22 May 1999
given by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and
SHAPE Spokesman, Colonel Konrad Freytag
Jamie Shea : Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am joined at the podium today by Colonel Konrad Freytag of SHAPE. General
Jertz is having a well deserved day off. Thanks very much indeed Colonel
for coming back and joining me up here.
I would like to say a couple of things before we go to the usual military
up-date. First of all to inform you that the Secretary General, Dr Javier
Solana, had a long conversation a few moments ago with the Secretary General
of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. As you know, the UN Secretary General
is in Sweden today where he has had a long consultation with President
Ahtisaari of Finland on the latest diplomatic initiatives.
On the humanitarian front, we saw yesterday once again a large inflow
of refugees into Albania, a total of 3,650 crossed into Albania from Kosovo
and this was the biggest one day inflow into Albania since 12 May, and
following 8 very calm days in which virtually no refugees had crossed.
The majority of the refugees that arrived in Albania yesterday crossed
the border at Morini and come from the Suva Reka region. Suva Reka is,
or rather used to be, a town of about 18,000 north-east of Prizren. The
refugees told the relief workers that in the morning they had been driven
from their homes at gunpoint with half an hour to pack, gathered in the
city centre and loaded on to busses to Zure, the village of Zure, after
which the refugees reported that they of course had been obliged to walk
the rest of the way to the border.
According to the refugee reports, more than half of the houses of Suva
Reka have either been burnt or damaged, but I am pleased to say that most
of the refugees, having crossed, were able to spend the night in transit
tents in Kukes.
Other refugees who arrived, by the way, yesterday in Albania reported
to the relief organisations that they had been in the hills for two months
before being captured by Serb forces and pushed towards the border. However,
I always emphasise here that refugees in the Kukes area, because of the
possibility of refugee camps being shelled or cross-border incidents,
and there are 32,000 refugees that need to be moved on an urgent basis.
Therefore the UNHCR and the NATO forces, AFOR, have elaborated a plan
aimed at transferring these refugees to other locations in Albania and
the implementation of this plan is to start early next week, and again
another reason for leaving is also the dwindling water supplies in Kukes
given the consumption going up with the summer coming and the additional
burden of the refugees.
In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, yesterday 1,520 refugees
arrived. Today I understand that already this morning alone a further
700 have come in, mainly from the Pristina and Orasevac area. Yesterday
2740 refugees were flown out of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
to host countries that are receiving them on a temporary basis. Also the
government in Skopje has said that it is prepared to contemplate the construction
of two new refugee camps if necessary, one close to Segrane of about 8,000
refugees and the other east of Tatebo.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has prepared a concept
paper on the anticipated return to their homes in Kosovo of 1.5 million
refugees and internally displaced persons. According to the UNHCR, the
success of this repatriation effort is going to hinge on three essential
conditions: effective security guarantees by the government in Belgrade;
the withdrawal of the military and paramilitary units; and the deployment
of an international military force to secure the civilian population,
and the humanitarian operation. So once again the UNHCR agrees that the
five conditions of the intentional community are necessary if the refugees
are going to be able to return home.
As you know, at the moment there is a high level inter-agency UN mission
touring Kosovo under the direction of the Under Secretary General for
Humanitarian Affairs, Sergio Viera de Melo, which has been yesterday and
today in Kosovo. This morning they have split up into two teams to carry
out their investigation into the current humanitarian situation on the
ground in Kosovo. Yesterday, as you know, the team was denied access to
a number of villages off the main road by Serb officials who have been
accompanying them on the trip. According to a report they managed to visit
one village off the road at the insistence of the Under Secretary General,
a village called Mosarda Balbuc, and that village was found to be completely
deserted. Inside the houses the bedding, the household materials were
strewn all of the floors, there were signs of lootings and hasty departures.
Mr Viera de Melo tried to find somebody to speak to in that village but
it was completely deserted, and according to the report he said silent
confirmation. So that is a sign as I say, if that is typical of the situation
throughout Kosovo, that a number of areas are deserted and people obviously
have been forced to leave in rather chaotic and dramatic circumstances.
In Orasevac the UN mission has spoken to a number of people who seem
scared, according to reports, that say that they have been prevented from
leaving Kosovo by the police. And at the border town of General Jankovic,
which is on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
several hundred tractors and trailers have been found which are full of
mattresses, carpets, household goods, again abandoned. So clearly the
situation, at least from the initial reports of that team, seem to be
At the same time the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
has sent 75 investigators into both Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia to collect evidence of human rights abuses in Kosovo from
refugees. They are currently being able to compile about 50 detailed refugee
accounts each day and so far they have collected 1,400 testimonies from
the Kosovar refugees. The abuses that are reported by the refugees are
of two kinds: first sexual abuse and rapes; and secondly, theft, looting
and extortion committed by the Yugoslav forces. The OSCE is collecting
the evidence, to the extent it can, for these crimes, but there are reports
that traces have also been destroyed by the Serb forces.
I would like to give you a figure which came to me this morning which
moved me very profoundly and I think is indicative of the humanitarian
tragedy that we are facing. In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
alone there are 741 children looking for their parents, and 1,382 parents
looking still for their children.
Finally, we have received a report this morning from the Montenegrin
press that there was again yesterday an anti-war demonstration by reservists
of the Yugoslav Army in Krusevac. This is reported in the Montenegrin
Daily Pujeste today. We have some confusion as to how many people were
involved in that protest, some reports put the figure higher, others put
it lower, but there do seem some indications that the unrest in Krusevac
continues, even if I note that the town is quiet today.
At the same time the same report in Pujeste talks about protests in
the town of Raska, and also in Baljevac, where the locals have apparently,
reportedly, signed a petition calling for all troops to be pulled out
of Kosovo in the next 48 hours. Of course if these reports are substantiated,
this would again suggest that the rumblings of discontent inside Serbia
continue and that the incident at Krusevac this week, although receiving
the most publicity, was not an isolated incident but perhaps the tip of
an iceberg of opposition to the war in Kosovo. Of course we will have
to continue to monitor that closely to be more certain, but I wanted to
publicise those reports for you today.
Now over to Colonel Freytag.
Colonel Freytag: Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Another bridging service, as I do here, and I do it with pleasure.
Yesterday saw a marked weather improvement in our area of operation.
NATO aircraft engaged Serbian ground forces in Kosovo and struck strategic
targets throughout Yugoslavia, including Belgrade. 245 strike sorties
plus 9 sorties to suppress Serb air defences were flown. All our manned
aircraft returned safely.
As we have done consistently, we pressed every opportunity to bring
NATO air power to bear against Serb forces on the ground. In Kosovo we
struck a wide range of military vehicles, including at least 12 tanks,
11 armoured vehicles and 7 other vehicles, 9 artillery positions were
also attacked and together with mortar pits. This photograph shows you
some of the tanks previously destroyed.
Successful attacks were also carried out against surface to air missile
sites destroying radar and missile launches. Elsewhere an early warning
radar was struck. In Estok NATO forces attacked a barracks and assembly
area that has long been in use by both Yugoslav Army and special police
forces in Kosovo as a part of their operations against the UCK and Kosovar
A number of other mixed military targets in the province were also hit
and the following video shows an attack against an armoured vehicle in
this Kosovo region.
In the remainder of Yugoslavia we engaged over 40 strategic targets,
these included the command facility at the Presidential retreat at Dubanoci
for direct control of the Serb forces in Kosovo. Electrical power transformers,
providing power to essential command and control air defence facilities,
were taken out, including installations at Belgrade, Nis, Banina Basta
and Vilike Klerjini. Road bridges at Valiko Orasta and Banaskidwor were
struck, together with petroleum facilities at Drahovo and Smederevo, further
reducing the Serb ability to resupply forces in Kosovo. Army barracks
and special police facilities were also struck.
Serb ground activity against the UCK continues in the central and western
areas of Kosovo. There is also evidence that the Serb forces have extended
their minefields approximately 5 km deep along the border region with
Albania. We assess that these have been laid to limit the movement of
UCK resupply efforts into Kosovo. So once again we see Serb forces laying
large minefields, as they did in Bosnia, with little regard for the safety
of civilians in the area and those who have to clear the area once the
Serb forces leave Kosovo.
There was no evidence of Yugoslav Air Force activity yesterday. At least
5 surface to air missiles were fired unsuccessfully against NATO aircraft.
Humanitarian flights continued with 14 into the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia, and 9 into Albania, delivering essential supplies to the
refugees in those countries. We were also notified of 8 convoys moving
into and within Yugoslavia. It is imperative that these convoys stick
to the routes and itineraries that they co-ordinate with NATO.
This ends my portion of the briefing.
Michael Gordon: Colonel Freytag,
can you give us as much detail as you have about the bombing of this Estok
facility, how many planes were involved, how many bombs were dropped,
what specifically did they hit, how far was that from the prison, was
the prison struck either directly or by collateral effects of the bombs?
What happened there?
Colonel Freytag: I have a photograph for you if you
want to see that. This photograph I brought just to show you the magnitude
of that compound. It came on the target list as an unused prison with
an airfield with a large military facility used by the military forces,
Serbian ground forces and special police. We have targeted and engaged
it twice and we have caused a lot of damage but details have to follow,
we have only reviewed few of the gun films so far and I have to ask you
to wait for more information.
Michael Gordon: Are you saying you
hit the prison or you didn't hit the prison, or are you saying you don't
know whether you hit the prison?
Colonel Freytag: We engaged a military target which
is in this area. We saw the Serb video and we tried to match that with
what we know so far and the two bodies we saw on the Serb video must have
laid here and we don't know why, and that is all I have.
Michael Gordon: You are saying it is possible but you
don't know at this point whether one of the bombs may have caused some
of those other casualties, you are still looking into it? That is what
I take you to be saying.
Colonel Freytag: I said that we have twice engaged
this complex, and as you see it is a very large complex and we are still
reviewing our incoming reports and we have not finished that battle damage
Michael Gordon: What was the complex and why was it
important to engage it?
Colonel Freytag: This complex was a large complex used
by the military force of Serbia and by the MUP, it has been used for a
long time there, a staging area as well as an area from where they operate.
Michael Gordon: Did you say the target list carried
the prison as being not used?
Colonel Freytag: The target list carried this compound
as a non-used prison.
Jamie Shea : Michael, I can tell you two things in
addition to what Colonel Freytag said, 20 aircraft were involved in the
attack and it was being, according to our information at least, a major
VJ/MUP staging post since last October, so in other words since October
of last year, that period. And you can see that it is a quite sizeable
military compound, I think that is clearly obvious from the photograph.
John: When General Clark was in Washington on Thursday,
he is reported to have warned US officials that NATO might not prevail
with NATO air power alone. Do you know if that could be his view, did
he express that view when he was meeting with NATO Ambassadors yesterday?
Jamie Shea : John, as you know, I participated in
the meeting with General Clark and the NATO Ambassadors yesterday, it
was a long meeting and I was there for the whole time, all two and a half
hours, and I can assure you that what SACEUR expressed was his confidence
in the effectiveness of the air campaign and that that air campaign will
allow NATO to meet its essential objectives. His basic message was let's
stick with it, let's stay united behind it and he presented yesterday
to the Ambassadors an impressive array of achievements which I believe
made it clear that that air campaign is working. There was no discussion
yesterday in that meeting of any other option but to pursue the air campaign.
John: Are you saying then that from your knowledge
of his views that would be contrary to his view?
Jamie Shea : All I can say John is I have got very
poor eyesight but I have got 20/20 hearing and I listened very intensively
to what SACEUR said yesterday and he expressed his confidence in the effectiveness
of the air campaign, he gave a number of details of the effects of the
air campaign thus far, he stressed the need to pursue it at both the strategic
and tactical level and was confident that if we stay behind it, which
is what his recommendation was, we are going to be successful.
Stephen: Jamie, I was very interested to hear about
the children. Could you tell us anything more you might know about how
these children may have got into Macedonia, whether it is believed they
came on their own? And secondly, how are they being helped? Colonel, given
that you thought this prison was unused, and it was clearly used and seemed
to be one of the most notorious prisons, quite well known to the Albanian
Jamie Shea : And to Amnesty International as well
Stephen: So is this another kind of intelligence error
Jamie Shea : This is not an intelligence error, this
is clearly used, you only have to look at it, an airstrip, a helicopter
pad, all of those military barracks and installations. The prison, or
rather detention and interrogation centre which is what I believe the
consensus of the usefulness of what that place is, is only one aspect
of this. It was a sizeable military compound, it has been used by the
VJ and the MUP as a staging post, as a headquarters area, since last October,
and that is what we were striking, that military installation. I don't
think many Kosovar Albanians will shed a tear if that prison is not being
used because many of them have suffered very badly from their detention
there, that is clear, everybody knows that. If it can now go off Amnesty
International's list then I think the world is going to be better for
it quite frankly.
Now as for the children, one of the things that we have been emphasising
here is the family separation, it is not only the missing men which we
have been tracking, but it is the fact that as a result of people being
forced to leave, often in chaotic circumstances, moved around in large
groups, families have become separated, and of course this is having a
very traumatic effect on the children. Some of you may have been able
to see the very impressive exhibition of children's paintings that has
been opened up in one of the refugee camps in the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia this week with the help of the authorities and where the
children, as you know, have been exhibiting their paintings. And all of
them, to a degree, reveal the kind of psychological traumas and stresses
of seeing members of their family mistreated, in many cases shot. If their
accounts are to be believed, and I see no reason to doubt them, particularly
when so many children tell the same stories, then this is a difficult
thing. And the international relief organisations, in addition to trying
to provide schooling for those children whose lives have been disrupted
at a very crucial period, are also providing counselling.
And one of the big moves is to start the registration of refugees, because
it is very important in a situation where everybody's documents have been
taken away from them, to actually try to put families back together again,
scattered as they are, and the registration of refugees hopefully will
help in that respect and we will track those figures and see to what degree
they start going down.
Mark: General John Reith yesterday talked about they
may need up to two years to get all the refugees back. If I could ask
you for a comment on that. And Colonel Freytag, on the Estok thing, you
haven't completed your assessment, have you so far seen any evidence that
bombs went astray because we all saw there was a hole in the wall and
presumably you weren't aiming at a wall, were you actually trying to hit
targets inside the walled compound? And isn't it also fair to say that
even though this target may have been a military target, it was an intelligence
mistake if you thought there were no prisoners there and there are? That
is not to deny it wasn't a target as well and that the VJ and the MUP
weren't using it, but if there were prisoners inside and you didn't realise
they were, then that was clearly an error at least in part?
Colonel Freytag: This question addressed to me is exactly
the question we are still investigating, and I don't have more details
for you on that, as I have said earlier.
Jamie Shea : Mark, on that one we don't have the details
yet, but you can imagine that if you get a major MUP headquarters, given
the activities of the special police in Kosovo over the last year, you
would not be surprised to discover that a certain number of Kosovar Albanians,
on whatever charges they managed to come up with, would be detained. I
imagine that is a feature of police stations and MUP headquarters right
across Kosovo quite frankly. But there is a difference between that and
saying that this was a prison which still contained all of the hundreds
or thousands of inmates, which would have been the case under normal circumstances.
But having said that, obviously to the extent we learn more we will give
As for your question, I noted the remarks of the Commander of AFOR.
I believe that what we are looking at is a situation where clearly as
soon as the crisis in Kosovo is finished, we can start returning the bulk
of the refugees rather quickly. They want to go home, point one. Secondly,
this is not a Bosnia-type situation of having to put people back into
communities which are going to reject them, in other words where the ethnic
heart transplant isn't going to work. No, we don't face that problem fortunately
in Kosovo. The third thing is most of them are staying quite local and
therefore the distances to be travelled are fairly slight. They may be
deterred of course from the problem of reconstructing their homes or whatever,
and that is where the international community is to get behind it.
However, a number of refugees, even before the temporary evacuations
have taken place, have in fact gone elsewhere in the world, in fact well
over 100,000, even before the temporary evacuation programme began, had
already gone off to wherever, Germany, Switzerland or France or wherever,
because of family connections and of course it may take more time to get
those people to go back. We are dealing with so many refugees that General
Reith is correct, it is difficult to believe that all of them can be back
within 3 or 4 months, but that is not the objective, the objective is
to get the bulk of them back and to re-establish the principle of the
return of refugees, the right of return, and to re-establish the principle
of a multi-ethnic Kosovo, to which we are attached.
Jake: Two questions, first of all Colonel Freytag,
the range of the Apache helicopters we learned when they were first sent
to Albania is 400 miles. What is their range when they are obliged to
fly to 10,000 feet, as they would be to fly over the mountains standing
between them and Kosovo? And Jamie, this site at Kasani I believe in south
western Kosovo which was attacked two days ago was apparently a KLA barracks.
Initially it was assumed that this must have been attacked by Yugoslavian
forces. There is, as you will have heard, a rumour sweeping Albania that
it was actually attacked by NATO. Is it your understanding that NATO did
attack it, was it attacked mistakenly and if so what damage was caused
so far as you know?
Colonel Freytag: The Apache helicopters are attack
helicopters who fight from the air to the ground and especially in low
altitudes, and they also are able to fight in mountain areas and you should
not think that they have to climb up to 10,000 feet to overcome. They
fight where they are ordered to fight and they do it in low altitudes.
Jake: So what is the answer to the question?
Colonel Freytag: That is my only answer I give to you
in this respect.
Jamie Shea : Jake, you asked me that question this
morning and since that time I have been able to check this out and indeed
we did strike that border command post. It was until very recently in
the hands of the Yugoslav army but it appears that it was then subsequently
taken over by the UCK. So I am now aware, I have seen reports, but I can't
confirm any number of casualties. But let me be clear, if we had known
in a very dynamic situation, particularly where the UCK is extremely active
in that part, that it had been captured by the UCK then it would have
been taken off the target list.
Pierre: Les avions de l'OTAN ont dtruit hier, si je
compte bien, une trentaine de chars, de vhicules blinds, de camions
serbes au Kosovo. Est-ce que cela veut donc dire que les avions de l'OTAN
volent encore plus bas, qu'ils ont donc plus de facilit pour reprer
ces engins, et est-ce que, effectivement, on note un manque de mobilit
de ces blinds suite a un manque de carburant ?
Colonel Freytag: If you allow me to answer it in English.
As you rightly said we have struck a number of armoured vehicles, more
than 300 and they are still there, the damaged and destroyed vehicles
are there on the ground because no-one is taking them out and they cannot
be used by the Serb forces any more. I don't see any repair capacity in
Kosovo for them.
Jamie Shea : SACEUR, when he briefed the NATO Ambassadors
yesterday told them an interesting story, which I would like to share
with you, of a NATO pilot who actually saw a Serb tank being hidden in
a haystack, and struck the haystack, and as SACEUR said, it made a very
unhaystack-like noise when it exploded. He also reported to the Ambassadors
that the Serbs have been trying to bury their tanks in the ground and
camouflage them, and his conclusion was that yes the Serbs are very clever,
but our pilots are also very clever and in this cat and mouse game we
are still managing to play the role of the cat rather than the role of
Question: Are the pilots of the Harriers flown down
Colonel Freytag: We don't like to discuss the altitude
of our aircraft when they attack, and I can only tell you and assure you
that they use and choose the right altitude for their attacks.
Jamie Shea : Je pense, Pierre, qu'il s'agit galement
du facteur mtorologique : l'altitude est moins importante que la bonne
visibilit. Quand il n'y a pas de nuages, les facteurs mtorologiques
sont en notre faveur.
Doug: I would just like to return to these barracks
and if possible to nail down the name, because if it is Kasari barracks,
about 10 km inside Kosovo from northern Albania, it has been in the hands
of the KLA for at least 4 weeks, journalists from the west have been over
there, it has been on television, I have seen it on Sky TV as a matter
of fact, among other televisions, it has been visited by western journalists,
everybody knows it was in the hands of the KLA, it was a route they had
established to go in there and which the VJ had been unable to take from
them. Is this the place we are talking about that NATO had struck by mistake?
Jamie Shea : Doug, I don't pretend to have every final
detail on this incident. What I can tell you is that the target there
which was struck by NATO was done so on the assumption that it was still
in the hands of the VJ and subsequently it appears that it had been taken
over by the UCK. That is all the information I have so I am repeating
the answer that I gave a moment ago.
Question - Greg: Just to get this on the record, there
has been a lot of words, things said from Washington about the status
of ground troops in the area. Number one, where does NATO stand now on
approving deployment and formulating the shape of the force, the security
force, that would bring Kosovar Albanian refugees back, number one, number
two, there are reports that the ground combat action, that is an actual
invasion option, is still being studied. Can you confirm that? And three
can you tell me what kind of impetus there is concerning the winter which
comes quite early in the region.
Jamie Shea : Well Greg, thanks for that battery of
questions. The first one is that the military committee has now, since
yesterday, made a formal recommendation to the North Atlantic Council
for the updating of the operational plan. That will go to NATO Ambassadors
this week for decision and of course we will then look at how we adjust
the size of the force to the new circumstances. But I am not, contrary
to press reports, going to confirm any figures yet because that is in
the hands still of the NATO Ambassadors who have not yet made a formal
decision. But of course I have never made any secret of the fact that
the whole purpose of this exercise is to come up with a force which is
adjusted to the very different circumstances that we will find in Kosovo
in, whenever, 1999 as compared with October or whenever of last year when
the plan was originally approved by the Council so we will see there.
As for the topic of the size of the provisional deployment in theatre,
that too is going to be defined by the Ambassadors and if there is need
for additional soldiers, two things will happen. First, SHAPE will have
a force generation conference to produce those additional forces and to
determine the time lines, and secondly of course NATO will have to be
in touch with the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
to seek its permission to exceed the current ceiling of 16,000 on those
forces. The political approval of course has to be sought as you well
Now as for the third aspect of the question, I have always made it clear
that no option is off the table. We have said consistently that all of
our plans - all of our plans - for ground forces will be kept under review.
The Secretary General, just before the Washington Summit, asked SACEUR
to do that and SACEUR of course has been doing precisely that. But, but,
the priority and our focus is on the peace implementation force, no other
option has moved beyond the planning stage. Only the peace implementation
force, the international security force is now under active consideration
by the North Atlantic Council.
Konrad, you may add something, ...not yet, I was predicting the imminent
Colonel Freytag: The winter effect, of course the winter
has an effect on the ground, a severe effect, it does not have one on
our Allied Force operation, I want to say that. Secondly, of course is
the very negative effect on the IDPs on the ground and on the refugees
in total also in the neighbouring countries and it also has a strong effect
on the VJ and the Special Police if they were still there at that time,
also a negative on them.
Stephen: Jamie, in the past you have talked about when
you are updating the KFOR plan, the need there would be enough troops
to move in quickly because you are afraid of a vacuum. I know there are
lots of other reasons why the force has to be larger but I wish you would
focus on the vacuum. What is it specifically you are concerned about in
terms of the vacuum, what are the bad scenarios that you would be trying
to avoid, that you want to move quickly to avoid?
Jamie Shea : Obviously Stephen we first of all want
to have a force that ensures that the Serb forces have left and keep to
the provisions of any agreement. That is clear, so compliance with the
terms of the agreement is the first objective of the force. Secondly,
a force which is able to ensure that we do not have chaotic refugee returns,
in other words that the refugee return be done in an orderly way and in
line with the capacity of course to absorb these people coming back. Thirdly,
a force which is large enough to provide the immediate support to the
humanitarian organisations which will be going back in particularly in
terms of communications, basic infrastructure, essential repairs, there
is the mine issue that is going to have to be looked at and so on. And
protection of course while the war crimes investigators, who also will
have an important job to do quickly, quickly, before further evidence
is tampered with or destroyed in carrying out their investigations. And
finally a force which will be robust enough and large enough to provide
the essential climate of security on which all else hinges. So those are
some of the factors which are going to be driving the process.
Question: On the climate of security, are you afraid
that there will be retribution, killings, activities by the KLA that you
wouldn't want to have happen.
Jamie Shea : Well let's say, let's just put it that
the more law and order, the better for everybody concerned.
Question: Could you give us a political lecture of
these new influx of refugees, I mean in the last days in which President
Milosevic seemed to doubt about all the options, it was a calm, relatively
calm, situation. Now it seems to restart the influx in a quite sizeable
number. How do you rate in political terms and in Belgrade's attitude
this new influx.
Jamie Shea: That's a very good question and I don't
pretend to have a scientific answer there because clearly only President
Milosevic can explain the rationale for doing this kind of thing. It is
quite a mystery to me quite frankly what the rationale would be. All we
do know is that it is happening. The refugees themselves give three explanations.
Explanation no. 1 is the classic one, the knock on the door, the demand
for money, the half an hour notice period to pack my rucksack, as it were
and go. Explanation no. 2 is simply the climate of insecurity, people
who just have been holding on for months and months because, as I said,
you won't want to leave your home easily, none of us here will, our home
is what we have spent most of our lives trying to construct and nobody,
even in conditions of insecurity, want simply to walk away and leave it
behind and a number of people have been holding on. But even these people
now are saying, well I wasn't told to leave but the situation had become
so intolerable that finally I decided I had no choice to go. The third
explanation is that the Serbs have managed to track down groups of internally
displaced persons who normally huddle together in groups for security
and for self-help and have been pushing them to the border. That also
has been the case. But why Milosevic turns the tap on and off, it is very
difficult to know. Again it is difficult for rational people to understand
the irrational and I don't therefore have an answer for that.
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you again for coming today. We will of course
be providing the normal press briefings tomorrow.