|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press Remarks Following Meeting with European Union
September 14, 2000, New York, New York
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. I just came from a working lunch with my counterparts from the European Union, including Commissioner Patten and High Representative Solana. It is always a pleasure to have a productive meal with my friends, especially when the Europeans pick up the bill. (Laughter.) I can joke about burden-sharing today because the U.S. and the EU partnership is strong and growing stronger. The range of issues we invariably discuss underscores the depth and breadth of our relationship.
During our meeting, we devoted a considerable amount of time to Southeast Europe. And there are a series of critical elections in the weeks ahead, and we are united in our call for free and fair elections in Serbia. We discussed ways that the U.S. and the EU can make clear our solidarity and increase our support for the courageous men and women who are demanding their rights in cities and towns across Serbia. We also agreed that there is a need to reinforce our efforts under the Stability Pact to carry out projects that have a timely and tangible impact on people's daily lives. And this can only be done by backing up our pledges with resources and by ensuring that we all meet our Stability Pact obligations.
Of course, winter has always been a time of testing in the region, and we are already discussing with our European partners a strategy for assisting Kosovo's communities in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable.
Our productive dialogue on European Security and Defense Policy also continued today, and we are now working on the basis of a shared vision, one that strengthens both European capabilities and the trans-Atlantic link. We will continue to work together closely to ensure that the NATO-EU linkages enhance both institutions and to support the involvement of non-EU NATO allies in EU security deliberations.
Finally, we had a good exchange on important issues of war and peace. We know that when the U.S. and the EU work together we are more effective in supporting UN peace operations and maintaining stability in areas such as the Middle East and the Gulf. The United States is committed to making the Oil-for-Food program in Iraq work, and despite Baghdad's refusal to meet its charter obligations and abide by UN Security Council Resolution 1284, we will continue to work to create a more sustainable foundation for all UN peace operations.
Without reforms, the UN's financial structure is unsustainable and there is now increased agreement that the UN scale of assessments, particularly for peacekeeping, need to be revised. Today's meetings are a part of an almost continuous conversation between America and Europe, and I look forward to resuming this vital conversation with my EU counterparts when we next meet in Paris in October and throughout the rest of the year.
Before I take your questions, I would like to say how gratified I am that news from Burma is that Aung San Suu Kyi is now able to receive some people at her residence, that the NLD offices have in fact now been reopened. She is not yet able to have any kind of free movement around the country, but I do believe that a concerted effort here at the United Nations through a variety of ways to state the international community's disgust with what the government authorities had done has had some impact. And I would only hope that we can continue to voice very loudly our opposition to the Burmese authorities not allowing the democratically elected NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi to take their rightful place and be able to have a dialogue, which is what they want.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, in Washington the Indian Prime Minister in a speech to Congress asked for understanding for India's nuclear program, saying that India didn't want to upset nonproliferation goals but it has to work its security problems out. And you met with the Pakistani Foreign Minister. I know you're going back to -- or at least I think you're going back to Washington to get involved in the Indian visit.
What is your reaction to this Indian proposition that the world ought to understand India needs a nuclear program, too?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we have obviously been working very hard, both before and during and after the President's trip to India, to build a qualitatively better relationship with this important country. But narrowing our differences on the nuclear nonproliferation issue is clearly one of the important aspects of that process. We are going to keep nuclear nonproliferation on the agenda within the context of the overall relationship, and we will be talking about this.
I mentioned today in a meeting with my Pakistani counterpart that we want them to sign the CTBT and that we are disappointed that they haven't, just as is true of the Indians, and that it's very important that those who have pledged to do so do so. But I think that what is important at this stage is that a moratorium on testing continue, and I think that that is something that will be stated. And obviously we're going to be discussing this issue with Prime Minister Vajpayee in Washington tomorrow. I will be there.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there are reports coming out of Baghdad and Moscow today that the Russian and Iraqi Government have reached an agreement to resume Russian air -- civilian passenger air flights between Moscow and Russia (sic), possibly as early as October. And, also, the French Government has recently said that it will not stand in the way of humanitarian flights by French citizens to Baghdad.
Is this the beginning of an effort to try and chip away at the sanctions? What is the American view on these decisions, and would the U.S. use air power to shoot down Russian civilian airplanes that are flying into Baghdad in violation of the sanctions?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I remember you from before.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say this. First of all, I think that what is very clear is that Resolution 1284 must be abided by. It was negotiated long and hard in the Security Council, and there is no question that it has the support. And if you go back in some statements that Foreign Minister Vedrine has made, he has made clear that he made clear also to Tariq Aziz that 1284 had to be carried out.
As I have said before, 1284 is the road map for Saddam Hussein to get out of the box, the sanctions box, if that's what he wants. We disagree with those who wish to fly into Iraq, and I will make that clear when I see Foreign Minister Ivanov in a little while. And I don't think it's a good idea.
I think it's very hard these days to kind of figure out what "humanitarian" means. As I have said to you before, those people that are concerned about the poor Iraqis and their lack of ability to have food and medicine, they are now pumping between $16 and $20 billion worth of oil this year, and I have just learned -- authoritatively -- that they import 12,000 cases per month of scotch whiskey. Now, at 12 bottles to a case, I'm not sure whether that's food or medicine.
But I think that these comments all the time about how the people are starving, there is plenty of money for Saddam Hussein to provide for his people. And I think those people -- well-intentioned though they may be -- who think that the Iraqi people are suffering because of United Nations sanctions need to know facts like that and need to know that there are new palaces and need to know that the elite is living well -- very well.
So we are abiding by 1284. We expect others to do so also.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I am supposed to give you a very warm welcome on behalf of the United Nations Correspondent Association, since I am the president. Welcome. It's good to have you be alive.
The first question is regard -- actually, it's not first, but it's regarding Serbia. Yesterday, one of the opposition leader, Mr. Djindjic, have said on the -- (inaudible) -- radio that as soon as they are becoming opposition and they win the election, obviously they are going to apply for the seat at the United Nations. Now, what do you think if that is going to jeopardize somehow in the long range the prosperity of Montenegro for solving all its problem in a way to become independent state?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, you've asked a lot of different questions. I think that we have felt for some time that the current occupant of the Yugoslav seat at the United Nations is not the SFRY, which is what they theoretically represent, and that Tito's flag is still out in front of the United Nations. The other states that were part of Yugoslavia have reapplied for membership as themselves, and Serbia -- hopefully a free and democratic FRY which would also include Montenegro -- would, at the appropriate time, reapply.
We support the democratic forces of Montenegro and we have discussed at great length the importance of the role that President Djukanovic is playing. That is not an independent Montenegro, but a Montenegro which can and -- if the opposition wins -- will be able, we hope, to operate with in a more democratic Serbia -- Yugoslavia.
And I think that what is important here is that the opposition in Serbia continue to work very hard for these elections which, unfortunately, we are concerned that Milosevic will steal. But I think that it is important therefore for the international community and for the Serbian people to be vigilant throughout the whole process, especially the counting process, so that they can expose what happened and reject the results if the election is stolen.
I think that the Serbian people should have a right, just like everybody in the world, to vote the government they want and to have a free and fair count.
QUESTION: Do you have any view, speaking of humanitarian, of the Canadian initiative to strengthen precisely an international action vis-à-vis violation of human rights, vis-à-vis the principle of sovereignty, particularly in the framework of the Organization of American States where the United States and Canada at the last General Assembly meeting had a very similar position?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, Lloyd Axworthy and I have had many very interesting discussions about security for individuals, humanitarian intervention, the whole importance of conflict prevention. And we have had more theoretical than practical discussions on this, but I think that as one looks at the Brahimi report there are myriad suggestions in terms of how to improve peacekeeping and how to improve the lot of peacekeepers and those who are also the victims of these terrible conflicts. But it is a very large theoretical question that Lloyd Axworthy and I have spent a lot of time discussing.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, can you say what you hope and expect from this latest round of talks with the Palestinians and the Israelis -- what you hope to accomplish?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well the Palestinian negotiators have arrived and they are meeting with Ambassador Ross. Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami is here. I will be seeing him this evening. And discussions will continue and we will pursue the same agenda that we have been pursuing, fully aware of that fact that time is short.
But as I have said to many colleagues that I have met, it is September 14th and September 13th passed without the declaration of a Palestinian state unilaterally. I believe that that is positive and has provided some breathing space for negotiations, time that we will use very well in a variety of venues and in a variety of combinations.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, today in Israel there were reports that Israel will be satisfied with jurisdiction over the space under the mosques. I don't know how much into this can you go. But can you tell us if there are any new ideas about Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and so on and so forth?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm not going to comment on various press reports on this. I think everybody knows that this is the most delicate subject, and obviously there are attempts to try to find a way that both parties will feel that their needs have been met -- and as I have said over and over again -- to do with the entire set of issues, that neither side can have 100 percent of what it wants. And we can't come out of this where one side feels that it has won and the other lost.
And I have to tell you that there is a great deal of very imaginative work going on, a lot of brainpower being consumed, hopefully reproduced, and that those are the kinds of questions that are out there that need to be resolved.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how do you interpret the Iraqi accusations that Kuwait is stealing its oil, which are reminiscent of what happened in 1990, and also the over-flights of Saudi territory? Do you see a new, provocative stance by Iraq in this?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, after almost 10 years of dealing with this issue, I genuinely have trouble believing one word out of the mouth of any Iraqi (official), for one. Second, I do think that there is some question that people have is whether these over-flights have not been carefully orchestrated in order to create a confrontational atmosphere during the Millennium Summit and during the General Assembly. And we have made quite clear any number of times that our red lines -- which are that if there are attacks or provocations against the Kurds in the north, if there are threats against the neighbors and against our forces or a reconstitution of the weapons of mass destruction -- that we do have a credible force in the region and are prepared to use it in an appropriate way and a place of our choosing.
But the bottom line here -- it's very simple -- the rules are laid out: 1284 is the clearest road map there is. And the way to proceed is not to threaten anybody or to make up stories, but to -- as I have said before -- pick up the key. And the key is Dr. Blix and UNMOVIC, and that is the way for sanctions suspension.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how long do you expect the Middle East talks to go on here in New York before they move somewhere else? And what are your plans for personal participation beyond this evening's dinner and meeting with Foreign Minister Ben-Ami?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that one thing we have learned is that the talks are movable and that I think it's more a matter of where the critical mass of people is and how to proceed. I will obviously be deeply involved in them at the appropriate times and will be continuing to meet with one or the other side in the course of these talks. These talks are one of my major priorities, as they are for President Clinton. And obviously Ambassador Ross is the -- as I have said, I think his role in this is beyond comparison, and the amount of time and energy and love that he has devoted to them.
QUESTION: Your German counterpart, Mr. Fischer, seems to worry about higher contributions to the United Nations, as soon as you pay less -- if at all. I mean, did you talk about a new measure, a decline of the American contribution, maybe during your lunch?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, it was very much a subject of our lunch, as it has been with every lunch I've ever had with anybody. And I think that changing the scale of assessments is very much an American priority for a very simple reason. We want to make the UN work. It has to have a sustainable financial basis. It cannot depend on one single country for a major proportion or a large proportion of its contributions.
We now have legislation which has provided us with the funds to pay our arrears, and it requires that there be a change in the scale of assessment. We did discuss the fact that if the U.S. paid less somebody had to pay more. But the amounts that are to be paid in addition are really quite small in comparison to what is gained by this. I think in the regular budget -- you have to check me on the numbers -- I think it's $35 million for the whole change in this. And at this moment, in the second tranche of money that the United States has to pay, there's $582 million. So I think that what we have been asking for is a genuine discussion and consideration of this during this General Assembly session before the end of the year so that we, in fact, can work this out.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, back to the Middle East one more time. The talks are movable, yes. But they had been resumed in the region and Dennis Ross was scheduled to go there at some point. Why would you ask them to come back here? Is this signaling again a new push by the American side? Why bring them back here if they were progressing in the region anyway?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that some of the people were here. Shlomo Ben-Ami was coming for the General Assembly. And I honestly do not believe that the location is the issue. The issue is that we have tried to play a useful role. We will continue to do that. It could happen here. We could go there. I don't think that the location is the most important part of it.
QUESTION: But does this mean that you're hopeful that the Palestinians and the Israelis will have a face-to-face meeting, which has not yet been in the picture at this point?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, you know, anything is -- but we play this. This is an evolving situation. If it makes sense to bring them together, we will do that. I think that what is necessary here is to have the flexibility both of process and of thought in trying to get these issues resolved. They're very difficult.
But I would like to repeat something that I've said before: Camp David was a watershed. Because before -- we don't have an agreement, but as I've said many times and others also -- we started to talk about issues that have never been talked about before. And the work that's going forward now is being done on the basis of the recapitulation of that. Obviously, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. But I think that -- the location I don't think is the issue. We could be in Washington. Dennis could go back. I think we're taking advantage of the fact that people are here.
QUESTION: I don't know how long we'll see you here in this capacity and this role, Madame Secretary, I'm glad you remember The Washington Post correspondent. You've been -- for seven years, you've made a lot of speeches and statements regarding Iraq, brooches, the whole approach. I wonder your sense that it appears President Saddam Hussein will be in office while you may not be, or the Clinton Administration -- one never knows -- in three months. And also since you were instrumental in the changeover in secretaries general from Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali to Kofi Annan, do you think he deserves a term -- a second term?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, let me say that I think that the issue of Saddam Hussein is obviously one of the more troubling ones that the international community has dealt with. He is a -- we didn't invent Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein crossed an international boundary, invaded another country, raped and pillaged, and helped to destroy the way that country operated. He took back prisoners of war. He took back loot of various kinds. He lied about the fact that he had weapons of mass destruction. He proceeded to work on reconstituting them. He prevented United Nations inspectors from going in. He has systematically tried to undermine the people in the south and the people in the north. He has refused to abide by the will of the international community. He is in a box. And I believe that what we have accomplished in the time is that we have kept him contained. And I think that it is important to do so.
Later this afternoon I am meeting with representatives of the Iraqi National Congress. There are people that are Iraqis that know the truth about what is going on. And whether I am in this office or on the outside or wherever, this is not an issue that is based on my tenure. It is one that is American policy, and we have worked very hard on it.
As far as terms for the Secretary General, I would like to say that I believe that Kofi Annan has done a magnificent job and I am very proud of the fact that he did become Secretary General at a time that I was here. He is a pleasure to work with. I think the innovativeness of some of the reports that he has given and his most recent setting up of the Brahimi system and all the work that has come from that, I think he's an excellent Secretary General.
But, fortunately, I don't have to worry about those things. So thank you very much.
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