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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Justice Louise Arbour, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Joint Press Conference
Washington, D.C., April 30, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to welcome Justice Arbour to the Department of State. As Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, she has played a critical role in making that body a force for truth and accountability in the aftermath of unspeakable crimes. And she's taken on wholeheartedly the difficult, and frankly dispiriting, challenge of tracking, investigating and preparing to prosecute the evil being done to the Albanians of Kosovo.

Let me take a moment to mention what the United States is doing to help relieve the plight of Albanians in refugee camps outside Kosovo, and to help ease the pressure Macedonia is facing. I want to thank the government of Macedonia for its cooperation in handling this refugee crisis. We have seen 19,500 refugees cross the border into Macedonia in the past three days.

Macedonia has opened a new refugee camp and has agreed to create more camps. We admire what the government is doing under tremendous pressure. We in the international community must do more to help them, and the United States is prepared to do its share.

We have committed to accepting some 20,000 refugees here in the United States. Today we have determined that refugees will begin to arrive in the United States early next week. The first group will be processed at Fort Dix and then be able to join relatives or hosts around the country, where I know they will receive a warm and sympathetic welcome.

This week we have seen yet more evidence of ethnic cleansing, organized killing and the systematic rape of ethnic Albanian women and girls. And yesterday we had a particularly repulsive comment on the last subject from Deputy Prime Minister Seselj.

There should be no misunderstanding. When it comes to the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity, "just following orders" is no defense. These are crimes for which individuals are responsible and for which individuals will be held accountable. Justice Arbour has rightly indicated that the Tribunal will follow the evidence no matter where it leads. In that, it has the full support of the United States. American personnel are assisting in the difficult work of documenting refugee charges, and doing what they can to gather supporting accounts. We worked with the Tribunal to prepare a standard questionnaire for refugee interviews, which can be used by Tribunal workers, our personnel and aid agencies.

Justice Arbour and I today discussed how the United States can provide more information to the Tribunal, and how to speed up delivery of potential evidence to The Hague. I assured her that we are asking Congress for additional resources for the Tribunal to meet new demands for investigations in Kosovo. And we discussed other needs of her investigations, which I am not going to get into, but which I assure you that the United States will do everything we possibly can to meet.

We are also thinking ahead to the Tribunal's needs after the fighting stops. We have consulted with Justice Arbour and begun planning for how we could facilitate access by Tribunal investigators to crime scenes in Kosovo.

The Tribunal now needs real-time support for its Kosovo investigations, and the United States is determined to give it. The world needs to know exactly what is happening there, and we are committed to helping discover it. Milosevic's victims, and those everywhere who love justice, need to know that there will be no impunity for those who commit these heinous offenses. And we're committed to helping the Tribunal ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

Justice Arbour.

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Thank you. I don't have a statement. I think I'd rather turn to your questions, except to say that I've had very fruitful discussions. We had announced a few weeks ago that we now need unprecedented assistance, in order to respond to the kinds of allegations that are coming out of Kosovo in a time frame that will make our work relevant. The discussions I've had in Germany, in the United Kingdom, here, and that I hope to have in France next week, are very much a part of our effort to obtain this kind of assistance. I'm happy to say that the support that is promised to us is starting to materialize, and I hope that it will permit us to face this massive flow of information and organize it in a coherent fashion that will allow us to discharge our mandate in a real-time environment.

QUESTION: Did you discuss an indictment of Slobodan Milosevic, and did you discuss reports that Justice Arbour is planning to leave this position; and what is the US view of that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, obviously, the question of what is going to happen to Mr. Milosevic is a subject that is very much on our minds, and Justice Arbour knows what we have said both publicly and privately; that she and the Tribunal need to follow out the trail of evidence to its conclusion. We, as I said, are supportive of her efforts.

She and I did not personally discuss the subject of -- it is my understanding. We talked about the challenge of the position. I was there when she was chosen as prosecutor, and I made very clear to her our tremendous support for the work that she has done and will continue to do. She is a great public servant, and someone that the international community has the highest respect for.

JUSTICE ARBOUR: You know that I've taken the position that it's inappropriate in my office to single out individuals as targets for investigations. The discussions that we have, both privately and publicly, are focused on our desire to bring the evidence forward at the highest level of political and/or military responsibility.

We are here, and elsewhere, to ensure that we get the assistance to move the cases forward in that direction. Whether it points to any particular individual, I think the law is very clear: there is no immunity before our Tribunal for heads of state. There's no immunity, essentially, for any individual, both in a personal or a command responsibility position. All our discussions take place in that framework.

QUESTION: Are you going to stay in this position?

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Well, I'm not having discussions with the government of Canada on my future. I certainly am not having discussions with anybody else on matters that relate, essentially, to a domestic question in Canada.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as you know, the most gruesome possibility that we see out of the Kosovo conflict is the possibility that hundreds, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of young men have been murdered en masse. Can you tell us specifically how you would get to evidence of that kind of thing before you can get into Kosovo?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that generally what we are trying to do -- as I mentioned, there are many interviews taking place of the refugees that are coming out. I have been asked a number of times by my colleagues -- other foreign ministers -- whether we actually have numbers that would indicate what we're talking about. We only do know -- and Justice Arbour can speak to this also -- as the people come out -- as the refugees come across the border, there are very few men of the age between 18 and 60. We do not have numbers.

I don't know if you want to speak to this at all.

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Yes, I think that what's in the sort of open source information, inferences can be drawn. We are now very actively involved in trying to develop court products; that is, witness statements from persons who will show a willingness to testify. This is quite a laborious process, just documenting what we call the crime base -- the level of criminal activity that not only has taken place in the last few months, but appears to be unfolding. This is one half of our investigation.

We are operating, essentially, from exactly the same kind of open source base that is available to journalists and others. And, of course, at the same time we are trying to move forward in our command and control investigations. That, of course, we cannot do solely on the basis of refugee accounts.

QUESTION: Justice Arbour, can you tell us the scope and quantify in some way what you're asking for in additional assistance? Are you seeking to double that, 10 percent; are there any numbers associated with the kind of help you're seeking as you go around?

JUSTICE ARBOUR: You mean in terms of financial assistance?

QUESTION: Financial, numbers of prosecutors, numbers of court rooms, perhaps, as you're thinking down the road. Is there any way you can tell us the scope and the size that you're looking for?

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Well, I have to say, we're not thinking at this point -- or certainly not with the ambit of my jurisdiction or my competence -- to look at additional courtrooms or judicial complement. I have to look, essentially, at the investigative capacity of my office.

The Tribunal's total budget for 1999 is approximately $94 million, of which about $26.5 million are dedicated to the Office of the Prosecutor. The Tribunal has a staff of approximately 700, of which about 325 are in the Office of the Prosecutor, of which about 70 are presently investigators. We also have crime analysts, military analysts and so on.

What we're looking at, essentially -- and this budget, as you can well imagine, is our main source budget from the United Nations General Assembly, and was developed on the basis of projections that we made, essentially, last summer and that was presented last fall. The landscape has changed considerably, certainly since January of this year. We are now looking at contributions to the voluntary trust fund, which is a trust fund to which states may make contributions to allow us, essentially, to increase our investigative capacity.

So we have developed figures that we are sharing with potential contributors, based on a contribution for six months, ten months or a full year. We are looking at the range of seeking possible contributions in the range of $15 million to $20 million, looking at what we can realistically also absorb in terms of immediate recruitment and deployment within our field of action.

QUESTION: Justice Arbour, do you see the mission of the Tribunal as one of deterrence of these types of activities? And if so, why have we seen 14 months of atrocities in Kosovo without a single indictment?

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Well, I think the first thing I'm going to say about deterrence -- and I don't want to sound facetious -- but essentially, deterrence, if it works, is very difficult to measure. It's measuring what did not occur.

Now, frankly, in the current environment, it's pretty hard to imagine that considerably worse atrocities could have been perpetrated. So having said that, I can assure you that one of the main subjects of discussion that I raised -- not only here but in all the capitals that I visited recently -- is the need for an immediate, very robust arrest initiative in Bosnia. I believe that the strongest deterrent message that could have been sent into Kosovo, and that could still be sent, would be the immediate apprehension, not only of the remaining indictees who are publicly indicted, but of the persons who are the subject of sealed indictment.

I believe that this would bring an air of reality to those who are in positions of accountability in Kosovo who may be associated with the perpetration of the crimes that, by credible accounts, appear to be committed now. The mere issuance of indictments in a country that has never executed any of our arrest warrants in the past, frankly, would serve only as a very hypothetical or a marginal deterrent. I believe that what will show -- or I think could have a very immediate impact -- would be the demonstration that we have the capacity to investigate and we have partners who have the political will and the operational skills to execute arrest warrants even in hostile environments.

So I am calling -- and I've called in the past -- but I think now the time is absolutely critical to see very robust action on the outstanding warrants.

QUESTION: Justice Arbour, in terms of your investigation so far into alleged war crimes in Kosovo, have you been concerned or frustrated with the length of time it's taken to get information from the United States and other allies? Has that been a concern for you at all?

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Well, everyone is in a hurry. I mean, there's no question that we would like to access the largest number of pieces and to have the capacity to process this information.

As I said, I think we've now put in place mechanisms that allow us, in partnership with many others who are in the field in Albania and in Macedonia, to try to process refugee accounts and, from our point of view, select those who will provide the best base for a court case that will be reflective of the magnitude of what has transpired.

Other pieces of information are considerably more difficult to access, and these are those that will support our investigative effort on the command and control both on the police, military, and political level. We have long-standing relationships with information providers. We are now looking at trying to accelerate the flow of that kind of information and the quality of the product. Of course, we're doing so at a time where that the collection capacity of all these potential providers is taxed by the need for them to collect information relevant to their efforts in the region.

So we are, of course, competing with other interests at a time when we're trying to get access for information for our purposes. It's a dialogue and a partnership that we have to maintain.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just add to that, we obviously had this discussion about the importance of our cooperation on this. I assured Justice Arbour that we would do everything we can to be as cooperative as possible. We have already, obviously, turned over a great deal of material and have established a way of working with the War Crimes Tribunal, and we will continue to do so, because of our support for the work that Justice Arbour is doing and the War Crimes Tribunal is doing.

QUESTION: Just to go back to the war criminals in Bosnia for a minute, what are you told why that isn't happening; and how hopeful are you that those people will be arrested, particularly someone like Karadzic and Mladic? And Secretary Albright, if you could also answer that.

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Well, I'm not sure that I'm ever told anything but the fact that there is a commitment to seeing this agenda unfold appropriately, in an appropriate time frame. Nobody feels, I'm sure, accountable to me as to why certain things happen or don't happen at a particular time. So I can't tell you. I wish I had an understanding that would satisfy me as to whether the key to speeding up that process is operational or whether it's political or whether it's a combination of both. I can't tell you that I'm being provided an answer, beyond the fact that there's always an expressed support for the need to see this agenda proceed.

QUESTION: What do you think it says to the people of Bosnia or someone like Milosevic, who realizes that Karadzic or Mladic have never been arrested?

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Well, as I said before, on the deterrent issue -- solely on the question of deterrence, not on the overall kind of moral question of whether it's appropriate to neglect this issue -- but solely on the deterrent aspect of it, I think it sends a signal that there can be some comfort in thinking that the time may never come where indictments issued by this Tribunal will have real consequences on the lives of those who should be made accountable.

This is a regime of personal criminal responsibility. This Tribunal and the Tribunal for Rwanda have not been set up to settle political accounts or to try to determine whether wars that were fought were just wars or whether one side occupied high moral ground better than the other side. I mean, there's a mandate that requires that persons be made personally accountable for crimes that they may have committed and serve time -- possibly the rest of their lives incarcerated -- if they have. I think we are some distance in bringing that part of the mandate to fruition.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me add to that. First of all, I think it has not been noted here that more than half of those who have been publicly indicted have been arrested, or are incarcerated in The Hague. So it isn't as if nothing was happening on that front. There is, and as you know, the forces have the authority to be able to proceed.

I think that there clearly -- those in question should never rest easy and think that they can wait this out; because there is no statute of limitations. We have made that quite clear. I think that there is a will to do this. We have all talked a great deal about the need to carry out everybody's obligations under the Dayton agreement. The United States will do its part. But the other countries, the places where these people are, also have an obligation to turn them over. And, as I said, there is no statute of limitations: their day will come.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, is it, do you think, realistic in political and ethical terms, to negotiate peace with a person who is an indicted war criminal? And Justice Arbour, is that consideration in your mind when it comes to at least the timing of handing down indictments against the leadership of Serbia?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, let me say it's a hypothetical question, is it not? But the issue, I think, really is -- I've been asked a number of times whether we would talk to Milosevic. I think that one can separate his -- I'm standing next to a lawyer, so I have to choose my words very carefully-separate his alleged actions from the necessity, at some stage, that one might have to speak to him. "Negotiate" is a different word. But the question, at this stage, is hypothetical.

QUESTION: Justice Arbour, is that a consideration?

JUSTICE ARBOUR: Yes, I'm conscious that it may become a moral or a political dilemma for others. It has nothing to do with my work. But I'm very conscious. I don't want to be dismissive of the fact that it appears to be a very serious concern.

I have to say that I don't know of any legal impediment to discussions, talks of any kind. There may be political considerations as to what the value would be of a settlement reached in these kinds of circumstances. But if the question is one of ethics, frankly, I'm not sure that the existence or non-existence of an indictment is particularly significant. I believe that those who may have ethical reservation are probably in possession of information now that could cause them to reflect on whether they want to embark on that either before or after an indictment.

So I'm conscious that it's out there. What will drive our work is -- the only timing that is significant is the timing under which we will have the evidence that will permit us to satisfy a judge that an indictment can be confirmed. That's the target that we have to meet.

QUESTION: The Prime Minister of Canada today called you an excellent candidate for the Supreme Court. If you were to be offered a seat on that bench, would you seriously consider it?

JUSTICE ARBOUR: I don't think it's appropriate for me to speculate on hypothetical circumstances such as this one. I think others will have to make some decisions; and if and when I have to make some about my professional future, I will do so. But I don't think it's appropriate for me to speculate.

QUESTION: Madame Albright, what impact would that have on the process if Justice Arbour were to leave?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Just as she is not going to discuss a hypothetical situation, neither will I. But let it be noted, nobody's offered me a position in the Supreme Court.


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you talked about discussing the work of the Tribunal after the shooting stops. Have you heard anything to indicate that Mr. Chernomyrdin's efforts or any other force have brought that moment closer?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that we are waiting to get a report on Mr. Chernomyrdin's latest meetings. It is my sense from some of the statements emanating from Belgrade and various theoretical plans that they have presented, I think that we are not anywhere near a serious proposal.

Thank you.

QUESTION: (In French.)


QUESTION: (In French.)



MR. RUBIN: Merci.

[End of Document]

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