|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer
Joint Press Availability
Washington, D.C., November 4, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning. I am very pleased to welcome my good friend, Foreign Minister Fischer, back to the Department of State for a very timely visit.
Ten years ago this week, demonstrations in East Berlin heralded the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Europe's unnatural divide. Today, we rededicate ourselves to the goal of ensuring that no new walls of habit or hate block European unity, and a united Germany with Berlin as its capital is a leading partner in that effort.
This morning, the Foreign Minister and I discussed a number of issues facing our NATO alliance, including European efforts to develop a separate European Defense Identity. The United States welcomes European efforts to develop a common security and defense policy and to enhance Europe's capability to perform NATO and EU missions. We ask -- and I believe our German partners agree -- that such a process be effective and efficient and that it serve to strengthen the trans- Atlantic link.
We also reviewed progress in the Balkans where Germany is playing a very important leadership role: A German official commands NATO forces in Kosovo; a German official is overseeing our cooperation for reconstruction through the Stability Pact, and; the German Government has made a substantial financial commitment to the future of the region.
Our nations are working together to promote peace in Kosovo and Bosnia and to support democratic forces in Serbia, for without real freedom in Serbia itself, the prospects for peace throughout the region are dim. We will continue to work closely with the Serbian opposition and the government of Montenegro and President Djukanovic, with whom I will meet later today.
In two weeks, President Clinton will join Chancellor Schroeder and 52 other European and North American leaders at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul. They will welcome progress towards peace in the Balkans and the role OSCE is playing there.
But they will also confront the disturbing conflict in Chechnya with its mounting toll of civilian casualties and persons displaced from their homes. Foreign Minister Fischer and I both believe that the Istanbul summit poses not a crisis but an opportunity for Russia, Chechnya, and the principles of peace and human rights that the OSCE has symbolized since its founding. We urge Russia to open a dialogue toward peaceful resolution with legitimate Chechen partners. We also propose an urgent look at how the humanitarian crisis in and around Chechnya can be diffused and we're considering what helpful role the international community, through the OSCE, might play in the area.
Before closing, I want to add that I have often emphasized recently the importance of gaining adequate resources to back our foreign policy goals in Kosovo, Southeast Europe, and elsewhere in the world. I mention this now because the House of Representatives is expected today to consider another totally unacceptable foreign operations appropriations bill. House leaders have agreed to fund our needs in the Middle East, which is vital, and provided virtually no additional funds elsewhere. This is a cynical political ploy aimed at dividing those who believe in a strong foreign policy.
The Administration has insisted from the start that support for the Middle East peace process be approved. While funding for this purpose is necessary, it is not sufficient. We can not ignore our other responsibilities around the globe. We will insist on adequate funding for our leadership and we will not stop fighting until we prevail. And I have recommended to the President that we veto.
Finally, let me say that the Foreign Minister and I will continue to work together very closely in the days ahead, building on a very strong partnership, and now let me turn the floor over to my very good friend, Joschka Fischer.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Thank you very much. Thank you for the warm welcome here in Washington and for the very constructive and good talks we had together, as we had it in the past.
Madame Secretary mentioned the historical events ten years ago, and let me repeat here our thanks to the people of the United States. Without the commitment of the people and the governments, several governments, of the United States, it wouldn't be possible to reach the unification, and we will never forget what the people and the government of the United States have done for the unification of Germany and for democracy and freedom in Germany.
We are now working very closely in a common future in the trans- Atlantic relations and in Europe. I think what we reach together in the Balkans is very important. We started together to make or to find a way for peace, for peaceful agreements in the Balkans -- against war, against hatred, and against the policy of Belgrade, which is directed to war. Milosevic has caused four wars and, without the resistance of the Western alliance, without the United States and Europe and many others, I'm sure that we would now in the next spring have the next, the fifth war and, therefore, there was no alternative than to stop Milosevic.
But to stop Milosevic means that this new direction towards peace in the Balkans will only be able when democracy in Belgrade will have won and, therefore, I think it's very important that we are together going ahead, strengthening the Serbian opposition, and find a common working strategy for the next half year to improve the situation in Belgrade substantially. I think for the whole region is that very important for Kosovo, for the future of Kosovo, for the Stability Pact and, therefore, this was a major issue of our discussions today.
We are very concerned about the situation in Chechnya and the follow-up in Russia, because we think that the problems in the Caucasus area must be solved peacefully; it must be solved politically and not by military means. We accept the need to fight against terrorism and the right of self-defense against terrorism obviously, but we don't think the war in Chechnya is the right means and we fear that not only that it will cause a humanitarian catastrophe, but also that it will strengthen Islamist groups and it will produce more problems than create solutions. So also there is a common understanding.
And the third, we are looking forward to the OSCE Summit. For us, it's very important, the CFE adjustment. There will be a signature for the CFE adjustment that they will -- I hope a decision, a positive decision about the OSCE agenda, and a strong signal for peace in Europe and in the whole OSCE area.
Also, it's very important, I think, to have a successful summit in Istanbul for the region -- for the whole region there. You know Germany worked very hard to improve the relations between Turkey and the EU. We are looking forward with very positive expectations to the Helsinki Summit. So I think that a positive summit in Istanbul is also in our common interest.
So, obviously, we discussed the CTBT question, and I told Madame Secretary our deep concern. We had a debate in our parliament and there was deep concern from all parties, from all members of parliaments, that we hope that this is not the last word of the Senate and this is not the last decision, and that the commitment of the United States to arms reduction, and especially nuclear arms, arms control, will continue; that this is not a strategic decision but a decision which it will be in the future changed and it will be another decision.
We, by the way, appreciate it very much that the President announced that the United States Government will provisionally applicate this agreement; that there will be, in fact, a de facto test ban. But we are very, very concerned about the developments in our world. We see the arms race -- the nuclear arms race -- on the Indian subcontinent. We know very well that there are some other not very trustful leaders and states who are looking for the capabilities for missiles and nuclear arms.
We are a non-nuclear state, and we trust the United States that our interest as a non-nuclear state, as many others -- peaceful, democratic, non-nuclear states -- that it's in our common interest that the leading power, the leading nuclear power, will continue in nonproliferation in their nonproliferation policy. And this was not only based on the policy of the Clinton Administration, but this is a very long tradition in the policy of the government of the United States in the last decades.
Last but not least we discussed about the recent developments in the European Union and the European Security and Defense Identity. And on the one hand, Germany is working very hard because we think that this is in the interest, in our common interest of Europe and the United States, that we are going ahead with integration of the European Union to a full integration. It means also to a common European Security and Defense Identity. On the other hand, it's quite clear that it cannot be and should not be directed against NATO and against the trans- Atlantic link or the United States.
You mentioned history ten years ago. Let me mention the real decision which I think which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a decision for wise statesmen of the United States to stay in Europe after the end of the Second World War. And now we have to improve our relations and, therefore, let me underline that the European Security and Defense Identity, it's not an exclusion and it's not directed against anyone, but it's strengthening the European pillar within the Western alliance, and this is in our common interest.
So we had very constructive, very productive talks, and we've had it before and I'm looking forward for the next meetings in Europe. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, on Iraq. The Iraqis apparently are holding firmly in support of the lifting of the sanctions and in opposition to cooperation with any new arms monitoring regime that might be created. Do you have a comment?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think they need to understand that the only way that they are going to get out of their box is if the Security Council can, in fact, continue its work to make sure that there is an inspections regime on the ground that is able to monitor and verify they're living up to the obligations imposed upon them by the Security Council.
The Security Council is currently working on a draft resolution that includes an oil-for-food program and a methodology for this process to be carried out. And if the Iraqis don't even want to have a process, then they're going to stay where they are -- inside their box, incapable of being a part of having the sanctions suspended. There is no way to do it if the process is not followed out, so it's cutting off their nose to spite their face.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary and Mr. Fischer, what consequences will it have for the OSCE Summit if Russia continues its offensive against Chechnya?
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: From my point of view, that is a hypothetical question I can not answer today. It's a question we can answer when we know the real situation, but I don't think the OSCE summit should be only a Chechnya summit. We have a lot of interests to keep Russia within the framework of international conventions and treaties. It would be very unwise in the interest of our common security to try to isolate Russia or to let Russia alone or let them go and lift the obligations that they have committed themselves in the past.
Therefore, I think we should, on the one hand, discuss very openly our concerns, our deep concerns, about the policy of Russia in Chechnya. And once again, my fear is they are making a terrible mistake there for the whole region and with a negative outcome for Russia, and that the war there is causing a humanitarian catastrophe.
So the first step that they are now agreed to have an OSCE supervisor or however you may call it. I think it's not sufficient, but it's a first step and we should look forward in a close discussion with the Russians. But the OSCE as a whole with the charter -- we worked for years, I think for five years now for the charter, and a very difficult issue. We should look forward and there are some very important issues, especially the problems I mentioned before.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would agree. I think it's an important summit. We're looking forward to it. Chechnya is just a part of it. We're going to be talking about the Conventional Forces Agreement and the treaty and, obviously, issues to do with the Balkans.
We hope very much that the Russians will understand exactly what Foreign Minister Fischer was talking about, the fact that there is no military solution to the Chechnya issue. It has to come about as a political solution and a political dialogue and a concern for the humanitarian tragedy that has been created by the numbers of people trying to get out of Chechnya to escape the military activities.
QUESTION: Can I ask the Foreign Minister, and perhaps the Secretary of State would also like to add something. It appears that the talks on forced labor have come to a deadlock. Is there any way out of this deadlock that you can see? And if the deadlock remains, what then would the German Government do about the situation? And, Madame Secretary, if you'd like to say what the United States would do.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Well, first of all, let me repeat that we are fully committed to a positive outcome of the talks, and we hope because we accept the moral responsibility of Germany. We accept the moral responsibility to find a solution for the problem of the survivors of slave labor and forced labor. Solution may be the wrong concept because there cannot be a solution. There can be only -- we can try to find a way for that, and we are fully committed for success.
But, obviously, this obligation is first an obligation to the German industry, and we are in very constructive talks with the German industry. Count Lambsdorff is doing and has done a very good job with the full support of the German Government. And the only thing I can tell you now, because I will not talk about figures or about the situation in the talks, it would be not wise to be here very precisely.
But on behalf of the German Government, we are interested in a positive outcome and our position will be that we will not block any positive outcome. But we see, obviously, that it is the obligation of our industry and, of course; on the other hand, there are the interests of our industry that there should be at the end a positive outcome. And a positive outcome means that our industry will have, as far as possible, security and that this compromise then will be definitely a good compromise and will be the compromise.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just add that Deputy Secretary Eizenstat is going to consult with Count Lambsdorff tomorrow here in Washington to decide on next steps and, obviously, whatever they decide has to be done as a result of a joint decision. We believe that it's important for both sides to show greater flexibility so that we do, in fact, arrive at an agreement. This is obviously an important issue, and other issues such as this have been resolved thanks to I think some brilliant work by Stu Eizenstat. So they will, as I said, consult tomorrow.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, may I ask a question on sanctions against Serbia? I assume you had a talk about this issue. What sanctions should be lifted in your point of view and which should remain in place?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: As I said yesterday in meeting with the Yugoslav opposition that, in fact, once there were free and fair elections, that some sanctions would be lifted. What we're basically talking about are flight bans and the oil. There are a whole series of sanctions, as you know, that have been put on at various times.
Perhaps to go to the bottom line here, the outer wall sanctions, which really are directed at whether a Serbia can rejoin the international community, has a lot to do with how they live up to their obligations under Dayton in terms of turning over war criminals. But we're just talking about certain sanctions.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, can you talk a little more about your complaint about Congress, the House of Representatives? You spent an awful lot of time trying to get better than you've gotten. Is this purely political? Are there any substantive differences that they have with it?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the major difference we seem to have is what the role of the United States is in the world. We cannot carry out our foreign policy with both hands tied behind our back because we have no money, and it is impossible to have a foreign policy where we do not understand that our assistance budget is not a giveaway program but is our first line of defense in terms of working on preventive diplomacy; on assisting countries coming through transition; in dealing with -- reducing a nuclear threat; the threat reduction initiatives that the President has suggested for the Newly Independent States; or to try to help some of the developing countries with their very serious debt problems.
So our differences, while they are about numbers, I think reflect a different view of the role that the United States should play. We believe that it is impossible for us to play the role -- and I think the Foreign Minister made very clear the difference of what happens if the United States is involved, as we were after the second World War, and as we were not after the first World War.
I think that this budget debate is an important one and, as I said, I have recommended to the President that if this bill comes down with the paltry sums that we have heard, that I will recommend a veto. We very much need the Wye money, the Wye supplemental, but we also need money for debt relief, for threat reduction, for dealing with the drug issues, and for assistance generally in terms of preventive diplomacy.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, to follow up the questions with the sanctions issue, since you talked about it this morning, would you say that you see eye to eye with Foreign Minister Fischer on this issue, or is there a slightly different approach?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think he can speak for himself, but I think we see eye to eye in our ultimate goal, which is that we want to see a democratic Serbia and a democratic Yugoslavia, and that we have worked very hard together in dealing with the results of Milosevic having already started four wars. We don't want anything else. And I think we see eye to eye on the fact that Milosevic must go, and so I think there are no two allies that work more closely together on this subject and are in agreement.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Well, that's very easy to answer. There are a lot of questions. There are several options, a lot of questions we have very carefully to look for. And I'm sure, as in the past during the whole Kosovo crisis and the Kosovo war at the end, we will have -- and I don't mean not only Germany and the United States, I mean the Europeans and the United States, we will have a common position because we have the same aim.
Within the next half year, we want to see substantial progress in democratization in Belgrade. This is the key element, and the question of the sanctions is not a question of ideology or any differences between United States or Europeans, so no. It's the only question to think about which steps are the proper one to reach that goal. And, therefore, we need a work in process and we will look forward for that, and we had a very productive discussion about that. We just started about many issues to discuss, and I think after the next weeks we'll have more precise answers.
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