador Romero pointed out, on the good side of the ledger, on the happy news side of the ledger, is the fact that the Peruvian Foreign Minister tonight, in front of all of his colleagues, in front of all of us, in front of all of you, repeated that he would be there to invite and welcome this mission to come down. He knows the scope of the mission as set forth in the resolution. That, I'm sure, wasn't done as an afterthought or something he just thought up. I, however, in my speech -- and others did -- I know the Panamanian Foreign Minister pointed out that we've been down this road two or three times before and we're beginning, if I can put it this way, to feel that this sense of hope is not quite as strong as it was in 1992 when we had all these wonderful promises. So, this is the reason why I have to say that I sympathize with Foreign Minister Axworthy and Secretary General Gaviria when they say this is really a tough mission and this will be hard. And the other point I think is the point that Governor MacKay made in his statement and then we made in subsequent repetitions that we will have to judge the success of the mission. This in no way means judging the performance of the people going on the mission, but basically judging the response, the role of acceptance of the Peruvian Government, its work to make the mission a success, its ability to assist and to work with the mission will all be critical factors. That's the reason why my government and I, and other governments in the hemisphere who belong to the Organization, will have to reserve their rights to see whether this happens and if not to reserve their rights to take further steps, collectively or individually.

QUESTION:   At this moment, the United States, the government elect of President Fujimori (inaudible)?

Under Secretary Pickering:   I think that what we do and say about this election is very important. The resolution itself made it very clear as you can recall from the text, and I refer you to it again, is that . . . It raised the question of irregularities and serious problems to the extent that confidence both in the process and in the outcome has been undermined. Those are the words of the resolution. So I think that it is not for any particular government -- governments don't go around recognizing elections or de-recognizing elections -- the Organization of American States has sent a very serious mission to Peru to look into this problem in depth and to come back and give the Foreign Ministers a report, very important, my colleague says. The Foreign Ministers who were engaged there tonight and will be engaged in seeing the results. We will judge the results of the mission on what it is that these two very distinguished individuals tell us and on the results of the cooperation of Peru in this regard.

QUESTION:   Would you comment on the strong opposition by the Venezuelan delegation on this resolution?

Under Secretary Pickering:   I want to do this . . . that the Foreign Minister of Venezuela speaks for himself. I don't speak for him. He raised a question. I thought that the Secretary General just got done answering your question in a very creative, instructive way. His bottom line was some of the individuals who are most out in front in defending and supporting the doctrine on non-intervention in the hemisphere stated very clearly tonight they do not believe this resolution breeches the principles of that doctrine. That's good enough for me and I think that's the answer, not only to the question you asked but to the question posed by the Foreign Minister of Venezuela, with all respect.

QUESTION:   (inaudible)

Under Secretary Pickering:   I think that I tried to be cautious in responding to that question a minute ago. I don't have anything to add to what I said. What I think we should say, what I said at the Assembly today was, that it's an extremely important issue, certainly the most important that the OAS has faced this year, that this is an Organization in my view, that has grown in world-wide stature for a number of things, but one of the things that I think is most important about the Organization of American States is that it's an Organization that truly values democracy and promotes democracy and is committed to come to the assistance of States in the hemisphere in difficulty over democracy problems. That's quite unique. I don't find that elsewhere in other international organizations that I have to deal with. It is a mark of honor in my point of view that the Organization of American States deals with this. Secondly, I would like to think that this is not unique, that the Organization of American States is ready to respond in situations when others need help. Again, I appreciate the way the Secretary General handled his answers. He ticked off a number of points in the past history of the Organization -- Dominican Republic, Haiti, -- a little different, each one - Suriname, Guatemala -- where the Organization has in one way or the other come to the aid of members. It doesn't have to be the same for each occasion. I think that's the case-by-case piece. But the principle in my view is even more firmly established than it was two hours ago, that the Organization is ready, willing, able, and available to come to the aid of the States in the hemisphere who are experiencing problems in their democracies. This is not limited, and this is not, as I said, like a slot machine that you have a problem, you put in a quarter and out comes help. The Ministers have to sit and consider this. This was extremely important and they had to work very hard today to come to the right sort of proposals that could command not just a majority, but a consensus, in my view. Consensus was established. So this is very significant. I think it's a real step forward for the Organization in its pursuit of support for democracy and it should be recognized as such. It shouldn't be over-read, but it certainly should never be under-read. Pete, do you want to add anything?

Ambassador Romero:   Just one thing, and that is that when you look at the OAS, one has to take in consideration how the OAS and its involvement in countries has evolved over the years. If you look at the Dominican Republic in 1965 and what the OAS did there and compare it to OAS/CIAV in Nicaragua, being in the field and mediating problems between ex-Contras and Sandinista military, to Guatemala in the implementation of the peace accords there, to Haiti in building a police force and observing human rights, you see an evolution, one that is marked by moving into an area that I think was done with this particular vote and that is to move into areas of crisis prevention. I think that's very important. Some people call it preventive diplomacy; other people call it crisis prevention. We think that by establishing the kinds of channels of communications and dialogue, etc., this only strengthens the inter-American system. We believe this is a very satisfactory outcome.

[end of document]

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