|Updated: 7 May 1999||Morning Briefings|
7 May 1999
By Jamie Shea, NATO Spokesman
The weather last night was a factor, both the total number of sorties and the percentage of strike sorties were down from the intensified levels that we achieved earlier this week. At the same time, though, NATO aircraft continued to pressure the Serb forces operating on the ground in Kosovo on what was Day 44 of operation Allied Force. The Serb forces remained largely pinned down by NATO's round-the-clock operations and they were not able to conduct any significant ground operations as a result.
On this Day 44, NATO's attacks were directed at tanks, artillery positions, border posts and anti-aircraft gun positions. Strategic targets included the petroleum storage sites at Brohovo (phon), Nis and Parane, the Horgus (phon) bridge in eastern Serbia, the ordnance repair facility in Cacak an ammunition storage site in Surdulica and airfields at Seneca, Ponikive and Nis. These strikes have reduced the Yugoslav's military capability to re-supply its forces and of course, as always, its overall military capability - such is our intention - and I am happy to report once again that all NATO aircraft returned safely to their bases.
As the Pentagon announced yesterday evening, air refuelling tankers are arriving now in Budapest, Hungary and we are grateful for the solidarity that our newest ally, Hungary, is showing in accepting to base these aircraft and thereby participating in our overall effort.
You also saw yesterday the very important announcement from the United States that a very large number of additional aircraft will soon be arriving to enable us to intensify still further our operations. Many of those are strike aircraft but a large number will be tanker aircraft which will further enhance our ability to conduct 24-hour round-the-clock operations. President Milosevic will see from this new dispatch of aircraft that not only is NATO resolved but that he is also being encircled militarily and giving NATO, as I said, a 7-days-a-week 24-hour-a-day capability.
In just a few moments, the North Atlantic Council will hold its regular morning meeting. What's on the agenda today? I anticipate that they will review of course the current state of NATO's air campaign and humanitarian operations, they will hear a report on the military situation from the new Chairman of the Military Committee, Admiral Bencheroni (phon), who will be attending in his new capacity for the first time and Germany, as the Chair of the G8 meeting yesterday in Bonn, will highlight for the NAC the conclusions of that ministerial meeting.
As you know, we have responded positively and very much welcomed the results of the G8, we believe it sends a strong signal to President Milosevic that the road he is on is now truly a dead end. Milosevic's strategy has always been based on the presumption that the will of NATO and that of the international community would break but he knows now that NATO's resolve is rock solid and the understanding in the G8 yesterday, including with Russia which is very important, now points the way forward. We are very pleased that NATO's five key conditions are clearly reflected in the principles set forth yesterday by the G8 in Bonn and this now gives Milosevic a clearer than ever choice: either he can accept the demands which are shared now increasingly by the international community or continue to lose what he values most which is his grip on power and the military apparatus which props him up and allows him to sustain that power.
On another note, let me tell you that today the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has accepted a request by Russia for an inspection of forces there under the terms of the 1994 Vienna Document. You know that that is a document providing for confidence- and security-building measures among the military forces of the participating states in Europe.
This inspection today is principally a matter for the government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia but I want to stress that NATO will co-operate fully. The inspection will commence early this afternoon and will last about 48 hours. What the inspectors will see is more than 13,000 NATO forces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which are currently helping the government there and the humanitarian relief organisations to cope with the roughly 200,000 refugees that are currently in that country having been expelled from their homes in Kosovo and NATO forces, even while they prepare of course for their mission in implementing a peace in Kosovo, continue to do a great deal of work helping to expand relief camps at the moment and transporting supplies to those camps and off-loading aircraft coming in at Skopje airport.
A final thing to tell you today and that is that the Secretary General, Javier Solana, will be going to Berlin this afternoon for a short visit; this evening, he will be giving an address to the Arthur F. Burns Alumni Dinner in Berlin, his speech - which will be available to you around lunchtime under the usual embargo - will discuss the current situation in Kosovo as you would expect as well as the results of the Washington summit and NATO's future as it prepares for the next century and as I said, I will try to give you, under the usual embargo, the speech well before the 3 p.m. briefing today - that briefing will be given by myself and General Jertz.
Questions & Answers
Jamie Shea: In the military presence, yes, the civil presence is different, that is a separate force but in the military force the answer is yes.
Gyorgy Foris, Hungarian TV: Just a follow-up. You said that the text clearly reflected the five points. I wondered how clear it was because you say that a NATO core should be there, the Russians and also a Yugoslavian diplomat say just the contrary, that NATO should have a very small proportion and be lightly-armed. One other point: NATO says that air flights go on as long as there is no clear evidence that Milosevic acts. Meanwhile, the Russian diplomacy says first stop the air strikes and then we can negotiate which shows that the interpretations could be very much different. I wonder whether you really can say that you reached what you wanted?
Jamie Shea: Gyorgy, thank you for those obviously very important questions, they are key, so let me try to answer them.
The first thing is that I made it clear yesterday that NATO and Russia had not overcome all of their differences, we had narrowed them significantly and we have made progress and everybody recognises that - Mr. Ivanov has recognised that and all of the NATO participants have recognised that - but there are still differences but at the least the differences now are more on modalities than principles and that is a big step forward, to have least agreed on the principles, modalities will now be easier to solve once the principles are in place so that is significant.
Secondly, when it comes to the NATO core, you heard what the NATO participants in the meeting said yesterday, you heard what President Clinton said, what Chancellor Schder said on German television yesterday evening, what Mrs. Albright said in her press conference. Our position is clear on that and Mr. Ivanov himself, in his press interviews as reported in the agencies today, said nothing is ruled out.
It is true that Belgrade continues not to have that view but then of course the final chapter of this story has yet to be written and we are certainly hearing from Belgrade things that we weren't hearing a few weeks ago even if they still fall far short of the five key conditions which NATO has set and what the G8 Political Directors, as they work towards a UN Security Council resolution in coming days, will be looking at ways to instrumentalise - in other words to define the modalities to implement those principles - but will those principles change? No they won't, those principles will remain absolutely the core for the reasons I've stated all along, because I think there is an increasing recognition that anything short of those five principles would not bring peace to Kosovo and that is what we want; they are all interrelated, if one falls, the others don't hold either.
CNN: A follow-up, Jamie. You talked about NATO being at the core of the military presence. The G8 principles don't mention military, they talk about a "security presence". Are you talking one and the same, security and military?
Jamie Shea: Yes, our understanding is that the word "security" - and "security" is a strong word - means a military force, yes.
Doug Hamilton, REUTERS: Questions about KFOR, Jamie. Why do the Russians want to inspect, do they suspect that there is somewhat more than 30,000 NATO troops, is that the reason for their curiosity? The reverse side of that question, if Milosevic capitulated today and said: "OK, come on in, my guys are leaving!", would NATO have enough numbers in Macedonia to go in and secure the place or would there have to be something of a scramble to get more men in if it happened tomorrow? Lastly, are we heading for a dual-key operation here?
Jamie Shea: First of all, Doug - in my usual order of answering the last question first - no, we are not heading towards a dual-key at all. A UN Security Council resolution, if it can be achieved - and our hope is that we will be able to achieve such a resolution - doesn't imply a dual-key arrangement at all. Look at the situation in Bosnia which I think is not necessarily the exact model of what may happen but at least gives us some indication; we have a UN Security Council resolution which has been renewed on two occasions and which gives to an international organisation, in this case NATO, the authority to implement the military aspects of the Dayton peace agreement, an agreement by the way which is also endorsed by the United Nations. There is no dual-key arrangement there but on the other hand, there is a strong UN Security Council endorsement so no, I don't see that the two are necessarily linked in that respect.
The answer to your second and middle question is simply that we have, as you know, already a significant force deployed in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, it is being increased and the Council is currently looking actively in terms of assessing the planning of what more may need to be done, no further decisions have been taken yet but we are actively working on this issue, as you would imagine, at the moment and NATO will be ready when the time comes with its contribution to this international security force.
The first part of your question was on the Vienna Document. What has happened is that a number of states were the parties to the Vienna Document of 1994 and under this document these types of visits and inspections are wholly routine and Russia has asked to carry out an inspection today in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which, as a sovereign OSCE participating state, has responded favourably to that request and those allies that have forces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are prepared to allow those forces to be inspected in accordance with the principles of the Vienna Document of course provided that the legitimate needs of security and force protection are satisfied which they will be. Arrangements for the inspection are being made between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the commander of the NATO operational force. This we see as a purely normal and routine type of business.
Philippe Rater: Sur le mme sujet de la KFOR, est-ce qu'il y a vraiment une tendance entre les allis considrer que les 26 000 hommes qui taient prvus initiallement seront insuffisants parce que, en fait, il y a de moins en moins de personnes dans cette province serbe, il y aura, priori, plus du tout de militaires serbes, est-ce qu'il faut vraiment aller au-del de 26 000 hommes ?
Jamie Shea: Philippe, ce que je dis, c'est que pour l'instant, le Conseil est en train de passer en revue cette situation et de travailler avec les militaires pour voir exactement quelles sont les tches spcifiques que la KFOR devrait accomplir vu, les changements de la situation mais il s'agit ce stade d'une valuation. Aucune dcision n'a, pour l'instant, t prise mais bien sur, on demande aux militaires de nous donner nanmoins leur avis, c'est normal et cet avis va tre pass en revue par le Conseil. Donc le sujet est discut mais pour l'instant pas de dcisions nouvelles.
Philippe Rater, AFP: Donc jusqu' prsent, il n'y a pas de tendance considrer que 26 000 hommes ce serait insuffisant ?
Jamie Shea: Non, non, pour l'instant, on tudie la situation. Voil ce que nous avions prvu au mois de juillet dernier, lorsque cette force a t conue, voyons un peu maintenant aprs l'volution des derniers mois dans quelle mesure, y-a-t'il toujours adquation entre le concept initial et la nouvelle situation et dans quelle mesure faudrait-il faire des ajustements. C'est le travail normal que vous attendez de l'Alliance et nous le faisons mais pour l'instant aucune conclusion n'a t tire mais je te tiendrai, bien sr, inform de l'volution de cette discussion.
Question: Jamie, can you elaborate a little about the differences on the modalities of the five principles and especially concerning the international type of presence in Kosovo, what are the NATO proposals and what are the Russian proposals and where they don't fit together?
Jamie Shea: I wasn't obviously at the G8 yesterday so I can't give you an insider's account of how the discussion followed but I think in the statement that was issued yesterday the core elements are very clear. We are talking about a civilian presence which has been part of Rambouillet all along as I mentioned yesterday where the OSCE for instance at the time was designated to play a major role in terms of democracy-building and we are talking about an international security presence and "international security presence" by the way is the language that NATO has used before as you know.
We understand by "international security presence ", as everybody has made crystal clear, an armed military force with a robust mandate, robust command-and-control, robust rules of engagement which is able to secure Kosovo and ensure that all of the elements of a peace plan are carried out in full so that is it.
Question: A follow-up. In view of what has been signed in Rambouillet by the Albanian delegation but not by the Russian intermediary and what has been decided now concerning an international presence in Kosovo, how do you expect that the KLA should interpret that point?
Jamie Shea: I hope that not simply the KLA but all of the representatives of the Kosovar community would welcome the results of the G8 because as I say, those results show that the international community is coming together, it shows that the international community is coming together around the five key points which the Kosovar Albanian leaders have said repeatedly that they also share for a return of the refugees, for a transitional authority and for a lasting peace in Kosovo so I think that yesterday's news is not simply something that should gratify diplomats but should gratify Kosovar Albanians, it brings closer the moment when they will be able to go home and I think as far as they are concerned that's probably what they want to hear most of all: "When are we going to be able to go home?" After the G8 yesterday and given also NATO's continuing determination not to be diverted from its goal, I think that moment has come closer and we will try in the next few days to bring it closer still.
I will just stop there if you don't mind because otherwise there will be nothing left to discuss at 3 p.m. and I will miss the Council so thank you.