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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
EU Commissioner Christopher Patten

Press Availability
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, March 8, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm very pleased to be here in Bosnia-Herzegovina again, especially with EU Commissioner Chris Patten. Our joint appearance today reflects our joint efforts to help this once war torn nation move further down the road to lasting peace. Only a few days ago both Commissioner Patten and I were in Lisbon for a meeting between U.S. and EU and there we reaffirmed our status as partners and the beneficial impact of that partnership are on display here in Sarajevo, and Brcko, Banja Luka and elsewhere.

This is my seventh visit to this country since 1994, and each time I've seen greater progress. Recovery from the war is well advanced but much remains to be done. The recent elections in Croatia provide dramatic evidence of the power that individuals have to influence theirs future through the ballot. The new government in Zagreb is rejecting the hobgoblins of the past, and moving towards integration with the West. This has significance not only in Croatia, but also here in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

An early example of this is the Defense Assistance Transparency Agreement just reached among United States, Croatia and the Federation, but we anticipate further advances in the form of refugee returns and further consolidation of the Dayton institutions. Our purpose in Bosnia-Herzegovina is to help all citizens feel they can live safely and productively in an integral state comprised of two multi-ethnic entities. The upcoming municipal elections here can be a further step towards that goal. As I stressed in my meetings today, the elected authorities must also improve prospects by acting on fundamental economic reforms including privatization and a real crackdown on corruption. It's no secret that there remains too much state control in Bosnia and too much abuse of official firms and offices by political parties. Continued failure to reform will lead to continued hardships for the people here, continued reluctance on the part of outsiders to invest and continued delays in developing Bosnia's economy.

The United States fully supports the steps taken by the High Representative to spur full implementation of the Dayton Accords. He has said, and he is right, that every Bosnian leader has a responsibility to support this process -- whether at the federal entity or local level, implementing Dayton and giving life to its provisions must be a priority. Croatia, on the basis of its recent democratic advance, is already beginning to move towards fuller participation in European and trans-Atlantic institutions, as have other countries in the region. Bosnia will need to step up the pace of its own reforms if it is not to be left behind.

Although there are no grounds for complacency, I remain an optimist about the future of this country. In Brcko, earlier today we inaugurated the new statute, and the mayor and other local officials were installed. Progress there is yet another demonstration that Bosnia continues to move in the right direction. The challenge now is to accelerate the pace and thereby move ahead even more rapidly with our larger project of integrating all of Southeast Europe into the democratic mainstream of the Euro-Atlantic community. In that effort, as well as in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the United States and the European Union are full partners and on that note, I'm very pleased to yield the floor to my partner, Commissioner Patten.

COMMISSIONER PATTEN: Thank you very much indeed. I'm quite used

to playing mixed doubles so I'm very pleased to be here. I want to underline that point, that the European is working with the United States as partners to promote in this region, values that we share -- values which we are sure would make this region more prosperous and more politically stable. And we think this was reflected the other day by the election results in Croatia, that that is what the majority of people want as well.

I share the Secretary of State's analysis of the situation here in Bosnia-Herzegovina and I'd like to say a little more about that. In our judgement, throughout the region, countries want to get on the road to Europe and we think that is true in Bosnia-Herzegovina and we want to help people on that road. We think that things are already moving and it would be a great pity if political leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina didn't understand that. I've spent the whole week in the region starting in Albania and moving north and everywhere I've been getting the same message and I think that's something that leaders here need to recognize.

Now, there are some problems for us in moving as far as we would like with Bosnia, to which we've contributed from the European Union about 1.3 billion in assistance over the last three years. There's one very simple problem, when we established contractual relationships with countries where making those relationships with states and there are real problems in Bosnia-Herzegovina about the institutions of the state working sufficiently, effectively. That's a message that we gave to the Presidencies this afternoon. We expressed our concern about the fact that so far they don't seem in our judgement to have taken sufficiently to heart Ambassador Petritsch's advice that local politicians have to make it clear that they own the process of reform, that they're standing over it. We do want to see more reforms, more reforms that underpin democracy and the rule of law, more reforms that underpin the movement to an open market economy covering the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Now, we don't just wish from the European Union side to offer generalized criticisms or generalized encouragement, we want to be more focused and more specific than that. And what I said to the Presidencies this afternoon and what I'll be discussing with Mr. Prlic tomorrow morning is our proposal that we should agree with the government here, a dozen or so specific targets in economic and political areas for them to reach over a given time span which when we've accomplished that will enable us to have a successful feasibility study of their ability to begin negotiating with us a stabilization and association agreement. What we're proposing for them, to go back to my first metaphor, is, if you like, a road map which we can help them move down but will give us publicly identifiable targets for change and progress, and which will ensure that they can accomplish what they want and what we want which is a closer relationship with the European Union which has been helping them, wants to go on helping them in partnership with the United States, but agrees with the United States, that they still have some way to go before we can have the sort of full relationship that we'd like.

QUESTION: I'd like to ask a question on the situation in Brcko, and if you'll indulge me, another question on an unrelated topic. The first to Secretary Albright and Commissioner Patten. How do you think the Serbs will respond to the statute that was signed today, or installed today. In Brcko already there are some reports of demonstrations -- do you fear it could lead to further clashes and violence. And then I'd like to ask you a question about the Middle East if I could.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that today went extremely well and that Ambassador Farrand has worked very hard in terms of preparing the local population for various aspects of the statute and while there were apparently some thoughts that there was going to be a demonstration, I didn't notice any, and I think that things went according to schedule today and there were obviously Serbs that were part of the audience and part of the program. I think that now all the aspects of the statute have to be carried out and Ambassador Farrand is going to keep working with them and working towards a time when those people that were appointed will actually be able to be elected. So, as I drove from Camp McGovern to Brcko proper, Ambassador Farrand was pointing out to me various places where houses had been rebuilt, where there were Serbs, where there were Muslims, so I think that there has been progress. Obviously, a lot more needs to be done.

COMMISSIONER PATTEN: The only demonstration I saw in Brcko was a lot of local people keen to take their own destiny in their own hands. And I think that on the basis of the statute, they can look forward to a better, more stable, more prosperous, more peaceful future.

QUESTION: I did have a follow up on the reports of a meeting between Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak and the resumption of peace talks in Washington. Does that mean that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is closer?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: As Ambassador Ross announced, and I spoke to him -- now I can't remember whether it was late at night or early in the morning -- the parties agreed that the talks will resume after the Eid in Washington. The Eid begins approximately on March 16th. There has not been a site chosen yet. Talks will be at the level of negotiators and the objective of the talks is to achieve a framework agreement as soon as possible so that the permanent status issues can be resolved by the date of September 13th. So, as you have followed me around, Lee, I have talked about the ups and downs and off and on tracks, and I think that this is obviously a hopeful and positive development.

QUESTION: Despite your joint presence here today, we in Europe hear quite a lot of talk about dissatisfaction in Washington at the performance of the EU, particularly in rebuilding Kosovo. Can I ask you whether you share that and what you, in particular, you think the EU could be doing more, given that Europe is, I think, the biggest donor in Kosovo.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the whole problem in Kosovo is one that there is a great deal to do and that we have all committed ourselves to burden sharing. Mr. Kouchner and General Reinhardt were up at the Security Council earlier in the week. They talked about the importance of the continued hardy contribution by all in order for there to be a success for UNMIK and KFOR. There have been a lot of discussions about everybody fulfilling their share of what the cost of KFOR and UNMIK is, and there has been a lot of discussion in our Congress as well as among others about the need for pledges to be fulfilled and for Kouchner to be able to look ahead more than one month in order to pay salaries and get a lot of infrastructure activities going and people working together. I think we all feel very strongly about this. Commissioner Patten and I have, at various meetings, prodded each other along in terms of trying to get monies delivered and additional pledges made. I think, the feeling among many in the United States is that we carried the burden in terms of aspects of the war, the fighting, and that the Europeans had said that they would carry the lion's share in the reconstruction efforts. I do believe that the pledges are there in order for that to be true, but the whole question is how quickly the money can be delivered. The other part of the problem that is out there, that again Commissioner Patten and I have talked about is the issue of the police. And here, the United States has fulfilled, in fact increased the number of people pledged for that operation and we do believe that the Europeans should add more to those numbers.

COMMISSIONER PATTEN: Can I just add a word, though I suspect that Stephen has heard me on this subject before. I think we have to be very careful that we don't get into a sort of populist humanitarian competition. What we are trying to do is work out, sensibly and honestly, the way in which we are going to share the burden for peace in Kosovo, and peace and stability elsewhere in the region which is, after all, in Europe. The way we're going to do that, which honors the promises that Europe has made and the way in which we are going to do that so that we can convince our friends and allies in the United States that when we talk about a common foreign and security policy, it's not just so much hot air. Now, I have problems sometimes convincing members of the European Parliament that we're not carrying too large a financial burden and I think it's an understatement to say that the Secretary of State has similar problems and as I did with a delegation from the United States the other day, I'm very happy to try to explain honestly what we're doing and honestly what some of our problems have been. I do think there have been some misunderstandings and once the pony gets out of the stable it's very difficult to get it back again. And I do think that we have suffered from the fact that in the past we haven't always been as fast and flexible and effective as we should have been. I hope that's changing, but it takes some time to turn the tanker around. In Kosovo, we're committed to spending 360 million Euro this year which is, and I'd better not make a sort of Central Bankers point, but it's about the same as a dollar, just at the moment. And, we're committed to spending 45 million of that in a contribution toward the 80 million budget for the civil administration, 10 million of that was put into the bank account of the civil administration in the last few days, another 20 million goes in later this month and the rest in the late spring, early summer, which matches the cash flow, so we're told, of the civil administration. So we're trying to do our bit and I recognize very clearly that we have to be able to convince our American friends that we are doing our bit. These sort of issues could be damaging to our relationship if people began to think we were freeloading and that we weren't doing everything that we undertook to do and that's a political problem. I don't think it's a fair criticism, but it's a political problem that we have to be aware of and that we have to deal with honestly and comprehensively.

QUESTION: I would be interested in knowing… President Djukanovic will be here tomorrow, I wonder if you are going to meet with him and it has become pretty obvious now where his country is going, which way Montenegro decided to go, or at least it's heading. So what is your message to him and what is your position on this conflict that is really now erupting down there between Yugoslavia and Montenegro. It could actually create a bigger problem. So where do you stand and this is a question for both actually.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am going to meet with President Djukanovic tomorrow. I meet with him frequently. I think a number of Western leaders do because we believe that he deserves to be supported in his desire to have a democratic Montenegro within Yugoslavia. And we think that that is a model that can be used and now he does have -- and it is difficult, there is no question about that and his economy is under attack and he has increasing difficulties. We are concerned about what is happening and the security of the entire region is of importance to us as is that of Montenegro. So, I'm looking forward to talking with him tomorrow and letting him know that we understand how difficult his situation is and that we are supportive of a democratic Montenegro within Yugoslavia. Hopefully, at some stage, the rest of it will be democratic.

COMMISSIONER PATTEN: Can I just add that, I'm not seeing the President tomorrow morning, but I'm hoping to see him on Friday again. My message will be the same. I'll also be wanting to discuss with him some of the practical ways in which we can help as the United States has been doing. Help Montenegro deal with the economic problems which have resulted from some of the activities of Mr. Milosevic and his regime. We think it's extremely important to help the government of Montenegro through this difficult period and we'll be doing what we can and there are a number of member states in the European Union which have also been generous in assisting.

QUESTION: You visited Camp McGovern today and you made several promises to the U.S. soldiers on the ground. I'm kind of interested where, what your idea is on how long these soldiers will be here on the ground, will they be based here permanently and how, I guess, it's a timeline I'm looking for, for soldiers here on the ground and also for Commissioner Patten, with the municipal elections coming up and, there have been of course some complaints (inaudible) with money not in fact coming in here quickly enough. What needs to be done on your part from the EU to help this country along in developing so that it doesn't fall back or have problems in the municipal areas, at the lower levels.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: You know, it's interesting, none of the soldiers with whom I spoke asked me how long they were going to be there and what I found in my discussions with them was that they felt that what they were doing at Camp McGovern was something that was important to the people there and to Bosnia as a whole and to the United States. When asked by others, I have said we don't have an artificial deadline. We have set out some benchmarks in terms of what needs to happen in Bosnia and we are constantly evaluating those and we will obviously not keep military here longer than it is needed. But, I believe, they are important for providing the right kind of environment for institutions to develop here and what happened in Brcko today I think is a perfect example of the incredibly important role that the forces at Camp McGovern have played because they have allowed the Brcko process to go forward. I think what I basically was promising them was the support of the administration and the American people and as we go to Congress to seek funds, that is part of what we are doing is showing our support for our forces, their mission and the overall mission of the United States and the international community for this area that has been so torn up with hatred and that we are trying so hard to put back together.

COMMISSIONER PATTEN: On the question of assistance, between us, the European Commission and the member states and the United States, we are responsible for about three-quarters of the huge amount of assistance which has been provided for Bosnia-Herzegovina over the last few years and just looking at the European Commission, we have spent 250 million last year and this year in Bosnia-Herzegovina which is by most people's reckoning quite a lot of "dosh." I mean it's not small change. We want to be sure that the money that we spend helps Bosnia-Herzegovina get back on its feet again rather than encourages people to think that they should choose to live in a state of sort of permanent economic convalescence. So, we're looking for signs that the assistance that we provide is actually helping to strengthen the will of local politicians to take charge of things themselves and get on with the reform process. Of course an element of what we're doing is humanitarian. We will be spending well over 50 million this year on helping to re-house refugees who are returning home but, overall the best argument for increased assistance in Bosnia-Herzegovina will be the effort made by local politicians themselves.

MODERATOR REEKER: We've used up our time -- last question in the back, local television.

QUESTION: I'm glad that it is the last question because it is at least rather unusual that Madame Secretary, on this International Women's Day, a lot of Bosnian women look up to you as a shining star for all that you have done in your life on international and political stage and especially for us Bosnians. I'm thrilled that you have been Sarajevo seven times, but at the same time I'm quite disappointed that you didn't have time to talk to my television (TV-BIH) which is the biggest in the area so I would ask for ten minutes of your time on this day, especially I've been thrilled when I learned that you had been studying at SAIS. I graduated last year there. So--

MR. REEKER: Do you have a question?

QUESTION: I am asking for ten minutes of your time. Thank you.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just say the following thing, is that --

QUESTION: You wouldn't take no for an answer. That is the reason I'm asking you.

MR. REEKER: Why don't you let the Secretary answer.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just a few things then we'll deal with the specific. I think that the message of today on International Women's Day is the vital role that women do play in each society and the reason that I have put women's issues at the center of American foreign policy is not because I am a feminist but because it is essential if societies are going to function well, if the educational system is going to work, if health issues are to be central, if there is going to be economic stability since in so many countries the women are the major proportion of the population as well as the working force. So, I have met whenever I can with women's groups and with women journalists, men, too, and I think that the women of Bosnia have been truly remarkable. They kept the society knit together through the worst days and set up all kinds of assistance programs and groups that could help each other. I think that the bravery of the Bosnian women is unparalleled and so through you I salute them.

[End of Document]
Blue Line

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