|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Annual Fleet Week Gala,
Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
New York, New York, May 22, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, General Shali, I am deeply honored to receive the Intrepid Freedom award. I am not sure what I have done that qualifies for the adjective "intrepid," unless it was throwing out the first pitch of the baseball season, but I am very grateful just the same.
I want to join with our other speakers in welcoming the members of our five armed services who are here; in congratulating those who will be honored as "Military Personnel of the Year," and in saluting our friends from Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Brazil.
I am also pleased to add my voice to those paying tribute to Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher for their work on behalf of America's armed forces. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, you are the greatest, and all of America is in your debt.
I know it is customary at this event to speak primarily about Fleet Week, and about this marvelous piece of history --the INTREPID--which has been turned into a living museum. But I have asked, and been granted permission, to discuss not so much the history that has shaped us, but the history we are now striving to shape. And to focus not so much on the past exploits of our armed forces, but on a region--the Balkans--in which those forces are even now rendering extraordinary service.
Two weeks short of fifty years ago, another Secretary of State, this one truly "intrepid," announced a plan for the reconstruction of postwar Europe, a plan that Winston Churchill called "the most unsordid act in history."
The Marshall Plan was inspired by the vision of a peaceful, democratic and united Europe. It was grounded in the lesson, seared in the minds of that generation, that American security and prosperity could not be assured if Europe were weak, unstable or divided.
The descent of the Iron Curtain across the European stage prevented the full realization of Marshall's vision. But the resolve demonstrated by the American commitment to lead united the west, produced the greatest military alliance in history and fired an economic recovery that halted Communist inroads in Europe.
Today, we have the opportunity Secretary Marshall's generation was denied--to build a Europe without walls, wholly at peace and fully free. This vision is at the heart of the Founding Act of the new partnership between NATO and Russia that President Clinton will join in signing in Paris next Tuesday. It is embodied in our plan to invite a number of Central Europe's new democracies to join NATO, which we will do in Madrid the first week of July. It is central to the Partnership for Peace. And it is reflected in our joint efforts to restore political stability in Albania, to encourage a permanent reduction of tensions in the Aegean and to nurture democratic transitions from Skopje to Yerevan.
But if we are to succeed and make our vision a reality, we must also complete our mission and fully implement the Dayton Accords for peace in Bosnia.
Like the Marshall Plan, Dayton is a call to cooperative action--in this case, to bring together a nation and mend a region shattered by the worst violence in Europe since Hitler's final days. And like the earlier initiative, it depends on military and civilians working together, on support from other democracies, and on the willingness of those eligible for assistance to do all they can on their own behalf.
Dayton is also based, as was the Marshall Plan, on a clear-eyed view of U.S. interests.
Fulfillment of these Accords would produce a stable, undivided Bosnia that would cease to be a source of instability in southern Europe. We must never forget that there is no natural geographical or political endpoint to violence in this region. Fulfillment of Dayton would ease the nightmare that inter-ethnic fighting could again spread across southern Europe, affecting NATO allies, re-dividing the continent and creating a crisis that America could not ignore and that U.S. forces could not contain without grave risk.
So the promise of Dayton is that when our forces depart Bosnia, they will be able to do so without the fear that renewed violence threatening U.S. interests might one day require them to return.
The fulfillment of Dayton would also serve America's interest in a unified Europe by making possible the full integration of Bosnia into European institutions, including the Partnership for Peace.
It would contribute to regional prosperity, in which our own economy has a stake, and sustain momentum towards the democratic values that we cherish.
It would make Americans safer by helping to prevent the area in and around Bosnia from serving as a base for transnational crime and by dampening the revival of the Balkan route for smuggling drugs.
It would contribute to our security by creating a further bar to meddling by Iran.
And it would serve our interest in the rule of law by establishing a precedent-setting model for resolving ethnic differences on the basis of justice and respect for human rights.
To suggest, as some have, that America has no stake in the future of Bosnia is to propose that America abdicate its leadership role in Europe. As Secretary of State, and I know I speak for President Clinton, Secretary Cohen and General Shali, let me affirm--America will never abdicate that role. To do so would shake the faith of allies, betray our responsibilities and ignore the lessons--learned at priceless cost in blood and treasure--of this century.
Let us not forget that Dayton is a post-Cold War watershed. Because of President Clinton's decision that America would act to negotiate and enforce peace, U.S. leadership was underlined within a re-energized NATO in a Europe that is coming together.
There is historic importance to this. Today, virtually all of Europe has joined forces to bring stability to a region that has in the past rent Europe asunder.
In addition to NATO, each of the participating countries--from Russia to the Baltics to the Central European states to others around the world--will deserve credit for what IFOR and SFOR achieve. Each has gained valuable military experience working shoulder to shoulder with the alliance. And each will depart from the operation with a broader sense of what national interests entail.
Dayton has also put Bosnia on the road to recovery.
Eighteen months ago, that nation was in splinters. Three armies were dug in along mine-filled lines of battle. Of the pre-war population, one in ten had been wounded or killed. Of the survivors, five in ten had been displaced from their homes; eight in ten were relying on the UN for food; and nine in ten were unemployed.
Since then, our initial security goals have been achieved. The fighting has ended, forces have been separated and reduced in size, confidence building measures have been implemented. All heavy weapons have been placed in cantonment. And the U.S. led train and equip program is stabilizing the long term security environment by marginalizing extremist influences, strengthening security relationships and giving the Federation the means for self-defense.
In addition, SFOR and Special Forces trainers have cooperated through the Bosnia demining program to create a capacity for addressing this urgent and massive problem. Landmines are a terrible and unwanted legacy of war that will remain a challenge for Bosnians well into the next century, but we have at least given them a way to begin meeting that challenge.
All this has made possible the start of a transition in Bosnia from war zone to enterprise zone--especially within the Federation that joins the Bosniac and Bosnian-Croat communities.
Here, the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure is underway. Key roads, rail links and bridges are being restored. Houses are being repaired. Places of worship are being re-built. Basic services such as water and power are being re-established. The Sarajevo airport is open. More than $100 million in business loans have been made. Unemployment has been cut in half. Wages are up. Economic growth last year was at 35%. And inflation is being contained.
This reflects an extraordinary international effort with U.S. AID playing a lead role, and involving contributions from four dozen countries and almost a dozen multilateral and private voluntary organizations.
Politically, the process of democratic integration has begun. Peaceful national elections have been held. Competing political parties have formed. And institutions in which all three communities are represented, including a joint Presidency, Council of Ministers and legislative Assembly have been formed.
Not surprisingly, given the situation 18 months ago, there remain important areas where progress has been slow. With a few exceptions, Bosnia's leaders have not embraced true political and social integration.
As a result, freedom of movement within Bosnia has been constrained. The return of refugees and the displaced to areas in which they would be an ethnic minority has been resisted. Cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal has lagged badly. And the tripartite political institutions have barely begun to reach their potential.
Having taken stock of where we are, the question now arises of where we go from here. Some suggest that we abandon the unifying vision of Dayton and acquiesce in the division of Bosnia--like ancient Gaul--into three parts.
Closer to home, we face critics who are so impatient with the intransigence of the parties that they are ready to declare the patient dead.
But Dayton prescribes long term rehabilitation, not an instant cure. To abandon it now would be to re-wind the tape of recent history and set the stage for renewed killing of predictable savagery and unpredictable scope and consequences. That is the path for the cynical and the weary--but it is a path that promises even greater dangers and costs than the admittedly difficult road to an enduring peace.
I am reminded of something that Senator Arthur Vandenberg said during Senate debate on the Marshall Plan 49 years ago:
"The greatest nation on earth," he said, "either justifies or surrenders its leadership. We are entirely surrounded by calculated risks. I profoundly believe that the pending program is the best of those risks. I have no quarrel with those who disagree, because we are dealing with imponderables. But I (cannot)...say to those who disagree that they have escaped to safety by rejecting or subverting this plan. They have simply fled to other risks, and I fear far greater ones. For myself, I can only say that I prefer my choice of responsibilities."
Tonight, as Secretary of State, I can only say that compared to the risks of failing to lead, the Clinton Administration prefers the risks and responsibilities of leadership in Bosnia.
Today, and in days to come, we will be re-dedicating ourselves to the goal of implementing the Dayton Accords and to a single Bosnian state with two multi-ethnic entities. We affirm that our commitment to Bosnia's future is long term and will continue well after SFOR departs.
As an initial symbol of that commitment, I am announcing today that the United States will soon be opening branch offices in Mostar and Banja Luka, giving us an expanded diplomatic presence throughout Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Next week, in Portugal, I will be meeting with my counterparts to discuss steps we can take together to re-energize the Dayton process. Immediately thereafter, I will travel to Sarajevo, Brcko, Banja Luka and other locations in the region with the message that President Clinton has approved a series of measures to encourage further and more rapid progress towards the core goals of Dayton.
Those goals include 1) promoting a stable military situation to minimize prospects for renewed fighting; 2) improving the ability of local law enforcement authorities to provide public security; 3) advancing the development of democratic institutions that govern in accordance with the rule of law; 4) securing the safe return of more refugees and displaced persons to their homes and enabling Bosnians to move freely throughout their country; 5) bringing to justice more of the persons who have been indicted for war crimes and other atrocities; and 6) enhancing economic reconstruction and inter-entity commerce.
Overall, our goal is a democratic and united Bosnia within a democratic and united Europe.
To build that Bosnia, we will need the continued leadership and help of our allies in Europe and friends from around the world.
We will need to maintain our own cohesion and move ahead on diplomatic, security and economic fronts simultaneously.
We will need the cooperation of all parties to Dayton, including the governments of Serbia and Croatia. Experience tells us that such cooperation will not come easy or without use of economic and political leverage. The currents of extremism that fueled the Balkans war remain strong both in Belgrade and Zagreb.
To these two governments, the message from the United States is clear. If you build real democracy, respect human and minority rights--those of Albanians in Kosovo as well as Serbs in Croatia--respect international law, and fulfill the obligations of Dayton, including the obligation to comply fully with the War Crimes Tribunal, you will be welcomed into western economic and political institutions. But if you fail to cooperate with Dayton, you will remain outside the mainstream. No movement will be possible on outer wall sanctions on Serbia. Zagreb will face increasing opposition to further integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Within Bosnia, we will move ahead with renewed energy to assist those who want our help in enabling their country to have the full attributes of a single national community.
For example, while SFOR will remain principally focused on enforcing the military aspects of the Dayton Agreement, it will build on its accomplishments by actively supporting crucial civil implementation tasks, within its mandate and capabilities. These include helping to create a secure environment for managed refugee returns and the installation of elected officials in targeted areas, and specific economic reconstruction projects which could include inter-entity telecommunications and restoring civil aviation.
Full implementation must be our goal in all sectors, and the parties cannot pick and choose those elements that they prefer at the expense of others. If they are not complying on key implementation tasks, it will not be business as usual for their politicians or their military leaders. For example, if the parties do not comply with arms control obligations, SFOR will have the option to restrict military movements and training.
Obviously, the international community cannot impose cooperation in Bosnia. We cannot make every city, village and person embrace the concept of a unified Bosnia. But those who reject that concept will not receive our help. Nor will they see their vision of a separatist future fulfilled. There is no alternative to Dayton. Bosnians should either join the effort to make it work or get out of the way. The only aid we will provide or support for Bosnia is aid that helps to build a unified country, or that helps people who are helping Dayton to succeed.
The initiatives for moving forward on the core purposes of Dayton that I will discuss tonight were conceived with precisely this principle in mind.
For example, our new Open Cities Support Project provides assistance to communities, and only to communities, that have demonstrated a willingness to allow persons from ethnic minorities to return safely to their homes.
To date, we have identified four municipalities in different parts of Bosnia to participate at a cost of $3.6 million. We have an additional $5 million available to help repair buildings, provide agricultural support and business credit and to train workers in eligible communities.
In the future, we will explore options for providing additional aid to open cities ranging from direct economic help to projects aimed at the preservation of natural resources and the environment. SFOR is looking at how it can assist. And we will urge our allies and the international financial institutions to make a special effort to help. We want every city that chooses to be an "open city" to be a city with a future, a city with friends.
One city where it is especially critical that residents work for unity and peace is Brcko. Because of its strategic location and the terrible ethnic cleansing that occurred there, a peaceful, multi-ethnic Brcko would be a powerful symbol to the rest of Bosnia and a springboard towards success for the entire Dayton process.
Our goal in Brcko, as in Bosnia more generally, is to reconnect what has been disconnected, to restore the flow of transportation, communication, commerce, and social interaction among the various ethnic communities within the country.
Although there are those who resist this surgery, they offer no viable alternative to it. We believe that more and more Bosnians are coming to accept that restoring the natural circulation of things and people within their country will benefit all segments of the population; and that this is the only--I repeat the only--means by which they may build a decent future for themselves and for their families.
A nation cannot be a democracy without free expression. And the absence of free expression has made it much harder for Bosnia to be a nation. The virus of intolerance thrives in an environment in which information is controlled, and the party line is the only line most people ever hear. Since Dayton, despite Dayton, officially-controlled media have spewed forth misinformation designed to fuel hate. Meanwhile, independent journalists have been brutalized and harassed.
This is unacceptable. To help reverse the tide, the U.S. will be expanding broadcasts of RFE and VOA programming in Bosnia through partnership agreements with local stations. And we will continue to support the emergence of independent television and radio facilities.
Our goal, which I am announcing today, is to ensure that by the end of this year, every sizable community in every part of Bosnia has access to independent radio or television reporting.
I am also announcing today that the U.S. Information Agency plans to reopen the Fulbright program with Bosnia for the 1998-1999 academic year with an emphasis on journalism and the rule of law.
Finally, the United States will make it clear in every meeting with our partners in the peace implementation process, and in every meeting with the parties themselves, that the protection of free expression is essential and that the human, civil and legal rights of all journalists should be protected.
Just as a free press is a necessary component of democracy, so is the rule of law. And establishment of the rule of law is vital to Bosnia's integration as a peaceful and productive society.
Building professional police and judicial institutions in Bosnia is different from attempting the same task in a nation such as Haiti. In Bosnia, the challenge is not so much a matter of education as it is a matter of attitude.
For decades in this region, the purpose of the police was to control communities, not to serve them. Our goal, working with UN police monitors, has been to establish anew tradition based on democratic standards not only for police, but for lawyers, judges and the entire legal system. We have made progress, but much remains to be done. To date, the United States has contributed the lion's share to police and judicial reform efforts. Now, we are looking to our partners to contribute an additional $80 million in equipment, training and funds to build on this progress. We are also proceeding with plans to establish a police academy in the Federation.
Another important component of the rule of law pertains to war crimes.
The International War Crimes Tribunal was created to reinforce the principle that ethnic cleansing, mass murder, mass rape, torture and brutal and degrading treatment are not mere tactics of war; they are crimes--and whether inflicted by the winners or losers of armed conflict--those who commit those crimes should be held accountable.
In practice, the Tribunal faces formidable obstacles. Unlike the court a half century ago at Nuremberg, the accused are not surrendered prisoners. To gain access to the indicted, prosecutors depend on the help, in most cases, of the very entities in whose name the crimes were committed.
The Clinton Administration understands that if peace is to endure in Bosnia, there must be justice. The ability of the Tribunal to gain access to additional indictees is vital to the success of Dayton. It would strengthen the rule of law, soften the bitterness of victims' families, and remove an obstacle to cooperation among parties to the Dayton Accords.
Accordingly, as I have said, we have made compliance by all parties with the obligation to cooperate with the Tribunal a pre-requisite to our assistance, our support for assistance by others and our backing for membership in international institutions.
Serbian President Milosevic should ensure that any person indicted by the tribunal who resides in Serbia or who enters Serbian territory is arrested and turned over to the tribunal. That principle, enshrined in Dayton, has been violated repeatedly in the past.
Whenever and wherever possible, President Tudjman of Croatia should use the full influence of his government to see that indictees are made available for trial.
Authorities in the Federation should uphold the rule of law and turn over to the Tribunal the many indictees within their jurisdiction. The Federation cannot make the progress it needs to without enforcing the law.
Finally, the people of the Bosnian-Serb entity, the Republika Srpska, should understand that we seek the trial of notorious indictees such as Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic not because they are Serbs or because we may disagree with them politically or because we may view the lessons of history differently.
We want them to stand trial, as we want all indictees of whatever ethnic extraction to stand trial, because these men have been indicted for ordering the mass slaughter of unarmed and defenseless people. If Karadzic or Mladic cared about the future of Republika Srpska, they would stop hiding behind the skirts of its people and defend their actions in open court.
In summary, the Clinton Administration's purpose is to help renew the momentum of the peace process in Bosnia so that it becomes irreversible, and so that each of the parties has a clearly understood stake in its success. Working with our partners, we will help create institutions that improve the security of all, permit more displaced persons and refugees to return home, enhance civil liberties and allow the institutions of a single, multi-ethnic and democratic state to take root.
In this effort, we will be opposed by some who point to the history of conflicts in the Balkans and say that all our efforts to implement Dayton will be in vain.
Of course, we could accept this pessimistic analysis and be imprisoned by it. We could agree that Bosnian hatreds are too deep, the past cruelties too extreme, and the ethnic divisions too wide for any international effort at reconciliation to succeed.
We could shrug our shoulders, and turn away from the many in the region who do believe in peace, or who do not hate, or who are so young and naive as to believe they are entitled to their childhood. We could say, mistakenly, that Bosnia's future is simply God's problem, not our own.
But then, if we were the kind of people or the type of society that would embrace that attitude, we would never have acted--under President Clinton's leadership--to bring the war in Bosnia to an end.
America was founded on the belief that the future could be made better than the past. Just as there was nothing inevitable about fascism or Communism or apartheid, so, too, there is nothing inevitable about war in the Balkans. For much of their history, Muslims, Croats and Serbs have lived side by side in peace. Together, they have raised families, built communities, operated businesses and served in the armed forces. To suggest that war is inevitable is to deny the human role and relieve from guilt those responsible for initiating the fighting. The mere existence of strong ethnic feelings and identities is no cause for war, and will not lead to war if those feelings are not ruthlessly exploited in the future as they have, at times, in the past.
So this is not the time, to use Lady Thatcher's phrase, for us to go "wobbly" on Bosnia.
There is great similarity between the values at the heart of Dayton now and the values defended from the deck of the INTREPID many years ago. We cannot fulfill Dayton ourselves, for only the people of Bosnia--all the people of Bosnia--can do that. But we can understand from our own history the imperative of opposing intolerance, the danger of leaving conflicts in Europe unattended, the power of a democratic alliance working together and the ability of American leadership--when inspired by a purpose that is right--to prove skeptics and tyrants wrong.
So let us proceed with that understanding in mind. Let us finish the mission of peace in Bosnia, and by so doing, bring closer the day when George Marshall's vision of a fully united and democratic Europe is at hand.
Thank you once again for the invitation to be here and for the wonderful honor of the Freedom Award.
And thank you for all you are doing to keep alive the honor and tradition embodied by the world's greatest defenders of human freedom--the armed forces of the United States.
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