[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[October 24, 1995]
[Pages 1674-1675]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Exchange With Reporters in New York City Prior to Discussions With 
Balkan Leaders
October 24, 1995

Balkan Peace Process

    President Clinton. Let me begin by saying that I am delighted to 
have this opportunity to meet with President Izetbegovic and President 
Tudjman. We are very much looking forward to having the chance to 
discuss the prospects of peace.
    As all of you know, the United States is committed to peace in 
Bosnia, but an honorable peace, which preserves a unified state that 
respects the rights of all of its citizens. And we are very much looking 
forward to the proximity talks, which will begin in a few days in Ohio. 
And of course, if a peace agreement can be reached, we expect NATO and 
the United States to help to implement it. And we'll be discussing that 
    Q. Mr. President, are you troubled by Senator Dole's effort to bar 
President Milosevic from attending those talks?
    President Clinton. I believe the proximity talks will be held, and I 
think they should be. And I don't think anyone in the United States 
should do anything to undermine the prospects of bringing this horrible 
war to a close. And I would remind anyone who thinks otherwise to 
remember the wisdom of Prime Minister Rabin, who told us in 1993 that 
you cannot make peace with your friends.
    Q. How do you rate those prospects, Mr. President? Do you think this 
is the last best chance for peace in Bosnia?
    President Clinton. It's clearly the best chance in the last 4 years. 
And I think I would rate the prospects as good, thanks in no small 
measure to the wide range of efforts made by these two Presidents, to 
the diplomatic mission that Mr. Holbrooke has headed so ably, and to the 
resolve of NATO and the United Nations in dealing with the violations of 
human rights in previous agreements. So I think the moment is here if we 
can seize it to make a successful peace agreement.
    Q. Do you think Dole's proposal, as you say, would undermine the 
proximity peace talks?
    President Clinton. I think the proximity talks are necessary to make 
a peace. And I believe they----
    Q. [Inaudible]--will undermine that?
    President Clinton. I've already answered that. I don't think we 
should do anything which undermines the prospects of having these talks 
go forward. And they require people who have been on all sides of the 
conflict to get together to make peace. That is the responsible 
position, and it is the one the United States should follow and I 
believe will follow.
    Q. Just what results do you expect out of the talks in Ohio? What is 
the best possible scenario?
    President Clinton. That they will agree to make a peace.
    Q. Can there be a solution here in Ohio, do you think, or is this 
just one more step?
    President Clinton. Well, that's up to them. The United States will 
be there to be supportive. Our Contact Group partners all--Germany, 
United Kingdom, France, and Russia will be there. We will all be working 
hard. We'll do our best to get it done.
    Thank you.

American Media

    Q. Do you think we're a disaster, sir?
    President Clinton. That's why I laughed yesterday. I wanted to make 
sure you got the attribution right. You have to admit it was kind of 
funny, though. [Laughter]
    Q. It was.
    Q. It was a moment. [Laughter]
    President Clinton. We all need those moments.

[[Page 1675]]

[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group 

Balkan Peace Process

    Q. President Clinton, what mechanisms are you going to use in 
Dayton, Ohio, to convince the Serbian side that the reintegration of 
Eastern Slovenia is the only solution?
    President Clinton. Well, first of all, the United States is hosting 
these talks along with our Contact Group partners--the Germans, the 
British, the French, and the Russians--to give the leaders the 
opportunity to come here to make their own peace. And we will do 
whatever we can to be useful in that regard. But my position is that we 
have to seize this moment. This is by far the best chance we have had 
because of the circumstances on the ground and because of the resolve of 
the international community, because of the diplomatic mission. And we 
have to seize this moment and resolve these issues. And I believe it can 
be done diplomatically if all the leaders proceed in good faith. And I 
have no reason to believe they won't.

Note: The President spoke at 12:30 p.m. in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel 
prior to meeting with President Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina 
and President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia. In his remarks, he referred to 
President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin 
of Israel. A tape was not available for verification of the content of 
this exchange.