Updated: 30 May 1999 Morning Briefings


30 May 1999

Morning Briefing

By Jamie Shea

Question: There is more and more talk about the air space over Europe being complicated by the NATO campaign. To what extent is NATO coordinating or co-operating with the international institutions which take care of the control of the airspace at the beginning of the summer season? What is the mechanism, if you are aware, of this cooperation and co-ordination? And my second question, you say that Milosevic must take action, that NATO wants to see action. What should this action be, what is the minimum action on the side of Milosevic that would make you sure that he is doing something?

Jamie Shea: There are two things that Milosevic can do in the action category. The first thing is he could make a very clear statement, himself, that he accepts the five conditions of NATO, without reservation, without negotiation, and that he is willing to implement those five conditions immediately. And the earnest, in other words the guarantee that he would give to show his sincerity, would be to pull his forces out of Kosovo. As I say, Kosovo is a small place and Serbia is next door, so those forces can be withdrawn immediately and we can then establish a mechanism to verify that those forces are effectively being withdrawn. Those are the two things that we really are looking at.

As for your first question, SHAPE has an air control centre which coordinates with Euro-Control, the civilian agency which is based in Brussels, so that makes things very convenient. On the management of air space and the deconfliction of military and civilian flights, since the beginning of Operation Allied Force on 24 March we have been able to restore to civilian air traffic a number of flight corridors to minimise the disruption in what is of course a very crowded air space at the best of times, even when you don't have a military campaign. All of you who take flights know the increasing problems of slots and arrival times because of the very intensive amount of air traffic. Now we have started to operate a 360 degree circumference around Kosovo with the additional bases, we are again in touch with Euro-Control to further deconflict the military and civilian flights, and of course our aim is to minimise disruption for civilian air passengers, particularly as you say when the summer season is beginning.

Greg: Do you have any information on what is going on at the Morina crossing, that is on the fighting there? Is there really the sense that the KLA is trying to open up the Morina crossing as an in-point to Kosovo? And is NATO - I know NATO is not the Air Force for the KLA - is NATO in any way coordinating its bombing around there to facilitate the KLA action?

Jamie Shea: Greg, as I said the other day, we obviously want to try to get the refugees away from Kukes and Morina up in the north to safer locations because the Serbs have been shelling over the border for several weeks now, and as you know, we have always been worried that one of those shells could land in a refugee camp with appalling consequences. Also, Kukes has been in any case over-crowded. There are water problems there, sanitation problems, and I can tell you that AFOR, the NATO soldiers, in conjunction with UNHCR, have begun a major evacuation programme which started last week, and I can tell you for example that 2,017 refugees were moved yesterday, 50 of them by helicopter, to camps elsewhere in Albania. So that is one thing that we are doing.

As far as the UCK is concerned, yes the UCK has been trying to open up a further corridor into Kosovo out of Morina and to link up with their existing corridor in the Kosare area. And they have tried to launch a limited offensive there, particularly to come down into the valley from a mountain where they are currently deployed, called Pastrik Mountain, and there has been lots of fighting there. Now again I want to stress that NATO has no formal links with the UCK, we do not co-ordinate. There have been several newspaper reports suggesting that we exchange intelligence and so on. But I have no confirmation of that, but obviously the UCK is able to exploit the fact that Serb forces are immobilised because of NATO air strikes, or they are able to attack those Serb forces which are degraded by NATO air strikes and harass them all the more effectively. But that is an indirect consequence, if you like, of what we are doing and not the result of any formal links between our organisation and theirs.

Philippe: Les Amricains ont annonc l'envoi de 68 avions supplmentaires, soit un total pour les Etats-Unis de 769 avions. Au total, toute l'opration c'est combien d'avions?

Jamie Shea: Philippe, pour l'instant nous avons 769 amricains, aprs l'arrive de ces renforts et comme tu sais il s'agit de 36 F-15, de 12 F-16, et d'une vingtaine d'avions ravitailleurs.

Philippe: Mais au total a fera combien?

Jamie Shea: a fait donc 769 US, et 320 europens. Tu es meilleur mathmaticien que moi, donc je te demande d'ajouter le total. Mais a fait plus de 1.000, a nous amne aux alentours de 1.100 avions. Et a montre une fois de plus notre dtermination d'intensifier la campagne arienne.

Pierre: Suite la question de Philippe, ces F-15s et F-16s vont tre dploys en Turquie?

Jamie Shea: a, a reste prvoir. Les diffusions vont se poursuivre cet gard. Mais nous avons maintenant la Hongrie qui nous donne des bases, nous avons maintenant la Turquie qui gnreusement nous a accord des bases. a permet de dcharger un peu l'Italie, bien sr, qui juste prsent a eu supporter le poids principal de toutes ces bases, mais donc SACEUR a d'avantage d'options de bases maintenant qu'avant. Mais je ne sais pas pour l'instant exactement o vont aller ces avions. Je vais essayer de me renseigner.

Paul: Jamie, there were reports yesterday of intensified or an increase in the dropping of propaganda leaflets - B52s reported over Pristina doing that. Are we stepping up that, the propaganda campaign?

Jamie Shea: Well, certainly that's something that's in the hands of the military - that's part of the military operation. It's not part of the operation here that I'm responsible for - I want to make that clear. It's part of the military operation. They've been doing it since the beginning of the campaign. I'm not aware if they're doing it more intensively now than they were doing at the beginning. But as I say, this is not something which is part of the information effort, this is part of the military campaign in the hands of the military commanders.

Philippe Rater, AFP: Comment les troupes serbes qui se retireraient du Kosovo peuvent avoir la certitude de ne pas tre bombarder par les avions de l'OTAN?

Jamie Shea: Philippe, si ces forces serbes entament un vritable retrait, ce qui est tout fait diffrent de ce que nous avons vu prsent, nous serons en mesure de constater rapidement cela, et bien sr de prendre les mesures de vrification qui s'imposent. Et du moment que nous constatons un vritable retrait, qui doit tre vrifiable d'ailleurs - il ne s'agit pas de prendre le Prsident Milosevic au mot - nous voulons constater a - il faudrait un mchanisme de vrification qu'on peut tablir en ce moment-ci. Et du moment qu'il y a un vritable retrait, l'OTAN le respectera, bien sr. Mais pour l'instant, nous ne voyons pas a et donc la campagne arienne se poursuit.

Philippe Rater:: Que veut dire un mchanisme de vrification?

Jamie Shea: Oh, c'est dire qu'il faut bien sr pouvoir observer et voir que toutes ces forces, et non pas un nombre limit, mais toutes ces forces se retirent.

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