Updated: 29 May 1999 Morning Briefings


29 May 1999

Morning Briefing

By Peter Daniel

Peter Daniel : Good Morning. Jamie is not taking a vacation today, he is headed for Aviano and you will probably see him later today.

Once again in the last 24 hours NATO aircraft struck hard against the Serb forces in Kosovo responsible for Slobodan Milosevic's vicious policy of ethnic cleansing, and for the fourth consecutive day we flew well over 600 sorties, flying 218 specific strike missions and another 78 strike sorties designed to suppress the Serb air defences.

Milosevic's military commanders, and the troops they direct, should understand that there will be no relief until Yugoslavia accepts the non-negotiable demands of the international community. Milosevic must stop the killing, withdraw his forces, accept an international military presence with NATO at its core, allow the unconditional return of every refugee and must work towards a permanent political solution.

We have of course seen reports surrounding the visit of Russia's Special Balkan Envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin. We would certainly welcome concrete steps towards an acceptance of the terms and conditions of the international community and look forward to getting more detailed information about the substance of Mr Chernomyrdin's visit. We will have more detailed information about the military operations of the last 24 hours at the 3.00 pm briefing this afternoon, and as you know, the Secretary General and General Clark are visiting Allied troops today in Aviano. They will join us here through a live video link and you will be able to pose questions to them through that link at the regular briefing shortly after 3.00 pm.

So with that said, I will take a couple of questions and leave it to the Secretary General and General Clark at 3.00 pm.

Jake: Peter, just on that, we will have a chance to put questions to General Clark as well as the Secretary General?

Peter Daniel : Correct.

Jake: Secondly, does NATO expect to receive any official report from Mr Chernomyrdin about his visit to Belgrade today? And thirdly, can you tell us anything about the visit by William Cohen to Bonn, apparently on Thursday, where according to reports he lent his authority to the idea that General Clark should not even consider drawing up plans for a ground invasion of Kosovo?

Peter Daniel : First of all, on the mission of the Special Balkan Envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, we have not received any substantive information, as I indicated in the opening statement, as yet. Whether we will today, tomorrow or at what precise hour, I really cannot tell you. You may want to ask that question again to the Secretary General this afternoon.

On Mr Cohen, Mr Cohen, and this is what I understand, went to Bonn to meet in the margins of a WEU Defence Ministers meeting. There was an informal meeting in the margins of that meeting as all these other Ministers were gathered there. The discussion, again you have seen the reports, was on Kosovo and I can't say anything more than that.

Question: On last night's target list there was no mentioning of electricity plans, and in the Serbian media there was mentioned hits of two plants?

Peter Daniel : All I can do is refer you to the list, which I have also read which does not indicate hits on electricity plants. It could be that there were electricity problems that were an aftermath of strikes that had taken place in earlier days. Sometimes, and I have seen these reports as well, and you probably have as well, they get the power up and then some other glitch occurs and it goes down again and they have to work to put it back up, but to my knowledge there were no electricity facilities on the target list last night.

Question: Can we assume there is no change in your military strategy following the Chernomyrdin visit of yesterday? And do you have any comment on the Herald Tribune story which says Russia has agreed to tell Milosevic that NATO forces must be at the core of an international military force in post-war Kosovo?

Peter Daniel : First of all I can't, and I think you will appreciate none of us were in Belgrade yesterday, so I could not begin to tell you what Mr Chernomyrdin discussed with Mr Milosevic and what the content, substantive or qualitative was of that conversation. So on that one I am not going to be terribly helpful I am afraid. As to the strategy, the strategy has not changed. I think you have heard from this podium, and the question has been posed on many occasions before. The air campaign, we think it will work. We have heightened the pace of the air campaign in the last few days, the weather has been good, is continuing to be favourable for the air operations and if you have looked at this morning's Ops brief, which is available to you shortly after 9.30 am or so every morning, you will see that the rhythm is in keeping with the last few days. There is no change.

Question: Belgrade affirme que lors de ces dernires heures, l'OTAN a bombard la marine yougoslave au Montngro. Avez-vous des informations ce sujet ?

Peter Daniel : J'ai vu des rapports, mais je n'ai pas d'informations dtailles l-dessus. J'ai vu sur l'AFP et d'autres agences de presse, qu'il y avait des rapports sur des ciblages dans les ports du Montngro mais je n'ai pas de plus amples informations que ce que vous avez vu sur les dpches.

Question: Concrtement, par rapport la dclaration qui a t faite hier par Belgrade, qu'est-ce qui manque pour que l'OTAN puisse dcider d'une pause comme demand par le gouvernement italien et d'autres gouvernements de l'Alliance ? Merci.

Peter Daniel : Once again I go back to basic principles. Mr Milosevic has to accept the five conditions set down by the international community. The seven points of the G8 and the five points that we I think have repeated time and again from this podium, are entirely consistent. Some of you, I don't know if you have looked up in your files but I went and looked this morning as to what exactly were the points of the G8 and I will read them out to you and I think you will see that they are entirely consistent with the five conditions put forward by the international community: immediate and verifiable end of violence and repression in Kosovo, that is point one; point two, withdrawal from Kosovo of military police and paramilitary forces; three, deployment in Kosovo of effective international civil and security presences, endorsed and adopted by the United Nations, capable of guaranteeing the achievement of the common objective; establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo to be decided by the Security Council to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants in Kosovo; safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons and unimpeded access to Kosovo for humanitarian aid organisations; a political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework agreement providing for substantial self-government for Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of the region and the demilitarisation of the UCK; and the last one, comprehensive approach to the economic development and stabilisation of the crisis region. Those, I think you will agree, are entirely consistent with the five points that we have repeated time and time again and which I repeated this morning in the opening statement.

Question: This is a follow-up on the question about the Navy. Do you know if at least there was any target in Montenegro itself on the coast in that region, whatever the target was?

Peter Daniel : I am afraid I can't answer that question but I will take note of it and I will make sure that we address the question that came from here as well, which is in the same general area as what you are asking, at the 3.00 pm briefing this afternoon.

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