Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:Good afternoon and thank you for joining us. I am very happy to be in Bijeljina for the first time. We just visited an electrical station that is being rehabilitated with the help from the U.S. Agency for International Development. It's part of an effort to provide the people of this area with reliable electrical power and with clean drinking water.
By the end of this year we will have provided about a hundred million dollars or about a third of our reconstruction budget in Bosnia to the Republic of Srpska. We are using this money to fix bridges and roads, to fix up schools and clinics and to provide loans for businesses.
We have been able to do this because the government the people of the Republic of Srpska elected have made a real commitment to implement Dayton. They know that Dayton means jobs, construction and a normal life. In other words, Dayton pays.
I speak to you as a representative of a country with historic ties to the Serb people and as someone who has strong personal ties too. My father was the Czechoslovakian ambassador to Yugoslavia and I spent some of the happiest days of my childhood in Belgrade and actually used to speak Serbian. My brother was born in Belgrade. I hope with all my heart that the progress we have made together can mark a return to the partnership our people have long enjoyed. Of course, only the people of cities like Bijeljina can decide whether this progress will continue, and that's why next month's elections are so important. The election will be a chance for people here to tell us what kind of a country Bosnia should be, not the other way around.
At the same time, we can point out that the election offers a clear consequential choice. The voters can help decide whether this will be a country that prospers from trade or that stagnates in isolation. A country where people can live and work where they choose or where people are confined by lines of division. A country where criminals pay for their crimes or where honest people are murdered for investigating them. Whatever the outcome of the vote, we will provide assistance only to those communities that help implement Dayton -- by welcoming refugees, by making joint institutions work, by upholding justice and the rule of law. We expect that the commitments the present government has made in all of these areas will be met in full and we will continue to work with people of good will here and in all of Bosnia to ensure that they are followed.
QUESTION:During your statement you mentioned criminals that are not paying for their deeds or are still not "arrested." Can you say something more about this topic and if the identifying of the election campaign with the United States is helpful?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:On the first part of the question, I have to say as I have said many times that the statute of limitations on the war criminals, there is no statute of limitations and that their time will come. As you know there is a process that goes on that people have been picked up on a fairly regular basis and the Hague tribunal is functioning well and will continue to do so. I believe that identification with the implementation of the Dayton process is what is good and that there are concrete results of identifying with Dayton and we just saw this electric power station where we were told that over a hundred thousand houses were now able to have electric power. A number of thousands I guess have potable water. That is the kind of thing that people are looking for when they are looking for people to run their government -- those who can produce. And those who identify themselves with Dayton can produce.
QUESTION:Can you elaborate a little more on the efforts of the U.S. Government on the resolution in the problem in Kosovo.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:Yes. First of all, I think that the United States has made it very clear that violence must stop in Kosovo because the fighting only breeds more fighting and there can only be, we believe, a diplomatic solution to the problems of Kosovo.
The United States is pursuing a policy that has three elements to it. The first is diplomatic, and as you know Ambassador Chris Hill has been working very hard between the two parties. He is going to be intensifying his shuttle activities this week and will be in Washington to report to me on Thursday or he will be talking to me on Thursday and if necessary he will come to Washington. He has been working very hard to bring the Kosovar Albanian group together and will continue to work on those negotiations.
The second element to our approach is a humanitarian one, we are all very concerned about the refugees and those who are suffering. Assistant Secretary Julia Taft has just been in the region. She is back in Washington and she is going to be also coordinating the international effort to try to get additional humanitarian assistance into the region. We expect to be able to give another twenty million dollars in U.S. humanitarian assistance, bringing the total up to about thirty million. Also, there will be additional senior U.S. involvement in the humanitarian field. Assistant Secretary Shattuck, Senator Dole, Ambassador Scheffer are ready to come in and take a greater part if the officials of FRY will let them in.
Finally, there is the potential use of force as has been clear from the very beginning, the NATO planning continues and there is beginning to be the identification of forces available. I will meeting with General Wes Clark in Sarajevo tomorrow. We are very aware that winter is coming and so our efforts are intensifying and we are talking with our various allies and thinking that it is essential for these three aspects of our policy to work together increasingly and sensibly.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:First of all, I think it is important for people to understand that Kosovo and Bosnia, while in the same region, are quite different in terms of the problems and the issues involved. I won't go into a long history lesson here. We are very involved as I have mentioned in trying to deal with the Kosovo issue and believe that it needs to be solved diplomatically not militarily. I believe that it would be a tragedy if it took that long to try to get a resolution to the problem. We are working on it, as I said, very intensively and will continue to do so because the tragedy of watching the people who have been expelled from their homes and the various killings, I think, is something that neither the United States nor our European allies can tolerate much longer.
QUESTION:What will be the points of talks between yourself, Madame Secretary, and Premier Dodik and President Plavsic? Will there be any talk about Brcko and whether is Roberts Owen planning to bring the decision about Brcko by the end of the year?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:Well I am sure that we will talk about Brcko because we always do and it is obviously a point of great importance, and I do hope that Roberts Owen will be able to have some solution by the end of the year.
QUESTION:Even if places in the Republic of Srpska or in Bosnia continue to make progress and the team that supports the Dayton remains in power, to what extent can success and progress be expected if people like Izetbegovic or Tudjman in Croatia remain in power?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:I think that those of us that some time ago had a generally optimistic attitude about Bosnia are being proven right. And I believe that as one part of the region makes progress it encourages the other part to do so and that as those areas where there is reconstruction in the ability of people to live together that that provides a good example to another area.
I continue to be optimistic about the goal that we have of self-sustaining peace here where the various elements of the region will be able to work together. I guess as a general statement that I would make about Kosovo or about Bosnia in the question that you just asked me is that things don't happen quite as fast as people would like them to. They don't happen on schedule or by various deadlines, but they do happen and I think that as we look at the very complex world in which we are living today, we have to assess that various elements always have to fall into place in just the right mix. Often your problem is like a Rubik's cube that you get one piece into place and the other one falls out. But interestingly enough, there is progress and it's only when there is a sense that you have to do it by X date that you have a sense that it's not working. But it is.
I am very encouraged by the progress made here and on a lot of other issues that we're working on but they don't happen overnight. They happen as a result of very hard work and determined people.
QUESTION:May I ask Madame Secretary about Kosovo again? Is the victory of the ethnic Albanians who want their independence means some sort of diminution for multi ethnic Bosnia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:First of all, I think you know that we have been saying that what we are looking for is an enhanced version of autonomy in Kosovo, because we think that that would be the most positive as far as this region in concerned. Where the motto we are trying to live up to is that people of various ethnic backgrounds can live together in a variety of political and political structures that allow them to express themselves in some areas without necessarily having their own flag and airline and currency.
I would actually prefer to look at this in the opposite direction, which is that the positive developments in Bosnia would influence what are the possibilities in Kosovo. Where the fact that people who were fighting each other four years ago, three years ago are now capable of developing common institutions and trying to again live together in villages and areas where there were brutal activities before.
[End of Document]
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