Press Conference following OSCE Ministerial Counci
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
December 4, 2001
SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN L. POWELL
FOLLOWING OSCE MINISTERIAL COUNCIL
December 4, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: (Inaudible) a meeting and I've completed my intervention and welcome the action of the OSCE to join in the campaign against terrorism. I am very pleased at the work the OSCE has been doing to foster democracy, to serve in peacekeeping roles, to monitor elections, and all the other very worthwhile activities of this fifty- five-member nation grouping.
It's also a pleasure to be in this country for the first time since I became Secretary of State -- for that matter, for the first time in my life -- and I look forward to meetings with the Romanian leadership a little bit later on this morning.
>From here I go on to Turkey, and then on to Brussels, a number of other central Asian countries, and then to Moscow, and then some other stops on the way home. But I wanted to devote this eight-day period to a number of stops throughout the region to show the United States commitment to Europe and to Central Asia, to thank all of our partners for their contributions to the campaign against terrorism, and to once again show the commitment of the Bush Administration to furthering the objectives and the goals of trans-Atlantic unity and the various trans- Atlantic organizations that we actively work with and support the agendas of.
So, it's a great pleasure to be here and I'd be delighted to take a few questions before I have to get to a bilateral meeting.
QUESTION: Magdalena Angel, Romanian Public Television. It is unanimously said here at the Ministerial meeting that Romania has successfully fulfilled its mission as the OSCE Chairmanship. Mr. Secretary, against this background, do you think that this would be an advantage for Romania's admission, accession to the international security organizations? Thank you.
SECRETARY POWELL: I think it is quite correct to say that Romania has very well discharged its responsibilities of Chairman in Office of the OSCE for the past year, and I complimented my colleague Foreign Minister Geoana for the superb work that he has done, especially for the superb work organizing this Ministerial meeting. Sure, it certainly shows the level of sophistication and maturity that one is pleased to see and suggests that Romania clearly is making maximum effort to become part of the Euro Atlantic community.
As we go into the year 2002, we will encourage all of those who aspire to become members of the international security organization known as NATO to continue working on their member action plans, to do everything they can to ground as firmly as possible their societies on the basis of democracy and to have openness and transparency in those societies, and to make sure they are also practicing economic freedom. When the heads of state meet in Prague next fall, I'm sure all of these various measures will be taken into account as the North Atlantic Council Summit at that time makes judgments as to who should be added to the alliance.
QUESTION: While you've been here talking about your war on terrorism, the Israeli cabinet has declared the Palestinian authority (inaudible) terrorism and has been shelling headquarters and positions near Arafat's headquarters. Do you feel your war on terrorism is being taken in vain, or does the United States believe that Israel is justified in its actions?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think what you call our war on terrorism is being taken in vain. It is not our war on terrorism, it is the international community's war against terrorism. As President Bush said from the very beginning, it is not just a response to those who committed those terrible acts against us on the 11th of September, but for all those who participate in terrorist activity, whether that activity is in Afghanistan, in the United States, in South America, and other parts of the world.
Israel, at this moment, is recovering from a terrible blow inflicted on her last Saturday night by acts of terror. Prime Minister Sharon as the elected Prime Minister, freely elected Prime Minister of a democratic nation, is responding in a way that he believes is appropriate to defend his people and to defend his country.
In our conversations with Prime Minister Sharon, we have also indicated that there will be a tomorrow, and a day after tomorrow, when we have to try to get back to a process that will lead to a ceasefire and to negotiations which ultimately are required to bring these two peoples into some agreement where they can live together in peace. So as one takes action and counteraction, always keep in mind that sooner or later we have to find a way to move forward and, as you plan your actions, take that into consideration.
QUESTION: I have a question about NATO enlargement as well. Will the Membership Action Plan remain the basic document for evaluating the candidate countries? Or after the September 11 attacks, will things like supporting the U.S. campaign against terrorism or the war in Afghanistan be taken into account as well?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think the Membership Action Plan remains the fundamental document, but of course there are many other aspects to it: democracy within a society and economic freedom. I think the NATO leaders will take into account the extent to which aspiring nations have demonstrated a level of understanding of the international community and the challenges of the international community, and their willingness to be contributing positive members when a challenge such as terrorism comes along. But I think the Membership Action Plan remains the bedrock document and the roadmap that all aspiring nations should stick to and follow as they prepare themselves for possible membership.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, many nations that are represented here today have offered troops, not only for peacekeeping, but for the current military campaign, and yet only a few British troops have joined American ones. Do you sense that some of these nations that have offered troops feel like they've been -- are they getting a sense of frustration? And why aren't some of these troops being used at this phase?
SECRETARY POWELL: There are other troops besides British working with us now. There are French, Australians, even several Germans. The way in which General Franks is conducting the campaign is to bring into the theater those troops that he needs to make a contribution to the accomplishment of the mission that he currently has, which is to go after Usama bin Laden, the al-Qaida organization, and the Taliban.
We welcome all the contributions that have been offered. As we go forward and as this changes in form in the weeks ahead into a provisional government in place and perhaps the need for peacekeeping forces, I'm sure that many of those contributions will be asked to be sent forward. But at the moment, General Franks has a pretty good handle on the situation on the ground and he is well aware of all of the offers that have been made.
I would like again to express our appreciation for all those offers. Some of our allies, when they saw the urgency of the crisis after the eleventh of September, came forward rapidly, and we are deeply appreciative of that. Once you come forward, people are ready to go to action. We've got people standing by, they are on alert, "send us in". But you only send them in when you have a real need to send them in, when there is a real requirement for them. General Franks has been waiting to establish just what those requirements are. So some of our allies were a little frustrated that they didn't get into the battle right away; but I think they understand the reasons for that, and it'll all sort itself out.
QUESTION: I'm Tudor Barbu, National Television Channel One. For us Romanians, it's clear our country is part of this world war against terrorism. The question is, which is your evaluation about our position, our country position after eleventh of September? And by consequences, what is your opinion about the effect of this position in the relations between United States and Romania? Thank you.
SECRETARY POWELL: We were very pleased at the support we have received from Romania since the eleventh of September in terms of diplomatic support, political support, offers of assistance. Obviously that has had a positive effect within the United States concerning Romania, and I expect to express my appreciation directly to the President and the Prime Minister a little bit later on this morning.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, I think it's been about forty-eight hours since the meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon in which President Bush called upon Yasser Arafat to do more than just make a hundred percent effort, but to show a hundred percent results. There was much more, shall we say, edge to what the President was demanding. Are you satisfied with the actions thus far of Arafat?
And also, you're about to meet with Shimon Peres. How concerned are you that the Israeli government is not really speaking with one voice, and that the Foreign Minister has raised quite a bit of concern over the declaration of what he sees to be a declaration of war against the Palestinian Authority? Thank you.
SECRETARY POWELL: I think Chairman Arafat can do more. I think we have not yet seen one hundred percent effort. I don't know that I can say we would expect to see one hundred percent results, but I think we could expect to see a lot more of a result than we have seen so far. So I think the Chairman can do more.
When I spoke to him on Saturday night, I encouraged him to do more. I reminded him that this assault was not only an assault against innocent Israeli citizens, it was an assault against his authority because he was prepared to work with General Zinni in getting to a ceasefire. When this kind of an action took place in Jerusalem and Haifa, these two horrible bombings, it was an assault against his commitment to work with General Zinni in getting a ceasefire. It was also an assault against the effort of the international community to work toward the ceasefire. So I made it clear to the Chairman that he had to respond to the seriousness of this attack against Israel and against him and against the process we're trying to get started. I think he needs to do a lot more than we have seen so far.
With respect to Shimon Peres and his role within the Israeli government, I'm sure we'll have a chance to chat about that in a little while. But it's a democratic government with a coalition government with a coalition administration, and I'm sure there will be differences of opinion in such a coalition. It shows the strength of the Israeli democratic system, and I'm sure he and I will have a chance to talk about it in a few moments.