Updated: 11 May 1999 Press Conferences



Press Conference

given by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and SHAPE Spokesman, Major General Walter Jertz

(Presentation Photo)

Jamie Shea: Ladies and Gentlemen, all of you have seen by now yesterday's announcement by Belgrade of a partial troop withdrawal. Obviously, as you can imagine, every tank, every artillery piece, every unit that leaves Kosovo is a step in the right direction. But all Alliance leaders who have spoken on this subject in the last few hours have stressed that a partial withdrawal is insufficient. President Milosevic must comply with all of NATO's five conditions for resolving the crisis. He cannot pick and choose. There has to be full compliance.

Let me make one thing clear. It is not NATO that is saying No, it is President Milosevic who is saying No to agreeing to the essential conditions for resolving the crisis. President Milosevic has based the rationale for the withdrawal of his forces on the claim that the Kosovo Liberation Army has been defeated. But again we see no evidence for this, just as we see no evidence yet of any withdrawal of Yugoslav forces. Yesterday we know that the Yugoslav Army and the special police forces carried out offensive and security operations throughout Kosovo. In northern Kosovo there was fighting along the Pristina/Podujevo route, and also along the road between Pristina and Kosovska Metrovica. There was also heavy fighting around the Kosare pocket which is currently in the hands of the Kosovo Liberation Army. And in central Kosovo special police, or MUP, units were in action against UCK elements around Suva Reka and Orosevac. We also know that in the north near Junik, the Yugoslav Armed Forces continue to try to close the UCK supply lines.

In other words, the claim of President Milosevic that he has defeated the UCK reminds me of Dr Johnston's dictum about second marriages - the triumph of hope over experience. Indeed rather than withdrawing their forces since Sunday evening at 10.00 pm, the Yugoslav Army and special police seem to be trying harder than ever to capture the remaining Kosovo Liberation Army strongholds and secure their lines of communication.

At the same time, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have to be very cautious in the Alliance on this because President Milosevic's record on partial troop withdrawals is not very encouraging. You recall our experience of last October when President Milosevic agreed with NATO to a partial withdrawal of his forces and to observe a cease-fire in Kosovo. At that time President Milosevic said that he would retain in the province after 27 October 1998 approximately 11,500 troops. But the verifiers of the Kosovo Verification Mission confirmed that this number gradually increased over a four month period by at least 1,000 personnel. In addition, President Milosevic never withdrew all of the units which were not part of his 52nd Corps normally based in Pristina. This was also in contravention of the agreement that he signed. In fact beginning in February 1999 he began deploying entire units and elements of other battalions and brigades into the province in the guise of border defence and winter training operations. As of April 1999 there were at least 20,000 Yugoslav Army troops in Kosovo.

And if we look at the figures for the Ministry of Interior and regular police forces, we see that President Milosevic provided a peace-time personnel authorisation for the province of about 10,000 personnel. This number incidentally reflects one of the highest police-to-citizen ratios in all of Europe. However, at the beginning of October there were at least 2,000 more police in the province than President Milosevic claimed were on leave status, and in addition to the 2,000 police personnel on leave status in Kosovo, the verifiers of the Kosovo Verification Mission assessed a number of police in excess of the agreed limit of 10,000, probably fluctuating anywhere between 1,000 - 2,000 more. After that period, police forces from outside Kosovo began to arrive in truly significant numbers by bus and train convoys. By March 1999 there were as many as 15,000 special police and regular police forces in Kosovo.

The total Serb security forces in Kosovo, a country which has a population of about 800,000 at the moment, now exceeds 40,000, or around 40,000 personnel. Again, one of the highest ratios that you will find anywhere.

So I recall this experience after October simply to stress why NATO has to insist on a credible and verifiable withdrawal of forces, as well as recall that all forces - all forces - have to be withdrawn.

Let me just say a few words about the humanitarian effort which is on-going. As you know, refugees continue to flow into Albania, about 9,000 yesterday, but with the help of NATO forces 1,500 were evacuated from Kukes to safer areas elsewhere in Albania. The airstrip at Kukes is now functioning normally and transport aircraft are bringing in supplies and equipment to operate the airfield on a round-the-clock basis.

The French battalion at Koke is building a camp for 5,000, and the German battalion has begun building today a camp for 7,000 in the same region. I would like to remind you that tomorrow the Secretary General of NATO, Dr Javier Solana, will be making a trip to Albania and to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where he will be able to see this camp construction work at first hand, talk with the troops that are doing this very, very good work, meet some of the refugees and also have consultations with the leaders of these countries.

Finally, I was interested to see yesterday that a Yugoslav Minister, Mr Goran Matic, said that terrified refugees fleeing from Kosovo were in fact actors taking part in a NATO directed film screenplay. Mr Matic said that 3,000 - 4,000 ethnic Albanians were paid $5.50 each to act the parts of Kosovar refugees fleeing Yugoslavia in the first days of the NATO airstrikes. Mr Matic claimed further that the refugee crisis began when these refugees tried to return home, not having been paid. I must say that of all the hypotheses and theories put forward in recent days to explain the terrible outpouring of refugees from Kosovo, this one probably qualifies for the sick joke of the year award. Instead of being paid $5.50 to leave, the truth is that refugees have to pay - they have to pay - 3,000 deutschmarks to leave with their lives. Instead of being given a screen identity, they lose their real identities when they have to hand over their passports and their documents, their properties, their most intimate possessions, and be separated from their loved ones.

On the total number of refugees, Mr Matic cites Benjamin Disraeli. "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." However, Mr Matic has no figures of his own to provide. And what he described as lies, we know this, are the products of extensive research and face-to-face interviews carried out by a wide range of international agencies, including the UNHCR and the International Organisation of Migration. And I have read Disraeli extensively and I would like to offer another quotation, if I may, from his work, wisdom and ignorance, when he says that "upon the education of the people, the fate of this country depends". And I hope that the sooner the authorities in Belgrade recognise that truth will always come out, and credits its people, then the brighter the future for Yugoslavia as a whole.

On those words I now hand over to General Jertz for his daily operational up-date.

Major General Jertz : Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me turn back to the very serious announcement of what has happened in the last 24 hours. As Dr Shea already said, and made it very clear, we the military are not seeing any indications of a withdrawal of military forces, nor a reduction in Serbian military, paramilitary or special police operations in Kosovo. Therefore we will continue our air operations until the political leadership of Yugoslavia agrees to the five conditions in the international community which were specified as you all know: stop the killing; withdraw all forces; deploy an international force with NATO core elements to set the conditions so that the refugees can return home safely and be protected; and negotiate a long term political agreement which will give the Kosovo people back their dignity.

Let me continue on the operational up-date. Our forces had a very successful period of operations yesterday and last night. We hit Serb forces in Kosovo hard and with good success. In some areas we have observed an increase in the ground combat activity, already expressed by Dr Shea, between the UCK and the Serbian military or special police units. In particular, this morning we witnessed several skirmishes, including fighting in the western border areas which remain severely contested. All of this is directly contrary to Milosevic's claim that his activities against the UCK have been concluded.

When I discussed the issue of ground forces in detail last Thursday with you, I noted that our actions against them are critical to the condition of the refugees. As a reminder, it is from the fielded forces that the refugees have fled and it is the justifiable fear of these fielded forces, ground forces, that prevent the refugees from returning to their homes.

You will recall I also mentioned that Serb forces have proven particularly adept at using tunnels, natural camouflage and buildings in villages to make it very difficult to locate and attack them from the air. Yesterday one of our attacks against a major tunnel complex near Pristina was particularly effective.

As the weather steadily improved throughout yesterday and into last night, we were able to bring more fire power to bear against Serb forces in Kosovo. We struck targets across Kosovo. We hit Serbian operations very hard in the area of Junik and Podujevo, and we attacked elements of the 125th and the 211th motorised brigades. As you can also see, we hit tanks, artillery, armoured vehicles, command posts and fielded motor units. We also struck petroleum storage areas and many other military patrol vehicles in the open.

These operations, as you all know, are disrupting the Serbian military and police ability, thus further degrading their combat effectiveness. Not only are we depriving them of equipment, but we are continuing the pressure, forcing them to concentrate on hiding from our attacks and leaving them less time to continue their offensive operations.

NATO also hit a variety of targets in the rest of Yugoslavia. Again with the improving weather we were very successful. We attacked radio relay sites and airfields, as shown here. These actions continue to degrade his command and control, as well as the air defence capabilities of the Serbian forces.

NATO aircraft also struck lines of communication, petroleum production and storage facilities and Serbian military bases as shown on this viewfoil. As have our other strikes in the past, again this will reduce the mobility of Serbian forces through limiting their petroleum and other critical supplies.

Among our recent targets was the petroleum production facility at Sombor. This video shows the success of this attack.

We also attacked the army barracks at Avala near Belgrade again, as you can see with great success.

I have one more post-strike photograph of a recent target. This is of Obvra airfield where we destroyed taxiways and cratered the runway. Serbian air defence activity over the past 24 hours was light and all Allied aircraft, I am happy to say, returned safely to their bases.

Our humanitarian aid flights continue, with high numbers. Yesterday there were 19 flights into Albania and 21 flights into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Our totals of humanitarian aid are shown on this slide. The image to the left shows the plight that many thousands of Kosovar Albanians suffer within Kosovo, forced from their homes with no option but to live on these hillsides, hungry and exposed to the elements.

Finally, as yesterday, you may be aware that I said that the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Wesley Clark, is normally visiting his troops and once again he is on the road. Today he has been in Italy meeting with our men and women in uniform. General Clark is seeing for himself the magnificent job these NATO personnel are doing and he is providing that leadership in the field which is as you can imagine so important.

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen, that concludes my part of the briefing.

Jonathan: Two points. First of all, I don't mean to be frivolous, but you are talking about the possibilities of a Yugoslav withdrawal. If they are cut off, all the road bridges and highways have been taken down, what feasible means is there for them to depart from Kosovo? And secondly, Jamie, could you say a little more on the planning that is under way for potential air drops for the internally displaced people? Clearly this is going to have to be a completely separate operation from what NATO is doing, but who is going to do the planning for it, who is going to oversee how it might proceed?

Major General Jertz : Let me start with the first question. Milosevic has to meet our objectives and once he has done that then, I don't want to by cynical, we help him to get his troops out of the way again.

Question: How?

Major General Jertz : We will go into details when it happens. So there are no options at the present time really to discuss this matter because first of all he has to, what we always say, meet the five objectives and then we can discuss with him, or whoever it may be, on how we will be able to help him with the forces.

Question: The point I am getting at is that he says he wants to have a partial withdrawal. You don't accept that clearly, but is it feasible that he could carry out a partial withdrawal given the state of the bridges and so on?

Major General Jertz : Once again, first of all he has to tell us that he really is doing that and then we can continue the discussion.

Jamie Shea: If I may add a word, Jonathan, he may be announcing a partial withdrawal but he is doing total ethnic cleansing, ergo we keep up the operations in the way we are doing at the moment. When he accepts the five conditions, he accepts them, and he makes that clear to we, the leaders of the Alliance, and when he gives us clear indications that he is really pulling out those forces then that will be the time to address the situation. But this is a hypothetical question because clearly the circumstances are not there yet.

On the question you have addressed to me, yes there are various initiatives under way: first of all for some humanitarian aid convoys to be able to enter Kosovo and deliver much needed supplies; secondly, for some non-governmental organisations to be able to conduct air drop operations using I believe commercial aircraft. At the moment those details are still being worked out, but the way that we see it is that those details in terms of vehicles, flight plans, convoy routes, should be transmitted to the UNHCR. The UNHCR remains the lead organisation for providing humanitarian assistance. The UNHCR should then contact NATO so that we are aware of those activities and can account for those activities. That was the case for example the other day when a Greek convoy of Medicin du Monde as you know went up into Pristina. We knew about that.

But I want to make it clear that our air operations will continue because we want to stop the fighting which alone can allow us to really address the humanitarian crisis. So we want to be informed of those actions, we can take them into account, but we will not in any way stop our air operations.

Pierre: On the air drops, you have explained to us several times that this kind of operation was too dangerous for NATO aircraft and now you are telling us that it could be NGOs with commercial aircraft. I don't understand.

Jamie Shea: Pierre, there is a key difference. You would obviously have to talk to the NGOs, not myself, but I understand that these flights would have to take place with the permission of Belgrade. That is the key difference in this connection.

Freddie: You said that the aim was to stop the fighting. But I notice from a plan of the NATO attack last night that the concentration of NATO attacks was in fact on the Serb military forces along the Albanian border. And General Jertz also mentioned that there was considerable UCK activity. From their point of view of course what they are doing is dealing with armed rebels, terrorists, so when there is fighting presumably they have every right to go and fight. The point I am trying to make, it is not a polemical question, I really want to know, NATO is in fact becoming very rapidly the Air Force of the UCK which are now able to develop their attacks because they have got the support of the Air Force?

Jamie Shea: No, we are not, we are the Air Force of the Kosovar Albanian people, Freddie, and there is a very big distinction there. And the fighting is not simply fighting against the UCK. Ask the 9,800 refugees who were pushed into Albania yesterday if the only violence is against the UCK. Clearly it is not, those refugees showed clearly that the violence is still being directed against the civilian population at large.

Freddie: It is a question of who is first, is it the UCK attacking the Serbs or is it the Serbs going at the village because of the UCK and are the UCK then trying to defend the village? I am trying to point this out because there was a very interesting story in the Herald Tribune a few days ago about the village which was left completely alone, the majority ethnic Albanians but no UCK in it and they have been left alone?

Jamie Shea: Freddie, I don't believe there is any evidence that certain sectors of the Kosovar Albanian population have been spared and as you know Milosevic has shown every sign of concentrating on particular areas. We have had in the last couple of weeks, beginning with Djakovica, moving on to Prizren, now he is up at Pec, having begun at Podujevo in the north. So I don't believe that any Kosovar Albanian can feel safe quite frankly and I don't think any of them do, certainly not by the fact that they flee their homes and hide in the woods, whatever, and are constantly on the move and are trying in large numbers to leave. So that doesn't suggest that there are any sanctuaries. And the fact remains that the Serb forces are operating against the population as a whole. I think the idea that this is a UCK village is frankly a pitiable excuse for ethnic cleansing, quite frankly. There is no evidence of that. And secondly, what has happened, and I have pointed this out in previous briefings, is that over the last month the Serb forces have begun to ethnically cleanse in eastern Kosovo, far from the Albanian border, which was an area which traditionally was not controlled or particularly in the hands of the UCK. So I don't see that there is any correlation there at all, I think it is just an excuse to say this is a UCK village and therefore we have a rationale for forcing all of the inhabitants out. I don't buy that personally.

Question: We have seen up to now two convoys, one of the Greek NGOs, and the last one I saw two or three days ago a truck with the initials YUGTRANS which means Yugoslavia Transport. Do you have information on who owned those trucks and where they are going and who is taking the benefits of those trucks?

Jamie Shea: No I don't have any information on that. The only information I have, as you know, is of a Greek convoy last week which successfully managed to get to Pristina, and as I say, we welcome any humanitarian efforts that get food through to the needy.

Major General Jertz : The main point for us is of course that those trucks, before they do go in the convoys, do meet some specific points which we already pointed out to all the organisations bringing in convoys: number one is, we need to have detailed information on their planned route; we need to have detailed information on timings, particularly entry and exit from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; we need to have numbers and descriptions of vehicles, including the markings; and of course we need to have details of overnight locations to make sure that these convoys will not be attacked by our Air Forces.

Question: The number and activity of paramilitaries in Kosovo?

Major General Jertz : I couldn't give you a specific number on that. First of all of course it is a matter of operational and other intelligence gathering, and of course you know we are not on the ground over there. What we do know is they do work very closely together with the Serb military forces and with the special police over there, and we do know that wherever the Serb military forces are strong, they do work very closely with them to, what I described yesterday, do the final work, which is very cynical but it is the truth.

David Shukman: Two questions if I may. First, is there any question of reviewing the procedure by which targets are selected and reviewed in the wake of the attack on the Chinese Embassy? And secondly, the other day, in an effort to show that the air strikes were working in Kosovo, I think you talked about Serb activities on the decline. Today to show the Serbs are not withdrawing, you say that they are still quite active. Which is it?

Jamie Shea: I can explain that, David. What is happening is, to answer your second question first, that the Serb forces are using more of their special police and more of their special units against the UCK because the conventional army, the VJ, has proven ineffective and has also suffered heavy damage. Three brigades in particular have suffered heavy damage at the hands of NATO and we know now that they have supply problems, morale problems, that could be a reason for this partial withdrawal. I am speculating, but it could be a reason that Milosevic simply needs to pull them out so that they can try to rest or reconstitute, so that is why it is happening.

One of the reasons why the VJ units have proven to be ineffective is that they can only operate with extensive artillery fire and NATO airstrikes have succeeded significantly in reducing that artillery fire. So I think there is the explanation there. And in any case with 40,000 he still has a large numerical advantage over the UCK but it is a nut that he doesn't seem to be able to crack, despite his best efforts.

Now the first question. Secretary Cohen, the US Secretary of Defence, gave an open honest full account yesterday in Washington as to how the inquiry into the targeting error, the intelligence error that led to the mistaken attack on the Chinese Embassy had occurred, and I don't have anything to add to what he said because he did give a full account. All I can say is that the mistake has been identified, that is the main thing, and SACEUR himself has taken steps to ensure that the procedures, the targeting database have all been extensively reviewed so that that kind of error, tragic as it was, does not occur again.

CBS News: How does NATO now assess the military capability of the KLA? And given the insistence of some leaders that Kosovo be given full independence rather than autonomy, do you think that could be a potential threat to an eventual peace settlement?

Jamie Shea: I don't have the exact figures of the KLA, they claim themselves to have anywhere between 10 - 15,000 fighters available and they don't seem to have a recruitment problem. Every time President Milosevic massacres a village, the UCK can swell their ranks with another 1,000 or 2,000 volunteers. That is the tragedy of this, that President Milosevic is better than General Kitchener was in the First World War as a recruiting sergeant. But they are taking heavy losses, clearly it is a very difficult struggle with the light arms that they have against a much better armed adversary and they are taking heavy losses. But on the other hand they show no sign of losing morale or wanting to give up and we know that in Kosare in particular they have been able to form a pocket which once again the Serb forces don't seem to be able to break down; and secondly, as I often mention, up in Junik they keep open their resupply corridor into Albania, but I understand that the losses are fairly heavy on their side.

On your second question, the delegation at Rambouillet signed up for autonomy with an international conference to review the situation in three years time. Dr Rugova said the other day that he was prepared to settle for autonomy even if independence may remain his goal, and therefore I think that that is what we have to continue to work on. You have got to remember that the Rambouillet agreement , and that is still the basis of how we would try to conceive the future, does give the Kosovar people a very, very, very far ranging degree of autonomy, it gives them many things which are equivalent to self-government in many respects, even if this is within the sovereignty of Yugoslavia. And that is our position and we believe that that is a deal which satisfied all of the legitimate aspirations of the Kosovar people for self-government, for their own culture to be protected, for their human rights to be protected, and that remains our position. Rambouillet was an excellent deal and that is why at the end of the day, whatever reservations they may have had, that is why they signed it, and not just Dr Rugova and his LDK party, but the other delegations which represented all of the trends in Kosovar Albanian political leadership.

George: There are reports that NATO is to launch airstrikes from the territory of Turkey and Hungary. Can you confirm or deny this? Secondly, have you made any precautionary measures against any kind of retaliation which was promised by the Serbians if this should happen? Thirdly, I know that you are not in a position to give an exact time when it could happen, but at least I would like to know whether it is under preparation or could it happen at any time?

Major General Jertz : I will start with the first one. First of all, Hungary and Turkey are NATO members and so we do welcome all forces just to make sure that Serbia is surrounded by those countries supporting the operations, and by that supporting the goals we are achieving. But for operational reasons there will be at the present time no further comments on the exposed countries to bring aircraft in and I think it is a national commitment to announce it.

Question: To stop the raids over Yugoslavia, does NATO accept a substantial or total withdrawal of Serbian forces?

Jamie Shea: We have made it clear repeatedly that we expect all of the Serb forces to withdraw.

Question: The Chinese have said that they will not discuss any peace proposals in the UN Security Council until or unless NATO stops bombing, and I just wonder how concerned NATO is about this and the fact that the Russians seem to be taking a more hardline stance as well?

Jamie Shea: I think it shows the need to continue the diplomacy, Neil, quite frankly, which is exactly what we are going to be doing. I prefer to see the glass as half full rather than half empty, particularly after the G8 meeting last week and the agreements on the seven core principles that has been, as you know, the basis now of moving towards a UN Security Council Resolution, and as you know in our view the military campaign is what is putting the impetus into the diplomacy at the moment. That diplomacy of course has not got simply to be the unity of the international community, it has also got to be something that is going to work with Milosevic. And I believe that if we give up prematurely the air campaign that any diplomatic solution, no matter how brilliant, is unlikely to really go down very well in Belgrade because the pressure on Milosevic to accept that would be gone. So no I think we have to work in two tracks, it is not a question of have one and then give it up and try the other, give that up, go back. No, diplomacy and the air operations have to be conducted in parallel and mutually reinforcing each other.

Now I have heard the expressions that you referred to of Russia and China but we are going to keep working this. Chancellor Schroeder is heading off today to Beijing for consultations; Mr Ivanov I understand is coming to Brussels next week to meet with EU Foreign Ministers. We are going to keep working this and I think that the most compelling argument is that the UN Security Council resolution, which has the full endorsement of the United Nations, is one of the key things that will convince Milosevic to go for a diplomatic solution. So I think it is in everybody's interest not to prolong it, but to get it quickly if we are to achieve that diplomatic solution.

DAG: If NATO is afraid that this withdrawal may be a bluff, and if NATO has air supremacy, couldn't it test this out by telling Belgrade you designate the units that are leaving and we will designate a no-bomb corridor for them to leave on and we will watch what happens?

Jamie Shea: No, Dag, I told you we are not going to get into any of this until all forces withdraw, I am afraid it is an all or nothing type of situation. The forces have to go. First of all you are talking about a partial withdrawal that isn't happening yet, and may not happen, at least we don't see it today. And secondly, as I said, a partial withdrawal against a background of total ethnic cleansing isn't something that we consider to be a particularly attractive offer. President Milosevic has to meet the five conditions and not just the condition on the troops withdrawal, he has to meet the other conditions as well. We want an agreement on all five elements, that is extremely important. And as I say, something which allows say 10,000 troops to go home while the other 30,000 get on with business as usual in Kosovo is not something that we are prepared to aid and abet in any way. President Milosevic has to take all of his forces out, he has to first of all, and I reiterate this, make it clear to us openly and without any ambivalence that he accepts in full compliance with the five essential conditions of the international community, and then he has to demonstrate through his action that he is pulling out those forces.

Now let me make a fundamental point. It is not our job to guess what President Milosevic is doing. It is up to Milosevic to demonstrate, through deeds and not just words, that he is ready to meet the demands of the international community. We will know it when we see it. You can always distinguish between the genuine article from the fake and we will be able to do that, our military Commanders, the North Atlantic Council will be perfectly able to do that when we see the real thing. But we don't see the real thing for the present time.

Question: You have been saying recently that the condition for UN forces, that there would be a NATO core. Are you in a position to specify further how do you see this NATO core, there must be a majority of forces from NATO countries or else NATO forces must be deployed in key areas such as the bordering zone with the rest of Yugoslavia?

Jamie Shea: As you know, every Kosovar Albanian leader, including Dr Rugova a few days ago, has made it clear that a strong NATO presence in this international force is a key condition for them to be able to trust the force and to return to their homes. And as our number one objective, number one objective, is to get those refugees back to their homes, that is the whole sense of what we are doing. All of the five conditions are designed to serve that overriding aim of getting those refugees back, and that as you know is going to require a strong NATO presence, we have spoken of a NATO core element, which means that we would like it to be built round those aspects of robust command and control, robust rules of engagement, an integrated professional approach to the job, that we have demonstrated in Bosnia already.

The exact details, the composition of the force, who else is going to participate, those things have to be worked out, that is one of the functions of course of the current debate and discussion among the Political Directors of the G8. But the NATO core is fundamental and it is fundamental for three reasons: it is fundamental first of all for the effect in this reason, that without that NATO core we simply don't believe the force would be able to do its job, it wouldn't be up to the job, and with Milosevic you have got to be up to the job, that is a lesson that we have learnt from experience; secondly, without a NATO core a lot of NATO countries probably would not wish to contribute troops in the first place and that would obviously deprive the force of very important elements; and the third reason, as I have said, is that without a NATO core the force would not have the trust of the Kosovar Albanians and as the whole purpose of the force is to be able to attract the Kosovar Albanians back to their home, not to have the trust of those people would be rather self-defeating. So we are strong on principle but of course we are flexible on modalities, as to who participates, how these things are structured, we are willing to discuss that when the time comes.

Jake Lynch, Sky News: On the visit and search regime, can you confirm here the report in this morning's Times that if a country elects not to become voluntarily a member of the scheme then NATO does not actually propose to use force to stop its ships getting in if they don't want to be stopped? And I think the continuing questions about the withdrawal are because a verifiable withdrawal as a condition for halting the bombing begins to look like a contradiction in terms. If there are very, very few routes out of Kosovo, if you are a Yugoslavian tank commander and you say right I am going to get out of Kosovo, once you put yourself on the road then there could be a time, before it qualifies as a verifiable withdrawal, when you are still a legitimate target. So what will the modality be, will it be a phone call from President Milosevic saying no it is for real this time and then that would trigger a halt, or what?

Jamie Shea: Jake, I have said already, until such time that President Milosevic picks up the phone, accepts all five conditions clearly, and until such time as he clearly demonstrates that he is withdrawing all of his forces, I don't believe that we need to bother about these details because we are not there yet. We will worry about that when Milosevic has put his signature or at least has indicated he accepts the five conditions. We are not there yet - for the time being, as I've said, we see a promise of a partial withdrawal and on a day when we see the reality of ethnic cleansing. And quite frankly, it is the second that interests us at the moment, not the first. So let's hear from President Milosevic first and then we will worry about those details, but not today, that is the first thing.

On the visit and search, first of all I must stress that this has not yet been approved by the North Atlantic Council, though it will be very soon. Yes the idea is that the countries that participate in the oil embargo will volunteer to be part of that visit and search regime which will then be robust in making sure that vessels of those countries do not import or export oil to Yugoslavia. But I remind you Jake that there are a large number of countries that are already applying the oil embargo, so I anticipate that a large number of countries would be also in our visit and search regime. And we will be consulting with a number of other countries to make the participation as broad as possible. So I can assure you that within the scope of international law this will be an effective regime, all allies will participate in it, and we will as I say be seeking others. But again, what counts is the large number of countries that are not shipping the oil, and that is impressive, we have broad support in the international community and there is today far less oil entering Yugoslavia already than just a few months ago. So the direction is clear.

MTV: I believe my colleague's question to you was on the plans for using bases for strikes from Turkey and Hungary, but in your reply you said that for operational reasons you would not be able to tell if these countries would give more aircraft for the operations. Does it mean that we should all understand that there could be also an increase in terms of the numbers of aircraft given by these countries, I mean Turkey for example?

Major General Jertz : Let me be precise on that. Let it be up to the nations to announce when and how, and with how many aircraft or air assets they will participate and continue to support the operation. You know that by now we already increased the numbers of air assets within the last few days by a specific number, which was already indicated in the past, and obviously by that you realise that a lot of countries do really put a lot of effort to finally end these cruelties and to finally end the operation on them.

Jamie Shea: Thank you very much General. Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you. Tomorrow the briefings are at 10.30 and at 3.00 pm. Thank you again for today and a good afternoon to you.

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