given by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea
and SHAPE Spokesman, Major General Walter Jertz
and Commander Fabrizio Maltinti
Jamie Shea: Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon, welcome to today's briefing.
Last night, as you know, NATO carried out an extensive and effective series of attacks against the Yugoslav ground forces in Kosovo. NATO struck several armoured vehicles, also near Pristina artillery positions, as well as troops and vehicles. We also struck at troops and vehicles, and again artillery, near Suva Reka and east of Urosevac. But last night we concentrated our efforts notably in the western part of Kosovo, attacking troops, armour and artillery west of Djakovica and all the way south towards Prizren.
Now these attacks, together with those of yesterday, show that we are focusing now with success on those who are responsible for the killing. Those who once did all of the heavy shooting are now on the receiving end. Instead of hounding, they are being hounded, and this is the way it will continue until President Milosevic and his regime accept the five conditions of the international community: stop the killing; pull out your forces; allow an international security force; let the refugees go home; and agree to negotiate seriously.
President Milosevic and his regime in Belgrade haven't yet agreed to recognise and respect those five key demands. But at least President Milosevic has begun to recognise reality. He said yesterday, on the eve of Yugoslavia's Security Day - a strange title in today's circumstances - that "many members of the security forces bravely gave their lives and their sacrifice and this is a bright example of their heroism and loyalty to their people and fatherland". So President Milosevic at least now is acknowledging that his forces have paid and are paying a heavy price for their activities in Kosovo. This is one of his statements which is undoubtedly true.
But I would like to emphasise that all of those Yugoslav soldiers did not have to leave their lives in Kosovo. Milosevic had many opportunities to settle this crisis peacefully. Even his adversaries - the Kosovo Liberation Army - agreed to bury the war hatchet and they signed the Rambouillet peace agreement. But to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, President Milosevic preferred to settle it his way. If he had not done so, those Yugoslav soldiers would be alive today, so their bravery and sacrifice are more an exercise in futility than in loyalty and patriotism. Thousands of statesmen, diplomats and politicians wanted a peaceful solution to this crisis. One man did not.
At the same time today NATO's leaders are out and about reaffirming their commitment and NATO's commitment to this operation and to our non-negotiable key objectives. President Chirac is in Moscow meeting with the Russian leadership and engaging Russia in the diplomatic process, and he will be speaking from Moscow shortly. Prime Minister Blair, receiving the Charlemagne Prize at Ucken this morning, has delivered a clear message: "No compromise, no fudge, no half-baked deals". And Prime Minister Jospin, in introducing Prime Minister Blair this morning said clearly: "That peace within the European Union is not sufficient if it co-exists with violence outside the borders of our Union. Let's not be afraid of the words. Crimes against humanity are being perpetrated in the heart of Europe." And in a few moments President Clinton in Washington will deliver a major address on Kosovo at the National Defence University.
Yesterday the Secretary General of NATO, Dr Javier Solana, visited Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He spoke to the leaders of both countries. He expressed NATO's support and appreciation for their efforts under difficult circumstances. He expressed once again NATO's solidarity with these neighbouring states and said that NATO would not allow them to be threatened. And he heard from them directly how much they want and need NATO to be successful in this Kosovo crisis, not simply so that they can be relieved of their refugee burden, but also and more importantly, so that they can be stable, secure and successful democracies without Milosevic's Sword of Damocles of insecurity permanently dangling over their heads.
The Secretary General engaged them on the ideas that NATO is currently developing as part of the south east European initiative and the stability pact to help those countries build a more secure and integrated future. He also engaged them on the membership action plan which NATO agreed at the Washington Summit which will help them to prepare more actively for future NATO membership.
The Secretary General also visited the AFOR and KFOR soldiers, 20,000 in all, in both countries and saw at first hand the very good work that they are doing to help with the refugee crisis. At the moment AFOR is building 2,000 refugee places a day. We plan to have 59,000 places by mid-May and 172,000 by mid-June.
AFOR is also helping to improve Albania's infrastructure, particularly its roads and its airports and this will help its future economic development. And in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia there is now surplus capacity - surplus capacity - for refugees. And the Secretary General also saw the excellent cooperation between NATO and the lead agency, the UNHCR, and we have asked Commander Maltinti to come back today and brief you in detail in a moment on these humanitarian efforts.
But finally, and perhaps most significantly, the Secretary General visited two refugee centres, Elbason in Albania and Segrane in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Secretary General assured the refugees that NATO would create the conditions for them to go home. They all expressed their support for NATO's air campaign. They all said that NATO's five conditions are their five conditions. And as you saw on TV, they chanted "NATO, NATO" as the Secretary General went through the camps.
As the Secretary General was leaving Segrane yesterday evening, one old man came up to him and said that he had been hiding for several weeks in the mountains of Kosovo to escape the Serb forces. He said he had seen his family murdered and his home burned. But he told the Secretary General: "Bomb us. Destroy our houses. Kill our people, if you must. But whatever you do, do not stop the air campaign. Do not stop until Milosevic has been defeated." And NATO can say to that man that we will do all we can not to harm the Kosovar Albanian people, nor the Serb people for that matter, and we will do all we can not to destroy their homes. But we will do all we can to stop Milosevic and to make sure that those people return to their homes.
I would like now to ask General Jertz to give you the operational up-date, and then Commander Maltinti will brief you on the humanitarian situation.
Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.
The military operations briefing today will include an overview of the current status of humanitarian operations by Commander Maltinti of SHAPE, as already mentioned.
Let me start with some more clear words. Despite reports in the Serb media we have not, repeat we have not, detected any evidence that Serb ground forces are leaving Kosovo so far. However, we strongly believe that the effectiveness of our recent air strikes against ground forces in Kosovo has caused some tactical redeployment in the forward areas, probably to seek better refuge or to regroup.
Let me now be more specific on what we achieved in the last 24 hours. Our operations did go on, striking a full range of Serbian ground forces in Kosovo, particularly in the Prizren, Stimulje, Suva Reka and Junik areas. Targets included the 211th, the
125th and the 243rd brigades. We hit armour, revetted vehicles, trucks, artillery and mortars, troops in the open and a surface to air missile vehicle.
Our operations began with an early morning strike package which successfully attacked bridges at Milosevo and Olata, military vehicles and armour near Prizren, a storage tunnel, a Sam 6 site near Prizren, Sam standing for surface to air missile.
By mid-morning a package including Jaguars, F16s, Harriers, Etendars and EA6Bs, hit numerous targets, including the radio relay station at Metrovica, an artillery position near Prizren and the Morina highway bridge.
Mid-day operations included strikes against petroleum facilities near Piranum, plus a command post, several tanks and armoured vehicles in southern Kosovo.
So in summary, this slide shows the targets we struck last night within Kosovo. We also destroyed five aircraft in the open. It was 1 MiG 21 and 4 Super Galebs, the MiG 21 at Nis airfield and the other 4 on an airstrip near Prizren.
Co-ordination of our air assets was once again very effective. To give you an example on that. One of our unmanned reconnaissance vehicles located a vehicle refuelling point near Prizren. We quickly redirected a flight of fighters and destroyed the storage area and several fuel trucks within less than an hour.
In addition to our air operations in Kosovo, we also attacked strategic targets in Yugoslavia, including Obrva and Patanica airfields, radio relay sites at Starapazova and Novi Sad, plus others as shown on the slide.
This information was as complete as possible when the briefing began today. More detailed mission reports of the attacks are still coming in. I already explained to you about battle damage assessment. We will up-date you more completely as that information is analysed and made available.
Air crews report that the air defence activity was relatively low. There were only 8 surface to air missiles fired. And once again I am very pleased to report that no Alliance aircraft were lost.
As I have reported to you, we have made great strides in recent days against Serb forces on the ground, both in Kosovo and against other targets throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Indications are that the positive trend continues today, especially in Kosovo.
Coming now to a very short up-date on numbers, however please bear in mind what I have said over and over again, numbers as such are not a very precise indication of combat capability of a unit. The shortages of food, fuel, ammunition, the latter leading to a decrease and reduction of morale of the soldiers must also be taken into consideration.
Since my presentation last week concerning the Serbian ground forces in Kosovo, we told you we had destroyed 306 pieces of heavy equipment. We have now raised this figure up to 432. We have now struck over 20% of his critical inventory. Additionally we have in the meantime destroyed two-thirds of the Serbian ammunition production capacity. In fact, this image shows a post-strike assessment of the Kacak ammunition production plant. You will notice significant damage as indicated by the circles. In particular, please note the absolute destruction of the building in the upper right of the picture. Our bombs hit the building but the massive destruction you see is a result of the secondary explosion of ammunition stocks within the building.
This, Ladies and Gentlemen, concludes my portion of today's operational briefing and I would now like to introduce and hand over to Commander Fabrizio Maltinti of the Italian Navy.
Commander Maltinti: Thank you Major General. Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am happy to tell you that since last time I was standing on this podium, a great deal of progress was done in the humanitarian relief effort. As you already know, Alliance troops have continued to try and improve the quality of life of the refugees. Besides continuing to support the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the international organisations and non-governmental organisations, NATO troops are heavily involved in other activity such as road repairing, improving airfield capability and assisting in refugee registration and transportation.
In Albania, NATO troops are currently building 10 cities for about 50,000 refugees, as was just mentioned. This new centre should be ready by the next month. Furthermore, the Kukes airstrip is now functioning regularly and military transport aircraft are bringing supplies and equipment to operate the airstrip on an around the clock the basis.
At present, as was briefed by General Jertz a few days ago, to support the humanitarian relief operation there is a sizeable force of just under 7,000 NATO troops in Albania and about 14,000 troops in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
This slide shows the number of refugees and internally displaced persons in accordance with the UNHCR estimates. In the left corner you can see the total number of displaced refugees move into the various nations. Yesterday, 2,586 refugees flew out of third countries and about 1,500 refugees are planned to depart today.
Based on UNHCR refugee reporting it is estimated that approximately 590,000 displaced persons are still hiding inside Kosovo. This slide shows their concentration. The majority of refugees over the last few days come from Metrovica. They were among the most traumatised refugees to cross the border since the crisis began. Virtually all, men, women and children, were in tears. There were wounded among them, including young children. The Metrovica refugees had left their homes in a series of villages anywhere from 4 - 6 weeks ago and they have been wondering on foot ever since in a mandarin Odyssey (phon). They stayed for several weeks in a village identified as Zablace in the Eastok area. And the group had walked the last stretch to the border virtually non-stop for three days. The refugees said as many as 200 men had been taken out of the column before it reached the border, including some at the village identified as Landovica near Prizren.
The next slide will give you a better feeling for the refugee flow across the Kosovo border in the last 6 weeks. Here is represented the day by day flow into Montenegro, FYROM and Albania. This second chart shows the total number of refugees entered in the same six weeks.
The next four slides provide the information about the refugee camps location and situation in both FYROM and Albania. The first slide shows the location of refugee camps in FYROM. Although the border was opened in the last days, only a few refugees crossed into FYROM. There are no signs of refugees waiting to cross from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia side. The transit centre of Blace, which normally holds thousands, was deserted.
As you can see yesterday 19 flights landed in Skopje, bringing the total number of aircraft landed up to 526.
Here is the breakdown of the refugee camp occupancy in FYROM. As you well know, we have prepared plans to help UNHCR to move up to 6,000 refugees from FYROM to Albania. Of course this will depend on the willingness of those refugees to actually leave and to be resettled in this way. At the same time we are assisting in the temporary evacuation of refugees to other countries. They are now leaving, as I said, at the rate of about 2,000 each day.
I used on purpose the expression "temporary' evacuation to stress the fact that NATO is determined, in accordance with the UNHCR policy, to reassure the displaced refugees that they will ultimately all be able to go back to their homes under international protection.
This slide presents the location of refugee camps in Albania. In Albania the situation has been stable and supportable during the last week. Despite a large number of refugees, food supplies are not a problem and water is sufficient for now. Food stockpiles allowed sustainment for two months. The Allied Force and the NATO command are now to meet in their engineer unit and empower to build as many refugee centres as possible in both western and south Albania with the aim to have the camps up and running by next month.
As I already mentioned, the engineers unit are also repairing the road between Puke and Kukes to enable more evacuations from border areas to take place by road. As you can see yesterday, 20 flights landed in Tirana, bringing the total number of aircraft up to 773.
Here is the breakdown of the Albanian refugee camp occupancy. The total number of refugees, including the refugees living at home with Albanian families. NATO's major concern is that some of these camps, Koce for example, are in exposed sites above 3,000 feet. If these sites remain tented they will be unsuitable during the winter. NATO and UNHCR are working together to decide how to best solve this problem.
You may recall the great confusion we had in both FYROM and Albania when the massive refugee exodus started a few weeks ago. I am happy to show you the next picture to demonstrate how the quality of life, while not perfect, has improved. This is a picture of the camp of Quatron in Albania.
This is the Grane camp. On this Grane camp picture it is interesting to note the two expansion areas which once built will bring the camp capacity up to 40,000 refugees capacity. And talking about Segrane, Segrane was one of the two camps visited yesterday by the Secretary General. A few moments ago I was with the Secretary General who told me how impressed he was by the close relationship among the UNHCR, more than 20 NGO organisations and NATO, all led by a German General, to help the 30,000 refugees that they have there now.
This is the camp of Bojana and this is Stenkovac One camp.
This last slide shows the principal humanitarian aid delivered in both FYROM and Albania. By the way, I obtained this picture from UNHCR. The total amount of humanitarian aid imported into countries is up to 4,528 tons of food and water, 1,568 tons of medical supplies, 2,302 tons of tentage and 3,249 tons of other equipment, for a total of 11,447 tons.
As you know, humanitarian aid convoys that alleviate IDP suffering are now moving into Kosovo, day after day and increasing in number. There were 14 of them yesterday. Two days ago one of you asked about their safety. Let me explain. In these current hostilities these convoys travel under risky conditions. However NATO, in co-ordination with the UNHCR and the Intentional Committee of the Red Cross, has put in place the mechanics to make every possible effort to minimise this risk to them. This co-ordination, which will soon be finalised, involves guidance on such issues as advance notification, the route and itineraries, number and type of vehicle and details of overnight location.
This concludes my brief, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for your kind attention.
Questions & Answers
Jamie, you mentioned earlier that Javier Solana had received this account from an old ethnic Albanian man that he had watched his family die. Do you think that NATO would have been able to stop the deaths of more Kosovars had they committed ground troops to Yugoslavia instead of depending on an air campaign which until now has clearly failed?
Jamie Shea: Matthew, when you get somebody like Milosevic who is determined to do this, who has got his forces in Kosovo, who has been building them up for a while, who is without scruple, it is difficult in the short term to stop this type of thing happening but the most important thing is not to allow it to happen in the long run and that is what we are doing.
I don't believe that ground forces would have avoided the ethnic cleansing that we have seen at the moment, it would have taken a long time to get those ground forces ready, Milosevic would have seen those forces arrive and would probably have carried on his ethnic cleansing but what is happening is that now he is paying a price for the ethnic cleansing, his troops are paying a price which was not the case before and secondly, we are clear that the refugees, those who have been thrown out, are going to go home, it is going to be reversed, Milosevic is not going to get away with it. This situation is purely temporary, it is not the future of Kosovo what we are seeing at the moment. The future of Kosovo is that the Kosovars will be able to live in their homeland and I believe that Milosevic knows that. If he would acknowledge it and agree to the five conditions, then of course we would be able to settle this crisis immediately. But we are not going to give up, we are going to keep on going for these people to go home so their exile, no matter how bitter, is a temporary exile and that is what the Secretary General made clear to them yesterday when he visited them in the refugee camps.
Jamie, I noticed that in the humanitarian briefing a reference was made to the plight of refugees during the winter in their camps in Albania. Is NATO planning on achieving its military and political objectives some time this year so that the refugees might be returned before the winter or is NATO contemplating an open-ended operation that could extend into next year with the refugees possibly being returned next spring or summer?
Jamie Shea: Well Michael, we want to get those refugees back as soon as possible but the timing is going to depend on Milosevic, he is going to have to decide at which point he wants to accept the five conditions. Is he going to do it, as General Jertz has said, with a quarter of his equipment and armed forces in Kosovo now suffering serious damage? Is he going to wait for it to be 50 per cent? Does he want it to be 75 per cent or does he want his whole army to be destroyed? It is up to him really to decide at which stage he is going to accept the five conditions. What he does know is that NATO is not going to give up, we are going to keep going.
We have shown already, Michael, that we are perfectly able to deal with the situation of the refugees. We have built tents, as you could see on the briefing; we have made them comfortable, we have rebuilt roads, we have evacuated them to safer areas in conjunction with the UNHCR; we have set up sanitation facilities and by the way, it is not just winter, the summer is also a difficult time for refugees if you lack proper sanitation, if you have an outbreak of disease and therefore a great part of the NATO operation is the "medivac" type of operation of setting up field hospitals and medical centres. The idea that winter is a bad time for refugees but every other time is fine - which of course you are not saying - is not right. Every time is a bad time if you are a refugee so clearly we want to get those people back as soon as we possibly can.
No, we are not thinking in terms of a long drawn-out operation. The pressure is building on Milosevic, I can't say when he's going to give in but he won't take too long, I'm certain of that.
Mark Laity (BBC):
General Jertz, you said - I think if I heard you right - 306 heavy vehicles in your last briefing and now 432. Could you be specific what you mean by "heavy vehicles" and where, is it just Kosovo or a wider area than that?
Jamie, we have had now several nights without any attacks on Belgrade. Is there any significance because I know there have been doubts before but this is a long gap? You have emphasised very heavily President Milosevic's personal culpability for what is going on and does this raise the question as to whether you should be going more for leadership targets, him, where you can? I know it is difficult to find an individual but to be going for leadership targets which you don't seem to be going for in the way that you were?
Major General Jertz : Let me re-emphasise again that in the last no more than seven days we really were very successful in hitting many more assets on the ground in Kosovo and that is why the numbers did go up the way I already explained. Out of the 432 pieces of Serb heavy equipment, when I say "heavy equipment" I am talking artillery and tanks and these are the ones which we really are planning to attack which we want to destroy because they are the most important and the most dangerous ones because they give shelter and make sure that the military police and also the paramilitaries are able to carry on and that is why we do have to continue to attack those too.
When you say "tanks", you don't mean armoured personnel carriers or other vehicle, just tanks and armour?
Major General Jertz : Tanks and very heavy stuff. You know, there is also some very heavy stuff like personnel carriers which look pretty much like tanks and they can shoot, they do have a cannon unfortunately.
Jamie Shea: Mark, three things to say in reply to your question. The first thing is that we have not changed the target list in any way, all of the categories remain on the target list but I repeat that we have not by any means attacked cities like Belgrade every night of this operation. The decision on what is the priority of the day or the night is in the hands of the military commanders and if you have already severely damaged or destroyed the Ministry of Defence or the MUP headquarters in Belgrade once, you don't have to do it twice, it is done already that is clear but the targets remain the same, as I have said, on all of these occasions. Any facility which is being actively used to plan, conduct the military activities in Kosovo won't be a sanctuary and is a legitimate target so I would not read any interpretation into that.
On the other hand, we have also made clear that we want to put the emphasis on those who are doing the killing. Obviously we want to try to stop that as soon as we can and of course you have seen therefore a notable intensification of strikes against the forces on the ground in Kosovo, the sharp end of the operation because we have already very seriously, through the strategic targets, disrupted the lines of communication, the fuel supplies, the communications, the air defence system and all the rest so we won't neglect those other targets but I think over the coming days you will see as much emphasis as possible on the forces inside Kosovo itself.
As for the leadership issue, I did notice that the Chief Prosecutor at the War Crimes Tribunal, Louise Arbour, said the other day that when she starts her investigations into the war crimes she will not start from the bottom up, which was a little bit what the International Tribunal did in investigating Bosnia war crimes, but she will start from the top down this time round. And of course, as I have said already, we do not target individuals but we target the leadership complex, the power structure which is of course responsible for the activities of the armed forces and that will continue to be the policy.
Jamie, I am told that there will be reports in the German press tomorrow, reliable reports, that the German government of Chancellor Schroder is not satisfied with the explanation given by Washington that the Chinese embassy was purely a map error and that Germany now believes that the maps were indeed up-to-date and did show the embassy and I think NATO is aware that Schroder is worried about this. Is it possible that one of the allies is not sharing full information with the others at this point and is that not a danger when you may be reaching an end-game in which keeping your nerve and your unity is everything?
Jamie Shea: Doug, let me make it clear that it is not simply the German government that shares the concern about the mistake with the Chinese embassy, I can assure you that Germany is not alone in that respect, all allies felt exactly the same way about this incident and all allies have listened to SACEUR, who was here during the week, explain the circumstances of the mistake and also explain in detail the procedures which have been put in place to revise the targeting database, to look again at the intelligence-collection cycle, to ensure that that type of mistake does not happen again so SACEUR has briefed the ambassadors. Of course, every country has a right to ask for more information and I can assure you that that information is shared among all of the allies but the important thing is that we have acknowledged the mistake, we have identified the mistake and we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
To pick up on the winter question, I would like to ask a question of Commander Maltinti. Could you bring us up to speed a little bit on strictly the elements at play here? Let's say that there was a settlement made within the next three weeks, what will it take to get these people back and from the planning point of view what is the likelihood that a large number of them will actually still be in Albania or in Macedonia once the snow starts to fly?
Commander Maltinti: First of all, as Dr. Shea says, we hope that when the snow starts to fly they will be all back in Kosovo and the fact that they would be back in Kosovo doesn't solve the problem because we know that their houses have been destroyed so we have to take care of this winterisation in Kosovo too.
The planning has about started with UNHCR and NATO, I do not have the exact details of this planning but we will come back to you as soon as we have something concrete on this subject.
Jamie Shea: As the Commander says, a great part of the job is going to be winterisation in Kosovo. As you know, many of these homes have been destroyed, the rooves have been blown off, the windows have been damaged as we found in Bosnia and therefore the UNHCR does have a programme of providing basic materials to construct temporary rooves and so on so that at least families can go back and live in their homes even during the difficult winter months so the problem is not confined to the situation outside.
I don't know who can answer this question but one of you maybe. We have been hearing reports - I don't know if I have read them or heard them - about specific coloured tents, blue UN tents, if they exist, being used in Kosovo by the Yugoslav Army to disguise armour and heavy artillery and I wanted to know has NATO dropped any equipment like that for the refugees that may have been picked up by the military or have there been any attempts to fly supplies, tents or anything like that into Kosovo?
Jamie Shea: I can have an initial crack at that and perhaps there will be some other comments as well. First of all, no, NATO hasn't performed any air drops thus far. There are plans, as you know Patricia, for various organisations like the Focus Group - Switzerland, Russia, Greece and some other organisations - to try air drops but the arrangements have not yet been specified and none of those flights have yet been carried out.
I haven't heard about this story of the blue UN tents but of course we know that the Serbs are a clever bunch when it comes to the tactics of disguise and deception. As General Jertz has been telling you for days now, we know of them trying to camouflage their tanks or hide them in houses, they have been mixing their own troop convoys with refugees convoys in another attempt to throw us of the scent, if I can use that term. They are clever, they are crafty, they have been involved in wars in their own country more or less non-stop since 1991 and so they have got a lot of experience at this game but we can play cat and mouse too and the fact that, as General Jertz has said, we have hit a number of so-called riveted positions, in other words when tanks have been disguised and dug-in, means that we can search them out but I don't know anything about blue tents. I will comment on that if I see anything on that.
Deux questions si je peux. D'abord, tu as parl que la dcision est Milosevic, s'il veut attendre que son arme soit affecte 50 %, 75 % ou compltement dtruite. Est-ce qu'aprs 51 jours de frappes ariennes, on peut faire une valuation quel point, quel pourcentage est affecte l'arme de Milosevic.
Deuximement, sur les conditions de vie dans les camps de rfugis, en Macdoine, tous les camps, tous les camps sauf celui de "Segrane", ce sont - disons d'un point de vue technique - plus des camps de concentration que des camps de rfugis. Dans le sens o le rfugi ne peux pas entrer ni sortir librement des camps. Est-ce que l'OTAN, "l'AGNUR", etc... ont fait des efforts pour convaincre le gouvernement de FYROM de, disons de finir avec cette situation qui viole la convention de Genve de 1951.
Jamie Shea: I think on the question of the effectiveness thus far that is for General Jertz and Commander Maltinti, do you want to answer the question about the refugee camps?
Major General Jertz : On the military side, let me re-emphasise again that the numbers we have already mentioned are more than 25 per cent critical heavy inventory hits so far, thus they have lost, including the latest update of aircraft today, almost about 40 per cent of their air assets; they have lost two-thirds of their munition products and capability; they have lost half of all their ammunition storage sites and that means that the destruction is really very heavy on them. Of course, once again you know that we cannot go into numbers and figures about how many days it will really last until he finally stops. He can stop the war today if he wants to, Milosevic, by just grabbing the telephone - and here it is!
Jamie Shea: Commander, do you have anything on the question of the camps?
Commander Maltinti: I will just say that we are there to try to make the life of these people easy, I think a demonstration of this was the Secretary General's visit of yesterday who talked with FYROM and but of course, I don't have details of political level contacts.
Jamie Shea :
Non Xavier, ce que je peux vous dire c'est que les forces de l'ARRC ? c'est--dire du KFOR dans la Rpublique ex-Yougoslave de Macdoine ont assur, par le pass, la scurit dans certains camps et l'UNHCR, bien sr, est en discussion avec le gouvernement quant amliorer les conditions, non seulement de scurit mais d'accs pour les rfugis et que, comme vous le savez, l'UNHCR insiste sur le volontariat lorsque les rfugis doivent dcider de leur avenir et c'est ce principe du volontariat qui explique pourquoi un nombre peu important de rfugis ai dcid de, par exemple, de se faire transfrer des camps de l'ex-Rpublique de Macdoine vers l'Albanie. C'est sr.
General Jertz, you started the briefing today saying that NATO had no evidence of Serbs withdrawing troops from Kosovo but APTN this morning showed pictures of Serbs leaving Kosovo and also a couple of tanks. I wonder if you can comment on that and also on President Milosevic's claim that it is very difficult for troops to actually leave if they are regarded as legitimate targets on the ground?
Also, "The Times" of London today is saying that a MiG was shot down by NATO over Kosovo, I wonder if you can also comment on that, if that is true.
Major General Jertz : On the last question can you say whether it was today?
No, it was a couple of days ago but in today's paper actually.
Major General Jertz : On this one I already reiterated yesterday that we do know, we have indications, but we are still investigating that one Serb aircraft went down, we don't the type of aircraft. All I could say so far, which I already said yesterday, is that it is not outside Kosovo territory so it is inside and as we are not inside, we do try to identify which kind of aircraft and where it was so we are still researching but also the source of information that we have is something which we think we have to question so wait until I get some more information and then I can come back to you.
On the movement of troops you mentioned, yes, I too have seen the reports, I too have seen the tv and I know there are soldiers moving around but that by no means means that there is a partial withdrawal or a withdrawal whatsoever. As I already indicated in my briefing, it could very well be a kind of regrouping and we are talking numbers which are ridiculously low. If it was a fact, we are not talking about a partial withdrawal of forces. We have to make sure and we have to make it clear to the public and also to Milosevic that he has to tell us that he wants to negotiate or if it is not him, somebody else who is responsible for his country to finally stop it and work out means and other methods to make sure that we can find a way to have him withdraw his forces. That is all I can say so far.
Jamie Shea: We are not partial, Neil, to partial withdrawals quite frankly. It is the easiest thing in the world to put a few tanks on the border, invite a tv crew and say: "Look! I am withdrawing!" and then as soon as the tv crew goes back to Belgrade, the tanks just go back over the border and the numbers are utterly insignificant; 250, which is the figure that I saw, is less than one-half of one per cent of the Serb forces in Kosovo and therefore I would not even dignify this term as a partial withdrawal, I don't think it is any withdrawal at all quite frankly. Only a full withdrawal will bring stability to Kosovo, only a full withdrawal can be verified and we have had enough experience, as I pointed out the other day, with Milosevic's partial withdrawals whereby he takes them out through one route only to bring them back by another. You can never adequately verify a small partial withdrawal, it is virtually impossible. The only thing that makes sense is a full withdrawal and that is the only thing we are interested in.
There is going to be a G8 Political Directors meeting tomorrow. Do you think there is going to be a little bit more precision on the wording, a little more clarification on the terms of this peace plan? It seems that there is a bit of disconnect between what was laid out in that plan last week and then how all the various G8 participants spun it when they left that meeting. For example, that the Serb forces should leave, how many, is it a total withdrawal, could there be a token Serb force left, let the international force come in of course, what the make-up of an international force is particularly concerning NATO and one point that really disturbed me, that all the refugees should return but do they all return to their specific homes, do they all return throughout the entire entity, the province of Kosovo just return to Kosovo but maybe a portion of it?
Jamie Shea: No Greg, everybody is clear that the refugees go back to their homes. That is crystal clear. Secondly, the G8 Political Directors when they meet will be looking, as I have said earlier, at how to translate into specific action, into a concrete implementation plan, the seven key principles reflecting the five conditions of NATO that were agreed upon. It is good that this work is going ahead, it is very necessary, it is to lay the basis for a UN Security Council resolution.
But I didn't actually notice different interpretations, I thought everybody was basically saying the same thing after the meeting in Bonn where those principles were laid down but it is obviously important we get on quickly with the job with Russia of working out a kind of road map so that - to come back to what Michael was saying earlier - as soon as the air operation has come to an end, we have immediately got all of the elements in place to quickly occupy the space in Kosovo with the Serb forces of course leaving - all the Serb forces leaving - so that we can quickly put the security presence in, we can quickly set up the transitional administration, we can quickly have something for the law and order function, we could take care of essential lines of communication, essential telephone and other types of communication, look very much at the food chain and how that is going to work, particularly with winter perhaps not too far away in that part of the world, a reconstruction programme, get the economy going, take care of de-mining which can be in certain areas, as we have seen in Bosnia, an enormous hazard particularly to restart agriculture. There is going to be an enormous amount of work to do and we want to be ready for it and we need a road map from the G8 and then of course that will help our own planning as far as the sizing and the tasking of the KFOR force is concerned.
First of all for the Commander, those numbers compiled for the refugees who are in the camp are obviously people who are coming out of Kosovo and going into the camps. Are you keeping a record of how many people are leaving the camps either to live with Albanian families or to find their own way to Europe or wherever else they might go?
General Jertz, as you break down these attacks on the forces on the ground, are you able to differentiate between attacks on the Yugoslav regular army and attacks on the MUP, the police and paramilitaries and can you give us any kind of differentiation there? I am presuming that all the heavy metal that you are talking about being hit is mainly regular army.
Commander Maltinti: First of all, to clarify, the numbers I gave you are official UNHCR numbers. Regarding the second part of your question, yes we record the number of people who leave the camps especially for third countries.
Major General Jertz : On the military question, the paramilitaries actually don't essentially have much more than pistols, rifles and small arms so of course we cannot differentiate and they normally do not wear uniforms so from the air we cannot really identify them unless they are close to let us say the heavy forces like the MUP, the special police and the Serb forces. Between the Serb forces and the special police some artillery pieces or some military vehicles are pretty much the same, they do have the same purpose so from the air of course we do shoot as long as it is a real target and as long as it shoots against civilians we shoot at it and for us it is often not important whether it is special police or a heavy group from the Serb army.
General Jertz, first of all, could you characterise the fighting now between the KLA and the Yugoslav forces? Is this as heavy a fighting as you have seen since the outbreak of the war? Secondly, you are painting a picture of a rather effective attack now against Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. Why is it possible to do that now when it was not possible to do that five weeks ago? What has changed that makes that tactically possible and the risk worth taking from your point of view?
Major General Jertz : At present, I am not in a position to comment more on the fighting between UCK and Serb forces because we had days where the fighting was very heavy and on another occasion it was very low and it also depended on where it was so we will see continuous ups and downs and as you know, there are a lot of UCK obviously coming into the country voluntarily to also fight but as we are not in contact with them, I could not give you any specific numbers.
On the success we have against the forces on the ground, I tried about a week or so ago to explain why we were more successful. First of all the weather has improved which means we could identify the targets much easier plus the weapons we were using. We are always telling you that we do want to avoid collateral damage but of course with good weather we had better success because we used weapons against those forces which we would not have used if we had had bad weather because we were afraid of collateral damage.
The next thing is that the mobility of the Serb armed forces in Kosovo really did go down, they were hiding and they knew that once they were out in the open during daytime they would be attacked continuously most of the time and because of the good weather we could continue our 24-hour operations especially over Kosovo and we are doing it at night with assets which are in place to make it possible to do with all the military capabilities we have and that is one of the main reasons why we really could hit them hard and once again they are running out of ammunition, they are running out of mobility and that is one of the reasons why I think we are much more successful than we were at the beginning. As I told you, in the first two or three weeks there was no more than 13 per cent of the time when the weather was good enough to really precisely attack those targets in Kosovo.
Question: Est-ce que le Conseil Atlantique a fait le bilan du voyage de M. Schrder, ou est-ce qu'il va le faire ? Puisque vous exprimez souvent le dsir que la voie diplomatique ne soit pas casse depuis samedi, comment en arrivez-vous. Est-ce que c'est du bavardage les dclarations que fait Monsieur Eltsine en Russie ?
Jamie Shea : Hier comme vous savez, le Chancelier Schrder est all Beijing, demain il y aura la runion du Conseil et je suis tout fait certain que l'Ambassadeur allemand va faire un rapport dtaill aux Ambassadeurs sur les rsultats du voyage qui s'est fait dans des conditions difficiles mais qui a t quand mme russi du Chancelier Schrder Beijing.
En ce qui concerne la Russie, comme vous le savez, nous travaillons trs intensivement avec la Russie mme dans un contexte domestique difficile aprs le dpart, bien sr, de Monsieur Primakov mais nous travaillons intensivement avec la Russie. Le Prsident Chirac est l aujourd'hui, vous allez l'couter dans quelques instants. Monsieur Talbott a galement t l et demain nous allons avoir, comme je vous l'ai dit hier, Monsieur Talbott avec nous, au Conseil Atlantique Nord pour faire un rapport non seulement sur son voyage mais sur les derniers contacts diplomatiques et je suis certain qu'il va dire que les choses voluent, que la Russie continue travailler troitement avec nous par le truchement de Monsieur Tchernomyrdine. Donc tout ceci va de l'avant et continuera aller de l'avant.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think that is about as much as we need to today. Tomorrow is a normal day at NATO with the Council meeting in the morning, as I mentioned, Strobe Talbott here and there will be the usual briefings about 11 o'clock in the morning for the first and 3 o'clock in the afternoon and again, I would like to thank Commander Maltinti for coming up from SHAPE today and speaking to you and of course General Jertz but he is here every day.