Transcript of Press Conference
by NATO Secretary General, Mr Javier Solana
Mr. Solana: As you can imagine, we are very, very pleased to be in Washington.
It's perhaps the most important meeting I dare to say in NATO's history.
We are commemorating the enormous achievements of NATO, but of course this is taking place
against the background of the Kosovo crisis.
and General Wesley K. Clark, SACEUR
Let me briefly tell you what are to my mind the most important points that
have been discussed in the Leader's meeting this morning, which has been devoted
entirely to Kosovo. I would like to underline the following points:
First, the unity and the determination of all the 19 Allies to continue
with this campaign and to go on until the end, therefore to prevail.
We are going to win this battle against Milosevic and we are going to
continue until we achieve the objectives that the international community has established.
Total determination and total unity in that aim and the 19 countries around that table today
are determined that brutality cannot prevail.
Brutality will not prevail in Europe, and it is not going to prevail. The
second idea that I would like to underline to you is that we have a
clear strategy, it is the air campaign strategy, it is going to succeed,
we are going to intensify, it until we succeed. Thirdly, I would like also
to emphasise there has been agreement that together with these military measures
the countries of NATO and other countries of the European Union who do not belong
to NATO will continue putting economic pressure so that the regime of Milosevic is
also economically isolated.
I would like also to emphasise that the leaders continue to be
inordinately concerned about the humanitarian situation, the
humanitarian situation outside Kosovo with the thousands of refugees
which are already expelled from this country, and also for the
humanitarian situation of the people who remain in Kosovo, and all the
efforts are going to be made collectively and bilaterally from the
different countries to come to grips with this tremendous humanitarian
The other comment and other point that I would like to emphasise is the original
aspects of the crisis. We would like to underline how much effort many countries
of the region are doing to help NATO allies, to with NATO Allies, to resolve this
humanitarian catastrophe and I would like to pay tribute once again to the Republic of
Macedonia and to the Republic of Albania which as you know have taken a tremendous load
as far as refugees are concerned. Those two countries will have not only our sympathy but
all the help that NATO allies are able to give to them.
But we would like also to underline that not only these two countries,
but all the countries which border that region, will be at this point
closer partners to the Alliance. As you know, the day after tomorrow on Sunday,
the Heads of State and Prime Ministers of the Alliance will meet together with the
7 countries, with the Heads of State and Prime Ministers of the 7 countries which are
the frontline countries in relation to this conflict. We have not only a short term
strategy for these countries, but also a long term strategy for these countries with
a plan from NATO for the stabilisation of the region, and a plan also in cooperation
with other institutions like the European Union and the OSCE.
Let me finalise on the line of the other important point that has been
discussed in this meeting of the summit, which is the importance that we attach to
get Russia on board, to contribute and to cooperate with the initiative that Russia
has taken, and also the wish that the countries do have that a settlement is reached.
The moment has come to give a role to the Secretary General of the UN and also to the
UN Security Council. This is what I would like to underline at this moment about the
important meeting of more than three hours that the leaders of this alliance have maintained
today in relation to Kosovo. But if I had to underline the most important of all the decisions
it is the unity, the determination of all the 19 Heads of State and Prime Ministers, a determination
to see this campaign through and to go all the way to the end until the conditions established, the
five conditions established by the international community, are met by Milosevic.
Thank you very much. May I offer the floor to General Clark.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this morning I briefed the Heads of State and
Government on the performance in the air campaign, and let me share some of those remarks
with you here today.
First let me tell you that in the 31st day now of the campaign, the men
and women of the alliances Armed Forces are performing magnificently.
They are courageous, highly competent and dedicated to this mission and
we are all proud of each and every one of them.
In the air campaign, facing a formidable enemy defence, difficult
weather and intermixed Serb forces and Kosovar refugees on the ground,
allied airmen and sailors and their supporting personnel are attacking,
disrupting and degrading Yugoslav forces, command and control and
infrastructure and putting increasing pressure on President Milosevic
and his leadership. Our forces are conducting simultaneous strikes on
two air lines of operation: a strategic attack against his integrated
air defence system, higher level command and control, fielded forces
both army and police, sustaining infrastructures and resources in
military supply routes; and secondly an operational attack against the
forces in Kosovo to degrade, isolate and interdict them.
We have about twice as much in the way of combat power as we did when we
began this campaign 31 days ago. Our overall assessment is that allied
forces have significantly degraded the FRYs military and security
apparatus and infrastructure. We have achieved air superiority at mid
high altitude throughout Yugoslavia. The air defence forces there are
ineffective against NATO aircraft and are being destroyed whenever they
challenge us. Over 70 FRY aircraft have been destroyed, to include 5 in
air to air combat; 40% of his SA3 battalions, 25% of his SA6 batteries
have been knocked out; we have inflicted significant damage to military
industrial targets and maintenance facilities in order to disrupt his
ability to repair and reconstitute air, missile and ground forces, and
in the weeks ahead this should further impede his air defence and air
and ground forces.
POL refineries have been largely destroyed and effective fuel
distribution has been disrupted, in fact operations in Kosovo have been
brought to temporary halts on three occasions due to lack of fuel. The
communications systems that support command and control functions are
moderately degraded thus far, but continue to be struck hard and we are
taking more of a toll on them.
We are in the process of isolating the Kosovo battlefield by
interdicting road and rail links and by destroying the prized field
command posts. We continue our efforts to destroy methodically all
strategic and tactical elements of his capability to conduct military
operations in Kosovo, his military and police forces in the field, and
their reinforcing and sustaining units and facilities.
Yesterday, despite some adverse weather, in Kosovo we destroyed an
artillery battery, 6 tanks, 23 vehicles, a column of troops and a field
In short, what we will tell you is that Operation Allied Force is
progressing well. It is true that President Milosevic has shown a
willingness to accept a high level of damage, but the prime military and
security forces, their supporting infrastructure, have been
significantly damaged, they are vulnerable to collapse. In short, we
are winning, he is losing, and he knows it.
Secretary General, you said in your opening statement that there was
unity and that NATO was determined to continue to the end, and General
Clark gave us an extremely good exposition of what in fact the air
campaign has achieved up to now. But at the rate of knocking out 5
tanks a day and the odd artillery battery, you have something like about
200 days worth of air campaign before we get to the end. Is NATO
prepared to go on, and on, and on, with this air campaign without ever
changing its strategy?
As I have said before, the strategy is not going to change. As you
know, the military forces are taking all the assessments that have been
performed since the months of late-July/early August, but at this point
we are going to continue with determination, with with the air
campaign. The air campaign, as General Clark has said, has a strategic
and tactical thing that we want to continue destroying and so that the
machinery which is responsible for the brutalities which have taken
place, and continue to take place, are stopped.
I would only advise you not to get drawn into the battle damage bean
counting. What we are doing here is attacking the forces at all levels,
we are putting pressure on them. They are in hiding during the day and
at night when allied aircraft are out, they cannot move, they cannot
operate, they are lurking in villages running back in the force and
otherwise trying to get away from us, so they are ineffective. So it is
not just a matter of how many tanks we engage, I just threw that out
there so you would understand we are attacking and hitting targets down
there, but the campaign has a much broader impact than any statistics.
Mr. Secretary General, you talked about the time has come to give a role
to the United Nations, can you talk about, in the meeting this morning,
how was the diplomatic track address? You referred to getting Russia
involved. How do you envision getting, first of all, Russia involved
and second of all how does the UN play into this and at what time and in
Well there is a very clear expression, it is spelled out in the
communiqu, as you have seen it probably on Kosovo. We would you like
to have, as I said before, Russia involved in a manner of accepting the
five points of April 12, the five points that have been defended by
NATO, defended by the European Union, defended also by the Secretary
General of the UN and we would like to see the same points defended by
Russia. If that were the case, and I hope it will be the case, we will
be in a position to take that scheme to the UN Security Council, have a
resolution, Chapter 7, and that it will be encompassing all these
points that you know very well, of the position at this point of the
Question (USA Radio):
Why wasnt the Security Council of the United Nations brought in in the
beginning, why have you waited 31 days to do so?
You know very well because the operation would have been impossible
because one country would not be willing to do it and the 19 countries
of the Alliance were not prepared to see those things going on without
action. We acted and we will continue to act.
Question: (Martin Walker, Guardian)
General Clark, you said that the forces in Kosovo are now lurking, they
are hiding, they are hiding from us, theyre holing up by day, it sounds
almost as if they are refugees and yet we know they are still continuing
with the policies of ethnic cleansing, of brutality towards the Kosovar
refugees. At what point will the air campaign be able to start
protecting, defending, the refugees inside Kosovo?
What we have said we are going to do is continue to attack the forces
that are there and we intend to intensify those attacks. We have
sharpened up our techniques, we are bringing in new assets and they are
going to pay a heavy price for remaining there. The situation, as far
as the refugees are concerned, is fluid. We know in many cases they
have been run out of their homes, they have been moved into the forests,
they have been flushed out of the forests and pursued half way across
Kosovo and so this is still a very dynamic situation on the ground and
we felt the best means of protecting them is to attack the forces, the
command and control and the sustaining power behind those forces and
that is what we are doing.
It is clear there will be no change in the military field, I mean no
change in the air operation campaign, but what about the political
field. Do the allies still seek a solution for Kosovo based on
Yugoslavian integrity that means within the border of Yugoslavia, or are
they ready to support independent Kosovo now?
At this point the Alliance is committed to a Kosovo which has
self-government, but is established clearly in the document with the
borders of FRY.
Mr. Secretary, to clarify a few points on the communiqu. It says you
will require the withdrawal of Serb forces. Does this mean you will not
require the withdrawal of all Serb forces? And secondly, regarding the
intensification of economic sanctions, how do you propose to do this and
block the flow of oil through ports in Montenegro without penalising the
Republic of Montenegro?
Two questions, two answers. To the first, yes, all. To the second, as
you know the European Union has also agreed on an embargo and to and
we have to task today the Ministry of Defence to look into all the
possibilities for implementing the embargo in oil without damaging, or
damage as least as possible, to the Republic of Montenegro. That is
also in the communiqu.
Secretary General, I understand that General Nauman is to be replaced by
an Italian Admiral within the next couple of weeks, because his term is
up. How do you feel about replacing one of NATOs senior military
officials at a time like this? Is that likely to affect your campaign
in any way?
No, it will not affect the campaign, The campaign is commanded by
General Clark which is not going to be changed. He will continue with
that and do the splendid job that he is doing so far - General Clark.
General Nauman had a term, the term is to come to an end. I remember
that it is May 8, I think, and of course he will be replaced by the
person who has been elected some time ago, which is an Admiral Italian
called Venturoni and he will do the same job as good and as well as has been
done by General Nauman. General Nauman has been a splendid Chairman of
the Military Committee, and I am sorry to see him gone, but the time
does not forgive things, like the time but General Clark will be
Question: (Douglas Hamilton, REUTERS)
A question for both please. Italian Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini
has said that the bombing of Serbian state television was terrible and
it was not in the plans. I would like to ask if some allies have decided
to proceed to phase 3 targets without the agreement of other allies and
I would like to know how far you intend to go down the list of
increasingly political targets?
All the targets that have been struck in the last days belong to the
same phase in which you are, we are in phase 2, we will continue to be
in phase 2, no change, no decision has been taken to move from phase 2
into any other phase. And as you know, the target that you have
mentioned is a target of long ago, long ago it was set by me and by
General Clark that it would have military implications. It is not the
first time that we have talked about that target, you remember.
We said from the very first day there was no sanctuary and we were going
to go after the military targets and the targets associated with the
higher level command and control system, thats what that was.
Is NATO willing to monitor the Russian tankers carrying oil to Belgrade.
Isnt this going to create a political problem? Is NATO going to carry
out the maritime operations as well?
Until the work of the military committee is finished, the military
committee this afternoon, during the Defence Ministers meeting, is
going to discuss this in about half an hours time. So then we will see
what decisions are going to be made by the Ministers of Defence. But
the Heads of State and Government have tasked the Ministers of Defence
to consider all possibilities in order to ensure this embargo.
Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that is all we have time for. The
Secretary General will be back for another press conference at 2.45
tomorrow afternoon, we will see you all then. Thank you very much.