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Updated: 24 April 1999 Press Conferences
Washington

24 Apr. 1999

Corrected
Version

Press Conference

by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea
and Colonel Konrad Freytag, GEAF, SHAPE

(Presentation Photo)

Jamie Shea: Ladies and gentlemen, a very good morning to you. I am joined at the podium once again today by Col. Konrad Freytag of SHAPE and he will give you as yesterday the operational update. By way of a very brief introduction today, I would just like to stress that, as you know, the Heads of State and Government of the Allies came to Washington yesterday in order to reaffirm their determination and their resolve to prevail in settling the Kosovo crisis according to the basic conditions, the non-negotiable conditions, of the international community. And yesterday evening there was a meeting of defence ministers which looked at some of the operational aspects and confirmed very strongly that resolve. We are determined to intensify the air operations. There is a lot that they can still do, and last night you had, I think, another example of how we are intensifying those operations. We had some very bad weather, but nonetheless NATO aircraft were able to complete a number of strikes against military vehicles in Kosovo. They remain of course a prime target. We also attacked an oil refinery at Novi Sad, an airport in the southern city of Nis, a bridge in Kosovo and a fuel station in Central Serbia. At the same time yesterday evening, NATO Defence Ministers agreed to ask SACEUR to start developing a concept of operations in order to establish a visit and search regime so that we can make our declared oil embargo against Yugoslavia as effective as possible. Why are we doing this? Essentially, because without oil the Yugoslav military machine will come to a halt and very quickly. We have reduced already the supplies available to the Yugoslav army by about 70% since we began on March 24th. But as you can imagine, it makes less sense for NATO pilots to risk their lives every evening over Yugoslavia attempting to deplete the existing oil reserves if oil can enter freely by the back door from other sources and allow Milosevic to replenish freely his stocks and to keep his military operations ongoing. So in addition to the voluntary embargo which NATO countries and the European Union countries have decided, we want to look at what other measures we can adopt to ensure that as little oil as possible reaches Yugoslavia during operations and General Clark will be looking at ways to do that. But I want to stress at this stage that we have agreed in principle to explore the idea of a visit and search regime but it will be up to SACEUR to come forward with a concept of operations which suggests to us how that can be done. And that will be looked at by the North Atlantic Council in the next days. At the same time, Defence Ministers also agreed yesterday that SACEUR will be given all of the operational assets that he requires in terms of extra assets to prosecute the air campaign with maximum effect and he will also have all of the operational flexibility he requires as well. So that was a meeting which immediately sought to translate into action the clear expression of political will that came from the Heads of State and Government yesterday morning to keep up the pressure until Milosevic agrees to our fundamental requirements. Having stated that, I would now like to ask Conrad to give you his operational update.

Konrad Freytag: Thank you Jamie, good morning ladies and gentlemen, NATO airstrikes against strategic infrastructure and fielded military and special police forces in Kosovo continued. We are intensifying NATO's military actions to increase pressure on Belgrade.

Let me begin again with humanitarian aspects. NATO forces continued to aid international organisations and governmental authorities in Albania and in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in support of humanitarian relief operations. In the past 24 hrs there were 28 flights to Albania delivering 9 tons of food and water and 4 tons of medical supplies . There were 16 aid flights to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that delivered 8 tons of medical supplies. Since 30th March NATO has delivered 11,121 tons of humanitarian aid. We fed and sheltered 85,000 refugees and we supplied 729 tons of medicine support of the humanitarian effort.

Turning now to Serb ground operations in Kosovo. Serb counter...... operations agains the UCK are ongoing in the areas shown on this slide. The UCK continues to be active in Kosovo as shown here. They are generally conducting hit and run tactics against Serb fielded forces. In addition Serb offensive operations continue along the Albanian border in West and Southwest Kosovo as depicted by the arrows. These actions are an attempt to interdict UCK re-supply operations. Serbian forces also continue to establish defensive positions around key towns and lines of communications and small-size units continue to re-deploy into hiding positions in South Kosovo. These operations seem to be in preparation for how they say it: "any potential NATO ground offensive". Finally, Serb para-military forces continue to operate in the Pec area. Serb air defence activity was relatively light with three ....six optical launches detected. No Serb fighter activity was observed and once again all our aircraft returned safely.

I will now turn to NATO operations. Also adverse weather conditions affected our operations during the past 24 hours. We continued to have success against both strategic targets and fielded forces. Targets from the past 24 hrs were command and control facilities, including the radio relay and tv transmitting towers at Kragujevac and Novi Sad. As part of the integrated air defence system, three airfields, including Nis and Essam support facility were struck. POL facilities including a petroleum production storage depot at Lopatnika and the Novi Sad petroleum refinery were also attacked as part of the ongoing strategic effort to deny gas and oil to the Serb forces. If you recall the Novi Sad petroleum refinery was struck earlier in the campaign. This key facility produces approximately two-fifths of the refining capability of the FRY. This recent attack was to offset any repair work undertaken to put the facility back into production.

Lines of communication were also targeted, including the railroad bridge at Potuchnika. Fielded forces targeted in southern Serbia and Kosovo included artillery pieces, mobile radars, military facilities and a bridge.

I now have a few images from our recent operations for your review. The first is a pre-strike image of the Ujana Army Garrison in Kosovo, the home of the 52nd Artillery. The next is the strike picture which was taken right after the strike on the same facility, and the strike was on 22 April.

I have three videos for you from multi-aircraft strikes against underground petroleum storage facilities in the vicinity of Sombor.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, concludes my part of the briefing. Thank you very much.

Konrad Freytag: Good morning ladies and gentlemen

NATO air strikes against strategic infrastructure and fielded military and special police forces in Kosovo continue. We are intensifying NATO's military actions to increase pressure on Belgrade.

NATO forces continue to aid international organisations and governmental authorities in Albania and FYROM in support of humanitarian relief operations.

In the past 24 hours there were 28 aid flights to Albania delivering 9 tons of food and water and 4 tons of medical supplies.

There were 16 aid flights to FYROM that delivered 8 tons of medical supplies.

Since the 30th of March, NATO has delivered:

  • 11,121 tons of humanitarian aid,
  • fed and sheltered 85,000 refugees and
  • supplied 729 tons of medicine in support of the humanitarian effort.

Turning to Serbian ground operations in Kosovo

Serb counter insurgency operations against the UCK are ongoing in the areas shown on the slide.

The UCK continues to be active in Kosovo as shown here. They are generally conducting hit and run tactics against Serb fielded forces.

In addition, Serb offensive operations continue along the Albania border in West and Southwest Kosovo as depicted by the arrows. These actions are an attempt to interdict UCK resupply operations.

Serbian forces also continue to establish defensive positions around key towns and lines of communications, and small size units continue to redeploy into hiding positions in South Kosovo. These operations seem to be in preparation for - how they say it - any potential NATO ground offensive.

Finally, Serb paramilitary forces continue to operate in the PEC area.

Serb air defence activity was relatively light with three SAM 6 optical launches detected.

No Serb fighter activity was observed.

And once again, all our aircraft returned safely

I will now turn to NATO operations:

Although adverse weather conditions affected our operations during the past 24 hours, we continued to have success against both strategic targets and fielded forces.

Targets from the past 24 hours were:

Command and Control facilities including the radio relay and tv transmitting towers at kragujevac and novi sad.

As part of the Integrated Air Defence System, three airfields, including Nis, and a SAM support facility were struck.

POL facilities, including a petroleum production storage depot at Lopatnica and the Novi Sad Petroleum Refinery, were also attacked as part of the ongoing strategic effort to deny gas and oil to the Serb forces. If you recall, the Novi Sad petroleum refinery was struck earlier in the campaign. This key facility produces approximately two-fifths of the refining capability of the FRY. This recent attack was to offset any repair work undertaken to put the facility back into production.

Lines of communication were also targeted, including the railroad bridge at Potuchnika. Fielded forces targeted in southern Serbia and Kosovo included artillery pieces, mobile radars, military facilities and a bridge.

I now have a few images from our recent operations for your review. The first is a pre-strike image of the Ujana army garrison in Kosovo, the home of the 52nd Artillery. The next is the strike picture which was taken right after the strike on the same facility, and the strike was on 22 April.

I have three videos for you from multi-aircraft strikes against underground petroleum storage facilities in the vicinity of Sombor.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, concludes my part of the briefing. Thank you very much.

Jonathan Marcus, BBC: First of all, you say additional assets will be provided to General Clarke, everything he says he needs. Is that in addition to the 300 US aircraft mainly that he asked for recently? If there are additional assets could you set them out? Secondly, we have heard from an earlier briefing elsewhere that there is evidence of former senior Yugoslav generals being under house arrest, some suggestion that there is dissension in the ranks there. And also this very strange formulation, visit and search, it almost sounds as if you are going to have a cup of tea. I have heard of stop and search, what are you actually going to do, escort these vessels into a friendly port if they are carrying oil down to Montenegrin ports and what are you going to do about Russian ships, for example?

Jamie Shea: Jonathan, on those questions, first of all on the generals, yes, I have heard exactly the same news, that several retired generals, and there are many retired generals in Yugoslavia because Milosevic retires Generals all the time, he doesn't seem to have much trust in them. I wonder if they have much trust in him, and that is the real reason. So I have heard that as well too and, yes, I can confirm that from my sources also.

As for the extra aircraft capability, SACEUR has said that he would like capabilities to allow him to continue intensive 24 hours operations, particularly tanker capability, in particular for inflight refuelling and also reconnaissance aircraft, because obviously it is very important for us to have good reconnaissance, for two reasons: both to do the battle damage assessment quickly and decide which targets do not have to be revisited; secondly of course to be able to keep track of the humanitarian situation inside Kosovo as well. And therefore the more assets we have, the better we can do both functions simultaneously and not have to privilege one at the expense of the other, and we will see in the next few days how those additional assets arrive.

As for the visit and search regime, it is very important for us to continue as I said a moment ago to tighten the taps, switch off the oil tap completely. And I heard this morning that the Serbs are now going around to all of the abandoned refugee cars, and there are many of them inside Kosovo, and are siphoning the petrol out of the tanks, they are that desperate now to find fuel wherever they can that they are going to those extreme measures. That is the final act of robbery that they seem to be perpetrating against all of the Kosovar Albanians that have been forced to flee. So I think that does show that this is now becoming serious and that encourages us to persevere in denying Milosevic any access to refined oil.

Now, visit and search, as I said a moment ago, that is something where SACEUR has to be able to develop his concept of operations, he has to define the zone of operation where this would potentially operate, he would have to define his requirements in terms of naval assets to carry out such an operation, he would also of course have to make suggestions regarding the rules of engagement. As well and naturally there would have to be a political discussion in the NAC as to who is covered by such a regime. But we are not being deterred from exploring this option and we have agreed in principle to go down this route, as I have said, by these factors. And so once SACEUR has developed his concept, that will come up on the table of the Council and I will be able to make further comments on that, probably in Brussels at the beginning of the week, Jonathan.

Frederick Bonnart: You mentioned that the Council has agreed to give SACEUR greater operational flexibility. Could you enlarge a bit on that: what sort of level of operational flexibility will he be allowed to do, will he for instance be allowed to commit the Apache helicopters without reference to the Council, would he in fact be able to send troops across?

Jamie Shea: Freddie, obviously troop deployments will go beyond the scope of the existing air operation. We have got an agreed op. plan for an air operation and not for the deployment of any other type of asset at the moment so clearly there is a big fire break between the use of aircraft and the use of ground troops, but the Apaches, once they come into Albania, they are there now, once they are operational will be part of SACEUR's order of battle, if I can call it that, and it will be up to him to decide how to employ them. No, we are simply ensuring that SACEUR is able to have the flexibility to strike at those targets within the existing authority, within the existing authority of phase 1 and phase 2 of the operation with some additional targets, that he feels are necessary to keep the pressure up but I think you have been seeing for the last couple of days that we are now able to put at risk a high number of targets, both on the tactical side in Kosovo and on the strategic side elsewhere in Yugoslavia and we are going to continue to do just that. Every night we are doing that.

Douglas Hamilton, Reuters: The Yugoslav media said that after last night's strike in Nis, the power went off, the water went off. Is NATO's aim to increasingly bring the conflict home to the ordinary Serbian people by making life very inconvenient for them and what could that involve in a move to phase 3 targets?

Jamie Shea: No, we are not at phase 3 at the moment, Doug, as you well know but I think, as you see, the existing scope of authority gives us the ability to strike at targets which can maximise the pressure significantly on Milosevic. He has to realise that this is serious business and that we are very serious indeed and these electricity grids, of course, have a military function. They supply power to the military, to military headquarters, to military communications systems. There is of course also an aspect of civil inconvenience from this, I acknowledge that but it is not our intention, I want to make this clear to, in any way, render the life of Serbs even more difficult than it is already. Our intention is simply to target the military power apparatus which is responsible, not only for the repressions in Kosovo but also for the dire situation of the Serb people themselves. That is the function, that will remain the function and the sooner Milosevic brings this to the end, naturally then the better for his own people.

Tom: For those that are not in Brussels already, could you just clarify what phase 3 is and does the Apache helicopters' deployment constitute phase 3?

Jamie Shea: No they don't. They are an additional asset to be brought to bare mainly on ground targets in Kosovo itself. Phase 3, and I apologise for this jargon Tom, applies to a broad range of targets north of the 44th parallel in Yugoslavia.

Question: In your long term planning regarding what Kosovo will look like afterwards, what kind of conditions are you planning for?

Jamie Shea: Well, clearly what we want is an arrangement which ensures security for the Kosovar Albanians first and foremost. That is our fundamental condition, that we want an international security force to be deployed which will be robust, which will have effective command and control and which will enjoy the respect of all of the peoples of Kosovo. They have to be able to trust that force and they have to know that it is going to protect them and that is why, as you know, we have offered a NATO corps to lead that force. That is a condicio sine qua non, to have such a force. The second is that all of the refugees and displaced people should be allowed to return home and have the opportunity to return home and to their homes, not to ethnic sceptres but to their original homes. That is clear. We must reverse ethnic cleansing. We want the full access for all international relief organisations and then we want to be able to begin a political process looking to a long term arrangement for Kosovo but there will have to be a transitional period, that is clear. Milosevic has, by his actions, shown clearly that he is not the man to rule over Kosovo and we have obviously to consider a transitional period where Kosovo will be under the protection of the international community until such time as its exact future status can be determined. The goal is for a very far reaching form of autonomy for Kosovo, as you well know.

There is also the question of which mandate would apply. The United Nations, for instance, will probably have a role in that perspective. There is also, as you know, a suggestion that the European Union could play a key role as part of a transitional authority. These types of things will have to be sorted out but what is absolutely clear are our key pre-conditions, which we are not going to negotiate on, which is the right of return of refugees, access to humanitarian organisations, the withdrawal of Serb forces, the deployment of a very robust international force and a political process.

Question: What about economic? These people are going to come, there is nothing, be that economic infrastructure: what kind of infrastructure are you looking to put in place?

Jamie Shea: Clearly, you are right. There has been an enormous campaign of destruction by the Serbs, almost in an attempt to create a kind of wasteland. We don't know exactly how many of the buildings have been destroyed. I have seen figures of 30,000 individual dwellings destroyed, probably the number is much more, 500 villages have had a great deal of destruction inflicted upon them. Agriculture has been largely decimated as a result of all of this and traditional economic activities have been disrupted. So clearly we are going to find in Kosovo a situation similar to the one that we found in Bosnia after the Dayton Peace Agreement where 65% of all of the habitations had been damaged. It is going to require a very major effort by the international community to pour in funds and to get Kosovo back on its feet again. And as you know, yesterday NATO Ministers were thinking not only about this, but also about the long term future of the region in terms of how we are going to stop the former Yugoslavia being the permanent bleeding wound of Europe, the source of instability, the source of human tragedy, and start to turn the situation around so it draws closer to Europe instead of going increasingly further away from it, and there is going to be a lot of action I think in NATO over the next couple of weeks to try to put this long term strategy together.

Question: Tell us if you can approximately how much of the oil refining and manufacturing capabilities have been knocked out, what their potential for repair is and if the facilities cannot be repaired, or you can prevent that, approximately how long their existing oil supplies can last?

Jamie Shea: Thanks for that question. Yugoslavia has two major oil refineries, one up at Novi Sad and the other one is Pancevo, which is just outside Belgrade. As you know, both of those refineries have been repeatedly struck by NATO aircraft over the last few weeks and it is our assessment that they are now out of business. But of course, as Colonel Freytag pointed out in his briefing, any air campaign is always a kind of race between the ability to knock the facilities out and the ability of the other side to get them back up and running again. So clearly that is the reason why they have been targeted many times, rather than just once, to ensure that they are permanently out of action.

On the other hand, as I have often said, Yugoslavia has many of the characteristics of a military police security state. Many oil reserves exist, underground oil reserves, you have seen some that we have targeted, lots of back-up supplies, and therefore we still have many targets that we need to address. That is why I have spoken of about 70% in our estimate of the oil available for the military being knocked out, but they do have reserves. At the same time, though, because they have no refining capability any more, they are critically dependent on trying to get oil from outside sources and that is why we have gone to the degree as you know of now having an embargo and looking at this visit and search regime, which Konrad was talking about earlier, to cut off those supplies as effectively as we can.

Question: I talked to Admiral Layton Smith yesterday and he said it was absolutely absurd that NATO did not plan ahead and simultaneously institute a Naval embargo while executing airstrikes against the refineries. You alluded to that in some respect in terms of risking pilots' lives. Why was there not a strategy to simultaneously do a naval blockade and airstrikes?

Jamie Shea: I think we have got to that point rather quickly. This air operation has not been going on for a very long period and as you know, we constantly reassess the situation and as soon as we have judged that there is a need to have this to maximise the pressure we have gone down that road, we have gone down that road very quickly, the Alliance has shown a great deal of unity on this and SACEUR already has been asked to develop a concept of operations. So I don't think we are slow in this business at all, I think we are drawing the consequences from what we see, we want to maximise the pressure on Milosevic and we are not going to exclude any option which could bring that goal closer.

Mark: Can you give us an idea when visit and search could get under way and could you give us an idea of when you will go into a full Phase 3 given the fact that the leaders called for an intensification of military activity?

Jamie Shea: I am not going to speculate about Phase 3, Mark, but we have got within the existing authority plenty of operational flexibility, I can assure you, and I think the events prove that out. Every day when you wake up, you see about what has happened the night before and I think you see that we have got a lot of flexibility to strike at significant high value targets in Yugoslavia. Milosevic can be in no doubt about that now.

As for the visit and search regime, we have a number of ships in the Adriatic, we have an integrated NATO Task Force there which we call STANAVFORMED of 8 ships. That may have to be augmented for this arrangement with further ships, we are going to be looking at that, but again I think it is premature for me to speculate on this. SACEUR is now hard at work on his initial operational concept, we will see what he comes up with and I will fill you in in the next few days as this develops.

Luc: (Not interpreted)

Jamie Shea: (Not interpreted)

Question: Back to this phase thinking, I thought that the NAC had more or less phased out the phase thinking. Is it really necessary to come to Phase 3? As you said, Clark has a lot of clout and he has a lot of targets.

Jamie Shea: Exactly. My only remark is that we are satisfied, and SACEUR is satisfied, you have his representative here, that he has all of the flexibility he needs to prosecute this operation with maximum speed and effectiveness.

Question: So will we see a Phase 3?

Jamie Shea: We may not necessarily see a Phase 3. All I want to say is at the moment that SACEUR has, as you can see, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, from the operations that have been going on that he has all of the flexibility that he needs.

Question: What kind of limits have been placed on General Clark's powers so far, what will he be able to do now that he couldn't do 31 days ago without explicit permission from NATO? And the Pentagon last night dramatically increased the firepower of Task Force Hawk. I am wondering is this opposition to sending in ground troops purely a geographic distinction, they have Multiple Launch Rocket Systems that are very deep reaching and conceivably they could sit on the Albanian side of the border and still be engaged in ground combat, so is it purely geographic?

Jamie Shea: I understand that the decision to reinforce Task Force Hawk is to have the capabilities first of all for very effective force protection for that force, which of course is an on-going NATO concern; and secondly, to be able to use the Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and the other equipment, in conjunction with the Apaches, to ensure maximum effectiveness. We want the Serbs with their armour in Kosovo to feel the heat quite frankly, to come under the kind of intensive pressure which will give them absolutely no option but to pack up and leave as rapidly as they possibly can because as I say, we don't want this to go on indefinitely, we want to end this as quickly as we can and I think it is in that perspective that that decision has taken place.

As for the ground troop option, I think the message from the meeting yesterday was crystal clear on this one. We believe that this is premature. The air campaign is our best means of achieving our objective of degrading substantially the Yugoslav forces and obliging them to quit Kosovo. There is no other option that can do this as quickly and as decisively as the air campaign. We want to not change strategy, we want to reinforce the strategy, that was the sense of yesterday. Ground troops continue to be something which we will consider, as I have said in reply to the question of the lady over there, once we have created the type of environment in which they can go in and effectively do their job of creating a secure environment for the return of refugees.

Question: What about the powers, how are they engaged?

Konrad Freytag: I think we need to recall the beginning of this operation and this operation was planned and decided upon as a phased air operation and General Clarke was always empowered to execute this phased air operation and it is his role to come to some conclusions after certain phases and to report to the NATO Council and the NATO Council will then advise him what the next steps would be. And he has made very clear that he is capable to conduct his air operation and when he found the need to come to adjustments, for instance with Task Force Hawk, then he made those proposals and they were agreed by the NAC and he is comfortable with that.

Patricia Kelly, CNN I want to go back to visit and search and the legal basis that NATO troops could enter ships and demand access to boats and ships. Surely if there is no legal basis under a UN resolution, then captains have every right to refuse NATO troops aboard?

Jamie Shea: Patricia, there is, as you know, a UN arms embargo against Yugoslavia which refers not only to weapons but arms related materials in the text. Certainly, NATO doesn't do anything contrary to international law, this is completely crystal clear, we are an alliance of 19 democratic countries. That is why, again I stress this, we have asked SACEUR to develop a concept of operations so that we can see within which parameters we can do this. But again let me stress that this is not the only thing that we are looking at. We are looking at other options as well for ramming down the tap on the oil pipeline, things that we can do inside Yugoslavia itself to disrupt the ability of the Yugoslav Army to get fuel from their storage sites, to put it into trucks and to transport it around to military units, so we are also looking at ways of working our lines of communication as well, not just a visit and search regime.

Carlos Segovia, El Mundo: But have all NATO countries agreed to consider oil as war material included in this United Nations resolution? Secondly, what did you mean with the Euro-Atlantic area, is it coming for instance the Middle East?

Jamie Shea: No, on that one, Carlos, Euro-Atlantic area doesn't include the Middle East in NATO's vision. What we are talking about is basically the area covered by NATO and its 24 partner countries, that is the area where NATO is active in constructing a security order in Europe, so that is basically it.

The second one, you asked me about oil, well you saw yesterday the clear decision reflected in the statement by the 19 Heads of State and Government to institute an embargo on refined oil against Yugoslavia.

Question: The UCK yesterday repeated its need for heavy weaponry to counter the Serb offensive in Kosovo. If a non-NATO country should want to supply such, would this be beneficial or would NATO try to dissuade or hinder such a thing?

Jamie Shea: Clearly the UCK has never found difficulty, quite frankly, in procuring arms, that is clear, you have seen the evidence of that. But I think at the moment the only strategy that is going to work is for NATO to be able to force the forces of Belgrade out of Kosovo with that air power. The UCK has the ability to harass the Serb forces and they have been also helpful in constructing corridors into Albania which have allowed some refugees to leave as well, and the UCK demonstrates the point that I am always making which is that repression cannot defeat these kinds of movements because it simply encourages other people out of desperation and despair to join their ranks. But clearly we do not want any armed groups in a future multi-ethnic democratic Kosovo, we want to be able to create the kind of society in which it will not be necessary for the UCK to exist because the source of repression which led to their formation has gone away and that people will be able to trust the international community rather than to trust the Kalashnikovs that they keep under their beds. So that is our vision. But the UCK exists, it continues to operate, they have taken, I must say, very heavy losses over the last few weeks at the hands of the Serbs, they have lost their seven regional headquarters, and they have been putting people in the field with very little training, basically 10 days basic training and lightly armed. But I think it is also a testimony to their courage that despite these incredible adverse circumstances, they continue to fight and harass the Serbs. And I am afraid it is also again a sign that Milosevic's policies, instead of demoralising the Kosovar Albanians, is simply forcing them into that kind of resistance. You cannot suppress the will to resist.

Augustine Palokaj, Koha Ditore: I didn't hear any new information about the internally displaced persons for more than four days, maybe Col Freytag would have something about that, where they are, how many and are some of them crossing the borders? And considering their conditions, was there here any discussion about the air drop to drop them food?

Konrad Freytag: To the earlier part, the number of internally displaced persons is increasing, we see few border crossings and we have a further 13 camps in Albania and 10 camps in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia filled and fully occupied and we see the refugee flow going to other countries because these camps came to the upper limit of their capacities.

Augustine Palokaj: I asked about the internally displaced, I mean the people who remain in Kosovo?

Konrad Freytag: That is what I said, the internal displaced persons number is increasing.

Jamie Shea: What I can tell you on that one is obviously we are extremely concerned, we have been for a long time, about the fate of these people. We know that today the head of the International Red Cross, Mr Samaruga, is due to go to Belgrade and it would be, I think, a very positive development if he were able to get the green light from the Belgrade authorities for the Red Cross to play a role once again in Kosovo. To the extent that the international humanitarian organisations can resume their activities, like the three Greek non-governmental organisations have been able to do, they can first of all assess the situation. NATO can help with some of its intelligence to indicate where some of these internally displaced people are being gathered and to establish some sort of humanitarian supply line. That is key. We know that some of the neutral countries of Europe are also exploring roles that they could possibly play in this respect.

The only solution is for Milosevic to stop the violence, he is the person who has created this disaster by driving these people from their homes and then not allowing them to cross the border where they can at least be in the hands of the international relief organisations. Life may not be great but at least there is life; whereas of course as long as they are inside Kosovo, their fate is extremely uncertain. We are looking at various things we could possibly do to help. You know that food drops is one of the key things that we are looking at, it is dangerous, it is difficult, it is not a panacea but we do not exclude some kind of action of that variety over the next few days in order to try to do whatever we can to assist.

But I keep coming back to the fundamental point. Milosevic has created this problem and the only way to stop it is for Milosevic to either stop himself or to be stopped by us.

Question: On ground troops, you talk about dusting off the plans for ground troops. Could you give us more detail for that? What would that entail? Would it be an operational plan, exactly how you would get in, any detail you can give on that? And I believe it was last week you said you had evidence of 43 mass grave sites. Do you have imagery from all of those, how do you know 43 exist and can you give any kind of numbers about how many people may be in each of those graves?

Jamie Shea: On the ground troops we have done a number of plans which we did basically in July of last year, so they are virtually a year old and that is one of the reasons why of course we need to reassess them for various options for a ground deployment in Kosovo under different circumstances, of course, as you well know. And we just want to keep those plans up to date and of course adapt them to the fact that conditions in Kosovo have changed rather radically and unfortunately over that time, even though of course the situation was already desperate in Kosovo last July. We have to look also at what the parameters would be for an international security force having to do its job in today's circumstances as compared to the circumstances of last year, in terms of numbers, in structures and the rest. So NATO is a planning organisation and you would think that there would be something wrong if we weren't doing this as a matter of course, keeping the assessments up to date, but the fact of doing an assessment does not imply that any clandestine decision has been taken, it certainly hasn't. We remain committed to one thing and one thing only, which is an international security force with a NATO corps being able to deploy once the circumstances are right, in other words once the Yugoslav armed forces have left Kosovo. But again we don't want to exclude any option, either we want to have a plan for all contingencies so that we can be flexible as the situation develops. As for the mass graves, I will leave that one to Konrad.

Question: Will it be an operational plan, will it be more detailed than the planning of last October?

Jamie Shea: No, we have on the option of a deployment of a NATO led security force in a permissive environment a detailed operational plan. We have for the other types of ground troops, options which we have not been retained thus far, more initial concept of operations and for the time being it would be a question of updating those concepts of operations rather than trying to work on an extremely detailed plan. The extremely detailed plan is the one that we have for the mission that we have always been planning for, which is the international security force in a permissive environment.

Konrad Freytag: Concerning the 43 mass grave sites, we have detected them with our aerial reconnaissance means and we have found out that they are a bit different from those types of mass graves as we saw them in Bosnia. There seem to be single bodies buried in those graves, but we won't know it until forensic experts on the ground can really start an investigation. We cannot give you any estimate of how many people would be buried in those mass graves, the only thing we can say with certainty is these are 43 sites with individual or even more than one body in one grave.

Question: On these other two sites, you gave numbers I believe, 150 for the one shown last week. Don't you have detailed numbers of the minimum numbers?

Konrad Freytag: What we don't know is how many bodies are in one hole, in one grave, that you cannot see from the air, you can only do it when you dig in and forensic experts can identify the number of bodies and who they are, and this is a limit we have to live with right now.

Jamie Shea: Ladies and Gentlemen, I think that concludes for today. There will be another briefing tomorrow morning, hopefully we will see you then. Have a pleasant day.

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