Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Levon Ter-Petrosyan of Armenia
Q. Mr. President, on the crime bill, the Republicans have written a letter to you asking for a last-minute compromise to eliminate the money for crime prevention and then they would go ahead with the 100,000 new police officers. Is it too late to do anything like that? Are you inclined to go ahead with the compromise?
President Clinton. Republicans in the House or the Senate?
Q. In the House.
President Clinton. Well, the House voted a great amount of money for crime prevention, and all of the law enforcement groups asked for it. The people who are out there on the front lines of law enforcement want to give these kids something to say yes to as well as something to say no to. We provide tougher penalties, more money for jails. Surely we can also provide some money in these areas that have been devastated economically, devastated by the breakdown of family and community, to give these kids a future.
And somebody's always got a reason not to do this. As Leon said earlier today, there's something wrong when the Congress takes 6 years to pass a crime bill and the average violent criminal is out of prison in 4 years. We have debated all this. Let's vote on it, vote the bill, and not take any more time getting it implemented.
Q. What are you telling House Members in your phone calls to them, sir? And do you think you've got it nailed down? Do you think you have the vote nailed down tomorrow?
President Clinton. I don't know; we're working hard. You know, we've got the NRA against us, and we've got a lot of other issues out there.
But we're doing our best to win. And the American people are with us. The future of the country clearly would be better if we passed this crime bill.
Q. Mr. President, how do you feel about— [inaudible]—Russian peacekeeping troops in Nagorno-Karabakh——
President Clinton. It depends on what they want. If the parties agree to it, and there were clear CSCE safeguards so that we had the right sort of oversight in the process, and the parties agreed to it, then the United States would not object.
Q. What do you think about that, President Ter-Petrosyan? Would you favor Russian peacekeeping troops in Nagorno-Karabakh?
President Ter-Petrosyan. We are interested in the soonest establishment of peace. And I think that the most important in this issue is the establishment of peace itself and not who will do that.
[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group entered.]
Q. Are you happy with the Russian role as mediators in Nagorno-Karabakh? Are you happy with the American role, or anything you would like to be changed?
President Clinton. Well, what I'm happy about is that the parties have agreed to a cease-fire and they're talking directly. And if they agree among themselves to a peace arrangement, if it involves the Russians, if it involves the CSCE, the United States would be inclined to support the ultimate agreement if the parties agree. What we want is to have a peace, and we want to then help to rebuild Armenia and to support the development of the entire area.
Aid to Armenia
Q. President Clinton, will you be continuing humanitarian aid to Armenia?
President Clinton. Yes, the United States will have a very significant aid package this year.
NOTE: The exchange began at 5:45 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Levon Ter-Petrosyan of Armenia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/217968