Background Briefing on President of the United States Meeting with Croatia President and Prime Minister
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                            August 9, 2000

                         PRESS BACKGROUND BRIEFING

                     The James S. Brady Briefing Room

6:35 P.M. EDT

     MR. CROWLEY:  Okay.  This evening the President had a meeting with two
new leaders from the Republic of Croatia, President Stjepan Mesic and Prime
Minister Ivica Racan.  Here to give you a read out of that meeting, that
lasted about 45 minutes, is a Senior Administration Official who works our
policy in the Balkan area; so we'll use our Senior Administration Official.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank yo.  As you know, over the last
six months the President and the Prime Minister of Croatia, within a
coalition of six parties, have taken that country and have moved it at a
breathtaking pace away from the authoritarianism of the Tudjman era and
towards democracy and towards Europe.

     And this meeting took place very much in the context of this
remarkable development within Croatia.  And the President began by very
much welcoming this as a very positive event in the relationship between
the United States and Croatia.  He specifically welcomed the new direction
that the new government is taking Croatia, moving the country to Europe,
moving the country towards NATO.

     And he told the Prime Minister and the President that Croatia's
success will help its own people and will also benefit the region.

     Some of the specific points that the President made:  he praised the
democratic reforms they have put in place over the last six months, while
also encouraging them to continue implementing the tough, but necessary,
economic reforms.

     He applauded the new constructive role that Croatia is taking in the
region, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the government has been
urging the Croat minority to participate fully in implementation of the
Dayton peace agreement.  He applauded Croatian support for President
Djukanovic with Montenegro, and also their support for bringing democracy
into Serbia.

     As a show of confidence to the new government, the President announced
-- he informed the Prime Minister and President of three packages of
assistance.  First, $21 million in assistance from the recent supplemental
approved by Congress.  Secondly, $4.5 million to reconstruct houses for
refugee returns.  And, third, $4 million for foreign military financing,
now that Croatia is a member of the Partnership For Peace.

     The $4.5 million for reconstructing housing, in a way, is perhaps the
most significant, because Croatia has been allowing and encouraging Serbs
who were evicted from Croatia to come back.  And one of the great
constraints in doing that is the availability of housing.  So we will help
Croatia provide the housing for those returns to take place.

     Some of the key points that were made by President Mesic and Prime
Minister Racan:  first, they talked about their goals of achieving economic
reform and encouraging additional investment in their country.  They talked
about their desire to move closer to Europe, to move closer to NATO, to
achieve compatibility with NATO armed forces.  They talked about their
desire for democracy in Serbia, and for Serbia to take its rightful place
within Europe.  They talked about their efforts to return minority Serbs to

     If I might sort of add an editorial comment that perhaps puts this
visit in context.  There are many elections that are going to take place
this fall in southeast Europe.  Of those elections, one is taking place in
a place where there is a fledgling democracy, and that's Bosnia.  One is
taking place where the international community is trying to build
democracy, and that's Kosovo.  And a third is taking place in a -- where
democratic forces are under attack from the regime, and that's Serbia.

     And I think from our perspective the breathtaking developments in
Croatia should give hope to people who are participating in each one of
these elections.  Because what it shows is that it shows that if popular
will defeats authoritarianism and hard-line nationalism, the road to
Europe, the road to prosperity and the road to peaceful democracy is open.

     I'll take any questions.

     Q    After the $4.5 million, did you say, was it $4 million?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It's $4 million for foreign military

     Q    And can you explain what that would go for?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  You'd have to go to DOD for
specifics.  There are a number of things that the Croatians want to do with
the military forces.  The Department of Defense has sent a defense
assessment team to Croatia to look at how best it can restructure and
modernize its armed forces.  And that money will be committed in the
context of not only the restructuring, but also training and so forth to
really implement Croatia's entry into Partnership For Peace.

     Q    And the $21 million was for what, again?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  $21 million is additional seed money,
which is also largely for reconstruction.  But it's also for things like
small and medium business development, democratization efforts, development
of civil society.

     Q    I'm wondering if you could be a little more precise about the
talks on NATO and if the President has entertained the idea of a quicker
membership to NATO?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That wasn't discussed.  I mean, what
the Croatia President and Prime Minister talked about is their being
pleased that U.S. had supported Croatia's entry into Partnership For Peace
and their desire for additional compatibility to work close with NATO.

     Q    Did the President ask them about Milosevic, specifically, on what
they thought about him and how best to try and help the democracy forces

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  They talked about Milosevic, they
talked about the political opposition within Serbia.  The President and the
Prime Minister both made the point that Croatia had the vital interest in
democratic neighbors, including a democratic Serbia.  And they talked about
what efforts Croatia has been making to help develop civil society within
Serbia, for example, working with NGOs.

     I think another important point that the Prime Minister made was that,
sort of based upon the experience of Croatia, it was important for the
political opposition within Serbia not just to be an anti-Milosevic force,
but to do what their coalition did during the Croatian elections, and
that's to project a different image for the country, an image which is one
of cooperation with the international community, which is one of
integration into Europe and which is one of cooperation with neighboring

     Q    Was he saying they were actually doing that?  Or they weren't

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  They were saying that's what their
view of the political opposition needs to put forward a platform like that.

     Q    What is Croatia, if anything, doing to sort of help prop up the
opposition movement in Serbia?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Croatia has been active in working
with, first, in hosting meetings of political opposition when they've tried
to come together in terms of developing common platforms.  They've been
working to develop NGOs and so forth.  They will participate, probably, in
helping to make sure there are international monitors for the elections.

     I think the most important thing Croatia has done, though, quite
frankly, is serve as a model, serve as an example of the course that Serbia
could take if the popular will of the people is listened to and if you have
democratic reform within Serbia.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  If I might -- the two individuals are
different parties, and they've built a coalition of six different parties
as a way of uniting them.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And there is a model there.  They
both are from different parties.  Their coalition is the six parties.  They
were able to come together around this new image of Croatia, which was one
of cooperation, which offered a very different type of image than,
obviously, President Tudjman had before.

     Q    You said that the first financial package that would be offered
to Croatia was $21 million?  Is that correct?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes.  Actually, we have substantially
increased assistance since the new government has come in.  This was
announcing a different -- an additional increment of assistance that comes
out of the supplemental that was just passed by Congress.

     Q    What will be the use for that package?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That's the package I mentioned before
of largely seed money, which will go for some reconstruction, a lot of
small and medium business development, democratization and civil society

     Q    The $4.5 million and $4 million each, do they have to be approved
by Congress, or is this money that has already been approved in last year's

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  This is money that's already

     Q    Did the President express any views about the planned EU summit
in Zagreb?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, he didn't.  That was mentioned,
the fact that this EU summit was going to take place.  The President
listened with interest to it, but didn't comment on it.

     Q    Thanks.

                           END                  6:45 P.M. EDT

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