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Thank you, Bud [Karmin]. And thanks to all of you for the chance to be here today. I have been to many of these events over the years, and I am glad to return for the first time in an official capacity. I do so to discuss with you the American effort to bring peace to the former Yugoslavia. Let me begin with an update on the Dayton talks.
I was out there on Monday to meet with Dick Holbrooke's team, with Carl Bildt and the Contact Group, and with the leaders of the parties to the conflict. Most of the draft documents that comprise the overall peace agreement are now in the hands of the parties. Those include detailed constitutional and territorial proposals for a future Bosnian state, a separation-of-forces agreement, a plan for national elections, and an agreement on the return of refugees. There are, every day, numerous, intensive meetings on virtually every aspect of the prospective settlement. President Tudjman returned to Dayton last night. We hope to use his presence to make some progress on the problem of Eastern Slavonia. Secretary Christopher will be going to Dayton tomorrow to provide further high-level support for the process.
That's it. The lid is back on until about this time tomorrow, when you can tune in with Nick Burns for your next glimpse into what we're trying, for solid diplomatic reasons, to keep as tightly under wraps as possible.
What I'd like to do now is step back and look at the larger question of what's at stake in Dayton. That means having a clear sense of the consequences for our country and for the world if the talks were to fail and the Balkans were to be plunged back into war. Then I'd like to look ahead to the challenge we will face if the Dayton talks succeed.
Many of you have pointed out that the Administration has a tough job of persuasion here on the home front - up on the Hill but beyond the Beltway as well. We know it. It's not self-evident to the American people why a conflict nearly 5,000 miles from here matters enough to justify a heavy investment of our treasure, prestige, and military resources.
So let me start right there. Bosnia matters to Americans because Europe matters to America. War in Bosnia threatens the peace of Europe - particularly, though not exclusively, those parts of Europe that are emerging from Soviet-era dictatorships. And that means it threatens the transatlantic community of which we are a part - and of which we are a leader.
The conflict in the Balkans is a direct consequence of the end of the Cold War. During that nearly half-century-long struggle, we were concerned about the spread of communist order. Now that the Cold War is over, we face a very different threat: the spread of post-communist disorder.
That danger exists in part because of where the former Yugoslavia is. …