Updated: 28 March 1999 Press Conferences

28 Mar. 1999

Press Conference

of NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and
Air Commodore, David Wilby, SHAPE

Jamie Shea: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, welcome to our briefing. Again, as you see, Air Commodore David Wilby is with me. Today we are going to attempt to master the technological revolution - we'll leave you to be the judge to that in just a few moments. But first of all I'd like, if I may, to give you an update on the political side. First of all, as you know, last night was the fourth night of air operations, under Operation Allied Force. 66 aircraft flew, 2 waves, they attacked 17 major targets in Yugoslavia. The weather was a complicating factor, you all know about that, but again, I stress, if it's a complicating factor, it is not an inhibiting factor. The operations will go on, good weather or bad weather. At the same time, as you have also seen, Cruise missiles were also fired.

You've all been following, as we have, very closely, the incident concerning the crashing of an F117 A Nighthawk Stealth aircraft, and you all have, as we have had, the excellent news that the pilot was rescued and is in good physical shape. He's now at Aviano in Italy receiving medical treatment and all of the NATO Ambassadors this morning expressed a sense of relief that the pilot had been rescued, and of course our congratulations go to the brave team that performed the rescue operation.

Today, you have also seen that certain Allied governments are already undertaking reinforcements of the next phase of operations. On the political front, we are, as you know, very concerned about the security and stability of the neighbouring countries to Yugoslavia, particularly Partner countries of this Alliance. The Secretary General had a long conversation yesterday evening with the Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and he has also spoken yesterday evening to the Albanian Prime Minister and with both Prime Ministers he discussed, of course, the deteriorating humanitarian situation in, and now around, Kosovo.

I'd like to dwell on this if I may just for a few moments because I think this is the most significant developemnt of the past few days. If we like it or not, we have to recognize that we are on the brink of a major humanitarian disaster in Kosovo the likes of which have not been seen in Europe since the closing stages of World War lI. We now estimate that the number of people displaced from their homes in Kosovo has gone over the half million mark. That is well in excess of 25 per cent of the total population of Kosovo, and that number is increasing at a rapid pace. Just over the last few days 50,000 people have been uprooted and are trying to seek shelter wherever they can. We have reports which are being confirmed with every passing hour of about 20,000 fleeing from the fighting in the northern central areas of Kosovo trying to get into Albania.


The Albanian government has informed us in the last few hours alone it has accepted between 8 to 10,000 of these refugees. Many are still at the border, where reports indicate that they are being stripped of their identity documents, of any possessions that they may still have on them, and their car number plates are being also taken if they have motor vehicles. That suggests a policy by the Yugoslav authorities to make it very difficult for those people to go back. And even more alarming is that the majority of these people are women and children. What has happened to the males between the ages of 16 and 60? That is a big question which has to be clarified. It seems as if Milosevic is trying to create a new situation on the ground, in his view irreversible, and at the same time by provoking these outflows of refugees into neighbouring countries which are not obviously well equipped at the moment to handle an additional inflow of refugees, is trying to destabilise the entire area.

At the same time, ladies and gentlemen, we are very alarmed by the continuing fighting that is going on in a number of areas. In fact we are living a kind of action replay of what we were experiencing last summer in Kosovo with the sweep operations of the Yugoslav army and MUP special police forces pursuing a truly 'Scorched Earth' policy. This is no longer a question of attacking UCK strongholds. This is now a systematic campaign against the Kosovar Albanian population at large. We are receiving reports of ethnic cleansing operations going on in a number of areas.

Now I've seen some reports indicating that this is an attempt to empty the northern parts of Kosovo of Kosovar Albanian inhabitants, but our information is that these attempts to force people out of their homes and to burn whole villages are going on in the south along the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as well. And they are not simply being carried out by organized military forces. We have very disturbing reports now of some of these paramilitary units, such as the tigers of Aachen, that made themselves so notorious just a few years ago in Bosnia once again operating in Kosovo and of weapons in the hands of Serb civilians also contributing.

Furthermore, there seems to be a deliberate campaign going on to target political and intellectual leaders in the Kosovar Albanian community. We have reports of a prominent lawyer and his two sons killed, we have reports of 20 teachers killed, we have reports of trade unionists killed and we know of many journalists, for example (names inaudible) who have gone to ground and are now in hiding. In fact we note the statement of one of the Albanian leaders, Mr. (name inaudible), yesterday that the last few days have been the worst moment of any time since the initiation of the current Serb offensive in Kosovo. I want to make it clear once again, ladies and gentlemen, that NATO countries are gathering evidence on any atrocities or any instances of ethnic cleansing, not only evidence of those who are pulling the trigger, but also on unit commanders who are giving the orders, or who are condoning these criminal activities.

Every piece of evidence we gather will be sent to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, which has the mandate to pursue war crimes offences in Kosovo, and I'm certain that when the facts come out there will be a number of indictments by that Tribunal. And I also want to make it clear that over the last few hours, even if we don't yet have conclusive evidence of all these cases we are receiving from a variety of different sources - all our governments are receiving from a variety of different sources - more and more indication, more and more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that point to a truly horrible situation unfolding in Kosovo and I want to say once again that nothing, I repeat nothing, excuses this kind of behaviour and any attempt to present this as somehow a response to NATO's air operations is perverse.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, in response as you know to the deteriorating situation on the ground in Kosovo, yesterday evening the Secretary General directed General Clark, the Supreme Allied Commander, to initiate a broader spectrum of air operations. The Secretary General did this in consultation with all Allied governments. The fact that those consultations were very brief and very decisive and the fact that all nineteen governments quickly gave their assent at the highest political levels to the broader range of air operations underlines once again the unity and the resolve of this Alliance in seeing this through to the achievement of our humanitarian objective.

This afternoon, we are briefing our Partner countries, now just as I speak, on this new broader range of air operations. We are always transparent in our decision-making - these are our Partner countries. I would also like, if I may, just to take a very brief moment to remind all of you that NATO's air operations are a last resort. This is not a trigger-happy organisation. We have taken a long time to come to this painful decision to strike. I'd like to remind you that the violence in Kosovo started a year ago. In fact, in March last year. The US Ambassador to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Chris Hill, has spent the best part of a year shuttling between Belgrade and Pristina trying to get negotiations started.

The European Union very early on offered international mediation to Milosevic in the shape of Felipe Gonzalez - refused by Milosevic. Milosevic consistently refused to stop the violence and allow negotiations to begin. Then in September Milosevic went to Moscow and concluded an agreement with Boris Yeltsin to stop the violence - broken promises. And, in October, he concluded another agreement with the US Envoy, Richard Holbrooke, to stop the violence, to issue a statement of principles, to negotiate a political solution in Kosovo and to allow an OSCE verification mission on the ground, which he allowed, but then systematically proceeded to hamper all of its work and activities increasingly. To the extent that that mission had finally to be withdrawn.

On October 25th, he signed yet another agreement, this time with NATO, in which he promised to withdraw his forces back to their barracks, to respect the marked levels, to declare and honour a ceasefire, to have no more than 3 companies out of barracks in the field. Broken promises. Very quickly indeed. Then, at Rambouillet and subsequently in Paris, we had 17 days of negotations, Paris another week of negotiations, in which it became clear at the end that President Milosevic did not want to participate meaningfully. So we have had a year in which every conceivable diplomatic track has been tried and exhausted before NATO has taken the painful but necessary decision to resort to force.

Finally, I would just like to say that our governments are resolved because we are acting in a just cause. We are convinced of that. And I believe also that there are indications that we have the support of our public opinion. I don't expect public opinion to be enthusiastic about the fact that we are dropping bombs on Yugoslavia. Naturally not. But I believe the current opinion polls show that public opinion understands that this has to be done to avoid the greatest humanitarian catastrophe in Europe since World War II and we are grateful for the support and on the basis of that support we will continue until our objectives are met.

Air Commodore Wilby: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. During the last 24 hours, NATO has continued to conduct a highly competent and professional air campaign despite the difficult prevailing weather conditions. We have also safely recovered the pilot of the aircraft which went down over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia last night. I will return to this topic later in the briefing.

In Kosovo, a huge wave of refugees is being forced towards the borders of Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Federal Republic of Yugoslavia forces are engaged in wholesale cleansing of Albanian populations in wide areas and even in areas outside Kosovo - in Leskovac. On this map you will see the areas depicted. Leskovac to the far east, Podujevo to the north, in the middle Srbica. Underneath that Malievo and to the left Dakovica. This is forcing people from their homes. Villages are being systematically emptied, looted and permanently destroyed in what Jamie has already described as what has become known as a "Scorched Earth" policy. There are reports of men being separated from their families and of summary executions. Federal Republic of Yugoslavia forces are also attempting to create a sterile buffer zone within 10 nautical miles of the Albanian border by moving all Albanian populations out of that area. As an example, the Spokesman for Albanian Kosovans, Mr. Rogova, is now in hiding and his house has been burned.


Importantly, Serb aircraft are now involved in attacking locations in Kosovo. These Super Galeb aircraft have been reported each day in action over the areas of ethnic cleansing which I depicted previously on the board and they are also attacking suspected KLA positions. We also know that Serb forces are making good use of deserted schools and public buildings as barrack accommodation in the field.

I would like to turn now to last night's attacks. The offensive campaign consisted of some 253 sorties and focused on targets in the areas depicted on this slide. Allied air forces again conducted attacks throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the integrated air defence system and, in addition, on military and MUP command and control and logistic facilities. Actions against FRY and MUP forces HQs in Kosovo also took place. This range of activity will continue to set the pattern for the campaign with the aim of increasing our flexibility and our capability to prosecute a greater variety of Serbian military and MUP operations. Evidence is already confirming the emerging effectiveness of our efforts in these vital areas - and without significant collateral damage to civilian life or infrastructure.

I have a few post- and pre-strike target imageries to show you. (Presentation Photo) We'll start with this first one at Somber airfield and you can see here all the houses perfectly set out and if we look at the second shot of exactly the same, you will see the house in the top has been taken out. We move on to the second target which is at Nis. Once again we were after the areas depicted here with the arrows, ammunition and storage facilities, this is a pre-strike shot. And here you will see the damage caused in the post-strike shots. My final shot for you today is at (inaudible) air field and here you will see the arrows depicting the targets and now quite clearly you'll see those targets effectively taken out.


Last night most of our attacks experienced the same sort of limited response from air defences as we'd had on previous nights, although there was an increase in SAM-3 activity. However, as you will know, we did lose one aircraft some 28 miles north west of Belgrade. As yet, we still have to determine the precise cause, but I can confirm that the aircraft was an F117 Nighthawk and that it crashed at around 1945 Zulu. We were able to mount a very successful combined rescue operation which highlighted the tremendous teamwork between our Allied nations. This was conducted and finished around 0245 Zulu.

The sensitive nature of such operations precludes me from releasing any more details but suffice to say, the pilot is in good shape and in safe hands and is actively engaged in working through the events of last night and otherwise continuing his military duties. I spoke yesterday of advances in technology and this complex, courageous and extremely professionally-orchestrated rescue serves as a wonderful example of our united capabilities. To effect such a swift rescue, deep in hostile territory, was something of which we are all justly proud.


During the night, many of you will have heard the mendacious claim from Belgrade that Phantom jets were shot down and air crews captured. I can confirm that we lost no other aircraft and we lost none of our air crews.

As we continue, our resolve and determination is high as we focus our efforts on attacking those operations on the ground that have been causing so much distress and hardship to the Kosovar Albanians.

Patricia Kelly, CNN: Two questions, one for you Jamie, and one for the Air Commodore. Air Commodore, the British government has already announced its intention to add further planes to the operation to help in Phase Two. What sort of commitment have you had so far from other Allied nations? Jamie, for you: in your statement about the War Crimes Tribunal, does this mean that President Milosevic is now considered somebody who could be indicted for war crimes and can he be indicted while he still remains President of his country?

Air Commodore Wilby: You've obviously heard of the British intent to give us some more aircraft I haven't got the full details of other contributions, but by tomorrow I should be able to give you a better update of what is coming.

Patricia Kelly: But you are getting more contributions?

Air Commodore Wilby: I'm sure we will get a few more contributions. I cannot give you details.

Jamie Shea: Patricia, as you know, it's quite clear in the statutes of the International Criminal Tribunal that its jurisdiction is throughout Yugoslavia, and that includes Kosovo and Yugoslavia in general. And it's up to the Prosecutor of the Tribunal to decide who she wishes to indict. Our job is going to be to supply her - Justice Arbour - with all of the evidence in our possession, to facilitate her task, but as far as I'm concerned, any individual serving, or otherwise, in Yugoslavia, who has responsibility either for committing, authorizing or condoning war crimes, is liable to be indicted.

Pavel Bouda, Czech TV: Jamie, Czech proverb saying 'After the battle everybody is a general'. Trying to avoid that, I have a question for Air Commodore Wilby entering Phase Two now, has it been done enough for the safety of the Allied pilots during the Phase One? I mean what the risk of hostile environment really diminished as much as possible?

Air Commodore Wilby: I explained to you earlier this week - it's only a couple of days although it would appear longer - that there is a fine balance between making this change, and you will know too that I said that this was a very sophisticated air defence system. Some people talk of a David and Goliath fight, well I can assure you that it's not the case. We are up against a very hostile, very well-trained and sophisticated environment which has trained for many years. We have however done much to degrade the system and I can assure you that whatever attacks that we prosecute in the coming days, that we will make sure that we take every advantage of our equipment and of our electronic counter measures, and of all the other things to make sure that when we go in for an attack it is as safe as posssible for our air crews.

Ingimar Ingimarsson, Icelandic National Broadcasting: You mentioned that there was a briefing going on with the Partner countries - I believe there was a meeting in the Political Committee yesterday - diplomats - because of the concerns of the Partner countries about their own security. What can you tell us about this briefing? Are the Allies going to commit themselves to defend those territories?

Jamie Shea: We've made it clear in terms of a letter that the Secretary General has written to those neighbouring countries that are Partners of ours, that NATO would not stand aside, would not be indifferent to any threat to their security. We have, under our PFP agreement, the ability to hold emergency consultations. We have had those in the last couple of days, as you know, with the Albanian government. The Secretary General has also been in touch, as I mentioned, with the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Obviously we condemn the violent demonstrations against western embassies - Allied embassies - that took place in Skopje just a few days ago, and which did not seem to be entirely spontaneous, it has to be said. But we are concerned. These countries are in an extremely delicate position at the moment.

In some cases, Yugoslavia has made certain threats, we know that there have been shells going into Albania in recent days. As I said a moment ago, Milosevic seems to be following a policy of further destabilising the region by forcing people to leave. For example, already in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, there are 18,500 Albanian refugees, which is putting a very major strain of course on that country's economy, and Allied governments will do what they can to help. But, certainly, our aim right from the beginning has been first of course to stop the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo, but also to prevent the spillover of that conflict onto neighbouring territory and that's the policy we're going to continue to follow.


Karel Bartak, CTK, Czech News Agency: Two questions if I may. Could you explain what the phase two consists of nowadays - has it already started, when will it start and what are exactly more or less the criteria of the phase two and will there be a phase three after phase two or not as far as the air strikes are concerned? And the second question, if I may, concerning the attitude of the Czech government which has been quite reluctant in the last few days to endorse fully the NATO operation. Has this had an influence on the discussion in the Council and what is the position of NATO on this?

Jamie Shea: If I may, I'll give David a question made in heaven for him on what phase two means and then I'll tackle the other one.

Air Commodore Wilby: That is a good question and I tried to allude to that today. The fact now that we are going for more and more targets in the Kosovo area, we're now putting our attention towards the military units and the MUP units and doing all that we can to address the activities that are going on on the ground that you have been pressing for for the past couple of days. And that really is the phase two, it just takes us one stage beyond the first stage. As to what happens after, I think we'll just wait and watch and see how things develop.

Jamie Shea: Well you mentioned something called phase three, Karel, I really don't want to get into that today, but I just want to say that any subsequent specturm of operations would require a new debate and a new deicsion by the North Atlantic Council, all 19 countries, and we're not there yet obviously. As to your second question, I mentioned moments ago that all Allies are fully on board and that includes your country as much as the rest, in fact I saw Preisdient Havel on television just a couple of nights ago. I didn't understand him, I confess, because I don't know Czech, but from what I heard he was making a very eloquent defence of the humanitarian rationale behind our action.

Mrs. Dubravka Savic, Novosti, Belgrade: Jamie, first if I may, I have to make one remark concerning the biggest humanitarian catastrophe. Just two years ago, 250,000 were expelled from Croatia and at the moment you know how many refugees there are. My question actually is: you are very concentrated on the humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, but what about 8,000,000 Serbs living mostly underground these days? Do you still send them love messages from NATO?

Jamie Shea: Mrs. Savic, I have condemned in the past - because I've been around here long enough to have done so - all ethnic cleansing. I'm the first person to acknowlege that the Serbs in Bosnia, Croatia, have been the victims of that in the past. But that does not lessen or mitigate in any way the crimes that are being committed against Kosovar Albanians in Kosovo today.

(Inaudible remark from Mrs Savic)

Jamie Shea: Well, I will not get into a debate with you on that one, this is not the place to do so, that's just a remark I wanted to make. Secondly, I tried to stress throughout that one of the key objectives of a NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo would be to protect the human rights of all of the peoples of Kosovo, including the Serbs as well, and I've been the first to acknowledge that they have suffered also, considerably, from the violence that has been unleashed by President Milosevic, in fact that is one of the great paradoxes of this whole situation, that President Milosevic has brought calamity down on his own ethnic kith and kin as much as on the Kosovar Albanians, which makes his policies all the less rational and incomprehensible to me.

Doug Hamilton, Reuters: One question for Air Commodore Wilby, one question for you, Jamie. Air Commodore Wilby, have you actually launched your first phase two operation yet, have you started? For Jamie: George Robertson, the British Defence Secretary, today spoke of the Milosevic government as a regime of genocide. At what point does the government become a military target?

Air Commodore: I think if you've watched very carefully the way the description of our attacks has gone over the last couple of days, you will have noticed that we are now just beginning to transition to that phase two and address more targets in Kosovo. But we have started.

Jamie Shea: Well, Doug, from what I've described today and these are the facts as they are emerging, I leave you to choose your own words to describe it, I've spoken of an imminent humanitarian disaster and I will stay with that for today, but on your second question, let me just say that if Yugoslavia had a democratic government, none of this would ever have happened.

Karin Storch: In view of the humanitarian disaster you just mentioned , are there any plans here due to the resticted roles and the restricted air space in the region (rest of question inaudible).

(Journalist's question inaudible)

Jamie Shea: (first part of reply inaudible) I fully expect the European Union to be doing so as well at the moment and other countries as well. As I said in my briefing yesteday, NATO through its Europe Atlantic Disaster Reponse Coordination Cell at NATO HQ is fully ready to coordinate the Allied efforts and to cooperate directly with the UNHCE in this respect, so we've already done something in the past, through for example transporting food into Albania last year, transport assets are something that we can offer, moving supplies quickly and so we'll be looking at this and I wouldn't exclude some kind of NATO role.

Luc Rosenzweig, Le Monde: Jamie, c'est maintenant quatre jours que je viens aux points de presse quotidiens et chaque point de presse on parle de la situation humanitaire au Kosovo et de manire de plus en plus dramatique. Alors (inaudible) que l'operation que vous avez amen ne sert rien au contraire aggrave la situation humanitaire au Kosovo et deuximement a ne sera pas trop tard d'arrter si on veut arrter ce catastrophe humanitaire.

Jamie Shea: Excellent question, Luc, and I've been trying to respond to that so I'm going to have another go. It's quite clear that what is going on in Kosovo is not an improvised affair. A tragedy on this scale only happens because it has been systematically planned and organized and excecuted by a government. It's clear these are simply not spontaneous outbursts of individual hatred. That started a long time before NATO ever got to air strikes. In fact one of the reasons that NATO took its decision a few days ago to initiate strikes is because we were seeing this new round of what I have called a 'Scorched Earth' policy getting under way, refocusing away from UCK targets and strongholds towards a systematic burning of villages, looting of people's property, separation of families, wanton acts of killing, a situation if you like of organized anarchy, which I think is the best way to describe it.

That was one of the triggers of NATO action, so let's please not put the cart before the horse in this respect. Secondly, how are you going to stop this? Well, it's clear there is only one way to stop it and the fact that those air strikes have not stopped it today does not mean that they are not the only way to stop it in future. There is no other way and that is why we have moved to this new broad spectrum of operations to be able in the next few days to start cracking down on those tanks, on those artillery, on those units in the field which are responsible for all of the suffering at the moment. And they'll feel the heat as quickly as we can apply it to them, believe me, and then hopefully we'll start seeing a difference.

But there's no other strategy, the idea that because we've suddenly stopped, President Milosevic is going to the very next day withdraw his troops back to barracks and respect a ceasefire is not something that I believe anybody is going to want to bet on quite frankly, and so I think we just have to keep going, there is no other way. But at the same time I'm not pretending that NATO, or anybody for that matter can stop every isolated incident of brutality, no matter how much we would wish to do so, but what we can do is to stop what clearly is a systematic, planned, organized government-directed strategy and not some kind of automatic spontaneous outpouring of violence.

Mr. Jonsson, Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten: Back to phase two questions earlier to the Commodore. Are we going to see any more daylight attacks since this broadening of targets in Kosovo and will there be, as NATO attack helicopters and planes are coming closer to the ground, are we going to see some ground to ground attack of some sort, possibly from the troops in Macedonia?

Air Commodore Wilby: I cannot speak about ground to ground attacks because as I have said to you consistently we have no plans for the moment for ground operations, but in terms of daylight raids I think you just have to wait and watch this space. I would tell you very honestly about events after they have happened but I would not like to (inaudible) those events up before they occur.

John Dahlberg, LA Times: I 'd like to get back to the risks that face the NATO pilots and air crews. Apparently the first incident last night ended happily. I wanted to ask in the event where airmen are shot down and captured by the Serbs, since NATO has been very careful to say that they are not at war with Yugoslavia, are they entitled to treatment and coverage as prisoners of war under the international conventions? And I'd like to ask a question to Air Commodore Wilby what is the mind set of NATO airmen as they fly, knowing that the people on the ground, they consider them not soldiers doing their duty, but terrorists and criminals?

Air Commodore Wilby: Two very volatile questions there. I cannot give you a legal standing for your first part of the question about the Geneva Convention and how we might be treated, but I know that if an airman is shot down or any air crew is shot down and we take possession, we will treat those gentlemen with the utmost of care and sensitivity we would wish that the same would happen to our crews should the same unfortuante fate befall them. In terms of your second question, the attitude - all of us have been air crew for a long time and anyone who's in a cockpit at the moment is highly trained, he's used to a sophisticated technical environment and he is well briefed and trained to the rigours of operational flying and so he knows the risks he's going to take, so in answer to your question, he's very well prepared for anything that might befall him, or her.

Portuguese TV: Air Commodore, one question concerning this phase two, in geographical terms is it concerning only Kosovo or is some troop movement coming up from the north will also be a possible target? And for you, Jamie, has NATO prepared anything concerning this eventual catastrophe or is this a surprise for you?

Air Commodore Wilby: If I pick up the first part of your question, first the phase two, we'll continue to address the same areas that we've been addressing at the moment but there will be a gradual concentration of areas into the Kosovo area, but of course we'll take great cognizance of those targets to the north and anything that may affect the battle.

Jamie Shea: The other aspect of the question is we've been dealing with this situation for the best part of a year and I have just given you plenty of examples of different diplomatic and military measures to put a stop to it up until now, and we hoped after the October agreement that we had put a stop to it, but unfortunately President Milosevic seems to believe that the only acceptable peace is the peace of the cemetary, and he has started again, and any excuse that he may have been giving that this was somehow just a response to KLA provocations - although there have been KLA provocations - I've never hidden that - but any excuse along those lines has collapsed completely in the last couple of days, as we've seen simply a rampage for the sake of a rampage against civilians, totally unconnected to any strategic objective of diminishing the potential of the KLA. And have we got a response to it? Yes, what we're doing at the moment, the only response.

Neil King, Wall Street Journal: You said that it would be perverse to make a connection between what is happening now and NATO strikes, but you've also said that we're now facing the most dire situation in Europe since World War II, which is something that arose since Wednesday, so there's at least that connection, that's obvious, so to pick up on a previous question, what I'd like to know is has this genocide - as people are calling it - have these incredible atrocities not taken NATO somewhat by surprise, isn't there a sort of fundamental miscalculation that there wasn't some preparation for ground troops, and considering that we're facing now what I'm being told is four days of cloud cover in the next four days over Kosovo, the kind of pinprick attacks that you're talking about may come at a time when we're talking about a Kosovo that's wildly different than the one that we're facing now. I mean I'm piling on my questions here but considering that it's quite possible that several signatories to the Rambouillet agreement might not now be alive, isn't it a bit foolish to be talking about Rambouillet at the moment, isn't that whole peace notion at the moment possibly, literally, dead?

Jamie Shea: Those are good questions, Neil, as I expected from you. Rambouillet is the only thing that's on the table. It has been accepted by the Kosovar Albanian community and I hope the people who signed it are still alive, although I agree with you, the situation is very uncertain at the moment. It's also the only way forward because it's the only balanced possible formula to give something to both sides: autonomy to the Albanian community but within the sovereignty of Yugoslavia, and at the end of the day, if there's to be peace in the area, then both sides are going to have to come to a compromise and work out some modus vivendi, there's no other answer, so sooner or later, hopefully sooner, we're going to be back at Rambouillet, the question is simply how soon?

Secondly again I dispute this connection which you still obviously still wish to make between the NATO action and what is happening in Kosovo at the moment. It's quite clear as I said a moment ago that this violence was started up in the final phases of the Rambouillet peace negotiations, even while Milosevic was negotiating and has been rising up to a crescendo ever since and there is only one responsible actor for that, that of course is President Milosevic in Belgrade. Clearly he has now created a situation where he believes he can somehow create a new factual situation on the ground by cleaning people out of their homes, similiar to the kind of mass ethnic cleansing that we saw in Bosnia in 1992 and which was designed to make sure that cities like (inaudible) or Srebenica or (inaudible) in the Republika Srpska would never have another Muslim or another Croat living there for eternity.

This just seems to be another similar strategy that he is pursuing, but it seems that that strategy has been there for some time already. The only chance we've got of halting that is through the current air campaign. Now I agree that it would be very nice if we had uncloudy skies over Kosovo, and David will come on to that in a moment, I again stress that weather or no weather we will keep this operation going and we will sooner or later find out those tanks, those artillery, those armoured units and we will make their life a lot less happy than it seems to be at the moment.

Air Commodore Wilby: Yes, if I just address the operational segment of that very good question, please don't think that bad weather is going to be President Milosevic's friend.

Christianne Amanpour, CNN: You have used words such as 'a truly horrible situation unfolding', we have heard from briefing after briefing of how terrible - in the words of the briefers and officials - the civilian situation is in Kosovo, and also independently we have contacted people in Kosovo who say that they have not seen the like of what's going on right now throughout the year of war, would you at least concede that the horrors that are going on there have accelerated, despite your insistence that they were pre-planned, would you at least concede it's gotten worse, that they've accelerated because of the NATO attacks?

Jamie Shea: Christianne, thanks for that question. Let me say that every time we have a report of somebody being shot simply because of his or her ethnic identity it really does make all of us - all 19 governments - all the more resolved to see this through, so if President Milosevic thinks that by this that he somehow is creating a fait accompli or somehow going to defeat us, I think it's having the opposite effect and I think it's also going to mobilize public opinion even more strongly behind this action when the humanitarian stakes as they are becoming are increasingly clear and we are determined now to stop that and yes, you're right, we always intended after an initial phase of this air operation to have a broader range of targets, but everybody has been very mindful of the deteriorating situation on the ground and while respecting the need of course to have the integrated air defence situation more or less in hand there has been an enormous sense of urgency, you're quite right, to get on with now attacking the military machine at work in Kosovo.

Christianne Amanpour: But, Jamie, are you conceding it's gotten worse and has accelerated since the NATO attacks?

Jamie Shea: It's clear that there's a type of race against time it's true to save as many lives as we possibly can, but again I stress that the responsibility for this is in Belgrade and all of those people who are currently involved in these operations in Kosovo - Yugoslav commanders, paramilitary commanders of whatever types - should think very carefully at the moment, because we are gathering evidence, we have got pictures of houses burning, we are getting reports - we are corroborating them - on individual atrocities and (inaudible) what's happened in Bosnia, where well over 70 individuals, and who knows how many tomorrow, have been indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal. We have seen now a couple of dozen brought to trial, we have seen the first conviction, they know that this justice system works and it's not only going to apply to the people in Bosnia it will apply to them as well, so really they should start thinking very carefully if this is the road they want to go down, because they will not be able to escape with impunity.

Christianne Amanpour: Is that a 'yes' Jamie?

Jamie Shea: I would consider that to be a 'yes', Christianne. Yes, it's a 'yes'.

Stephen Dierckx, BRT: You pointed out yourself repeatedly that the NATO air campaign cannot prevent all ethnic cleansing, particularly in door to door operations by paramilitary gangs. My question: can you imagine that there will come a moment in the not too distant future when NATO will be forced to consider an intervention with ground troops in order to prevent from worsening what you've called yourself today 'a major humanitarian catastrophe the likes of which we've not seen since the end of World War II?

Jamie Shea: I think the conclusion at the moment here is it means we have to keep up, we have to intensify the current air operations, that's clear, but of course we still believe that the only durable approach, solution, is to be able to send in KFOR, the Kosovo force which has been preparing in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for several weeks now as a peace implementation force. It's certain, and you know that the view of all 19 Allied governments on that is that force will be deployed only if there is a peace agreement, and for the time being we will sort the violence in Kosovo as far as we can with the air option. That's the policy for the present time.

NTV, Turkish TV: I have a question for you and for Air Commodore Wilby. Regarding the (inaudible) of the Turkish minority and so what is their situation and are they suffering from the Serbian repression, and to Air Commodore Wilby, I think the phase two is a more closer combat situation so what's the weather forecast for the next days, don't you think that it's going to burden you more and more and it seems that - is it true that the Serbs are using human shields around the sensitive targets and is it true or not?

Air Commodore Wilby: Firstly, as far as the weather, yes, as I said before, it you've got clear skies, it makes life far eaiser for you to prosecute your attacks. However, if you've got clear skies, equally people on the ground can see you. We are well prepared to attack in bad weather, we have contingency plans, and as I said before, do not think that poor weather is going to be President Milosevic's friend.

In terms of human shields, yes we have heard reports, but we have no details, and of course if we did find out that targets had human shields then we'd look very closely into it.

Jamie Shea: Yes, regarding the ethnic Turkish community that you mentioned, I have no details as to what's been happening to that community over the last few days, but clearly in a disintegrating situation of anarchy in Kosovo life must be pretty tough for them as well, but I have no details on that.

Freddy Bonnart: My question is to both speakers, and I take up the point of the ground troops. You, Jamie, said that the air operations were started as a last resort and the Air Commodore has said that that there were no plans at present to send in ground troops. You then mentioned that KFOR would then come in obviously once the operation was finished and KFOR obviously is not organized for this particular purpose. Is there any tension if it's necessary to send in ground forces - that's question one? Question two in fact depends on that: if there is no intention of sending in ground forces and the crescendo of intensity which was described by SACEUR recently is to continue, how far is NATO prepared to devastate Yugoslavia, including the infrastructure, industrial and otherwise, in order to reach the point where Milosevic will in fact concede?

Jamie Shea: Well,in fact, Freddy it's not Yugoslav car production factories that are killing people in Kosovo, it's the Yugoslav military and so we will be targeting the Yugoslav military and only the Yugoslav military, those are the people we have a quarrel with, we don't have a quarrel with the other aspects of the Yugoslav civilian economy or the Yugoslav people, in fact I imagine that many of them, when they are allowed to think privately, are as horrified by the situation that Milosevic has placed them in as the rest of us are, quite frankly, because they have been cut off from Europe, living in miserable economic circumstances in a (inaudible) economy for far too long and the day that they can be integrated into Europe in a democracy would be a very good day for all of us, so that's my answer there. As for the ground troops - you said it yourself - at the moment we believe that with air power and provided we continue with the same determination this air campaign we will make a substantial impact on the current fighting in Kosovo and President Milosevic will realize sooner or later that the price for him is going up and up and up and it's time to stop and then we can hopefully get the diplomatic process back on track and towards a more constructive future for Kosovo but also for Yugoslavia, as KFOR will not only be of benefit for the people of Kosovo, as I said, I think it will also have considerable benefits for stability in the entire region.

Air Commodore Wilby: I have nothing to add.

Journalist: I'd like to know what that means when you said if there are reports of human shields being used, you'd look more closely into it? Would you continue to target these sites, or what would you do?

Air Commodore Wilby: Well, that would be difficult for me to relay to you here. Of course we are very sensitive and humane, and there is no way we would want to prosecute attacks if we thought we were going to hurt civilians in that sort of way.

Jamie Shea: But we'll take a photograph of the commander who's holding those people hostage and we'll pass his dossier on to the Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

Karen Sloan, AP Radio: My question concerns how NATO is adapting to the changing situations and actually I have two questions. One is: you were talking about collateral damage and the fact that you're content that your accuracy is not creating collateral damage, but then again you also said that the Serbs are taking over schools and hospitals and whatnot to barrack troops in Kosovo, so if you end up bombing these troops in these facilities, you're in a sense helping to destroy the infrastructure in Kosovo, or you're actually abetting Milosevic's plans in some way, shape or form. Also did I hear correctly at the beginning of the briefing that you said there were actually Yugoslav aircraft in operation in Kosovo - I find that really hard to believe if the NATO air campaign is as intensive as everyone has been telling us?

Air Commodore Wilby: That's a good question, but 'yes' at times we have had aircraft on the ground doing those sort of attacks, as I said to you, against KLA installations. They're small aircraft, but we can and should be able to prosecute them and certainly we are looking very closely to make sure that we prevent that happening.

Jamie Shea: They're Super Galebs, the type that we used in Bosnia a few years ago, they fly super super low and the Serb pilots have got a lot of experience at flying super, super low, but of course as David said we'll get to them very, very soon. As to the other aspect to your question, let me reiterate, we are striking only military targets, no other target whatever, and targets will be struck only where we are totally confident that there is no risk to civilian casualty, civilian loss of life, it's as simple as that. And as for the reconstruction of Kosovo, you're quite right, one of the biggest economic challenges for Europe, for the transatlantic community, will be to reconstruct Kosovo, you're absoutely right. I saw figures to the extent that 40-50% of the housing stock has been damaged. Those of you who - and many of you here will have been to Bosnia since Dayton - have seen the absolutely horrendous level of destruction, 65% of the housing stock in Bosnia somehow destroyed by the war, and I wouldn't be surprised if we had a similar situation on our hands in Kosovo, but I guarantee you when the statistics are drawn up, only 1% of that, and strictly military targets, will have been the responsibility of NATO. The bill for the reminaing 99% should be presented in Belgrade, because that is where all of that destruction has originated from.

Air Commodore Wilby: I want to finish on an upnote please, and one of the parts of your question was how are we adapting to the changing situation? I can assure you that we are adapting extremely well, there are tremendous contingency plans going on, a tremendous amount of innovative thought and we will use all the technology and experience in our hands to make sure we adapt well to the situation we find ourselves in.

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