US White House Press Briefing (96-02-09)
THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM
February 9, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
2:03 P.M. EST
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 9, 1996
BY MIKE MCCURRY
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
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
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
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