State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for November 4
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for November 4
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
November 4, 2004
- Deployment of Additional Jordan Troops to Iraq / United Nations
- Security / Additional Training to Troops Provided by United States
- / Working with Other Governments
- Yasser Arafat's Health
- Hosting of Iftaar Dinner / Strong Emphasis on Young People / American Muslims
- Recognition of Constitutional Name of Republic of Macedonia / Orhid Framework Agreement / U.S. Support / Moving Closer to EU and NATO Membership
- Referendum Part of the Equation / Decentralization
- Relations with Greece / Powell Conversation with Greek Foreign Minister / Support for Full Implementation / Not Related to
- Election / Decision Not Directed at Greece
- Support for a Multiethnic Society
- People of Macedonia Chose Name
- U.S. Greek Ambassador Conversation with Greek Foreign Minister /
- U.S. Macedonia Ambassador Meeting with Macedonian President / In
- Touch with U.S. Lawmakers Javier Solana EU and NATO Secretary General
- UN Discussions
- Weighing of the Pros and Cons and Different View Points
- Policy Recommendation / Decision Based on Department Consultations
- Cooperation with NATO
- No Territorial Aspirations
- Greek Protest
- Stability and Harmony in the Region
- Embassy Closure / Public Announcement on Middle East and North Africa / World-Wide Caution / Assessment of Posture
- U.S. Recognition of Other Areas Throughout the World / Resolving
- Dispute Between Spain and Morocco / Taiwan's Recognition / Policy
- Decisions / Different Cases-Different Factors
- Secretary Powell's Future as Secretary of State / Working on
- Upcoming Active Agenda of Foreign Policy / Upcoming Travel to
- Mexico for Bi-National Commission Meeting / Chile for the APEC
- Meeting / Sharm el-Sheikh Meeting with Iraq, G-8 and Others / NATO
- Meetings / Morocco for Forum for the Future Meeting / Iraq
- Election / Afghanistan Election
- Submitting Resignations / Commitment to a Full Agenda /
- Appreciation of Department Personnel / Support for Achievements
- Deputy Secretary Armitage Travel to the Middle East and South Asia
- / United Arab Emirates / Armitage Signing Condolence Book for Sheikh Zayed
- Commitment to January Elections / Iraqi Election Commission/
- Outreach Activities U.S. and UN Support / Commitment of Ethnic Groups
- Expectations of Benefits / North-South Accords / Removal of People
- from Camps / Direct Talks with Khartoum / Involvement of Other
- Nations / Joint Implementation Meeting
- Condemnation of Aerial Attacks / In Touch with American Citizens / Urge Restraint
- Evaluation of Report of Bi-Communal Activities
MR. BOUCHER: I'd like to begin with one note, welcoming note, on the -- Georgia's decision to deploy additional troops to Iraq to provide security for the United Nations' presence in Iraq. The United States warmly welcomes this deployment.
This latest deployment by Georgia will increase the total number of its troops in Iraq from 159 to 850. It underscores Georgia's commitment to partnership with the people of Iraq and their friends around the world in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and democracy in Iraq. The United States will offer additional training to help Georgia sustain this deployment following an assessment by the U.S.-European command of their needs.
QUESTION: A couple of questions about it.
MR. BOUCHER: Yep.
QUESTION: I assume, it's like you to say it, but you're continuing to try to solicit support from other countries, yes?
MR. BOUCHER: We're working with other governments. This is one. As you know, the question of protection for the United Nations has been something that we have worked on, that the United Nations has worked on, and that the Iraqi Government has worked on.
I think you remember that not long ago we were able to confirm the Fiji's Government decision to send people there for protection and for some of the locations for protection in that way. The Georgians have now committed a substantial number of troops to help the United Nations with protection. And of course, we've always said the coalition will do what's necessary to make sure the United Nations can operate in safety.
QUESTION: And just save a little research on a busy day, the ones that are there now, are they part of the coalition forces, or are they like, for instance, the Hungarians, in that they're not actually engaged in, whatever you want to call it, military operations, or do you happen to know?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the exact status of their troops over there now, so I just can't.
QUESTION: But the new ones are all for UN protection?
MR. BOUCHER: The Georgian contingent is going to be committed to UN protection, yes.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Okay. Questions on this or other things? Let's start down here.
QUESTION: What do you know about Yasser Arafat's health, if anything?
MR. BOUCHER: We are following reports, keeping in touch with people, but I don't have any other information for you or confirmation of any of the variety of stories that are out there.
QUESTION: All right. Well, then, just now that that's out of the way, can you explain your decision about Macedonia?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Do we want to finish with --
MR. BOUCHER: There may be questions on the first topic, first. Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: Yes, since news is conflicting about his status, would the Secretary go to attend his funeral if he dies?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to speculate on that. We don't know what his condition is at the present moment. We'll just have to see what happens.
QUESTION: And would there be a written statement as a reaction on his health, whenever you learn about it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to answer questions that start with "would" and "if" and things like that. It's just not appropriate for us at this time to start talking about what might happen if he passes away. I think it's certainly something that we will follow closely and see.
QUESTION: No (inaudible) nothing, except that it comes to mind that I'd like to know what you can tell us about the dinner tonight. Maybe you've already --
MR. BOUCHER: Well --
QUESTION: No, the Iftaar Dinner.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: What I want -- it's a Pal -- it's an Arab issue.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: What I want to know is -- (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: At some point we'll get back to the Macedonia question as well.
QUESTION: Sure. And is he here? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: Your colleague down here in the front row asked about you.
QUESTION: No, I think this can be fairly brief. How many people do you expect, and how did you go about making up your guest list? Are these all -- are all these nice people considered friendly folk, or what?
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, I think, every year for the past several years at least --
MR. BOUCHER: -- the State Department has hosted an Iftaar Dinner during the Month of Ramadan. The Secretary of State's done this, and he has invited a variety of people from different Muslim communities in the United States, sometimes some visitors. The Secretary's emphasis has always been on young people, and I think this evening there's a strong emphasis on young people and women participating in the Iftaar this evening and coming to the State Department. And these-- like his overall commitment to young people that he has, you see it in his work around the world, you see it in his-- what he did in his private life, and that's where, indeed, he puts some emphasis in hosting the Iftaar Dinner.
QUESTION: Any diplomats mixed in? Any prominent educators or --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the guest list with me. I'd say that's the emphasis, but I don't have the whole list.
QUESTION: So you don't know if it's mostly -- is it fair to say it's mostly American Muslims or you just don't know the answer?
MR. BOUCHER: It's mostly American Muslims. I'm not quite sure if we have any prominent visitors coming.
QUESTION: If you would not mind, would you care to return to Matt's question?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll be glad to return to Matt's question, if the rest of you don't mind.
QUESTION: Well, just before you do that, just can you say that it would be -- would you say that it would be a waste of time to ask you more questions about Arafat?
MR. BOUCHER: I can confirm that, yes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Now, what was the question? Macedonia.
QUESTION: After you read the guidance, could you tell us why you've decided to do it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll explain why we've decided to do it and tell you what we decided to do and why we decided to do it. First, what we decided to do. We have now decided to refer to Macedonia officially as the Republic of Macedonia. By recognizing Macedonia's chosen constitutional name, we wish to underscore the U.S. commitment to a permanent, multiethnic, democratic Macedonian state within its existing borders.
The United States, the European Union and NATO have been working for years to bring lasting stability to the Balkans. The key to Macedonia's future remains the Ohrid Framework Agreement signed by Macedonia's major political party leaders in 2001. Macedonia's multiethnic government coalition has worked to finish implementing this agreement and the final pieces are now being put into place.
Macedonia's leadership has made a courageous decision to carry through with decentralization, as mandated by the Framework Agreement. We want to support its efforts to that end as part of our support for Macedonia moving closer to Europe and to NATO and EU membership.
Macedonia's success is in our interest and in the interest of all its neighbors. Macedonia is an important and steadfast partner of the United States in the global war on terrorism, contributing troops to coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We have taken our decision on Macedonia's name without prejudice to the negotiations under UN auspices that have been ongoing since 1993 on differences between Macedonia and Greece over the name. We hope those talks will reach a speedy and mutually agreeable conclusion.
QUESTION: Okay. I thought you said you wanted to. No, no, no, it's okay. Go ahead.
QUESTION: I'll catch him later.
QUESTION: I guess I'm just not sure. Why did you decide to take this decision or to make this? I understand it was made by the Secretary yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Why now? Does it have anything to do with the referendum on Sunday?
MR. BOUCHER: It was day before yesterday.
QUESTION: Does it have anything to do with -- does it have anything to do with --
QUESTION: It was made on Election Day?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it wasn't, sorry, yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Does it have anything to do with the election there, the referendum on Sunday? Are you trying to --
MR. BOUCHER: We think that this is the appropriate time to make this step. It's something that we have obviously kept under advisement for a long time, something that, as you know, has been in the air, under discussion, people encouraged us to do or not to do. The fact that the referendum is coming up is part of the equation. We are certainly looking for ways to support the full implementation of the Ohrid Agreements, including the decentralization that's so important to that, and we felt therefore this was the appropriate time to take the step.
QUESTION: And was it worth the wrath of Greece to do this right now? I mean, the timing of this is the first foreign policy decision since the reelection of the President would seem to indicate that you really have no qualms at all about antagonizing a NATO ally that-- in a situation which had been stable with the status quo, and, you know, this decision-- it's really a symbolic decision, it doesn't really affect your relations with Macedonia except that they're happy, but it does affect your relations with Greece. And given the fact that the Secretary has canceled now three times trips to Greece, I'm just wondering if -- was the equation made that it was worth it, it was worth -- it was in the interests of the United States to really infuriate Greece over this at the current time?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the United States understands Greek feelings about the matter. We have pointed out, as the Secretary pointed out in his conversation this morning with the Greek Foreign Minister, that the decision is not a turn against Greece, it's not linked to the U.S. election in any way, it's not the first -- it's not designed to be the first decision after the U.S. election or anything like that.
It's a moment where we thought it was important to find ways to express our support for the full implementation of the Ohrid Agreements, for the continuation of the process that has brought stability to Macedonia and to its neighbors and that this was one way of doing that at this juncture. And that's what we decided to do. It's not directed against any other country. It's not timed in any fashion to relate to the U.S. election or anything that some other third party is doing. It's just we felt what an appropriate and correct step at this juncture to express our support for the implementation of the agreements that Macedonia has reached.
Okay. We'll work from the back.
QUESTION: Before we do that, can we do one other substitute one?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's slow down. We'll do here and then we'll go to the two gentlemen in the back.
QUESTION: Can you go back to your statement that the upcoming referendum in Macedonia was indeed part of your calculus? Can you just make clear what exactly you are trying to do with that? Are you essentially trying to strengthen the government's argument that the projections for minorities within Macedonia should be maintained and extended? Is that what you're trying to do simply put?
MR. BOUCHER: We're trying to demonstrate, we're trying to express our support for the full implementation of these agreements including the decentralization that's an important part of it, and that is one of the subjects covered in the referendum. We're trying to show that the path that the government has followed brings stability, brings acceptance and brings recognition in the world for Macedonia and support for the path that it's been following in terms of implementation of the Ohrid Agreements, and so this is one, the step that we thought was appropriate to demonstrate that.
QUESTION: There is no way you can say that without reference to the sort of jargon of the Ohrid Agreement, I mean, so that the average person understands what you're talking about?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, the average person in Macedonia probably, and in the region, probably does understand these agreements a lot better than I do. But the point is to show support for a multiethnic society in Macedonia as they proceed in a direction that we feel contribute to their own stability and the stability of the region, and by taking this step in terms of recognizing Macedonia under its chosen name we feel that we bolster that progress.
QUESTION: I was going to ask you how this supports multiethnic understanding by choosing a name that the populace and a next door neighbor thinks is the wrong thing to do?
MR. BOUCHER: This is the name that Macedonia, the government and the people of Macedonia have chosen for their country and that's the name that we will recognize them under.
QUESTION: Did the Foreign Minister call the Secretary, or is it reversed?
QUESTION: Do you know if there have been calls related to this?
MR. BOUCHER: The--our ambassador in Greece has talked to the Foreign Minister and then this morning the Secretary talked to the -- called the Foreign Minister as well to talk to him. We've been in touch with the Greek Government at other levels, people with their counterparts, principally through the embassy. We've also obviously been discussing the matter with the Government of Macedonia, our Ambassador of Macedonia in Skopje met with the Macedonian President this morning and just told him of the decision and then we've been in touch with other people who are interested on the Hill. I think we've been in touch with Javier Solana in the European Union, people like that, NATO Secretary General and others who might be interested in our decision.
QUESTION: Richard --
MR. BOUCHER: Can I get a gentleman in the back who have been anxious --
QUESTION: Any representation prior to this decision with the European Union?
MR. BOUCHER: We've certainly -- this is a topic that we've handled over a long period of time in conjunction with the European Union and we've had a lot of discussions with the European Union about the Macedonia name, the Greek question of Macedonia and Greece, so it is certainly a subject that both they and we are familiar with. In terms of the actual decision to do this, we had been in touch-- we were in touch with the European Union to tell them of the decision.
QUESTION: Otherwise, the European Union is agreeing with your policy? Excuse me?
MR. BOUCHER: You'll have to ask the European Union what their position is on this issue.
QUESTION: You made the statement. You said you have discussed this matter a long time and you give account of detail, so I would like to know what is what is the European Union statement about this.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. If you want to ask what the opinion of the European Union is, you'll have to ask a spokesman for the European Union.
QUESTION: No, I'm saying is your presentation on your part --
MR. BOUCHER: You can ask 20 times. If you want the European position, you have to ask a spokesman for the Europeans.
QUESTION: Why did you totally --
QUESTION: Did you ask the European Union whether they agree about it, with it, or did you just notify them what you're doing?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we told the European -- we were in contact with European Union to tell them of our decision.
QUESTION: In advance?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was in advance.
QUESTION: What did you totally agree on the UN talks and proceeded unilaterally yesterday (inaudible), any communication, consultation with the UN negotiator Matthew Nimetz prior to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I know we were in touch with him. I don't know the exact timing on it, but the point I think we make, this is a decision the United States made because we believe it's the appropriate decision at this time for a policy that we want to pursue, that we want to show support for the path that is being followed by the government in Macedonia towards more stability and a multiethnic society.
The uh--at the same time, we would certainly welcome any progress that can be made in the UN discussions and would accept the outcome of those discussions if Macedonia agrees and the UN work out -- you know, can work things out, and we certainly would hope those talks would reach a speedy and a mutually agreeable conclusion.
QUESTION: Do you recognize the so-called "Macedonian ethnicity nationality language?"
MR. BOUCHER: Those issues are, I think, dealt with in the agreements. I don't have anything different to say here.
QUESTION: Did you have consultation prior with -- besides with Greece -- Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of, no.
QUESTION: According to the Greeks, you didn't tell them that you are ready to recognize FYROM, that you didn't have any consultation with them. It seems to me that you consulted with everybody except the Greeks.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I've described any particular -- I mean, it depends on how you -- what you describe as consultations. I think I've tried to be frank with you and say that this is certainly a subject where we've talked many times with many people, and people know our views, we've all discussed the pros and cons of this kind of step, and certainly the Secretary is personally very familiar with the issues, has been dealing with it for many, many years. And so I think we all sort of know the pros and cons. We balance the views. But this was a decision that the United States took because we felt it was the appropriate decision to us. And for those who we've been in touch with in the last 24 hours or so, we've really been telling them about our decision, not engaging in some further consultation.
QUESTION: Not before the 24 hours. For example, did Secretary discuss it with the Foreign Minister of Greece in New York in September?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think it came up there.
QUESTION: There is a feeling in Greece that you want to punish them.
MR. BOUCHER: I think I've said, and I'll make absolutely clear once again, as the Secretary did in his phone call with the Greek Foreign Minister this morning, that this step is being done because we think it's the right thing to support a path of stability and openness and democracy in Macedonia. It's not a decision that's made in any way with reference to neighbors or other countries, but we do think it's a decision that can help support a path that has brought more stability to Macedonia and to the region.
QUESTION: How long has it been being batted around? I notice that as recently as October 14th you were up here on the podium saying that the name is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and that any references to it in official -- U.S. official documents or otherwise to it as simply Macedonia or the Republic of Macedonia were mistakes or errors. In fact --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't say they were errors. I said they were --
QUESTION: Well, you said it was shorthand. You had --
MR. BOUCHER: It was shorthand, yeah.
QUESTION: You -- in response to the question, you said that the Department had gone back and corrected the transcript of the briefing --
MR. BOUCHER: That was a transcript that said "formerly known as" instead of "formally known as," an index. So that was a mistake. It was not consistent with the policy at the time.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, so, as a -- on October 14th, when you said that the official name was the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, was the review underway?
MR. BOUCHER: This is not the product of some formal committee review process. This was a policy recommendation that was arrived at by consultations with different people in the Department. In-- I don't know exactly when they started discussing it, but the decision was just made in the last few days -- yesterday.
QUESTION: Was it a wise decision to make?
MR. BOUCHER: It was, as any decision, it has a lot of factors that have to be weighed.
QUESTION: So I assume there were people who thought maybe you shouldn't do this, is that fair? You've been very candid, but can you go that one step further and say there were people who thought --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't because I'm not aware of anybody who said don't. They just looked at it and said, is it -- should we do this now, and they discussed the pros and cons and reached agreement on doing it and made a recommendation to the Secretary.
QUESTION: When was the first time Greece was told of the decision, and at what level?
MR. BOUCHER: Our Ambassador told the Greek, I think, Foreign Minister, if not his office, if not him then his office, yesterday afternoon, our time.
QUESTION: Well, is this -- were these discussions that you did a preemptive notification of them: this is what we're planning to do? Or did they hear that you had done this and then they called you, and you gave them an explanation? I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: We called people up and said we've made a decision, here's what we're going to do.
QUESTION: The Greeks?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Richard, your reference to your weighing different factors in response to Barry's question, can we not necess-- assume from that that you decided that the anger and the hostility that you're facing right now from the Greeks was more than overcome by whatever benefit you think this is going to give to the Macedonians?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not just a two-part equation so I can't really phrase it the way you did. I tried to phrase it earlier in my own way by saying we were certainly aware of the likely reaction in Greece.
QUESTION: And --
MR. BOUCHER: And we have, I think, tried to go out of our way to make clear to the Greek Government and the Greek people that this is not a decision that's any way directed at them or intended to offend them; it's what we thought was the right thing to continue a progress of stability in the region.
QUESTION: Okay. And as you have said, this is a U.S. decision. It's a unilateral decision, which, of course, is completely contradictory with all of your multilateral efforts in every other area of diplomacy for the past four years. And I'm wondering what does this mean, if anything, for how the country is referred to, not at the UN where the negotiations are underway, but at NATO, for example, where everything has to be footnoted or asterisked to refer to Macedonia as FYROM.
Do you envision trying to bring NATO around to -- or do you just think that that's hopeless because the Greeks, who have been in NATO for a long time and were supposedly your good friends, would object?
MR. BOUCHER: This is not a decision intended to disrupt our very positive work with Greece in -- bilaterally as well as multilaterally. It's not a decision intended to in any way disrupt the smooth workings of NATO. And I expect that we'll continue cooperation there, as appropriate, with the Government of Greece, which remains one of our best allies.
QUESTION: And --
MR. BOUCHER: Exactly how we will handle questions of language and footnoting in other documents, I don't have an answer for you at this point. But the United States, when we refer to this country, will refer to it as the Republic of Macedonia.
QUESTION: But you do acknowledge that while it's not intended to disrupt the relationship that it has. Don't you?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say what I've said before. We understand there are some strong feelings about this and that's why we have tried to make very, very clear it's not directed against any other nation.
QUESTION: Well, you may have tried to make that clear, Richard, but there are a lot of angry people in Greece.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, Matt, I'm trying to make it clear right now, and I'll do it again through you, the able representatives of the press, who I'm sure will report to the people in Greece, that this is not directed in any way against them.
QUESTION: Yeah, but that's all well and good for you to say that, but I just want to make sure that you understand, you've taken into account, the Greek reaction to this, what you knew would be the Greek reaction to this --
MR. BOUCHER: We understand the feelings in Greece, yes.
QUESTION: -- and decided that it was still the right thing to do so --
MR. BOUCHER: We understand the feelings in Greece, and for a variety of reasons we decided this was the right thing to do.
QUESTION: According to a map in my possession, appearing in the U.S. Marine Corps Country Handbook November 2003, under the title "Macedonian Occupation," includes unfortunately the entire Greek Macedonia with a very, very provocative and undiplomatic front-page text against the territorial integrity of Greece. I was told yesterday by a DOD source that this map was drafted during the era of Richard Holbrook when he was Under Secretary for European Affairs in 1999 and it's still valid even today. And it was also verified by Ambassador Nicholas Burns to a group of Greek Americans who (inaudible) to the departure from Athens to Brussels and it was also confirmed to the same group by DOS official -- I have his name -- saying to them specifically, "Nothing has been changed." Any explanation since the text of this language is a diplomatic one and you told us the other day that you, as the Department of State, has had the last word in many diplomatic exchanges?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you just had the last word. This is a Marine handbook?
QUESTION: Yes, it's --
MR. BOUCHER: With a map --
QUESTION: That's correct.
MR. BOUCHER: -- that you think was drafted by Mr. Holbrook?
QUESTION: It's Country Handbook Macedonia United States --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. I can't account for something in a Marine handbook. I assume almost every map I've seen that the U.S. Government produces has a footnote on it saying this is not the definitive statement of borders or recognition issues. I don't know if there was such a footnote on it or not, but I'm not going to be able to account for every map in a Marine handbook.
QUESTION: Well, I'm saying when the Department of Defense is drafting a document, something like that, I know it's coming from --
MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know --
QUESTION: Who is in charge?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know who the author of the map is.
QUESTION: Who did the diplomatic language, you or the DOD?
MR. BOUCHER: It could be from the Defense Mapping Agency. I don't, frankly, know where they get their maps.
QUESTION: And why they are saying, "Macedonia Occupation" --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to tell you about the Marine Corps Handbook. You're going to have to ask the Marine Corps about that one.
QUESTION: One more, Mr. Boucher. How do you explain the fact that the U.S. Government totally ignored the policy expressed by the former Secretary of State once upon the time, Stettinius, December 26, 1944, who first opened our eyes, saying inter alia, "The Department of State has noted (inaudible) apprehension that (inaudible) Macedonia with the (inaudible) intention and Greek territory would be included in the Baltic state. The U.S. Government considers talks part of Macedonian nation," "Macedonian motherland," "Macedonian nation (inaudible)," to the unjustified demagogues representing (inaudible) insists that is a possible cloak for aggressive intention against the territorial integrity of Greece."
Any comment, since you are making this decision today?
MR. BOUCHER: First, what date was it in 1944?
QUESTION: It was December 26, 1944.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Almost six years -- 60 years, right?
QUESTION: So what?
MR. BOUCHER: Well -- (laughter). First of all, I would note there have been some changes in Europe --
QUESTION: World War II, you mean?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been some changes in Europe in the last 60 years. There is a nation known as Macedonia which we have decided to call by the name that they have chosen for themselves, as the Republic of Macedonia. And you are as familiar as I am of the fact that this nation, these leaders, this government, have expressed many, many times that they have no territorial aspirations, their use of the name Macedonia for themselves does not have any implications for any neighbors or neighboring territories or peoples. That is certainly a policy the United States has maintained, that they have maintained, and we don't see that those factors that were discussed 60 years ago come into play in any way with our decision today.
QUESTION: Was there any reference to the Greek territory in the Ambassador's discussions and the Secretary's discussions? You obviously don't think there's any need to --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think the issue -- the issue does not arise. This is merely a question of how we will call a country, whether we call this country by the name they have chosen for themselves in their constitution.
QUESTION: So the Greeks have no basis for any anxiety about the Greek Macedonia?
MR. BOUCHER: As we have said, we think that the process underway in Macedonia has been a very positive one, not only for that nation, but for the region, and that, in fact, it has brought stability to the region.
We have more back there or not?
QUESTION: One --
MR. BOUCHER: Moving right along?
QUESTION: What was your response to the Greek protest which has been defined today by the Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, to your Ambassador, your esteemed Ambassador to Greece, Tom Miller?
MR. BOUCHER: Our Ambassador has spoken to the Greek Foreign Minister twice, once yesterday, once today, and then the Secretary spoke to the Foreign Minister again today. We understand Greek concerns, but we also explained why we think this is the appropriate decision at this time, and, second of all, we explained that this is a not a step that's directed against any third country.
QUESTION: Regarding the Macedonia, as you call it, received yesterday the recognition that they wanted from the United States. Why, in your opinion, they are going to continue the talks with Greece to change their name?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we're all interested in stability and harmony in the region. To the extent that these are issues that different people in the region feel strongly about, we would hope that they can be worked out, and we think that they would too.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) was closed for security reasons, I believe. Do you have anything on that? Do you know how long it will be closed for?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, they closed yesterday and then again today in order to review their security posture. They have reiterated, I think, in a message to Americans that the overall situation for Americans in Syria has not changed. We do have a -- they said the general threat level to American citizens in Syria remains unchanged. We do have a Public Announcement on the Middle East and North Africa and the Worldwide Caution, of course, that do cover that region as well.
But the Embassy decided that they needed to close yesterday and today in order to reassess their security posture, and so they've done that, and then they'll be closed Friday, I think, for the normal weekend -- Friday, Saturday -- weekend in Damascus.
QUESTION: Is there a particular threat to the Embassy, then?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not able to go into the reasons for which they decided they wanted to look at their security posture, but that's essentially what -- they're looking at their own security posture at this moment in time.
QUESTION: Well, you know, they've done that quite frequently. In fact, it's an ongoing review all the time in all embassies everywhere.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: So --
MR. BOUCHER: We have also made clear in public announcements and elsewhere that, from time to time, embassies may decide it's appropriate for them to close their public functions in order to assess their posture, and that's what this Embassy has decided it has to do.
QUESTION: Richard, a second bin Laden tape has been embargoed. Is that under U.S. pressure? And has the government in Qatar been forthcoming with respect to the operation of Al Jazeera? And do you think they're still biased in always getting and showing captives and beheadings and such?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything for you on the possibility of a second tape, nor do I really have any new assessment of Al Jazeera. We've, I think, expressed ourselves in the past and don't really have anything new.
QUESTION: But don't you still feel that way? You asked them not do to it. You asked the government there to try to withhold the tape. And that's a standing concern, is it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd stick to what I said before. I'm not -- don't have anything on some additional tape.
QUESTION: Richard, this is somewhat related to Macedonia issue but not -- doesn't involve Macedonia. I'm just curious. Does the Administration have any plans to unilaterally take other measures, say, I don't know, again, if it's a dispute between Spain and Morocco over the Parsley Islands, is the United States going to come down on one side or another, Taiwan recognition? Do you know, given the President's new political capital, is he prepared to start being a little bit more multi -- unilateral in his foreign policy?
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, first of all, this decision is not related to the election or the political capital from the election. Second of all, it doesn't have implications for any other area of the world. Third of all, you know to what great lengths the Secretary of State personally went to try to help Spain and Morocco resolve their dispute over certain islands. And fourth, I wouldn't want to speculate. I would point out that the United States, as any country, from time to time, makes its own decisions about policy. Sometimes we make those in conjunction with others. Sometimes we make those according to what we think is necessary and right for us.
QUESTION: Okay, and on that -- along those lines, and I realize this doesn't have anything to do with United States, but perhaps you can offer us your general feelings about this, about should -- whether countries should establish or not diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Does the United States take any position on whether Taiwan has diplomatic relations with other sovereign states?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll go find you the standard answer on that.
QUESTION: I was going to ask you this, but I was afraid it would keep us here all day. You know, because I thought -- I think you're saying today that -- or you're reaffirming today-- that what we call a country is based on our policy views and also the wishes of the people there. We go through this all the time. Is it Burma or isn't it Burma? You know, Taiwan functions -- you know, I mean, I can go on and on. Next you'll probably call Gaza Palestine when the Palestinians take it -- take control of it. Why not?
But do you see what I'm saying? Is there a rule here or is it ad hoc?
MR. BOUCHER: I find it hard to deal with fruit salad questions that kind of throw 17 different things into the mix and then ask for a general rule.
QUESTION: Well, the naming game -- what's -- is there a rule, please?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you a general rule because each of the issues that you cited -- some correctly, some not -- is different. And yes, we do look at policy considerations. Generally, we tend to go with a name that people choose for themselves. If you decide to call yourself Barry, we'll call you Barry. (Laughter.) But it's not -- it's not a hard and fast rule. There are, from time to time, policy considerations that enter into these discussions.
QUESTION: Well, nobody is going to want to call themselves Burma --
QUESTION: You agree -- exactly.
MR. BOUCHER: And we take it under due consideration.
QUESTION: You use it as sometimes as a weapon when you disapprove of the government there. You don't choose to go along with them and use the name they want used.
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, first of all, we tend to speak English.
MR. BOUCHER: And so, we tend to use names in English. There's--you know, there is a formal structure in the government for determining geographic names that we use on publications and maps and there are also sometimes policy considerations that relate to how we call something because some people feel strongly one way and some feel the other way and sometimes we have to make a decision. All I can tell you is that each of these cases has different factors involved, a different balance of factors involved. What people call themselves is one of the factors. But it doesn't -- you know, how each individual case comes out depends on the individual case.
QUESTION: The Secretary has said in interviews over the last few months that after the election he'd have to have a conversation with the President about his future. Has he had that conversation?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, it's not a question I can answer because if I start answering it, we're going to answer it every single day.
Second of all, on the matter of the Secretary's service, he serves at the pleasure of the President. If he and the President should decide to have a conversation about that, I would suggest that the matter will be known to the Secretary and the President, and I would not really -- certainly I wouldn't engage in speculation, nor -- and I would discourage you from taking anybody else's word for it, except for mine, if I have information for you. (Laughter.) But this is not a matter that is going to be reported on every day. It's not a matter that's going to be known to anybody outside of the President and the Secretary, and when they have something to tell people, I'm sure they will. I would emphasize to you that at the staff meeting this morning, at the -- actually, the staff meeting yesterday, the staff meeting this morning, the cabinet meeting this morning, the Secretary briefed his staff and his colleges in the cabinet on a very active upcoming agenda of foreign policy that he and the President have planned, and that it will be our duty, along with the Secretary, to implement.
As you all know, we have the Bi-National Commission Meeting with Mexico next Tuesday. The Secretary will be going down to Mexico for that, along with, I think, six of his cabinet colleagues.
A week or so after that, the President goes down to Chile for the APEC meeting. That's an opportunity to work with the nations of Asia and some of the nations of Latin America on important economic issues where we want to make progress and the President wants to make progress.
The Secretary goes from there to the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting with Iraq, the G-8 and some of the neighbors. Again, an important step along the way towards stability in Iraq and the Iraqi election.
A few weeks after that, we've got -- not even one week after that, two weeks after that, maybe -- we've got NATO meetings, consultations with the European Union, and the meeting in Morocco that is one of the President's high priorities to encourage-- support modernization and reform in the Middle East, the Forum for the Future meeting in Morocco.
So, there are a whole series of things, you know, just in the next four weeks. Then we go on into, after the holidays, you know, we go on into the Iraqi election, we go into an Afghan election in the spring. The Secretary is briefing -- working on his staff to plan this agenda, to work this agenda and make sure it all works out positively in the upcoming months and that it moves us forward on the big agenda, the full agenda of the President's foreign policy. And that's where his mind is, that's where his effort it, and that's where his energy is.
QUESTION: Richard, when you say that the -- and the Secretary always says that he serves at the pleasure of the President -- I mean, that indicates that the Secretary has absolutely no opinion of what he wants to do, it's completely up to the -- if the President wants him to serve, he'll serve, but he has absolutely no pleasure of his own and he's just a completely selfless individual?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to start pretending to psychoanalyze --
QUESTION: No, but I'm saying --
MR. BOUCHER: -- anybody in this. The way our system works is that these decisions, as most decisions do, fall to the President, and what the President wants, the President gets.
QUESTION: Isn't there a formal -- isn't there a formality of submitting resignations? I'm not implying anything --
MR. BOUCHER: I think-- I suggest you look at Scott McClellan's briefing today. That issue came up with him and he noted that that is done sometimes. It has not been done at this point, that political presidential appointees have not been asked to submit resignation letters, but the White House will keep you informed if there's any difference or change.
QUESTION: Well, you would tell us if he did submit a letter, wouldn't you?
MR. BOUCHER: No, probably not.
QUESTION: All right. Now, let me ask you something about Iraq, or can we get into policy?
QUESTION: Actually, could I just ask one question on this? Just to clarify, all those trips you mentioned, the Secretary is, in fact, planning to go on all of them?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary is planning to carry out this agenda on behalf of the President, yes.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
QUESTION: Can I ask you about Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Ken.
QUESTION: Richard, it's no secret that the Secretary helped build morale in this building when he got here and it's no secret that people are worried about him departing. Is he hearing from people in this building or people in the Foreign Service who are posted overseas who are urging him to stay?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. There certainly is a lot of commitment to the Secretary, to the full agenda, the big agenda that we have been carrying out for the Secretary and the President. There's a lot of appreciation for the way that the Secretary has been able to get us resources in terms of personnel, having time for training, having computers on desktops, having the tools and the security that we need to carry out our jobs.
So I think yes, there is a tremendous support for the achievements over the last several years that the Secretary has helped bring to this Department and a determination to carry forward the agenda that we have together. But, again, what and when and if, ever, the Secretary and the President decide or determine something, it's going to be determined by the Secretary and the President, not on well-wishers and other supporters. Ultimately, as the Secretary also said, he serves at the pleasure of the President, and that's the only thing that matters.
QUESTION: May I ask about Iraq? I was reminded, frankly, by your reference to the election. This morning at Brookings, Martin Indyk, who had a pretty serious job here, and elsewhere on the Foreign Service, thought that there's some question about the Sunnis getting full opportunities to have a voice in Iraq's future -- and I don't want to misrepresent what he said, but I think I'm pretty sure he said this, that he thought maybe the election should be postponed. They're holding it on time, holding it as anticipated, without assurances that everybody will be able, you know, to have a say, may not be the best idea.
Now, the Secretary, every time he's asked, says we hope and intend and would like and, you know, always late January for sure. Is that still the firm view here? Has Indyk got a point, do you think? You didn't hear him, but I wonder.
MR. BOUCHER: It is still our firm view, and I think more important than that, it's the firm view of the Iraqi Government, that this commitment to have elections in January is a very important one and that we all need to do everything possible, we need to work towards that end, that is a commitment that we're all working to keep. And at the same time, it is also a commitment that the election needs to be open to every citizen of Iraq to participate in. As the Iraqi Election Commission goes forward -- and they already have -- what is it, 13 or 14 million people on the preliminary voter rolls, and they've already started their outreach activities, and they've already started their educational activities. So as they go forward into their election with our support and UN support and support of others, I think all of us will do everything we can to ensure that the election is one that every citizen of Iraq has a way of participating in.
QUESTION: And are you hearing similar -- are you hearing from Sunni governments in that area, there being several of them, but the Sunnis are the predominant people, that they, too, think it's on track and you should proceed?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you have to ask individual governments what their opinions are. There is certainly a strong commitment in all segments of the Iraqi Government, people of various ethnic groups and various responsibilities, to moving forward on this, with this commitment to have elections in January.
QUESTION: Richard, there's a big exposé in today's Washington Post concerning Darfur, and the situation is getting precipitously worse. Is there, for all intents and purposes -- I know the President before called North Korea and Iran axis of evils, and Iraq as well -- is there, for all intents and purposes, something that can be done against the government in Khartoum, stopping military shipments and all types of other commercial contacts with them?
MR. BOUCHER: The--first of all, there are a lot of restrictions already and that we have made clear the kinds of benefits and relief that the government in Khartoum might have expected from concluding north-south accords, which we have worked very long and hard with them on. They can just not expect to get those benefits and that kind of relief unless they take appropriate action to help the situation in Darfur.
We have been very, very concerned about the situation in Darfur. We're currently in very close touch with the United Nations, with the European Union, about the current situation, particularly the expulsion of people from -- the removal of people from camps to other camps by the government in recent days. We have been working now, we're working today in the Security Council, consulting with other nations on this matter. We're hearing a briefing from the UN representative, Jan Pronk, up there today.
Second of all, we and the United Nations and the European Union have been trying to see what action we can take to try to make sure that -- look after the welfare of the people who were removed from these camps, and indeed the African Union is now sending people to the sites, to the locations where these people are, and to check on them and try to look after their welfare. This is one of the benefits of the kind of expanded African Union presence that we have been working hard at and that we have facilitated with the flights that we have been conducting to bring in Nigerian and Rwandan soldiers.
We are talking directly with the government in Khartoum. We've been in touch with Vice President Taha of the Sudanese Government about the matter of the removal and our strong concerns about those people, urging the government not to do this again and indeed to return these people to the locations that they were removed from. We are, together with the European Union, we're making more formal and continuous approaches to the government in Khartoum, again, on this matter. So this is something that we have been working very hard on to try to get it to stop.
Today, I think I'd say the situation is we hadn't seen any further removals of people from camps but we have not seen the people who were moved be able to come back to the camps, where we think they're better taken care of, and that is something we'll keep pressing for, the UN will keep pressing for. They have a Joint Implementation Meeting coming up with the Sudanese and we will continue to work with the EU and others to try to get the government to change its course on that matter.
QUESTION: Richard, two very brief but very disparate questions. One is that you mentioned the Secretary going to the Forum of the Future meeting in Morocco, and I'm just wondering, a hop, skip and a jump away from Morocco, where the Secretary visited Tunis not so long ago, have you seen these reports that there have been a bunch of Islamic fundamentalists have been pardoned?
MR. BOUCHER: In Tunisia?
QUESTION: In Tunisia.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that and see if I can get you anything.
QUESTION: All right. And my second disparate question is: do you have anything to say about the situation today in the Ivory Coast?
MR. BOUCHER: A little bit, yeah. And I think we'll probably have a slightly more formal statement on it later because these aerial attacks that were carried out by the government's aircraft near the city of Bouake are very much a matter of concern to us. We condemn the aerial attacks. We've seen reports now of three different aerial attacks, one at 7:15 a.m., one at 11:15, one at 3 p.m. local time. At this point, we don't have any reports of deaths resulting from the bombings.
Our government in Abidjan -- our Embassy in Abidjan is in frequent touch with the Americans in the area. We have no reports of injuries in the attacks today to Americans and we have issued a Warden Notice to American citizens in Cote D'Ivoire advising them to avoid crowds and defer nonessential travel. We are urging all the parties to exercise restraint, to continue to work together to decrease tensions and to pursue the peace process in accordance with their commitments to the Linas-Marcoussis accords.
QUESTION: Can you tell us where Deputy Secretary Armitage is today, who he talked to, and where he's going tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: He is in the building today. He's talked to a variety of people. The Secretary and the Deputy Secretary, shortly after noon, went by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates to sign a condolence book for Sheikh Zayed and to express their feelings on behalf of the United States.
The Deputy Secretary will be leaving for the Middle East and his first stop, indeed, will be the United Arab Emirates. So he'll leave later today for the Emirates and his first stop would be to go there and express personally his-- the condolences of the United States on the death of Sheikh Zayed.
QUESTION: They went together to the Embassy?
MR. BOUCHER: They went together, yeah.
QUESTION: And do you have where he's going from the UAE?
MR. BOUCHER: No, you can't. But --
QUESTION: I didn't --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, you can certainly ask, but I can't answer.
QUESTION: Obviously, I can't because I don't know. I said can you tell us?
MR. BOUCHER: You can ask where he is going from the UAE, but I don't have his itinerary at this point. I'll get it -- we'll get stops to you as they proceed, I think.
QUESTION: Yeah. But recognizing your reluctance to talk about certain stops, how about the less -- the South Asia stops, at least? Can you --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't know. The schedule has been reworked somewhat in order to allow the Deputy Secretary to make this first stop in the United Arab Emirates, and so I don't have the onward schedule at this point. But he is going to several stops in the Middle East and several stops in South Asia.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Colombo?
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the stops are, in South Asia, at least, where there's not -- or maybe there is. Are there security concerns for India, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia that would prevent you from talking about what his stops are?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't talk about what his stops are because I don't know exactly what they are at this point.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, he has. He's mentioned some of them.
QUESTION: On Cyprus, Mr. Boucher.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Why the Development Associates, Incorporated across Arlington, Virginia has prepared a report on Cyprus submitted to the United States Agency for International Development for the $6.4 million? Why a private company did the job for the USAID?
MR. BOUCHER: We do that all the time. We ask outsiders to evaluate our programs in various ways. This was a private contractor. The opinions in the study, as we've discussed before, are the opinions of the contractor, but it's a fairly common practice in the U.S. Government to have somebody on the outside look at our programs and tell us how they can be improved.
QUESTION: I was told by the UN and by the U.S. Congress that the $6.4 million is not coming from Congress, not from the U.S., it's coming directly from Department of State. Could you please once again to explain what is this amount exactly and how it is being split?
MR. BOUCHER: This is an amount that was spent over five or ten years, I think --
A PARTICIPANT: Since 1998.
MR. BOUCHER: Since 1998, so six years -- on bi-communal programs in Cyprus. It's been part of the regular assistance budget, the amount that's allocated by Congress every year and spent by the Department of State for bi-communal activities.
The report, I think, contrary to some impressions that might have been left in some minds, the report is actually quite positive about the bi-communal programs and the efforts that we've been making in that regard, including the activities, education activities and others things that we've undertaken in recent years.
QUESTION: You are again said the point that -- you said that since 1998. I read the total (inaudible) pages. There's nothing about the 60.2 million has been given for bi-communal programs, something like that. Are we focused only the $6.4 million, which have been spent in (inaudible) specifically for the referendum --
MR. BOUCHER: No, $6.4 million has been spent over six years -- total -- on bi-communal activities, not 6.4 million in some recent time period.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (The briefing was concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
Released on November 4, 2004