Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Chancellor Franz Vranitzky of Austria
Q. Mr. President, are the allies on board now for your new Bosnia policy—strategy?
The President. Well, I've talked to President Yeltsin and President Mitterrand today, and Prime Minister Chretien. And I have not talked to Chancellor Kohl or to Prime Minister Major today. I haven't been able to get them, but I talked to them in the last couple of days. And I'll have more to—they were all good conversations and I'll—as you know, I'm going to make a statement after I meet with Chancellor Vranitzky.
Q. Minister Kozyrev said that they are dead set against air strikes. Does that set you back in initiating the policy?
The President. I read his statement; I didn't quite read it that way. But I had a conversation with President Yeltsin, and I will report it when I go out and make my statement. I'll tell you what he said.
Q. One hundred and seven people have been injured in the last 24 hours in Gorazde. We understand 38 are dead. Do you think that this new policy will help ameliorate the situation? Will the Serbs now take heed?
The President. We'll see. I'm going to make a statement and answer questions about it.
Q. Did you get a chance to talk to President Nixon's family?
The President. No, I talked to—actually, I talked to Billy Graham right after—he was on his way to the hospital right after he had his stroke. And I had—as soon as all this is over, I'm going to attempt to get in touch with one of his daughters at the hospital. I've been getting reports every hour or so for the last couple of days.
Q. How is he doing now? Is he——
The President. I think that's for them to say.
[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group entered.]
Q. Mr. President, what should Austria do concerning Bosnia?
The President. Excuse me?
Q. What should Austria do concerning the Bosnian crisis?
The President. Of course, that's partly for Austria to decide. But I think that all of us should be working toward doing whatever can be done to stop the aggression of the Serbs and to restore a diplomatic initiative that will actually work. It should be clear to everyone that this issue is not going to be solved ultimately on the battlefield. And the best thing that's happened in months and months was the agreement between the Croatians and the Muslims, freely entered into, dealing with a lot of the very difficult issues between them. And I believe the same thing could be done with the Serbs, unless they believe that they can continue through aggression to win the territory. And their actions now are inconsistent with offers they themselves have put on the negotiating table just in the last month or two.
So we're going to do what we can to exert whatever pressure and to take whatever initiatives we can to restore a climate in which a decent and honorable agreement can be reached. And I hope that that would be the same policy that Austria would have.
Q. Mr. President, do the Russians agree with the United Nations position and the position of the NATO, the current one?
The President. Well, I think we have—there is a broad agreement on objectives. I had a good talk with President Yeltsin, but I believe, frankly, we have to wait and get the details all written out, you know, so that we see whether we're in complete accord. I'm hoping that we will be. I felt very good about the telephone conversation I had with President Yeltsin.
I think—they're also very upset with the Serbs. They feel that they had a clear commitment to back out of Gorazde, not to endanger the U.N. forces there. And yesterday President Yeltsin made a very good statement about saying the Serbs should withdraw from Gorazde to a certain distance and that the U.N. forces should go back in. And my own view is that we have a chance to have a common policy.
NOTE: The exchange began at 4:42 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, French President Francois Mitterrand, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and evangelist Billy Graham. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Chancellor Franz Vranitzky of Austria Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219087