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US White House Press Briefing (96-02-09)


Miscellaneous Directory


February 9, 1996


2:03 P.M. EST


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
February 9, 1996


The Briefing Room

2:03 P.M. EST


Q Under normal circumstances, Greek officials here in Washington on February 6 circulated a State Department guide, press guidance, regarding the Greek-Turkish dispute over the Greek Island Imia, over the Aegean. This document presented over in Greece as "a Greek national victory" as a State Department and as a White House official statement. The State Department yesterday rejected this as "supposed understanding --" document. I would like to know your position; more specifically, if you're considering -- as a White House official statement, as was reported in Athens.

Before you make your comment, if you want, I can read the document.

MR. MCCURRY: It would not be necessary to read such a document. That is not the position of the White House. Our position on the issue is clear. We have on numerous occasions reaffirmed our commitment to the principle of respect for international treaties, the territorial integrity of Greece and Turkey, and of internationally recognized borders. We have called on both governments to peacefully resolve their disputes, and we've made it clear with respect to the islet Imia, Kardak as it is also called, we take no position.

Q Why do you take no position?

Q -- the document itself? Any position on the document?

MR. MCCURRY: The document itself I am not aware of, but it does not reflect the official position of the United States government, which I've just conveyed.

Q -- a question of territorial sovereignty, whose was it? Whose is it? How can you be neutral?

MR. MCCURRY: The U.S. takes no position on the islet because there are a number of international agreements relevant to the ownership issue. Some of them date back for decades; some of them involve Italy. There are conflicting international agreements on the question. There are lots of issues related to the Dodecanese Islands, of which the Greeks claim as part -- the particular islet that we're talking about, as part of their territory. And we believe the best venue for addressing those conflicting claims on the question of ownership is the International Court of Justice or some other consensual body.

Q Mike, on Bosnia, you indicated this morning that there was some clarification needed for the rules of picking up, arresting people who were determined to be war criminals. What is the U.S. position? Are you pushing for more clarification or something specific or --

MR. MCCURRY: No, we have -- what we've suggested is that -- I mean, obviously, we continue to believe that war crimes ought to be investigated, they ought to be pursued vigorously by the tribunal.

But based on the experiences that we've seen now in recent days, there needs to be some greater clarity formally set forth as the parties implement aspects of the Dayton Accords. That's why Ambassador Holbrooke, among other reasons, will be going to the region on Sunday. And we believe the parties themselves, working with IFOR and working through the civilian apparatus suggested in the Dayton Accords, can come to agreements on how law enforcement issues will be handled with respect to the investigation of war crimes.

Q So were the Serb soldiers picked up illegally?

MR. MCCURRY: The United States supports the International War Crimes Tribunal and Chief Prosecutor Goldstone has made recommendations with which we've expressed our own assent.

Q What's that mean?


Q Mike, one last question on Bosnia. This morning you said with regard -- on the civilian side, the reason for Holbrooke going over is to do some more work on that. Can you kind of outline what Holbrooke's strategy is and what his plans are to help maintain the peace and the Dayton Accord?

MR. MCCURRY: I am very reluctant to do that. I'm sure that issue has arisen at the State Department briefing today, and I'll bet if you check with folks over there, they'll probably have a lot on it.


2:35 P.M. EST


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