US White House: Clinton and Simitis Remarks at Photo Op. (96-04-09)
THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM
April 9, 1996
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON AND PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS AT PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 9, 1996
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON
AND PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS
AT PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
12:12 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say, it's a great honor for
me to welcome Prime Minister Simitis here, along with his party.
Greece has been a long and strong ally of the United States, and I'm
looking forward to discussing a number of issues, including how we
can be helpful in resolving some of the difficulties in the Aegean.
Let me say, first of all, that I think all these issues
should be resolved without the use of force or the threat of force,
with both parties agreeing to abide by international agreements and
with a mutual respect for territorial integrity. With regard to the
Imia question, the United States has already said we believe it
should be submitted to the International Court of Justice or some
other international arbitration forum.
I also want to thank Greece for its leadership in trying
to resolve the problems in the future of the Balkans in a positive
way. Greece is participating in IFOR and is working with the
challenges presented in Albania, the former Yugoslav republic of
Macedonia, in a number of other ways.
And, finally, I hope we have a chance to talk about
Cyprus a little bit. This has been an area of intense interest for
me since I became President, and I hope that we can do more in that
area to help that situation to be resolved.
Q Mr. President, are you concerned about the
investigation of Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia during the war?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: No.
Q Did you allow it to happen?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Our record on that is clear. Mr.
Lake has talked about it. There was absolutely nothing improper
Q You know, Bob Dole supported lifting the arms
embargo and now he is talking about possible investigation of the
flow of arms. What do you think is going on there, Mr. President?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: He also took the position that we
had the right to unilaterally lift it.
Q What do you think his motives are, though?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: You all can comment on what is going
on. I'm just going to try to do my job.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Hello. Is everyone in? Let me say,
first of all, it's a great honor for me, on behalf of the United
States, to welcome Prime Minister Simitis here. I have already had
the opportunity to thank him for the wonderful welcome that my wife
and daughter received from the government and from the people of
Greece recently. We have a number of things to discuss. I hope the
United States can be helpful in resolving some of the problems in the
At the outset, let me say, we believe that all these
issues should be solved without the use of force, without the threat
of force, with everyone agreeing to abide by international agreements
and to respect the territorial integrity of other countries.
With regard to the Imia situation, the United States has
long said that we favor the resolution by referring the matter to the
International Court of Justice or some other international
arbitration panel, and we feel very strongly that these things have
to be resolved.
I want to have an opportunity to thank the Prime
Minister for the leadership that Greece has shown in resolving
problems in the Balkans, involving Albania, the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, and participating in IFOR in Bosnia. And I
think that the future of the Balkans as a secure and peaceful and,
hopefully, more democratic place requires the leadership of Greece.
And so I'm looking forward to that.
And finally, I hope we have a chance to talk a little
bit about Cyprus. Cyprus has been an area of special interest to me
since I became President. I spent an awful lot of personal time on
it, and we intend to explore this year whether there is something
else we can do to help resolve that matter, because I believe that if
that could be resolved, then that would open the way for a whole new
future for the region and great new possibilities for all of its
Q Mr. President, can you tell us what role the U.S.
would play in Greek-Turkish relations, and what is the U.S. position
on the sovereignty issue of the Imia islet?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I just said, I think it ought
to be decided by the International Court of Justice. I think the
United States -- since we have been -- this is a delicate thing. We
hardly have had a longer and stronger ally than Greece in the United
States, and we have had -- we obviously have worked with the Turks
and have had good relationships with them. And the differences
between Greece and Turkey are a source of great concern to us.
But we believe they can be worked out if there is
adherence to international agreements, nobody uses force or threatens
to use force, and there is a genuine respect for territorial
integrity, and an understanding that if you look -- if you try to
imagine what the future will look like 10, 15, 20 years from now, and
what the probable challenges to the freedom and the prosperity of the
people of Greece are, and the people of the United States, from
around the world, obviously, that future would be much more secure if
the differences between Greece and Turkey could be resolved.
Q -- and what did he say?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I said the same thing to him I'm
saying to you. I find in this world, you know, since we have a
global press, you have to say the same thing to everyone.
(Laughter.) So I said exactly the same thing to him I said to you.
Q Do you see a specific role of Greece in the
PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS: Can I say a few words?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Sure, it's your press.
PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS: It's very important for us to
be here and to discuss matters of common interest with President
Clinton. Greece aims on the one hand to improve the bilateral
relations with the United States; on the other hand, we want to
promote stability, peace, and prosperity in our part of the world,
the European Union, the Balkans, and the Eastern Mediterranean. In
order to achieve these targets, we want to discuss matters as
European integration, cooperation with Balkan countries, our
relations with our neighbors in Turkey, and the Cyprus issue.
As far as the relations with our neighbors are
concerned, we think that certain principles must be applied. The
first principle is that no one can use force or use the threat of
force. The international treaties and international law must be
applied. And finally, the resolution of disputes must be realized
with the help of the International Court of Justice.
I hope that with these discussions, and I'm sure --
there will be progress in these matters and we will have in this part
of the world a new development that is positive for stability and
Q Sir, is there a specific initiative that you will
undertake to de-escalate tension?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I have already told you what my
position is. I want to have a chance to meet with the Prime
Minister, and we will be talking more later.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
12:21 P.M. EDT