USIS Washington File

17 December 1999

Transcript: Albright, Ivanov Remarks Before Bilateral in Berlin

(Albright: Chechnya, Kosovo "two very different kinds of problems")

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov spoke briefly with reporters before their
bilateral meeting on the margin of the G-8 ministerial in Berlin
December 17.

Asked about the situation in Chechnya, Ivanov said Russia is not
trying to avoid a dialogue on the issue, but is listening to the
opinions of its partners, and that the recent visit to the area by the
Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe, Knut Vollebaek, "is a testimony to such an attitude."

Albright emphasized that there is no comparison between the situation
in Chechnya and the situation in Kosovo. "These are two very different
kinds of problems," she said.

Following is the transcript of the press availability:

(begin transcript)


U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman 
(Berlin, Germany)
December 17, 1999

QUESTION: (In Russian -- not translated)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me first of all say that we have all along
said that the ABM Treaty is the keystone of the disarmament structure
that we have had and we have valued having that treaty. We, however,
believe that the situation has changed in terms of threat and while
the United States has made no decision as yet on national missile
defense, we believe that if such a system is put into place, that
because of the new threats, it may be necessary to have changes in the
ABM Treaty. The ABM Treaty has been changed before and nothing,
however, changes our basic belief in the centrality of the ABM Treaty.

QUESTION: You have heard a lot of verbal criticism from the rest of
the G-8 today. Is it going to make a single bit of difference to any
action Russia and its military take in Chechnya?

MINISTER IVANOV: Today we had a detailed exchange of views on the
situation in the northern Caucasus, including taking into account the
report made by Minister Vollebaek who has just returned from the

My G-8 colleagues made their views known regarding the ways and means
of settlement in the region. We are not talking here about criticism
of one party by other parties. The situation is complicated and there
are no simple solutions to it. We are attentive and are listening to
the opinions of our partners and a trip organized for Minister
Vollebaek to visit four republics of the northern Caucasus is a
testimony to such an attitude. At the same time, we have our own point
of view on this issue. On some questions our opinions coincide, on
some they diverge, but what is important in this connection is that it
was stated that such differences should not lead to our, shall we say,
growing further apart from each other. We shall continue an active
dialogue. We are not trying to avoid such a dialogue.

QUESTION: -- were saying that you are increasingly isolated and feel
this isolation. Is that true or is this wishful thinking on their

MINISTER IVANOV: I have never felt isolated amongst my colleagues in
the G-8. A person who avoids meetings, contacts, dialogue may feel
isolated. This is not the first issue that we discussed within the

QUESTION: (In Russian -- not translated)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: (inaudible)... we are certainly capable of dealing
with more than one issue at the same time. This is what we do for a
living, and I think that the Chechnya issue is obviously very serious
and the Foreign Minister and I will be talking about that because I do
think that Russia is -- whether the Foreign Minister feels personally
isolated, he is not, because we all respect him a great deal -- but I
think there are questions about how Russia is dealing with this
serious problem which is creating problems generally, I think, for
Russia's relationship with the other major powers.

I do believe, to answer your question more specifically, that we can
deal with Kosovo, we are dealing with Kosovo. There are improvements
there. The provisional government in Kosovo has been dissolved and
they are now a part of an administrative council. There is movement
forward on the legal structure. We want to see additional action by
UNMIK, to do its job. We talked today within the G-8 about making sure
that additional funds go to managing the Kosovo issue. So there is no
reason why we can't handle two very important issues.

Let me say one last thing. There is not a comparison between Kosovo
and Chechnya. These are two very different kinds of problems.

Thank you.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State.)