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pd22fe99 The President's News Conference With President Chirac of France...

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[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page i-ii]
Monday, February 22, 1999
Volume 35--Number 7
Pages 229-259

[[Page i]]

Weekly Compilation of



[[Page ii]]

Addresses and Remarks

    See also Meetings With Foreign Leaders
    Legislative priorities for the budget surplus--233

    Mexico, business leaders in Merida--231

    New Hampshire
        Roundtable discussion on long-term health care in Dover--239

        State Democratic 100 Club dinner in Manchester--245

    Radio address--229

Communications to Congress

    Iraq, letter transmitting report on national emergency--239

Communications to Federal Agencies

    Montenegro, memorandum on waiver of prohibition on assistance to 
        Republic of--233

Interviews With the News Media

    Exchanges with reporters
        Merida, Mexico--230
        Oval Office--252
    News conference with President Chirac of France, February 19 (No. 

Meetings With Foreign Leaders

    France, President Chirac--252, 253
    Mexico, President Zedillo--230, 231

Statements by the President

    Senator Frank R. Lautenberg's decision not to seek reelection--238
    Senator Richard H. Bryan's decision not to seek reelection--245

Supplementary Materials

    Acts approved by the President--259
    Checklist of White House press releases--258
    Digest of other White House announcements--257
    Nominations submitted to the Senate--258

Editor's Note: The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents is also 
available on the Internet on the GPO Access service at http://


Published every Monday by the Office of the Federal Register, National 
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Compilation of Presidential Documents contains statements, messages, and
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[[Page 229]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 229-230]
Monday, February 22, 1999
Volume 35--Number 7
Pages 229-259
Week Ending Friday, February 19, 1999
The President's Radio Address

February 13, 1999

    Good morning. This week the warring parties in Kosovo have been 
meeting at a 14th century castle in France, in search of a 21st century 
peace. They've come together because of the determination of the United 
States, our European allies, and Russia to help end Kosovo's bloodshed 
and build a peaceful future there. Today I want to speak to you about 
why peace in Kosovo is important to America.
    World War II taught us that America could never be secure if 
Europe's future was in doubt. We and our allies formed NATO after the 
war, and together we've deterred aggression, secured Europe, and 
eventually made possible the victory of freedom all across the European 
continent. In this decade, violent ethnic conflicts in the former 
Yugoslavia have threatened Europe's stability and future.
    For 4 years Bosnia was the site of Europe's bloodiest war in half a 
century. With American leadership and that of our allies, we worked to 
end the war and move the Bosnian people toward reconciliation and 
democracy. Now, as the peace takes hold, we've been steadily bringing 
our troops home. But Bosnia taught us a lesson: In this volatile region, 
violence we fail to oppose leads to even greater violence we will have 
to oppose later at greater cost.
    We must heed that lesson in Kosovo. In 1989 Serbia stripped away 
Kosovo's autonomy. A year ago Serbian forces launched a brutal crackdown 
against Kosovo's ethnic Albanians. Fighting and atrocities intensified, 
and hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their homes.
    Last fall, using diplomacy backed by the threat of NATO force, we 
averted a humanitarian crisis and slowed the fighting. But now it's 
clear that only a strong peace agreement can end it. America has a 
national interest in achieving this peace. If the conflict persists, 
there likely will be a tremendous loss of life and a massive refugee 
crisis in the middle of Europe. There is a serious risk the hostilities 
would spread to the neighboring new democracies of Albania and 
Macedonia, and reignite the conflict in Bosnia we worked so hard to 
stop. It could even involve our NATO allies Greece and Turkey.
    If we wait until casualties mount and war spreads, any effort to 
stop it will come at a higher price, under more dangerous conditions. 
The time to stop the war is right now.
    With our NATO allies and Russia, we have offered a comprehensive 
plan to restore peace and return self-government to Kosovo. NATO has 
authorized airstrikes if Serbia fails to comply with its previous 
commitments to withdraw forces and fails to support a peace accord. At 
the same time, we've made it clear to the Kosovo Albanians that if they 
reject our plan or continue to wage war, they will not have our support.
    There are serious obstacles to overcome at the current talks. It is 
increasingly clear that this effort can only succeed if it includes a 
NATO-led peace implementation force that gives both sides the confidence 
to lay down their arms. It's also clear that if there is a real peace, 
American participation in the force can provide such confidence, 
particularly for Kosovo's Albanians. For them, as for so many people 
around the world, America symbolizes hope and resolve. Europeans would 
provide the great bulk of any NATO force, roughly 85 percent. Our share 
would amount to a little less than 4,000 personnel.
    Now, a final decision on troops, which I will make in close 
consultation with Congress, will depend upon the parties reaching a 
strong peace agreement. It must provide for an immediate cease-fire, 
rapid withdrawal of most Serbian security forces, and demilitarization 
of the insurgents. The parties must agree to the NATO force and 
demonstrate that they are ready to implement the agreement.

[[Page 230]]

    NATO's mission must be well-defined, with a clear and realistic 
strategy to allow us to bring our forces home when their work is done. 
Anytime we send troops we must be mindful of the risks, but if these 
conditions are met, if there is an effective agreement and a clear plan, 
I believe America should contribute to securing peace for Kosovo. And I 
look forward to working with Congress in making this final decision.
    America cannot be everywhere or do everything overseas. But we must 
act where important interests are at stake and we can make a difference. 
Peace in Kosovo clearly is important to the United States, and with 
bipartisan support in Congress and the backing of the American people, 
we can make a difference.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The President spoke at 10:06 a.m. from the Oval Office at the 
White House.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 230-231]
Monday, February 22, 1999
Volume 35--Number 7
Pages 229-259
Week Ending Friday, February 19, 1999
Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Ernesto 
Zedillo in Merida, Mexico

February 15, 1999

Senate Vote on Impeachment

    Q. Mr. President, do you feel vindicated by the Senate vote? And how 
do you think you will be able to overcome any damage that was caused in 
your relations with Republican leaders in Congress?
    The President. Well, I have, really, nothing to add to what I said 
on Friday about that. I think this is a time for reconciliation and 
renewal. I think what we have to do is to serve the American people. And 
if we keep that in mind, I think everything will be fine.
    We can't resolve the challenges of Social Security and Medicare, 
education, these other things; we can't keep the international economy 
going unless we have a level of cooperation. I'm encouraged that we have 
a number of Republican Members of Congress on this trip, and I intend to 
do exactly what I said I'd do last Friday. And I think if everybody just 
keeps our eye on the ball--which is that we are here to serve the 
public, and not the other way around--I think we'll be fine.

Mexico-U.S. Antidrug Efforts

    Q. Mr. President, do you have any problems with the system the 
United States has for certifying drug cooperation?
    The President. Well, first of all, it is the law of the land, and 
the Secretary of State sometime in the next few weeks will have to make 
a recommendation. I think the question is, how can we do better to deal 
with the drug problem? President Zedillo said it's his number one 
national security problem. Neither country has won the drug war. And the 
fundamental question is, are we better off fighting it together or 
separately, and perhaps sometimes at odds with one another?
    Under General McCaffrey, who's here, we put in place a very 
aggressive antidrug strategy. Finally, we've got a lot of the indicators 
going in the right direction in the United States. And cooperation with 
Mexico has clearly improved under President Zedillo's leadership. The 
issue is what is most likely to free our children of this scourge in the 
new century, and that's what will guide my decisions.
    Thank you all.

Hillary Clinton's Possible                            Senate Candidacy

    Q. Have you encouraged Mrs. Clinton to run for the Senate, sir? What 
have you said to her?
    The President.  People in New York started calling her. I don't 
think it had ever occurred to her before a lot of people started calling 
and asking her to do it. I think she would be terrific in the Senate. 
But that's a decision that she'll have to make. And for reasons I'm sure 
you'll understand, she hasn't had anything like adequate time to talk to 
the people who think she should do this, much less people who think 
perhaps she shouldn't. I mean, she just hasn't had time to deal with 
    But it's her decision to make. I will support whatever decision she 
makes enthusiastically. She has a lot of other opportunities for public 
service that will be out there, and she and I both would like to 
continue to be useful in public affairs when we leave office. But it's a 
decision she'll have to make. She'd be great if she did it, but she 
hasn't had anything like the requisite amount of time to talk to people 
and to assess it, and I'm sure that

[[Page 231]]

everyone will understand and appreciate that.
    Thank you.

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