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Europe's future, and we are determined to support Russia's transition to 
stronger democracy and more effective free markets and to strengthen our 
partnership with Russia.
    We worked closely with Russia for a peaceful solution for Kosovo at 
Rambouillet. While our allied nations all agree that the offer Mr. 
Milosevic has apparently made to former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin on 
Thursday was inadequate, nevertheless, we welcome Russia's efforts and 
hope they will continue and ultimately result in Serb agreement to our 
conditions so that we can reverse the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
    That concludes my statement. Go ahead, Sandra [Sandra Sobieraj, 
Associated Press].

Effectiveness of Policy in the Balkans

    Q. [Inaudible]--the Pentagon will be sending more tanks and more 
troops to the Balkans, American Reserves will be called up, NATO may 
well end up searching ships as part of an oil embargo, and still, 
Milosevic is not backing down. What specific assurances can you give the 
American people that we are not drifting into a long and endless 
conflict with no end in sight?
    The President. Well, we're not drifting. We are moving forward with 
a strategy that I believe strongly will succeed, one that we have 
reaffirmed here and intensified. I think the important thing for 
everyone to understand is that in order for this strategy to succeed, we 
need two things: one, vigorous execution, and two, patience.
    Keep in mind, we now know from the evidence that has come out that 
the campaign Mr. Milosevic and the Serb leaders have carried out against 
the people of Kosovo was planned in detail last year. It was not 
executed in October in no small measure because of the threat of action 
by NATO. It was executed when we began our air campaign.
    They had 40,000 troops in and around Kosovo, and almost 300 tanks. 
It takes time to reverse that. But we are working on it, and we will 
prevail if we execute well with real determination and if we have the 

[[Page 729]]

    I would remind all of you that it may seem like a long time--I don't 
think this air campaign has been going on a particularly long time. In 
the Persian Gulf, there were 44 days of bombing before there was any 
kind of land action. And the land was flatter, the targets were clearer, 
the weather was better. We are doing what needs to be done here with 
great vigor, and I am convinced we will prevail if we have the patience. 
We have to be prepared not only to execute with determination but to pay 
the price of time.

European Security

    Q. [Inaudible]--European pillar in NATO. Are you satisfied that the 
outcome in the statement will not allow a split to occur between the 
European forces and the American forces? And specifically, what role 
will the Western European Union play in the UK?
    The President. Well, first of all, I think the language speaks for 
itself. Europe will have to decide exactly how to constitute this force 
and also how to make it effective. One of the things that I think that 
will receive nearly no publicity during this meeting, obviously because 
of the dominance--appropriate dominance of Kosovo in the news--is the 
document we adopted today that deals with the European security 
initiative but also deals with what we can do to make all of our efforts 
more effective, including enhancing the defense capabilities of all of 
our allies.
    As long as this operation--however it's constituted by the 
Europeans--operates within and in cooperation with NATO, I think it will 
strengthen the capability of the Alliance, and I think it will actually 
help to maintain America's involvement with NATO.
    We have Members of the Congress here today--Senator Roth sitting 
here on the front row, has been one of the strongest supporters of our 
partnership with NATO and with our European allies. But I believe this 
is a very, very positive thing. The details are for the Europeans to 
decide, and you should ask them that. But as long as it's consistent 
with the Berlin principle--that is, separable but not separate from 
NATO--I think it will work very well.
    Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].

NATO Ground Troops

    Q. Mr. President, the buildup of American troops and allied troops 
in Macedonia and Albania seem to smack of potential intervention, 
military intervention, despite ground troops, all your protestations.
    The President. Is that a question?
    Q. That's a question. I mean, is that true? [Laughter]
    The President. The short answer is, no. Let me remind you, we are in 
Macedonia and Albania to try to help them, two very brave countries with 
very strong-willed leaders, operating under extreme duress. We're trying 
to help them manage a massive refugee problem. And in Albania, we have 
troops there, also, to secure the helicopter operation we have put in 
there and to make sure that we can secure it not only as it's moved in, 
but as it becomes operational.
    Yes, ma'am?

Future of Southeast Europe

    Q. How much of a guarantee can countries in the southeast Europe 
region get that they will actually be an important part of the 
reconstruction once the Kosovo conflict is over?
    The President. Well, that is what we will deal with tomorrow when we 
meet with the leaders of all those nations. Last week I went to San 
Francisco to speak to the American newspaper editors to outline what I 
believe is an essential part of the long-term solution to the problems 
of the Balkans and southeast Europe generally. They are not yet 
sufficiently a part of the future we all imagine for Europe in the 21st 
century, which is not only peace and stability but also prosperity and 
shared decisionmaking.
    So my view is that we should do more to draw those nations closer to 
one another, to give them a positive reason to work together and to 
properly treat the ethnic minorities within their borders and work out 
ways for them to participate in the life of their country, as well as to 
maintain their own religious and cultural traditions. And we should work

[[Page 730]]

out ways for the nations of that region to relate more closely to all 
the European institutions and to Canada and the United States in North 
    So, to me, this will not work over the long run--if you don't want 
to see this repeated, what we're doing now, it is not enough to defeat 
this moment of aggression and to reverse it and to send the Kosovars 
back home. We are going to have to create an alternative positive 
future. We know what the history of ethnic animosity in the Balkans is. 
We know that there is not a single ethnic group, even the Serbs, who 
cannot cite some historic example of legitimate grievance that can be 
manipulated by an unscrupulous politician.
    So what we need, with all these magnets pulling the people apart, we 
need a powerful set of magnets pulling the people together. And those 
have to be economic, as well as political and security. So the NATO 
open-door policy, the European Union's open-door policy, the prospect of 
new cooperation with all the states of southeastern Europe among 
themselves and with Europe and the United States and Canada--I think 
this is a very, very important thing.
    Over the long run, we have to do this: We have to create a positive 
future for this part of Europe if we want to avoid being in the very 
position we're in today again in a few years, in another place.
    Yes, Larry [Larry McQuillan, Reuters].

Oil Embargo

    Q. Mr. President, there seems to be a great deal of concern about 
the oil embargo that NATO has endorsed. The French are expressing 
concern that if military force is used to enforce it, that it would 
amount to an act of war. I'm wondering, do you agree with that 
assessment? And are you concerned that, on one hand, you're encouraging 
the Russians to negotiate a settlement, and on the other hand, they may 
be caught in the middle of an oil embargo clash?
    The President. Well, of course, I hope that won't happen. But let me 
tell you where we're coming from. We sent our pilots into the air to 
destroy the oil refinery and supply systems of Serbia, and they did so 
successfully. They risked their lives to do it. How can we justify 
risking the lives of the pilots to go up and destroy the refinery and 
the supply capacity of Serbia and then say, ``but it's okay with us if 
people want to continue to supply this nation and its outlaw actions in 
Kosovo in another way?''
    So what we have done is we've asked our ministers of defense to come 
up with a plan that will apply in an even-handed way. Obviously, we 
don't expect it to and we will not do anything to try to see that it 
leads to violence. But we have to be firm about it. And if we want this 
campaign to succeed with economic and political pressure and with the 
air action, then we have to take every reasonable means to give it the 
chance to succeed. And that's what we intend to do.
    Yes, sir?

Proposed United Nations Peace Mission

    Q. Mr. President, the Austrian former Prime Minister, Franz 
Vranitzky, was proposed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a possible 
candidate for a peace mission to Kosovo. Would you kindly explain to us 
whether this has your approval and what you would expect from such a 
    The President. Well, I can't respond to your specific question for a 
very simple reason; I did not know which individuals were being 
considered by the Secretary-General until, oh, a couple of hours ago. So 
I've had no direct communication with the Secretary-General, nor have I 
even discussed it with the members of my staff.
    I have, as it happens, known Mr. Vranitzky for many years; I knew 
him before I was President, before I was a candidate for President. I 
have an enormously high regard for him, personally. But in order to make 
a judgment about that, I would have to have a clear idea about exactly 
what it is--what is the mission and what would be the parameters of it. 
So I can't really comment on the specifics. But I do have a very high 
regard for him, personally. I think he's an excellent man.
    Wolf [Wolf Blitzer, Cable News Network].

Bombing of Serb Television

    Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, a lot of people have a 
clear understanding when you authorize bombing missions against military 
targets, tanks, armor, military headquarters. But they have a little

[[Page 731]]

bit more difficulty understanding why you would authorize bombing Serb 
television in the middle of the night, knowing there are journalists 
working there, knowing there are cleaning crews there, knowing these 
people have no choice but to work there, and also know that within a 
matter of hours Serb TV would be back on the air from other locations.
    So the question is, what goes through your mind, knowing you're 
going to, in effect, authorize the killing of these people for 
questionable military gains?
    The President. Our military leaders at NATO believe, based on what 
they have seen and what others in the area have told them, that the Serb 
television is an essential instrument of Mr. Milosevic's command and 
control. He uses it to spew hatred and to basically spread 
disinformation. He does not use it to show all the Kosovar villages he's 
burned, to show the mass graves, to show the children that have been 
raped by the soldiers that he sent there.
    It is not, in a conventional sense, therefore, a media outlet. That 
was a decision they made, and I did not reverse it, and I believe that I 
did the right thing in not reversing that decision.
    Yes, sir?

NATO New Strategic Concept

    Q. Mr. President, the new strategic concept practically legitimates 
NATO action beyond the borders. How far geographically will NATO go?
    The President. I don't think it's a geographical issue. I think that 
what we tried to do was to say that there are some things which can 
occur in Europe, in non-member nations, that can affect the security and 
stability of all of Europe, including NATO members. And I think the 
language should speak for itself.
    Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News].

Effectiveness of Airstrikes

    Q. Mr. President, before the air campaign began, Pentagon planners 
advised you, according to reports that have not been denied, that the 
air campaign could degrade, it could damage, it could diminish, but it 
could not by itself stop the killing on the ground in Kosovo if 
Milosevic intended to persevere. You have said again today that you will 
continue the air campaign and that you believe it will prevail. Have the 
Pentagon planners given you new advice? Have they changed their mind? 
And if not, sir, on what do you base your optimism?
    The President. Well, first of all, I believe, first, the report that 
you have from the Pentagon planners is an accurate one and is what I 
believed to be the case at the time.
    Keep in mind--and I think I made this clear at the time--the reason 
we went forward with the air actions is because we thought there was 
some chance it would deter Mr. Milosevic based on two previous examples: 
number one, last October in Kosovo, when he was well poised to do the 
same thing; and number two, in Bosnia, where there were 12 days of NATO 
attacks over a 20-day period. However, I also well understood that the 
underlying facts were somewhat different. I still believe we did the 
right thing. And I believe, as one of the area's leaders said in the 
last couple of days, it would have been much worse had we not taken 
    Now, there is a literal sense, Sam, in which, from the air, you 
cannot take every Serbian body in a uniform on the ground in Kosovo and 
extract them from Kosovo and put them back in Serbia. That, I think, is 
self-evident to everyone. So when I tell you that I think this will 
work, what I mean by that is I think if we execute well, if we are 
determined and if we spend enough time doing it, we will either break 
down his military capacity to retain control over Kosovo or the price of 
staying there will be far greater than the perceived benefits.
    That is the logic behind the campaign, not that it will physically 
extract every person and put them back across the border. Everyone knows 
that's not true. And I'm glad you asked the question because I think 
it's very important that everyone be clear on this.
    This is--my belief is that if we vigorously, comprehensively execute 
the air campaign and if we are prepared to take the time and do our very 
best to care for the refugees as best we can in the meanwhile and to 
provide stability and support to the frontline states, and especially to 
Albania and Macedonia,

[[Page 732]]

that we will prevail. That is what I believe. And I believe we will do 
it because we have the capacity to dramatically degrade his military 
operation which is the instrument of his control and because we have the 
capacity to make this policy very, very expensive for him militarily and 
economically and in other ways.
    Yes, sir, in the back.

Effectiveness of Policy

    Q. Mr. President, under the scenario that you've just laid out 
doesn't mean that he would necessarily comply with the five conditions, 
which would also mean that it might be too high to keep his forces 
there, the cost, but then you would have to be willing to move some 
forces in to take the ground that they could no longer hold. And it 
seems at the moment there's no willingness to do that.
    The President. Our position on that I think is the correct one. The 
Secretary General has recommended a reassessment of what would be 
required. I think that everybody in the Alliance agrees with his 
decision; that is the correct decision. But we have not weakened our 
conditions, nor will we. If anything, I think this meeting has seen not 
only a reaffirmation but an intensification of our determination to see 
the refugees back in, the Serb forces out, an international force to 
protect them, and the movement toward self-government for the Kosovars.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President's 173d news conference began at 3:50 p.m. in the 
amphitheater at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. In his 
remarks, he referred to President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal 
Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro); former Prime Minister 
Viktor Chernomyrdin of Russia; former Chancellor Franz Vranitzky of 
Austria; U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan; and Secretary General Javier 
Solana of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

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