|Updated: 5 June 1999||Morning Briefings|
5 June 1999
By Jamie Shea
Why this twin track approach at this particular time? Because it makes it absolutely clear to Belgrade that NATO is resolved to continue its action until the agreement accepted by President Milosevic is implemented. As President Ahtisaari put it the other day, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. As we have dealt now for 10 years with President Milosevic, one thing that we have learned is that we cannot take his word for anything. The only thing that counts is his actions. So accordingly we will continue to launch air operations until deeds come into conformity with words.
You have received the full list of the targets struck yesterday in the morning update. I am pleased to report as always - this is always the best news I have every day - that all allied pilots have returned safely to their bases. Today is Day 74 of Operation Allied Force and air operations are continuing at the moment.
At the same time we are fully engaged now in our preparations for building peace in Kosovo through the deployment of Kfor, Kosovo Force. As you know, General Sir Mike Jackson, the Commander of the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps, the headquarters of Kfor, has placed his headquarters on 24 hour alert to move and is ready to deploy, to begin initial deployments, as soon as we have got the withdrawal of the Serb forces under way. NATO countries are also stepping up their activities. All nations that have offered forces to the Kfor Plus Force Generation Conference last Tuesday, have reconfirmed their commitments, so that is good news. Many have reduced the notice to move of their troops and active preparations are in hand for the rapid deployment of reinforcements to the theatre. Some force elements can be moved very quickly indeed once the final detailed agreement is reached and we have as you know proof of the implementation on the Serb side.
Now as you know, at the present time General Jackson is waiting for the Yugoslav Generals to show up at the Blace border crossing point for his meeting. General Jackson yesterday evening received very clear guidance from the North Atlantic Council following a meeting that was held here last night on what he has to tell the Yugoslav Commanders. I again reiterate, this is not a negotiation that will be taking place today, the purpose of the meeting is for General Jackson, on behalf of the North Atlantic Council, to spell out in detail to the Yugoslav Commanders what they
1 have to do with regard to the withdrawal of their forces, the timetable, the routes, the assembly areas where they will have to deploy before beginning their withdrawal, and he will also explain the detailed mechanisms of verification that we will be using.
There will be, when they arrive, two major participants on the Yugoslav side. One is Colonel General Svetzosa Majanvic of the Yugoslav Army, and the other one is Colonel General Obrad Stevanovic of the MUP special police.
Once those talks have been completed today the results will be obviously communicated to SACEUR in the North Atlantic Council and then of course I will be in a better position to tell you about the next steps in the Kosovo crisis. But for now I want to stop where I started, I want to reiterate the central message which is that we are still being cautious, we are determined to put Belgrade to the test. The air operations are ongoing and they will not be stood down until such time as we have the complete rapid and verified withdrawal of the Serb forces.
Mark Laity BBC: Have you got any indication as to what the problem is with the Yugoslavs, the suggestion that they are objecting to the presence of the press and things like that?
Jamie Shea: No, the only thing I have, speaking to the Commanders a few moments ago, is that apparently the Yugoslav delegation wants to change the location, but I am not aware of what is happening, Mark, quite frankly.
Mark Laity: Have they given a reason why they want to change the location?
Jamie Shea: My understanding is that they have some concerns of security, although I can assure you that with all of the Kfor forces that are deployed in that particular area, their security is probably better than it would be anywhere else in the world.
Mark Laity: What are they saying, are they afraid they are going to be attacked by the KLA?
Jamie Shea: I don't think there are KLA fighters in that particular location. Mark, don't get me into speculation because I honestly don't know. The only thing I have is what I have given you. If I have more I will share it with you, but I don't have anything for the time being.
Craig Whitney: What are the details that you can tell us about what NATO is going to require of them as far as timing goes, timetable, routes and details, are we spelling out for them the timetable and routes etc?
Jamie Shea: Yes we are. Craig, I can't give you, if you like, Route 66 type details because these are not actually contained in the guidance of the North Atlantic Council. The guidance is simply clear to General Jackson and it is up to him, as the operational commander, to work it out. He has been studying this issue for a long time, he has his own plan for how the Serb forces will withdraw and we are leaving it to him. We have absolutely total confidence in General Jackson to have a plan and to put it across to the Yugoslav authorities. As I said, he is not going to negotiate with the Yugoslav authorities, he is simply going to say look this is what I want you to do and he will then communicate that back to the NAC. But the basic idea is that the Yugoslav forces, within a certain time frame to be determined by General Jackson, have to gather in certain barracks and assembly areas, then in another certain time frame they have to start withdrawing. General Jackson will give the routes, he will also say which unit has to move along which route and then of course he will also describe to the Yugoslav Generals how NATO will be verifying that so they are aware of that. But as I say, the details are for the military to sort out and the North Atlantic Council always has total confidence in its military commanders.
Question: Jamie, I was listening to the Serbian media and I am reading their newspaper. Can you repeat again, that all forces have to withdraw, because they are saying only the army?
Jamie Shea: No, I can absolutely assure you that all Serb forces in the three categories - the VJ, the MUP and the paramilitaries - must withdraw, that is absolutely clear. It is everybody out.
Question: A follow-up question. There can be tactics, that the police for example can say that we are so-called civil police?
Jamie Shea: A good try, but it is not going to work.
Philippe Rater AFP: Deux questions sur la force de paix qui devrait rentrer au Kosovo, d'une part quelle est votre raction la proposition des Russes de mettre entre 5 000 et 10 000 hommes dans cette force et deuximement sur le commandement, certains mdias ce matin disent que, il y aurait un commandement unique donc au sommet dirig par Jackson et qu'en dessous de lui, il y aurait deux tats-majors, un pour les troupes de l'OTAN et un pour les troupes russes et ventuellement Ukrainiennes ou autres qui voudraient bien se joindre aux Russes.
Jamie Shea: Pour l'instant, j'ai not les chos Moscou concernant une participation russe entre 5 000 et 10 000, nous allons voir bien sr comment a se concrtisera dans les faits mais je tiens une fois de plus le dire que nous accueillerons une participation russe. Comme vous le savez les modalits ne sont pas encore et n'ont pas encore discutes entre l'OTAN et la Russie. Nous esprons dans les jours qui viennent s'assoir autour d'une table peut-tre dans le cadre du Conseil Conjoint Permanent avec la Russie pour voir ce que la Russie voudrait contribuer et les modalits de l'intgration des forces russes mais les dtails ne sont pas encore dfinis. L'OTAN fera preuve de flexibilit, d'imagination comme toujours dans notre volont de trouver une formule qui puisse associer les russes mais les dtails que l'on peut lire dans la presse pour l'instant ne sont pas des dtails qui ont t discuts par l'Alliance. Je ne suis pas pour l'instant au courant qu'un autre pays voudrait un systme de commandement spcial pour l'instant. Parmi les onze pays qui ont particip la confrence de gnration de force au SHAPE. Donc pour l'instant je ne peux pas commenter davantage.
Philippe Rater AFP: Juste un point de dtail, si vous n'avez pas commenc les discussions avec les Russes, il risque d'arriver aprs l'arrive des premires troupes au Kosovo.
Jamie Shea: Oui, mais coutez, ce dploiement est un dploiement progressif, a va de soi, on ne peut pas s'attendre ce que tout le monde soit l ds le premier jour mais l'instar de la SFOR/IFOR en Bosnie, nous associerons les pays partenaires au fur et mesure de leur possibilit de prparation et de dploiement. Mais je ne pense pas personnellement que ce soit un problme.
Question: You said the General was waiting for the other side. Could you give us some details? Did the General go to a pre-determined location at a set time and the other side just didn't show up, or how did that happen?
Jamie Shea: Again, unfortunately I am not on the spot and I don't pretend to know all the details. What I understand is General Jackson is waiting in his headquarters and will go by helicopter to the location once the Yugoslav Generals have arrived. But again, as I get more information I will share it with you, but I really don't have anything more than that for the time being.
Jake Lynch Sky News: Could you confirm what appears to be the case from the target list, that the air operation is now avoiding strategic targets in Serbia outside Kosovo, and is that in response to complaints by President Chirac? And also what do you know about the possibility that Michael Portillo might be the next Secretary General?
Jamie Shea: Jake, as you know, I never comment on press speculation, with regard to your second question. And with regard to your first, no, the information that I have is that there were targets outside Kosovo which were struck last night, although the concentration was against fielded forces in Kosovo itself. There is still fighting going on, particularly along the Albanian border, even though operations in northern and central Kosovo have slowed down considerably by MUP and VJ units over the last 48 hours. But along the Albanian border the fighting has still been tense, between Junik and Djakovica in particular, in that area there, and again that was the focus of many NATO operations yesterday. But we will use whatever degree of intensity we judge necessary at this present time to keep up the pressure on President Milosevic, that is clear.
John: What has the NAC, or SACEUR, instructed General Jackson to tell the Yugoslavs to avoid a final fling of destruction or a scorched earth policy, as the Yugoslav soldiers and police leave Kosovo?
Jamie Shea: Well I doubt if there is much earth left to scorch in Kosovo quite frankly John, at least from what I know of the situation in the place, it has been pretty comprehensively scorched already unfortunately and I think everybody is going to see that when western camera teams go in with the Kfor soldiers over the next few days.
Having said that, the message which General Jackson will deliver is that those troops have to pack their bags and leave without delay, and certainly not to conduct a last final fling of ethnic cleansing or whatever en route. If those forces do not continue to withdraw, if they try to do those kind of activities then of course they will be immediately liable to NATO air strikes, that is clear. They can only not be attacked by NATO if they are withdrawing in an orderly way. And we expect those Yugoslav Army Commanders to exercise some kind of discipline over their forces, which is what military commanders in an army are there to do.