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Secretary Rumsfeld and Moldovan Minister of Defense Press Availability

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 26, 2004

2nd Brigade Headquarters Chisinau, Moldova


             SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. It is a pleasure for me to be here and to have my associates be able to visit your country, to meet your President and to visit on a number of important issues. This is certainly an important time in history. Freedom and democracy are gaining ground around the world; tyranny is being turned back in countries where it has dominated for decades. Institutions of freedom like NATO and the EU are expanding. That is a good thing. As a people that regained their independence relatively recently, Moldovans understand the importance of what's now happening in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm pleased to be here and to be able to personally thank the people of Moldova for their support in the global war on terror, and particularly for the role being played in the stabilization of Iraq. The first contingent of Moldovan soldiers who served in Iraq represented your country very well, Mr. Minister, both with respect to their impressive de-mining expertise as well as the humanitarian assistance operations. And we're so pleased that the second group of Moldovan soldiers is scheduled to leave for Iraq shortly. The United States certainly remains committed to a peaceful political settlement of the Transnistrian conflict and a reintegrated, sovereign Moldova. So to the troops here, thank you for being here, thank you for the honor and thank you for your service, and let's get you out of the rain. Thank you, sir.


            Q:  Mr. Secretary, I was wondering if the United States might be willing to take part in a new five-part group to help mediate the situation as the President has suggested. The President has suggested the United States take part in new five-part member mediation group and I was wondering if you would be willing to do that?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Needless to say the United States, as the Government of Moldova, has an interest in a peaceful resolution and has found various proposals interesting and certainly worth looking at. And certainly the obligations that were undertaken at Istanbul some five years ago need to be fulfilled.


            Q:  Are there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and will Washington insist at Istanbul that Russia must withdraw its troops from Georgia and Moldova?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: With respect to the first question, the so-called Iraqi Survey Group, which is a multi-national group, are pouring over documentation and interviewing former Iraqi scientists. The first head of that group, Mr. David Kay, concluded, as has his successor, Mr. Delfer, that in fact Iraq had filed a fraudulent declaration to the United Nations. The process of uncovering chemical or biological or nuclear program materials is continuing and within the last week a number of weapons containing various types of chemicals have in fact been found and are currently being tested. The last piece that I saw suggested it was mustard gas. And although it's a first report, it appeared to be old and something that had not been declared as the declaration to the United Nations required. Time will tell what else might be found.


            With respect to the second question, the countries of NATO and the participants at OSCE do believe that the commitments made at Istanbul some 5 years ago should in fact be fulfilled.


            Q:  Mr. Secretary, do you think the participants at the Istanbul summit of NATO that will start next week will insist on ratifying the adapted CFE treaty only after the withdrawal of Russian troops and munitions from Transnistria, the western region of Moldova?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: That has been the position and to my knowledge it remains the position of all of those countries that they will require that the Russians fulfill their obligations with respect to the removal of troops and weapons.


            Q:  Mr. Defense Secretary, it is said Russia has demanded 700 million dollars for removing its military bases from Georgia. Did they demand a certain amount for withdrawing the military base from Transnistria as well?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: I have not heard of it.


            Q:  Sir, after mentioning two organizations, which are very important for the regional security for this part of the world, that is NATO and the European Union. Is it possible for a country to member of the European Union without being a NATO member?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, there are members of the European Union that are not members of NATO and vice versa.


            Q:  Mr. Secretary, in the wake of the violence we saw earlier this week in Iraq, Sir Jeremy Greenstock said, quote: "There's never going to be a Western-style democracy in Iraq, the worst-case scenario is an implosion of Iraqi security and society down to levels lower than a nation-state, perhaps back to the medieval picture of local baronies." How do you account for such pessimism on the part of an ally who's very familiar, who's been a lot of times in Iraq and what do you think we are looking at as we head towards the transition?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: At my increasingly advanced age, I have learned not to directly answer a question that quotes somebody where I've not seen the context of his full statement. Now, not for a second do I think you in any way misquoted him, you understand that. However, I have myself said things like the following: Iraq will have an Iraqi solution. It won't look like the UK and it won't look like the US and it won't even look like Afghanistan. It'll be an Iraqi solution. And that's not a bad thing, that's a good thing. The United State didn't arrive where it is today in five minutes. It's taken centuries. I've also said that the alternatives to a single country at peace with its neighbors and respectful of its various religious of ethnic groups is the goal. And there are people who don't want to achieve that goal, who want to defeat that goal. And the alternatives are obvious. They include civil war, ethnic cleansing as has been seen in that part of the world previously, anarchy, excessive influence by neighbors and a return to a vicious dictator, such as another Saddam Hussein-type who would fill up the killing fields with mass graves and cut off people's hands and chop off people's heads. No one of those alternatives to a some sort of a representative system that protects the rights of the Iraqi people, no one of those alternative is a happy one or a pretty picture - they are ugly. So those who look at the situation today and say "my goodness: it's violent, it's not perfect, it's difficult" are certainly correct. And it's tough. But it's also correct that they've made enormous progress, that they are developing their security capability, that the new government is taking hold, that the people who are opposing a successful Iraq are relatively small handful compared to the millions and millions or people who are trying to achieve a new liberated Iraq.


            Q:  Mr. Secretary, what is the US military interest in Moldova and how can it be reconciled with the military interest of other states, especially that of Russia? And secondly, exactly what will change in Moldova-US relationships after your visit?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: The US military interest in Moldova...we don't have a military interest as such. We are a member of NATO, we're very strong supporters of Partnership for Peace, we are pleased that Moldova is engaged in the Partnership for Peace program, we value our bilateral relationships in the sense that Moldova is participating in Iraq and cooperating in the global war on terror and we appreciate that and I am happy to be able to express that appreciation.


            Thank you very much.

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