Bush: ‘What exactly did I say?… I said, deadline?’
Posted by bosskitty on June 10, 2007
Thanks to Mark Silva of The Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau The Swamp
TIRANA, Albania – President Bush, making an historic and effusively praised appearance today in this former communist nation where no sitting American president has been seen before, pledged commitment to Albania’s admission to the expanding North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
But Bush appeared less certain here about his own stated commitment to the independence of neighboring Kosovo, with the president insisting that he will push for international agreement on Kosovo’s freedom from Serbia – yet questioning whether he himself had actually called for a deadline.
Asked today about a deadline which he had discussed just the day before in Italy, Bush, speaking Sunday at a joint press conference with the Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, replied that he hadn’t used the term, ‘deadline.’
“A couple of points on that,” Bush said today. “First of all, I don’t think I called for a deadline…”
Yes, he had, the inquiring reporter reminded the president.
“What exactly did I say?” Bush said. Deadline, the reporter replied.
“I said, ‘deadline?” Bush said. “Okay, yes, then I meant what I said,” Bush said with a smile, and then laughing as he eyed reporters at the assembly in the sun-broiled courtyard of the Council of Ministers here.
“There just cannot be continued drift, because I’m worried about expectations not being met in Kosovo,” Bush said. “That’s what I meant. And, therefore, we’ll push the process.”
At a press conference 21 hours before with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Rome, Bush had been asked about a deadline for securing independence for Kosovo.
“In terms of the deadline, there needs to be one,” Bush had said Saturday. “This needs to come — this needs to happen. Now it’s time, in our judgment, to move the (special U.N. envoy for Kosovo’s) plan. There’s been a series of delays… Our view is that time is up.”
Had he been sampling their beer?
With a campaign-style appeal to the Albanian public, Bush lunged into a crowd in a public square in the nearby village of Fusche Kruje, where people kissed him, embraced him, grabbed the back of his head and cheered as the president, wearing shirtsleeves rolled up, worked the crowd that had turned out on a hot and sunny Sunday. Albania had commissioned a commemorative postage stamp with Bush’s face on it.
Don’t think he could have pulled this stunt in Germany or Italy …
The prime minister pledged that his nation will offer whatever “modest and resolute” support it can in the war against terrorism.
But Bush offered little tangible hope of progress on an issue of great importance to his Albanian ally, the liberation of Kosovo from Serbia – whose people are largely ethnic Albanians. Asked what will happen if the U.N. plan is not accepted, Bush said leaders may need to seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution.
Russia remains the most significant opponent to Kosovo independence, and the final statement of the Group of Eight nations which met in Germany last week reflects this division. Russia is a member of the G-8, whose final communiqué on Kosovo from Heiligendamm stated: “While there continue to be different views on substance and on the way forward, we will remain engaged on the issue.”
While still part of Serbia, Kosovo remains an international protectorate of the United Nations, … NATO has 17,000 troops there now, including 1,700 U.S. troops, mostly National Guard.
“What’s important is for the people of Kosovo to know that the United States and Albania strongly supports independence, as did most of the people in the G-8,” Bush said.
Asked how he will pursue this, Bush said: “What you do is you get your diplomats working with Russian diplomats, as well as EU diplomats, to see if there is not common ground… And if you end up being in a position where you don’t, at some point in time, sooner rather than later, you’ve got to say enough is enough, Kosovo is independent.
“But if it’s apparent that that’s not going to happen in a relatively quick period of time, in my judgment, we need to put forward the (U.N.) resolution,” Bush said, with a closing smile for the press: “Hence, deadline.”
Where was script and teleprompter? What kind of reassurance was that by someone adorning a new Albanian stamp in a language he can’t read?
I know it’s hard to keep track of all your promises, can you imagine how hard it is to keep track of all your lies?