Updated: 7 June 1999 Morning Briefings


7 June 1999

Morning Briefing

By Jamie Shea

Jamie Shea: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. As you all know by now, the military technical discussions between General Jackson and Yugoslav military commanders over the weekend at Blace and Kumanovo have not produced an agreement. The Yugoslav authorities presented proposals that simply failed to guarantee the safe return of the refugees, the protection of all of the people of Kosovo and the complete withdrawal of the Serb forces, and that was not acceptable.

As we have made clear since this campaign began, there are two indivisible requirements for the suspension of the air campaign: the complete acceptance of our non-negotiable conditions; and verifiable and credible implementation of those conditions. There has been no movement towards implementation by the Yugoslav military. Instead there have been proposals that fail to guarantee the safety and security of the people of Kosovo and that are inconsistent with the Ahtisaari/Chernomyrdin agreement with Milosevic. An attempt to negotiate non-negotiable conditions is a far cry from verifiable and credible implementation.

This is a simple reason why we are determined to press on until the Yugoslav government accedes to our conditions. The demands of the international community are the only way to guarantee the safe return of the refugees to their homes. The Kosovars will not go home while the Serb forces responsible for ethnic cleansing remain in Kosovo. The Kosovars will not go home unless there are NATO troops on the ground in Kosovo to guarantee their safety, and the Kosovars will not go home until Milosevic agrees to, and acts on, our five conditions.

This morning the North Atlantic Council is beginning a meeting just now to assess the situation. I would like to stress that General Jackson remains in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, of course, and he is fully ready to discuss the concrete implementation of the Ahtisaari-Chernomyrdin agreement whenever the Serb side is ready. But that of course is what he has a mandate to discuss, the concrete implementation of the agreement and nothing else.

And just let me add that General Jertz and I will be here at 3.00 pm as always for the normal briefing and as far as the overnight operations are concerned, you have got I hope by now the essential details from the overnight update.

Mark Laity, BBC: As I understand it, the Serbs actually put forward counter-proposals which specifically said they would not withdraw all of their forces. Can you give what detail you can of what their proposals were?

Jamie Shea: Mark, I generally don't at this stage want to get into the specific nitty gritty of those talks, I don't think that is really going to help, particularly as I want to stress once again that they have not been broken off, they have been suspended, but we are ready to resume at any time. And as a result, I don't think it would be helpful to try to give you a kind of blow by blow account of the specific proposals that the Serb side put forward, let's just say that General Jackson was not there to negotiate other new elements, we always made that clear, he was there simply to discuss the concrete implementation of what President Milosevic had already agreed to in principle, and that the sequencing put forward by the Serb side in terms of the various ways in which things would happen, did not conform to our sequencing and in our view would not have allowed the conditions for the return of the refugees.

Mark: You have got accelerating towards their prior intensity of air strikes, is it safe to assume that means therefore back to the kind of targeting, the kind of intensity of operations that you were attaining in the middle of last week?

Jamie Shea: We never stopped the air campaign, and wisely so, if I may add. We made it clear that the military pressure had to be maintained on Milosevic, we made it clear that we did not trust his agreement to principles, we would have faith only in concrete steps and concrete implementation. I never failed, as you know, to underline our enduring vigilance whenever the word Milosevic is spoken. And as a result we of course are keeping that military pressure up. I think it is clear from what happened overnight, we will use the military pressure which is necessary to persuade Milosevic that he has really to accept the concrete steps and not only the fine words.

Jake Lynch, Sky News: Two questions. First of all, is it your view, or do you have any indication to indicate that the air campaign is getting back up today to a level of intensity commensurate with perhaps a 24 hour strike total of 7 - 800 as we saw last week? And secondly, you said a day or two days ago that the codicil on the bottom of last week's Ahtisaari text, with the difference of view of Russia and NATO as to the respective roles of their troop contingents, was being worked upon by G8 Political Directors. Do you have any information to suggest that that has been resolved?

Jamie Shea: On that one, Jake, as you well know, the G8 is meeting in Bonn, I understand it starts at 1.00 pm today, and obviously that will be a subject on the agenda. But the drafting, the finalisation of a draft for a UN Security Council resolution will be obviously the top topic today there. As for the question of intensity, as I said in reply to Mark, we have always kept up an important momentum of air operations over the last few days. Yesterday too I told you about a large number of artillery pieces and other equipment that was destroyed. You can see last night that we continue to focus in an intensive way on the Serb deployed forces in Kosovo, there was a target elsewhere in Yugoslavia, inside Serbia, that was struck as well. So again the military option is not being relaxed in any way.

Julie Mccarthy, National Public Radio: There were reports yesterday that indicated the orders for the pilots were to strike Yugoslav forces only if they were attacking civilians or KLA forces. Could you confirm that?

Jamie Shea: No I can't confirm that. The strikes will continue, as they have done, against Serb fielded forces in Kosovo. I am not aware of any change in the rules of engagement or in the targeting.

Question: To go back to a crucial point of yesterday, if eventually the Yugoslavs sign the technical agreement, does NATO envision to start to deploy into Kosovo before the UN Security Council resolution is voted?

Jamie Shea: I have made it clear that the Allies very much want a UN Security Council resolution, we want it as soon as possible, we are redoubling our efforts in that direction and that is why there is going to be this meeting of the G8 in Bonn today.

Doug Hamilton, Reuters: For the past two days NATO has not struck at strategic infrastructure targets in Serbia. Will the Ambassadors have any say today on whether General Clark can direct the planes back to those targets now, or is it purely General Clark's decision?

Jamie Shea: The Ambassadors, as you know, are those in the Council which give SACEUR his guidance, they take the decisions, and so obviously they are free to direct SACEUR to act in any way in which they so choose, but of course I am not going to start speculating on details. As I have said, the air operation continues, that's the essential fact.

Question: There were unconfirmed reports today from Belgrade that the talks would resume today. Can you confirm that? And what do you think is the tactic of Milosevic concerning these military talks? Does he try to make it look like these are negotiations?

Jamie Shea: Again, as far as Milosevic's tactics are concerned, I think you should ask him or you should ask his spokesman in Belgrade what their rationale is. Our position is perfectly clear. And as I have said, General Jackson, the flap of his tent remains open and I want to make that clear. There will be some liaison contacts today. I want to stress very much to you that these talks have not been broken off, that is not the case. At 1.00 pm today there will be a liaison meeting, at least that is planned, we intend to keep up liaison, and as I said, General Jackson has the maps on the table and he is ready to resume where the Yugoslav Generals left off yesterday. We want this agreement, but it has to be an agreement which is totally consistent and does not deviate from the agreement made between Milosevic and Mr Chernomyrdin and President Ahtisaari.

Question: What is this meeting?

Jamie Shea: It is a meeting at lower liaison level.

Question: Between whom?

Jamie Shea: That is obvious, if you don't mind my saying so, between the representatives of General Jackson and the representatives of the Yugoslav Generals.

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