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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Robert Gelbard, Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement
Press Remarks at the Department of State
Washington, D.C., April 10, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. On Tuesday, at my request, the President appointed Ambassador Robert Gelbard to serve as Special Representative of the President and the Secretary of State for Implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. Ambassador Gelbard has already started work as the Administration's negotiator, coordinator and program director for the Dayton Accords. I have asked him to leave this afternoon to travel with Assistant Secretary John Kornblum to Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia. This trip will introduce Ambassador Gelbard to the parties in his new role and emphasize to the parties that we expect them to intensify their efforts to implement the Dayton agreement.
The Dayton peace agreement stands as a major accomplishment of American diplomacy, and the principles of that agreement will continue to guide us. It ended Europe's bloodiest conflict in more than fifty years, and prevented the spread of conflict in a region that earlier this century tore Europe apart. Within Dayton's framework, NATO has carried out the first major deployment of its existence: a peacekeeping operation that has been skillfully carried out by the armed forces of the United States, our allies, and eighteen non-NATO countries, including Russia.
In the seventeen months since Dayton was signed, we have accomplished much. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a unitary state have been accepted by all the parties, and we intend to see that commitment through. Unified governmental institutions have begun to function; democratic elections took place last year. Where the parties have cooperated with Dayton, the economy has started slowly to recover from the twin burdens of war and the legacy of a planned socialist economy. These gains have come only with a great deal of effort by the United States and the international community. Ambassador John Kornblum in particular has worked tirelessly and with great skill to build support, both within Bosnia and the international community. He has tremendous credibility with the parties and our international partners. I thank him for his efforts. He continues as Assistant Secretary for European and Canadian Affairs, and will work closely with Ambassador Gelbard on the Dayton issues.
We have much to do. Bosnia has been at peace for almost one and one-half years. It is time for the parties, with our help and within the structure of Dayton, to make the peace self-sustaining. With our European partners, we will continue to press for Dayton's implementation, especially in the next several months while the mission of the NATO-led Stabilization Force continues. It is critical that the people of Bosnia see the differences that peace can make in everyday life, for example, that reconstruction quickens, that persons displaced by the conflict are able to return home, that police function effectively, that those who violate Bosnian or international law get what they deserve, and that fields are plowed. In short: that each citizen of Bosnia have the opportunity for the quiet miracle of a normal life. The responsibility of achieving this lies with the parties and the Bosnian people, but we can do much to help them.
Bob Gelbard has my full confidence in taking on this important task. As Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the post he held until this week, he managed a difficult and sensitive portfolio, playing a leadership role in our country's battle with international narcotics trafficking. He also handled important responsibilities with regard to Bosnia, including U.S. support for the international police monitors. In that mission, he has visited Bosnia a number of times and met many of the leaders with whom he will now be working. That experience makes it possible for him to hit the ground running and see that the Dayton agreement is fully implemented. Bob has to go home and pack, but he is willing to take a few questions from you. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: Let me just say that I'm obviously deeply honored to have been asked by the President and the Secretary to take on this new set of responsibilities. These are issues which are fundamental to our national security and to that of our allies.
We consider these issues to be of fundamental importance on the types of issues that we can envisage as increasingly the type of problems that will be encountered in the post-Cold War environment.
As the Secretary said, I'll be leaving this afternoon with Assistant Secretary Kornblum and a group of others to visit Bosnia and several other neighboring countries to meet with the parties, to continue to push the agenda forward, and work on all the issues related to the implementation of the Dayton Agreements.
I look forward to working with all of you, as I have in the past, and I'm happy to take a few questions.
QUESTION: What message will you be taking to President Milosevic?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: We will be talking about several sets of issues, obviously. These include the need to have great cooperation on subjects related to full implementation of the Dayton Agreements, particularly, of course, related to those regarding the Republika Srpska and the Bosnian Serb leadership; but we will not be neglecting, by any means, issues related to democratization inside the former Republic of Yugoslavia, including relations with the opposition and issues related to Kosovo. In fact, we'll be visiting Kosovo.
QUESTION: Mr. Gelbard, don't you think that U.S. policy towards Bosnia is harmed in some way by what appears to be a revolving door of coordinators - I mean there was Redman and somebody else, and then there was Holbrooke and then there was Kornblum and now there's you. I mean, given the importance of this issue, wouldn't consistency be desirable?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: If you're asking do you think the policy has been hurt by my being named -(laughter).
QUESTION: No, no, no.
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: Well, yes. You know, they know me!
QUESTION: Not by you. I know.
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: The answer is that we're in a very important phase in terms of implementation of the Dayton Agreements. A dramatic amount has been accomplished over the course of the last l4-l5 months. This is the second term of the Clinton Administration, and as such there has been an examination of positions.
I fully expect to stay in this position as long as the President and the Secretary want me to, and I have expressed that to the Secretary and to Sandy Berger; but I will be responsible throughout the Administration for bringing all these issues together. And, as the Secretary said, being designated as the Administration's negotiator and implementer in this, I expect to carry this out in a very serious way.
I do not think that this is what you described - I think incorrectly - as a "revolving door" has damaged us. To the contrary, each of the people you have mentioned has contributed enormously to what we have now as a great success.
QUESTION: When you say that your role will be to manage policy throughout the Administration, does that suggest that your role will be broader somewhat than Mr. Kornblum's?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: I don't know the answer to that, but, as the Secretary said, I have been designated, as you see in the press release that the White House issued, as the Chief Negotiator, Program Manager, and all the other Chiefs, to manage this, because we feel that it's important to have a strongly coordinated, coherent set of policies and programs.
We want to work very closely with our allies in making sure this happens, as well as with the parties, and I'm sure it will happen.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, given the continued deep ethnic distrust there in the region, what do you say to those who say that Bosnia would be better left politically partitioned - that you don't run the risk of so much bloodshed if you did it that way and said, "Look, we stopped the fighting. Let's leave it politically partitioned"?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: The parties, in signing the Dayton Agreements, agreed to the idea of a unitary state. This requires a lot of hard work, given the hatred and the bloodshed which has occurred over the last several years. But they have committed to do this, and we expect them to carry out their obligations, and we want to help them carry out their obligations.
There are some, I know - I read the piece in the Washington Post today - who would argue that's the easy way out. The easy way out is often the wrong way out.
QUESTION: Do you have a target date for the municipal elections?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: I believe dates have been set for mid-September.
QUESTION: Do you think you can meet that?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: We expect to. In fact, I met this morning with Ambassador Frowick who is, as you know, the OSCE Representative. He's here in town. We discussed the progress that's being made on the planning and implementation of those elections. It seemed to me that he has this very well in hand. There are target dates that have been established for voter registration.
There are plans well in place in terms of registration of refugees outside the country - both those in Germany and others - and it's being coordinated, I think, in a very serious way. I worked very closely with Ambassador Frowick at the time of the national elections in September a year ago. I was responsible for all the security-related issues. I think he's got things very well in hand.
QUESTION: Have you figured out a way to avoid this massive registration fraud that took place the last time you tried it?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: There has been a lot of work since then, particularly about the so-called P-2 Forum, of course. I think they do have some good plans in hand on this.
QUESTION: Bob, can you talk about war criminals - the issue of war criminals - and whether you'll be talking about that? Assuming that you will, can you be any more specific than to say, "Yes, we'll be talking about that"?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: Yes, we will be talking about it because we think it's fundamental to the success of Bosnia as a unitary state, to its successful consolidation as a democracy on both the macro and micro level; that those who have been indicted by the International Tribunal in The Hague be handed over for justice.
The responsibility rests with the parties. We will be pressing the parties to take the kinds of actions they are obliged to take under the Dayton Agreement.
I think it's really important to say, all the parties signed these agreements. We intend to hold them to the agreements that they signed, whether it's on war criminals or the idea of Bosnia as the unitary state or any other aspect. In that regard, I am a strict constructionist and not a deviationist by any means.
They have obligations, as you know, or as you may know. There are some trials on-going in The Hague right now with three Bosniacs and a Croat. But we are deeply, deeply concerned that the Bosnian Serbs, in particular, have not fulfilled their obligations; that the Croats have also been negligent.
We are concerned about Croatia not having been sufficiently helpful in fulfilling their own obligations about turning over Croatian-indicted war criminals who are within the territory of Croatia.
QUESTION: Just to follow up. Can you say anything about the rumors of a special force to apprehend the war criminals?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: I don't know anything about a special force.
QUESTION: You won't be discussing anything related to a special force?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: No.
QUESTION: Has that idea been (inaudible). It was discussed before.
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: I don't know who discussed it, but that is not an idea. We feel that this has to be pursued through the channels which have been agreed to by the parties. We're going to be pressing the parties. We think that all options ultimately will have to be looked at in the future.
QUESTION: Do you think that NATO forces should try and apprehend war criminals or not? I got both, that is not an idea and then all options are open.
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: Look at the mandate. Under the mandate, IFOR and now SFOR have certain obligations if they should encounter indicted war criminals. We have every reason to believe that they intend to live up to their obligations under their mandate.
QUESTION: But you're saying, then, that you don't believe that the time is right now for a robust action by NATO troops to arrest war criminals outside of the chance that they might happen to wander upon them?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: I don't believe I said that. We have to look at what the mandate is for SFOR. SFOR, for its part, fully intends and must carry out its mandate as written. But, ultimately, depending on - there are trials going on in The Hague.
We do expect the parties to comply. We do intend to work with our allies to put pressure on the parties to comply with their obligations on war criminals. If they do not, we'll obviously have examine all possible options.
QUESTION: Ambassador, there's a growing number of Congressmen in the United States and criticism from abroad that not much has been achieved in the past few years as far as international narcotics has to do in the United States. Indeed, the demand of drugs have been increasing in this country and more drugs seem to be coming in from other countries than before. What's your assessment on that?
AMBASSADOR GELBARD: Drugs? (Laughter) I disagree with that view completely. I think there have been a lot of significant successes during the Clinton Administration. Examples such as the 18 percent decrease in coca cultivation in Peru, a lot of the laws that are being put into place in a variety of places around the world.
We have particularly put great emphasis, in the Clinton Administration, on demand reduction; increased emphasis on education, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation. We need to continue to do more of that. We need to have the Congress appropriate the funds that are necessary to do more of it within the country.
At the same time, clearly, there has to be continued emphasis on the necessary measures in the countries that are the producers. This particularly includes Colombia, of course.
Thank you.

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