|Updated: 20 April 1999||Press Conferences|
by Jamie Shea and Brigadier General Giuseppe Marani(Presentation )
Jamie Shea: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. May I apologise for being a few moments late, keeping everybody waiting.
A number of different topics for you today at the briefing. First of all I would like to begin with the up-date on the political/diplomatic front. As you know, you have just seen, the Secretary General received Prime Minister Blair a few moments ago, it was a very cordial meeting. I think the essence of it was that we are going to demonstrate both now and at Washington the determination of all 19 Allies to see this through to the end, no matter how long it takes. And there was a sense that emerged from the discussion this morning between the Secretary General and the Prime Minister that we are all together on this, all of the democracies of Europe, and that our values and security in the region will both suffer if Milosevic is allowed to conduct ethnic cleansing with impunity. But of course you heard from the Secretary General and the Prime Minister directly, so I don't need to dwell any longer on that topic.
I should like to inform you that the Secretary General spoke on the telephone this morning with the Prime Ministers of Norway, the Netherlands and Luxembourg as part of his on-going consultations to prepare for the Washington Summit, and of course also to review the latest developments in Kosovo.
At 7.00 pm today the Secretary General will receive Mr Samaruga, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and as you would expect, the focus of their meeting will be very much on the situation, or should I say the plight, of the internally displaced persons inside Kosovo. We will be interested in learning of the information that the Red Cross may have as to the numbers, the whereabouts, the condition of the internally displaced persons. We will also exchange ideas on what can be done in the near term to bring relief and assistance to these poor people and to see also how NATO can assist the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Tomorrow we will be having in the afternoon the visit of the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Mr Kostov, for another one of our so-called 19 + 1 meetings between NATO and our partner countries of the region. Bulgaria of course is an extremely important partner to us always, but never more so than during the current crisis. And we very much appreciate the solidarity that our partners in the region and beyond have shown in the conduct of NATO's operations. Yesterday I noted the Foreign Minister of Slovakia confirmed that his country is planning to offer NATO full transit facilities if necessary and we are grateful for that.
Turning to the operational situation, General Marani of course is here to give you the full up-date in just a few moments. I can say briefly that last night we continued air operations on a number of targets in Yugoslavia, ammunition depots, an ammunition plant near Belgrade, ammunition storage facilities right across the country in fact. At the same time we struck a number of tactical targets in Kosovo, including tanks, trucks, a frog missile support site and a high level command post. So the intensity of the operations continues. But we also note that the troops of President Milosevic on the ground in Kosovo continue their clean and sweep operations, particularly around Kosovska, Metrovica and Pudojevo in northern Kosovo where clearly the resistance of the Kosovo Liberation Army continues.
But they have also continued to conduct operations against Kosovo Liberation Army elements between Prizren and Djakovica, and there is a continuing build-up of artillery in the western part of Kosovo and shelling across the border into Albania. We are also getting reports, and I think General Marani will develop these in a moment, of the special police using teargas near Pristina during clearance operations.
I would like to turn now to the humanitarian situation. Approximately 70,000 refugees have left Kosovo over the past weekend, this compares to 50,000 who left between 6 - 15 April. So around 600,000 refugees have departed Kosovo in the last month alone. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees expects 100,000 more refugees to try to leave Kosovo over the next few days. And what we are seeing as we study these movements of people more is a kind of safari operation on-going by the Serb security forces against the Kosovar Albanians. First there is a pattern of shelling into the hills where the refugees are hiding so that they are forced to come down, beating them out of the bush if you like. Then they are on the roads, clogging up the roads, being moved hither and thither, particularly being mixed up with military vehicles of course on those roads. Then they are put into trains and sent to the borders, but sometimes when they arrive at the borders they are sent back again. There was an incidence yesterday where a train from Pristina arrived at Blace at the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and there international observers saw it being turned around again by Serb forces and sent back. And finally a strategy which seems to consist of trying to drive people towards the south, which is what I was talking about yesterday, herding them near the borders but not allowing them to cross, as if Milosevic is trying to develop a surge capability that he can sort of switch on and off as he desires whenever he wants to start a new flood of refugees. It is extremely depressing that human beings are used as pawns on this type of macabre and rather machiavellian chessboard.
Nonetheless, NATO continues to help all of those who are successful in leaving and AFOR - Albania Force - is now up and running, over 2,000 soldiers have now been deployed as part of that mission, they are beginning with a relocation plan for the refugees that has to be moved, as I said yesterday, first of all from Marina on the border to Kukes and there, given the lack of facilities in Kukes, urgently towards 10 refugee camps which are going to be constructed elsewhere in Albania. And AFOR, co-operating with the Albanian government, is currently able to move 3,000 refugees a day out of Kukes in Albanian military vehicles, and also using the 40 flights a day of our helicopter shuttle service between Tirana and Kukes, so that is now up and running.
And indeed more and more NATO forces are arriving to join AFOR with each passing day. We have now Dutch and Belgian engineers who are experts in main supply route maintenance and repair, those two units will be operational on 25 April, and an advance party of the Dutch Engineers will start its reconnaissance on 20 April; an advance party of a Spanish contingent will depart for Tirana today; Belgian Army Engineers will construct a refugee camp for 2,500 and a child rehabilitation centre for 500 near Durres. Once completed, this camp and the centre will be transferred to the International Red Cross.
Our force balancing conference terminated yesterday at SHAPE and I am glad to report that we have now been able to fill in all of the gaps in medical and engineering resources that we need for AFOR, for the Operation Allied Harbour in Albania.
At the same time today at SHAPE there is going to be a main logistics planning conference where all NATO nations are going to be represented. What we want from this conference are confirmations of national contributions, national deployment plans because obviously this force has to be divided into different geographical centres, identification of lead and roll specialist nations, and of course co-ordination of multinational logistics.
At the same time in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the authorities have given permission for the construction of a new refugee centre at Sigani to accommodate 30,000 refugees and naturally General Jackson and his soldiers will be on hand to help with the construction of that camp to accommodate the spillover of the existing camps given the increased number of refugees flowing into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in recent days.
One very worrying piece of news that I have received in the last 24 hours is of the Yugoslav Army in Montenegro beginning ethnic cleansing of villages along the border between Montenegro and Kosovo, but in Montenegro. This is something rather new and distressful if this pattern is now spilling over elsewhere into Yugoslavia, it can only exacerbate the problem which is already, as you know, of alarming proportions.
Today I would also like to say a few words on the subject of war crimes and crimes against humanity. You heard Secretary of State Robin Cook in the UK this morning describe the help that the UK is now giving to the International Criminal Tribunal for The Hague in terms of supplying intelligence material, witness accounts, refugee accounts, to Justice Louise Arbour, and I was very pleased to see today Rudolph Scharping, the German Defence Minister, also confirm that Germany is making similar information available.
It is rather tragic, but at the same time necessary, that the United Kingdom has collected material on 50 separate incidents in one month alone, as Robin Cook said this morning. And I think Robin Cook also reminded everybody very usefully that even before the NATO operation began, even before the latest wave of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, several incidents approaching war crimes and crimes against humanity were already taking place in Kosovo, so this is if you like the aggravation of a pattern rather than the beginning of a pattern, and as you know he cited the discovery of 24 Kosovar Albanians whose corpses were riddled with machine gun bullets in a minibus near Rogovo, he cited grenade attacks on cafes in Pristina, grenade attacks on shops and individuals discovered in Decani in cars, again the victims of gunshot wounds.
But I would like to give you some information that we have received from various reliable sources, particularly corroborated refugee accounts, about what has been happening more recently, in just the last few days in fact, and I would like to break this down into separate headings, as I have done in the past on this topic.
The first heading of course is detentions, forced detentions. The refugees have continued to report that Serb forces are systematically separating military aged men from the groups that are sent towards the frontiers, and you heard the State Department spokesman, Jamie Rubin, yesterday talk of about 100,000 men that are currently unaccounted for if one looks at those absent from family groups arriving in the surrounding countries, in fact the figure could be much higher than 100,000 which is probably a very conservative estimate.
Refugees have also reported that the Serbs have taken approximately 700 boys, as young as 14 years old, either to use as human shields or as blood banks for Serb casualties. In another incident, according to one refugee, Serb paramilitary forces are forcing Kosovar Albanian men to dig defensive positions on the south-east side of Borosevac. Refugees also reported that near Orahovac as many as 700 men were used as human shields last week. The ethnic Albanian men were forced to stand in front of tanks in the rain for 2 days with their hands tied behind their heads. A few of them eventually escaped by paying the soldiers 10,000 Deutschmarks. And you have heard already from General Marani a report that we have seen from a number of sources of Serbs forcing chain gangs of Kosovars, clad in orange-red uniforms, to dig graves for mass burials.
The second category - executions and mass burials. The Kosovar Albanian refugees continue to report mass executions throughout the province. We have put these together, as you know, and we total over 3,500 deaths as a result of these executions. Again this could be on the conservative side of the scale. In fact the number would be far higher if we take into account not the group executions, but the innumerable accounts of individual executions. And refugees have reported mass graves in Drenica, Malaveso and Pusto Selo, but also in the Paragus Valley. We have as you know confirmed already, or at least what we have strong beliefs to be, a mass burial site at Pusto Selo and another one near Klima. And according to one survivor who later videotaped the scene, the ethnic Albanians at Velika Crusa were removed from their homes at gunpoint, men separated again from their families, and approximately 100 adult males were summarily shot dead at point blank range. We believe the bodies may have been taken to this mass burial site at Pusto Selo.
The next form of war crime is the systematic destruction of civilian homes. As you know, some 500 residential areas containing how many thousands of homes it is impossible to say, have been partially burned or gravely destroyed since the crisis began in March last year, and we believe 200 of those villages have been burning since April.
And then we come to the final category, which is now a proven war crime, of rape and we have as you know numerous accounts of Serb rape of ethnic Albanian women and these are being reported in increasing number by Kosovar refugees. Ethnic Albanian women were reportedly separated from their families and sent to an army camp near Djakovica where they were repeatedly raped by Serb soldiers. Refugees allege that in Pec Serb forces have rounded up young Albanian women and taken them to the Hotel Karigac where the local commander apparently has organised a roster of his soldiers to allow them all an evening at the hotel.
And in addition to these specific accounts, numerous refugees claim that during Serb raids in their villages, young women have been gang raped in their homes or on the roadside by Serb soldiers. We also have reports of rapes occurring at an ammunition factory and a Ferro nickel plant in Kosovo where some 100 women allegedly remain. Again, all of this will have to be investigated, all of this is going to be checked out, but the reports are too numerous to suggest that these are completely without foundation. And this means that the killing fields of Kosovo are going to be on our minds for many years to come as we try to piece the full story together and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
I would like finally to say something about the case of a journalist, the German journalist that has been brought to my attention today and which again is a cause of anxiety. He is a German journalist called Peter Schnitzler who works for Sat-eins (phon), the German TV station you are familiar with. He left Belgrade on 16 April but never reached Zagreb and according now to a number of sources, foremost of which are his employer at Sat-einx, on 8 April at 10.30 pm his car and equipment were taken from him in the garage of the Intercontinental Hotel in Belgrade by 9 uniformed policemen and 4 plain clothes men. They also confiscated his mobile phone and demanded at gunpoint the pin code of that phone. On 16 April he left Belgrade, headed for Zagreb as I have said, in a car borrowed from his colleagues at the Biavishca Humfunk (phon) but he never arrived and he has disappeared and we have no knowledge of his whereabouts. The German Foreign Ministry in Bonn has been in touch with the Japanese Embassy in Belgrade to ask them to investigate and to make a demarche vis a vis the Yugoslav authorities, but so far that is without response. So obviously we would like some information as to what happened to Peter Schnitzler and we very much hope that he is alive and well.
That is what I have as far as an up-date for you today and now I will ask General Marani to give you his operational up-date before our questions.
General Marani: Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. We continue to intensify our day and night air strikes against strategic infrastructure in Serbia as well as fixed military facilities and fielded forces in Kosovo systematically degrading the capability of the FRY military and special police to conduct their scorched earth tactics.
All of our aircraft returned safely to their bases. Our forces also continue their support of the humanitarian efforts. In the last 24 hours there were 10 aid flights to Fyrom delivering 90 tons of food and water, and over 13 tons of other supplies. There were 38 flights into Albania delivering a corresponding amount of aid.
Turning to military operations, the Serb military and Special Police activity in Kosovo is shown on this map. There has been a particularly disturbing development with the use of teargas by special police in the region of Pristina. Displaced persons are being systematically forced south towards the border and there is evidence of Serb forces increasingly mixing with civilian convoys to obtain protection from our air strikes. Serb attacks also continue on displaced persons, as shown in this picture taken in the Djakovica area.
In the air Yugoslav forces are increasingly relying on helicopters for moving supplies. As I said yesterday, these flights are generally short and at very low level, making it difficult for NATO aircraft to target them. However, it does show that our disruption of ground protection by destroying bridges and line of communication is making it increasingly difficult for Serb forces to move on the ground. Once again there have been several unsuccessful attempts to shoot down our aircraft with surface to air missiles and air to air artillery.
Moving on to NATO activity, 5 successful strike packages were flown in the last 24 hours. Fielded forces in Kosovo were struck in the areas shown on this map. The assessment of these attacks is still not complete, but initial indications are that we destroyed 6 tanks, 7 military vehicles in an assembly area and a command post. A number of strategic targets were also struck, as indicated on this map, this included an army facility at Nis and the ammunition plant at Valjevo.
One example of the effectiveness of attacks against the Yugoslav petroleum supply infrastructure is depicted in the following series of pictures. Here you can see pre- and post-strike imagery of the petroleum storage facility. In this other slide we show the evidence of trucks queuing for fuel in Belgrade. One element of our continuing campaign to suppress Yugoslavian Air Force operations is to deny them the use of their airfields. The following slide shows the pre- and post-strike imagery of a precision attack against the Ponikve airfield 2 nights ago.
The next slide is an image of an ammunition storage building in Pristina. On the left of the screen is the building before the attack, and the right side is a post-strike image.
Finally I have a video of an attack against the Prizren 549th Mechanised Brigade headquarters and storage area. And being at Prizren it is obvious that this brigade is participating in the ethnic cleansing operations going on in Kosovo.
Patricia: Jamie, early on in this campaign, Javier Solana said that toppling President Milosevic was an objective which could not be achieved by military means, but today Tony Blair said here: "I see the solution as very simple, we carry on until he does step down." Could you clarify this and tell us if the NATO objectives have changed to include removing President Milosevic from power and if so at what level this was decided at and under what procedure.
Jamie Shea: Patricia, thank you. NATO policy is certainly to carry on until President Milosevic backs down, that is clear. I have always said that the future of Milosevic is up to the Serb people. Of course we believe, all allies, that a democratic Serbia would not only be better for the future stability and patterns of cooperation in the region, but better for the Serb people themselves. But NATO's objectives, as set out in the famous five principles, have not been modified by any decision of the Allies.
Giorgy Foris: I would like to come back to the question of the oil supply which has been raised several times recently. Would you describe how the situation is now? I understand that in the Council among the member states there is no consensus how to handle the issue exactly. Is there any planning, thinking, of an oil embargo or any kind of restriction which can solve the problem?
Jamie Shea: Thanks Georgy. I wouldn't say no consensus, I think genuinely that is misleading, we are looking at something and we are in the process of formulating what our best options are, and there are several different ways of tackling this particular problem. For example the European Union is holding a meeting at the level of Political Directors to look at the possibility of some kind of joint EU policy on this subject and we would hope of course that regional countries and others would join in on any such policy. NATO too is looking at the various options and as I said yesterday, we hope that all countries will share our view that whatever we can do in terms of exercising restraint voluntarily, and not shipping refined petroleum to Belgrade, via whatever port, would help to shorten this conflict and that is in everybody's interest, to shorten this, and certainly turning off the oil tap would be a decisive factor or a key factor in shortening that conflict. So I think it is in everybody's interest to look at this and voluntary restraint is certainly one way that that can be achieved. There are also military ways that we could try to achieve that objective although we are doing so already, as you know, in terms of the attacks against the refineries and what General Marani showed you a moment ago, the storage facilities at Spederevo. There may be other options within Yugoslavia itself, I want to stress that, within Yugoslavia itself to try to dry up the supply of refined petroleum to the Yugoslav Army. Our military committee is still studying those options and we haven't yet taken any decision, but what I want to stress is that this is not an area of lack of consensus among allies, it is simply a question of trying to come up with the best military advice as to what the options are and then obviously choosing the option which fits our purposes best, and that work is on-going.
Questions & Answers (Contd)Mrs. Savic, Novosti, Belgrade: General, two nights after my question about the ecological catastrophe which threatened Belgrade, your military people targeted Baric which is a chemical factory 15 km from the centre of Belgrade, very dangerous, as a new ecological catastrophe. Could you please comment on your targets in this way?
Mr. Shea, does NATO, for its part, have any more constructive approach to this crisis apart from increasing bombardments?
General Marani: For your first question, the targeting process is not a matter I am ready to discuss from this podium. What I can tell you is that every single target is chosen having great consideration for possible collateral damage. The fact that a chemical factory has been hit does not mean that this process has been disregarded in this instance, it was a military target, it has been hit, we knew what we were doing and we are not aware of any ecological catastrophe that is going on.
Mrs. Savic: (inaudible)
Jamie Shea: Well Mrs. Savage, all that smoke and 500 burning villages and towns and cities in Kosovo can't be doing the upper atmosphere and the ozone layer a great deal of good either and of course, we also have inside Kosovo a scorched earth policy in terms of dead cattle, wasted land and disease coming from a number of unburied corpses of all kinds which, too, is going to be a health hazard potentially for some time to come.
But to answer your question, this is a constructive organisation. We spent the best part of a year, as Prime Minister Blair pointed out just a few moments ago, trying to avoid having to use force. NATO is hardly an organisation that can be accused of over-hasty reactions; we tried to solve this at the negotiating table, we tried to solve this by sending people to Milosevic - I myself was involved in those meetings with President Milosevic - to see if we could get an agreement on troops and special police reductions inside Kosovo that would improve the security environment and stop the repression and in fact we even got the signature of President Milosevic on one such agreement back on October 25th but it lasted only for a few weeks regrettably and therefore it took a full twelve months before NATO actually decided to launch an action, almost to the day, twelve months after the Kosovo crisis began because we were so determined to go via the political and diplomatic route. It was Milosevic who made that impossible for us, quite frankly, and the determination of the Allies is a reflection of the fact that everybody feels that Milosevic has largely imposed this on us as well as on himself.
We want a constructive approach here, of course we do, we want to end the violence as quickly as possible; we want then to be able to bring peace to Kosovo and when the Washington summit starts up in just a couple of days' time, I think one of the main headlines is going to be the attempt to develop an overall strategy for dealing with the region as a whole once the Kosovo crisis has ended particularly in terms of trying to see how we can re-establish co-operative ties in the region, how we can provide - not simply NATO but other institutions as well - economic assistance, democracy-building assistance, promote the free media, encourage political pluralism in that region because it has been something of a sore or a bleeding wound in Europe for the best part of the 1990s and we would really like to put that behind us now, we have just gone from crisis to crisis area consequent on the break-up of the former Yugoslavia so I can assure you we are not simply thinking about dropping bombs, we are already turning our minds to the moment when that will be over and we can then get on with that job of trying to develop an overall plan and of course, a democratic Serbia will have a key role to play in all of that.
DOUG: Can I ask about the Frog missile please? Was it a short-range tactical missile?
General Marani: The Frog missile is, if I remember correctly, a 65 km maximum range tactical missile.
Doug: Any chemical or biological warheads?
General Marani: Of course, the warheads can be chemical or conventional in principle but in this case we have no news about there being a chemical, for us it is a conventional warhead.
Doug: I am a little bit intrigued about why you are making so much of tear gas because here it is associated with football hooligans and anti-nuclear demonstrators.
Jamie Shea: It is not used for ethnic cleansing purposes.
General Marani: I have known this news quite recently so I don't have the support of legal advice on this subject but it seems to me that tear gas shouldn't be used in combat although it can be used for counter-riot purposes, for police work, where you pull somebody out of a house and arrest him but shouldn't be used to pull somebody out of a house and shoot him and this it has also been used.
Doug Hamilton, Reuters: I just have one follow-up question. The KLA in Skopje has been saying that it is passing on information - or trying to pass on information to NATO - about artillery that has been used for several days now to shell IDPs on a place called Dulia Hill but it is not getting through or it doesn't seem to be getting through and NATO seems to be ignoring that information. Why is this if it could help you to stop..
General Marani: As you will know, there are no formal ties between KLA and NATO and also, we must be aware of false information arriving from somebody pretending to be a KLA member. By all means, we are not disregarding any piece of information that we can have about possible artillery sites or tanks or whatever but we have to treat it as a piece of intelligence because we are not sure whether it is genuine or not.
Jamie Shea: I've also heard reports on Mount Borissa as well, Doug, about that but as the General said, the targeting policy is in the hands of the military commanders and it is up to them to decide what they wish to make the priority of the day but clearly we want to go after every piece of artillery firing on every internally-displaced person that we can but it's up to the military commanders. Now, Craig, you have not asked a question for several days so please go ahead!"
Craig: Thank you, Jamie, a question to you from the "New York Times". Is Nato asking Bulgaria, when the Prime Minister comes here tomorrow, for permission to base planes there or to use the air space?
Jamie Shea: It's the second, Craig, it's permission to use the air space, we've asked Romania as well for that permission. These two countries are Partner countries, they are also countries that have expressed the desire to join NATO in due course. I have seen this morning an announcement from the coalition in Romania of a willingness to grant this in principle but subject of course to approval by the parliament, I understand the vote is scheduled there for Thursday.
As far as Bulgaria is concerned, the government has a constitutional requirement to consult the parliament and we await the outcome of that decision so yes, the request has been made and we await naturally the decision and of course, those decisions are sovereign decisions and we will respect them.
Having said that, I would like just to let you know that the Secretary General has written to the heads of governments of both Bulgaria and Romania in the last 24 hours to reassure them of the well-known NATO policy that we have a direct and material interest in their security and as for the 19+1 meeting, I'll comment on that after it takes place tomorrow on all aspects of the topics that are going to be discussed but I said a moment ago Craig that we generally welcome the many indications of solidarity that we have received from the states of the region and as I said, it is a common task, it is not simply a NATO task. Thos countries will probably benefit in the most direct and immediate way from an end to this crisis and from the emergence of a more co-operative, more democratic security structure in the region.
Question: If the Apaches do arrive this afternoon and are probably deployed within the next couple of days, we are going to be entering in a more close-range air-type war with an enhanced chance for Allied casualties so after a month of bombing, what's the status of the air-defence system and is there truth in reports that they have managed to rebuild some of what we've actually bombed?
General Marani: Trying to rebuild something that has been damaged I would say is very natural, I would try to do the same, everybody would try to do the same. Of course, the integrated air-defence system has suffered significant damage and we have proof during tactical operation of the fact that although they still have some capability, this capability is significantly lower than what it used to be at the beginning. Attacks are carried out not in a co-ordinated and integrated way, for instance, especially from the missiles air defence; artillery is shooting when they see the target really and quite often is also a barrage fire.
Christopher: General or both of you if you could answer this question. This question of tear gas is not the first time that the chemical weapons capability of Yugoslavia has been raised. I'd like to know if the production facilities for chemical weapons have been targeted, if they've been hit and if they've been hit, what precautions have been taken to make sure that there was no contamination from those chemical weapons? And if they haven't been hit, is it because of concern of contamination that they haven't been?
Secondly, another question on targets. There was a report today that many of the economic or seemingly economic targets that were hit were hit because they were owned or run by people in the inner circle of President Milosevic and in order to target him, for instance a cigarette factory was hit and it is hard to see what the use of that would be for military purposes but apparently it is owned by Milosevic's son, so could you comment on that?
General Marani: The targeting process and specifically the targeting of chemical weapons is not something that I am ready to debate here.
Christopher: I don't want to debate it, I just want to know who did it.
General Marani: And I am not ready to tell you whether we did or not, whether we had the intention to do it or not. The production of chemical weapons is within the capability of Milosevic but what we are going to because of this I cannot tell you.
Jamie Shea: Christopher, as far as I know, I haven't seen anything other than petroleum and oil lubricant targets on the list.
Having said that, on your second question, as you know, Yugoslavia is a state based on nepotism, it's almost impossible to strike at any industrial target without ruining the stocks and the shares of one of Milosevic's ministers or his own family because they are the state, it's rather like Louis XIV who said (words in French). We have a modern version of the son, that is to say passing on the control of media, the control of businesses and so on to the direct family and so you can't unfortunately distinguish between the two in that particularly case. I have seen this coming from Belgrade but I'm generally not aware that NATO struck a cigarette plant, I haven't seen that on any of the reports on targets that we have struck.
Question (Oslo): One question first about the convoy affair. Has the information situation that has been going on for the last week resulted in a discussion in the NATO Council? I have reports that our Foreign Minister, Mr. Volbek, who is also Chairman of the OEC, is saying today that he feels that NATO has misled him during this whole information situation.
A question about the reports you mentioned about Serb troops in Montenegro. Is the ethnic cleansing you are talking about taking place inside Kosovo or inside Montenegro?
Jamie Shea: I mentioned it, if I may answer that, because it was inside Montenegro albeit on the border.
As for the convoy, I obviously was waiting for that to be raised. Let me give you an example.
Imagine that in your country you have some kind of accident, a train crash or whatever - these occur unfortunately all of the time - or an accident with an aircraft or at an airport and the government decides to launch an inquiry to establish all of the facts, it sets up a commission. Since when has ever a commission reported within five days on the facts that it knows? Sometimes in our countries these sorts of things go on for months, I know from my own country several examples of this. So again I fail to understand, if you'll forgive me for saying so, how you can describe something which you saw yesterday from General Leaf's presentation was a rather complex business in which there was a good deal of uncertainty because we didn't have access on the ground, how you can say that five days was a long time. I promised you the facts and yesterday you got them. We kept our word. Of course, I would have liked to have been able to do it on Thursday morning but again, I think by the record of inquiries we didn't do too badly even if obviously we can't clear up everything and General Leaf was totally open and totally honest in telling you why that was the case. There was confusion but you have got to remember this is a conflict and conflicts are confusing always and we may have more instances like that in the future where we have some confusion. We will try to be better next time in clearing up that confusion and obviously we'll do our best not to create it in the first place but as I say, I think that yesterday you saw an honest, straightforward attempt to put the facts on the table and I don't have anything more to add.
Same Questioner: Has this incident and all this mayhem resulted in any discussion at a higher political NATO level regarding NATO information strategy?
Jamie Shea: The information strategy is personified by the General and myself, we stand here every day, it is for you to judge but we do our best to give you all the information that we have in our possession. Looking at previous exercises of this type - and I have been going through them in the evenings when I get home at night, the five minutes before I go to bed - I honestly don't believe we are giving you less information than what has existed in previous campaigns of this type quite frankly. I started to look into this a little just to reassure myself that we're not doing such a bad job and we're giving you all of the information that we possibly can but conflict is not the same as a ministerial meeting at NATO when a spokesman is a first-hand witness of everything that's going on and can say: "Oh yes, I was there! I can give you every detail because I was involved in the meeting form 9 o'clock in the morning until the ministers all went home!" It's a different situation as you know now, events are taking place far away, it's a military operation, it takes time for the information to come up with the best will in the world, there are certain operational things that have to be kept confidential for good reason. After all, our objective is to win this first and foremost and secondly, as I have pointed out, the situation in Kosovo is surrounded by a kind of modern-day iron curtain which makes it difficult to know exactly what's going on but within those constraints we are doing the best job that we possibly can do to get you the information.
Richard: Jamie, there have been some reports of additional prisoners being taken from the Yugoslav side. Do you have any update on prisoners and when the Red Cross President is here will he be instructed or asked, if he has got to go to Belgrade, to enquire about the US POWs, any exchange talk coming up already?
Jamie Shea: Richard, on the second one, yes, we'll certainly ask him if he has any information as to the current condition of the three US servicemen because we haven't heard from them for a while and of course access to the Red Cross is fundamental and has been given to the Yugoslav soldier detained by the US military authorities in Tirana so we'll have to wait and see if there is anything there.
On the second point, yes, I did see a report that the KLA was alleged to have captured I think three additionaldid they say one Russian volunteer, did I see that in a news report? But no, really, via my traffic I've had no confirmation of that report.
I think we've gone on for rather a long time today so let's sort of wrap it up with a few final questions. Charles, you haven't had one for a while so please go ahead and then Antonio!
Question (The Times, London): General, I'd just like to ask, please, do you have reports of further reinforcements to regular forces or special police inside Kosovo and can you tell us your estimate now of the number of overall forces in the province?
General Marani: Not that I'd aware of, not something very recent but what we estimate to be in Kosovo now is something around 40,000 men.
Jamie Shea: Antonio, would you like to have the last one for today and I promise everybody else tomorrow.
Antonio, Portuguese TV: Thank you Jamie. Concerning this oil embargo, is it possible that in the past three weeks ships from member states of this Alliance have been delivering enormous quantities of oil to the port of Bar in Montenegro at the same time as pilots of probably many nationalities are risking their lives bombing the oil reserves of Milosevic and does it make sense to keep bombing the refineries because the oil comes from another place?
Concerning Bulgaria, is it true now that there is no more delivery from Bulgaria concerning oil from the pipeline that used to work before?
Jamie Shea: Regarding the question to Bulgaria, I don't have the latest information. I know that Croatia on 28th March closed down its pipeline and again we are grateful for that act of solidarity. I understand the same has happened to Hungary but I don't have the exact date there. With Bulgaria, I think that's a question you should put to the Bulgarian government obviously for clarification there.
Obviously, as I said yesterday, Antonio, what we do has to be consistent with international law naturally and the exact provisions of UN Security Council resolution 1160 on the arms embargo vis--vis Yugoslavia and on the definition of arms-related products in that Security Council resolution but yes, clearly we obviously would like the international community to show a degree of solidarity with us in exercising restraint. The best way to solve this is for the member states of the international community to exercise restraint in not supplying Yugoslavia with refined petroleum products, that will help us to shorten this particular conflict, it will hasten the day when the barrel dries up as far as those Yugoslav forces are concerned and I think also it will have a major psychological impact on President Milosevic over and above its physical impact in showing him that basically the noose is tightening and that really he is up against the entire international community, that we are prepared to do what is necessary to put ourselves in a situation to prevail.
As I mentioned before, Antonio, the European Union is looking at this, we'll have to wait and see where they come out but the voluntary track is there as well as the track of seeing what we can do with our military activities inside Yugoslav itself. That's the best answer I can give you for the time being until these decisions are taken.
Antonio: Can you consider going back to the United Nations because 1160 doesn't work?
Jamie Shea: As I say, I think the most immediately useful thing would be for everybody to exercise a degree of restraint so that we can bring peace to that region as quickly as possible. I've made this point so many times that the potential of a reconstructed Yugoslavia which used to be a very prosperous country - and I keep on making this point - it was way above in economic terms the pro capita GDP of eastern Europe at the time of the fall of communism, way above and now it is much below but it has an industrial tradition, it has a skilled work-force, it has a degree of openness vis--vis Europe at least until Milosevic came along, all the tools are there for a democratic Serbia in a reconstructed region to go through a sort of period of growth. The Wirtschaftbunde can happen there and so I think the basic argument is a little bit of restraint today in order to get things back on track means jam tomorrow, if I can quote a famous British prime minister, it is true and everybody will benefit no longer from black market trading or smuggling across borders but from a genuinely open economy in which there would be an inflow of investment money and opportunities for all.
Question: What will NATO really do about the internally-displaced persons who are dying every minute in Kosovo?
Jamie Shea: The best answer I can give you apart from repeating what I've said about looking into air drops and these things, is to stop the fighting. That is the best thing we can do because there is no end to the humanitarian catastrophe until the fighting ends and we have to do that but if organisations like the International Red Cross, the three Greek non-governmental organisations that have sent food and doctors to Pristina, can play a role then we will be happy to help them but there is an irony here in the sense that what we would like to do is to give information on displaced persons to these international organisations to help but Milosevic is sort of flushing the civilian population around Kosovo up and down. I spoke yesterday of a Grand Old Duke of York strategy, in other words up and down, up and down in a way that makes this sort of specific localisation increasingly difficult.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll see you tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock. Thank you for today, bye bye.