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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
And Croatian President Franjo Tudjman

Press Conference
Zagreb, Croatia, August 30, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am pleased to be in Croatia again and to have had this chance to meet with President Tudjman.

I am here because the United States continues to support Croatia's efforts to develop democratically and economically. I am here because we believe that Croatia belongs in Europe. I am here as well because we believe that with the benefits of membership in western institutions come responsibilities Croatia must meet.

In some areas, there has been good progress. A good framework for refugee returns is in place. A small number of Croatian Serbs are beginning to come home. Croatia has generally cooperated with the War Crimes Tribunal. Eastern Slavonia's reintegration into Croatia has been successful, and we are proud of the role the United States has played.

But we still have important concerns, including about the state of democracy in Croatia. We recognize this is a nation with many political voices and an active opposition. What we urge is political reform and respect for a free media, so that there is a level playing field for all.

We also believe that ethnicity cannot define the state; that in a modern Europe, a country is not an ethnic group. A modern Croatia should welcome home all the people who lived here before the war. And we look forward to working with Croatia to fortify the development of a strong single state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In all these areas, we hope that Croatia will continue to take steps consistent with the democratic values of its people and the standards of the community it rightly wishes to join. And in each, I look forward to continued dialogue and progress.

PRESIDENT TUDJMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, you've heard the statement of the Secretary State of the United States. We had a one hour meeting and open talks about many issues. I, personally, confirm the decisiveness of the Croatian government to continue cooperation with the United States in every aspect. The United States is the only world power and economic power. In resolving bilateral relations, we have reached new levels with the agreements with Bechtel, with the building of the roadways, building of some energy facilities, etc., but the main problem in cooperation with the United States and Croatia is the problem of Bosnia.

The Bosnian crisis still remains and it is one of the most complex in today's world, and cannot be resolved in any other way but, in our opinion, with very strict applications of the Dayton and Washington agreements. And we are facing attempts at revision of these agreements, which is unacceptable to the Croatian people in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is the least numerous ethnic group there and also to Croatia, who is obliged to take care of the Croats outside of Croatia. There were attempts, not only from Yugoslav and Serbian aggression, but also certain Muslim steps were taken to endanger all of the southern parts of the Croatian states.

Therefore, Croatia is vitally interested in a resolution of the Bosnian crisis in the spirit of the Washington and Dayton agreements. While the Washington agreement directly spoke about confederate relations between the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, while Dayton is going towards special relations, we are particularly grateful to the United States for their help to regulate those special relations between the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, and also in establishing peace in Bosnia, which will also mean peace here.

We also said that Croatia is consistent in the development of democratic processes in Croatia in all aspects. We said that Croatia has, in the last eight years since independence, already had eight elections that were under international control, so the Croatian system and regime cannot be looked at as an authoritarian, or that one party has dominance over the Croatian Television. The leadership in Croatian TV simply reflects the party leadership which is also reflected in the parliament, so we need to start from the situation in which Croatia was created and in which it has developed. In that sense, we're expecting that the government of the United States will carefully listen to all sides and all arguments, because democracy has general principles, but it is applied in separate countries separately, depending on their situations and circumstances.

We are also completely in agreement with the Government of the United States in the fight against terrorism of any sort and we've so far contributed to that and we will continue to contribute in the future. I am convinced that this meeting with the Secretary of State and the American delegation will contribute to further bettering of bilateral relations between Croatia and the United States, and also more efficient support of the United States in multilateral relations in Europe and the world, because Croatia is very decidedly on the way to join the European/North Atlantic security system.

QUESTION: You have mentioned one of the major problems in the relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina and the implementation of the agreements as one of the conditions. Is that partnership possible by the end of the year?

PRESIDENT TUDJMAN: I wouldn't expect that (sic) right after the Dayton agreement already expressed his support and I think that Croatia showed that it was ready and would be useful as one of the most stable politically and economically in this region. So, I wouldn't doubt that.

QUESTION: Do we have a disagreement here, because you talked about Croatia's responsibilities to Croats, or ethnic Croats, in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we believe that it is very important for the Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina to be a part of the system there. We see Bosnia as a multi-ethnic society and the Croats there have to play an important part. Where we have a disagreement, I think, is in the relationship of Croatia to the Bosnian Croats and we believe that it is very important for the Bosnian Croats to be able to act independently and to be a part of their country in such a way that they can contribute to the development of Bosnia itself.

PRESIDENT TUDJMAN: Allow me to add to that and say that the Croatian leadership and myself, personally, always did everything we could to maintain a Croatian element in Bosnia and to do whatever we can to solve the Bosnian crisis. I would remind you that, at the end of 1993 and the beginning of 1994, Mr. Izetbegovic personally offered annexing certain Croatian areas to Croatia, which I refused in the name of the Croatian leadership, and also it needs to be reminded that Croatian existence in Bosnia was endangered in the past.

After World War I there was twenty-four percent of the entire population were Croats, after World War II twenty-two percent, before this war seventeen percent, and after this war twelve percent. I was glad to hear from Mrs. Secretary, as Mr. Westendorp and Ambassador Klein also pointed out, that without Croats in Bosnia there cannot be any Bosnia.

However, there is a problem that, in order for the Croats to feel secure in the national and other sense in Bosnia, their national identity and national insignia should not be denied, because the Serbian republic does have their Serbian republic and Serbian TV representatives. Serbian republic officials are received in capitals from Vienna to Washington, while Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in many ways, feel endangered and they are not allowed national insignias, neither in cantons, which was guaranteed by the Dayton agreement. So, there are many reasons for cooperation between representatives of the United States and Croatia in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the implementation of the Dayton Agreement to resolve the Bosnian crisis and establish such a peace that would not endanger the wider peace.

[End of Document]

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