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Remarks on Bosnia and an Exchange With Reporters in Manchester, New Hampshire

May 22, 1993

The President. First of all, I'm very pleased by the agreement that has been reached by Secretary Christopher and the foreign ministers from Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain. I think it puts us back together with a common policy. I think that is a very good thing. I think it does some important work in confining the conflict to Bosnia so it doesn't spread into Macedonia and Kosovo or other places. I think that it takes a step toward ending the ethnic cleansing and slaughter by staking out the safe havens without doing what I was opposed to, which is basically agreeing that those folks were going to be in camps there. In other words, we're still pushing for a political settlement that has reasonable land for the Bosnian Muslims. So I think it's a real step forward. I think it has a chance to do some good. I'm glad we're working together again, and I applaud all the foreign ministers for this work.

Q. You were a little skeptical yesterday after the meeting with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. Has something happened in the last 24 hours?

The President. Well, what happened was two things. Number one, the safe havens were defined in a way that was clearly designed to end the slaughter, provide safety and humanitarian aid. And number two, they're willing to use the safe havens to build on, that is to build a reasonable territorial settlement instead of just confining folks to camps forever. And finally, they also agree explicitly to leave stronger measures on the table if these fail. So I feel much better about the position than I did yesterday. I applaud Mr. Kozyrev. He's done a lot of work on this. And I will say this: President Yeltsin said to me that after the elections and after they began work on their own constitutional reform, that Russia would come back in and be a full partner in this. And he has kept his word. So we've worked together, and I feel good about it.

Q. [Inaudible]—the risk of the United States forces being drawn into a Vietnam-type quagmire that you're concerned about?

The President. No, it actually decreases that risk. You can see from the statement where we are on this. We have reaffirmed our previous agreement to protect the forces that are there working for the United Nations if they are attacked. We have said explicitly that we would talk to the government in Macedonia about the United Nations strengthening its presence there and about whether it would be advisable for us to have a small force there. We are clearly not going to get involved there either unilaterally or multilaterally in the conflict on one of the sides of one of the combatants in a civil war. That's what happened to us in those other places. So the American people should be reassured that we have limited the possibility of quagmire and strengthened the possibility of ending the ethnic cleansing and the possibility of limiting the conflict. I think this is a significant step. And we're back in harness again, which is where we ought to be. We're all working together. I'm encouraged by it.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:25 p.m. at the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Bosnia and an Exchange With Reporters in Manchester, New Hampshire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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