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Updated: 19 May 1999 Press Conferences

NATO HQ
Brussels
19 May 1999

Press Conference

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

(Presentation Photo)

Jamie Shea : Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Afternoon. Welcome to today's up-date.

As you know, today we had a very successful meeting, series of meetings in fact, with Chancellor Schroeder and you have heard from him already. I would just like to emphasise that the Chancellor very much insisted on the need to pursue a twin-track strategy, keeping up the military pressure, but at the same time accelerating efforts to achieve a breakthrough on the diplomatic front. But you heard his message, which is the same as the NATO message, which is do not change the strategy. That strategy has the full support of Germany and that strategy is working. The Chancellor, when he met with NATO Ambassadors, insisted on that. We are achieving progress on the military front and in a few moments you will hear more on that from General Jertz.

But at the same time we are clearly also making progress now in the diplomatic area as well. The G8 Political Directors are meeting in Bonn this afternoon to work on the text of a UN Security Council Resolution and the Chancellor and the Secretary General this morning had a joint telephone conversation with President Ahtisaari in Helsinki, just ahead of the departure of Mr Chernomyrdin for Belgrade.

And the German Chancellor, Chancellor Schroeder, also expressed his full support for the Secretary General and for the military leadership of this Alliance.

As I think you know already, because it has been announced from Rome, so I have been scooped as far as that is concerned, but I can confirm that Prime Minister D'Alema is going to be with us tomorrow morning. Let me just inform you of the details. He will be arriving at 9.55 am. At 10.00 he will have a bilateral meeting with the Secretary General. He will then, as Chancellor Schroeder did today, meet with the Chairman of the Military Committee and the Deputy SACEUR, the Deputy SACEUR because General Clark is travelling tomorrow, and he will also, as Chancellor Schroeder did today, address the North Atlantic Council at 12.00 noon, and at 12.30 he will be here with the Secretary General for a press conference.

Later on today the Secretary General will be receiving the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Martoni, and that too is part of the Alliance's political efforts to seek a diplomatic solution, and we greatly value meetings with the Hungarians, among our most recent allies, the Foreign Minister this afternoon, because Hungary being a neighbour of Yugoslavia has particular insights into the situation in the region and many perspectives to offer.

Just now, just as I speak, we are starting a meeting of the NATO/Ukraine Commission with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Boris Setarasuk, that is a regular meeting, but of course with the Kosovo crisis on-going, NATO will explain to Ukraine fully what is happening with Operation Allied Force and I think a key part of the consultations this afternoon will be our ideas and the general thinking for a south-east Europe initiative. Because although Ukraine is not directly in the region, as a country which trades on the Danube considerably, it has a key economic interest in stability and in democratisation in that area for its own future prosperity, so I think that there will be ideas exchanged, particularly on that topic.

And I can announce that the Prime Minister of Albania will be coming here next Tuesday for a 19 + 1 meeting, NATO/Albania, and again to discuss at first hand the situation in the region. I will have more for you on that as we get nearer to the time.

A couple of things briefly on the humanitarian front before I hand over to General Jertz. Yesterday we noticed that the outflow of refugees into Albania slowed considerably with only 19 crossing the border. That brings to 450,000 the number of refugees currently in Albania. The focus of the NATO forces, in conjunction with the UNHCR, continues to be to move 30,000 refugees from Kukes to camps elsewhere. We have to convince them to leave for their own well-being and safety, but 2,000 were evacuated yesterday, so this work is on-going. At the same time the NATO forces are planning and constructing refugee centres, repairing the main Kukes-Tirana highway and also helping with this relocation of refugees.

In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which as you know is being visited by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General today, the refugee flow was 1,450 yesterday, but at the same time 1,128 left. This means that we are now half-way towards filling the quota of about 100,000 refugees to be temporarily accommodated in other countries, and this has now reduced the numbers of refugees in refugee centres in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to 75,700. This means that there is excess capability should there be a new flow of refugees and the UNHCR in fact has plans to accommodate up to 150,000. This has considerably reduced in the immediate the enormous pressures that until recently were on the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and we are glad of that.

However, we continue to be preoccupied with the evident difficulties that people have in reaching the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. I reported yesterday on two trains being turned back on Monday. Well yesterday a train with 950 actually got through, so there is a sort of tap movement that goes on and off in terms of the refugee outflow. But one of the refugees who did manage to cross the border yesterday reported that this was her fourth attempt to actually get to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, so that continues to still be a difficult undertaking. The total now of refugees in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is 226,000.

Now obviously NATO is looking to the future, to a time when those refugees will be able to return home, and yesterday in Geneva we participated in a meeting with the UNHCR on a plan, a concept paper leading to a framework plan for the return of refugees. There are two aspects here. First of all the UNHCR has to draw up a correct list of figures, of numbers of course; and secondly, the refugees have to be registered, something which is not very easy in a situation where so many of them have no documents or identity papers for the time being. But it is very important, despite this difficulty, to get as much information as to their homes, their whereabouts, so that they can be returned home and so that the lack of identity papers does not become a hindrance, or is not used by Belgrade as a hindrance to their return.

And NATO has been doing some computations in the last couple of days on the number of refugees and displaced persons. We calculate that there are 580,000 internally displaced persons inside Kosovo; according to our calculations, about 130,000 Kosovars who are not yet displaced and hopefully will not be, in other words people who are still living more or less in their homes; that there are 804,000 refugees in the neighbouring countries, not just Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but also elsewhere, in Bosnia, in Montenegro and in the region in general; and there are now 170,000 elsewhere in the world from that particular crisis.

Now if you add all of these up it comes to about 1.6 million, all of the figures together. And this is interesting because 1.6 million of a total population before the crisis of 1.9 million, people displaced as a result of President Milosevic's policies. This is the population of Namibia. It is more than the population of Brussels. It is about equivalent to the population of Denver in the United States, and in fact it is more than the population of Estonia, not far short of the total population of Kuwait. More than the population of Munich and slightly less than the population of San Francisco. So that gives you a rough idea of the dimensions of all of these people that have been displaced and it gives you some idea of the great challenge to the UNHCR, assisted by NATO once the time comes, but working on it now, to locate all of these people, to register them and to develop a plan to bring them back to their homes once the crisis has finished.

Now I will ask General Jertz to give you his daily military up-date.

Major General Jertz : Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me begin today's briefing with an up-date on the impact of our operations on Serbian forces. As you know, from the beginning we have targeted Serbia's air defence system in order to allow NATO aircraft to penetrate and attack targets throughout Kosovo and Serbia. Our operations have been successful in degrading Serb integrated air defence systems, but to a certain degree it is still functional and can still pose a threat to NATO air operations.

We also target Serb surface to air missile systems, so far we have destroyed 75% of Serbia's fixed surface to air missile sites and 12% of their mobile systems, the latter being forced to move continually to avoid destruction, which of course makes them less effective.

All of these actions have significantly degraded Serb defence capabilities and improved our ability to operate unimpeded over Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia. For the same reason, Serbian Air Forces, particularly their fighter force, have also been the subject of our attention. Since the outbreak of the conflict we have destroyed 69% of the MiG 29s, their most capable aircraft. We have also destroyed 24% of MiG 21s, 46% of Galebs and 33% of Super Galebs. But bear in mind that these are only the confirmed figures for assets destroyed. The true figure is likely to be much higher as a result of numerous attacks against aircraft shelters and hangars.

Our campaign against their air capability includes destruction of their military airfields also. We continue to hit airfields very hard and keep them out of action with follow-on attacks.

I would like to emphasise we have carefully identified and attacked only those bridges and lines of communications which are of military significance to the operations of the Serb ground forces within Kosovo, lines of communications also being very valid targets. We have also concentrated on interrupting key lines of communications within Serbia thus severely degrading the flow of weapons, ammunition and spare parts which are vital to the Serb military campaign.

We have destroyed most of the primary road and rail bridges over which these supplies must pass. The Serbian military has been forced to use secondary roads. To give you an example of the effectiveness of NATO action, that means the destruction of the main bridge in the Malasevo area has forced Serb Army units to use side roads, increasing of course their vulnerability to KLA actions.

We have eliminated their capability to refine oil.

Let me now move on to the primary focus, attacks made against Serb ground forces in Kosovo, the forces who pursue Milosevic's brutal policy of ethnic cleansing. Serbian ground forces rely on their tanks, artillery, mortars, anti-aircraft artillery, surface to air missiles, armoured personnel carriers, trucks and of course other military equipment to continue their operations. The Serbian military forces directly support the special police, as I already mentioned in the past, and they do support the paramilitaries in their repressive actions. To attack these forces we have employed a mix of NATO aircraft that are available for use in close air support and also battlefield air operation interdictions. The versatility of NATO aircraft allows us to use this type of weapon that provides maximum effectiveness while minimising the possibility of damage to civilians and also to civilian property.

I can report to you that at the present time we have struck 11 battalion op brigade command posts. We have struck a total 556 individual pieces of military equipment, out of which 312 were tanks, artillery and/or armoured personnel carriers. This adds up to almost 31% of the entire estimated Serb heavy forces in Kosovo.

What do all these statistics mean where it matters - on the ground? Milosevic's forces in the field are being taken apart, faster and faster. Their ability to operate effectively, let alone carry out acts of brutality, is further reduced with each day of this campaign. With Serb air defences weakened, command and control undermined, Milosevic's forces on the ground are at growing risk as the conflict goes on.

The following slide provides you with a summary of the effect of NATO action.

Let me finish my presentation with a short up-date of NATO's operations over the last 24 hours. Weather in the operating area and in the air to air refuelling areas limited, like yesterday, NATO's action. In Kosovo three more Super Galeb aircraft were destroyed and one damaged. These numbers of course are included in the pervious slide.

You may have heard an earlier report that 6 aircraft were destroyed. This figure unfortunately was issued in error. 6 were discovered on the ground but only 4 of them were destroyed.

Artillery positions we also attacked, but the results are not yet known. As you can see, attacks against strategic targets were also limited. The Valjevo ammunition plant was struck again, further limiting supplies to the Army. On the ground Yugoslav Army action continued in the centre of Kosovo and on the Albanian border with cross-border artillery firing into Albania and a small incursion by troops also into Albania.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, concludes the up-date of today.

La Repubblica: General Jertz, let's look at the map of the deployment of the Serb forces in Kosovo and where they are taking up their positions. Are these positions, these concentrations of forces, intended to fight the KLA or to stop or counter a possible coming into Kosovo of NATO forces? Jamie, I heard of a NATO leaflet dropped over Serbia mentioning 13,000 deserters in the Serb Army. Is that figure accurate, is it just a guess, can you elaborate a bit?

Major General Jertz : On the first question, both is a fact. The Serb Army is still fighting the UCK in the areas which were depicted on the viewfoil; and secondly, we have good evidence that in the area, especially towards Albania, positions have been made of revetments, tanks are being dug in to be prepared for an attack from the side of Albania.

Jamie Shea : On the question of deserters, I would like to think that 13,000 were true but I don't have any information on that.

George: Today Chancellor Schroeder confirmed that Germany was firmly against the use of ground forces before any kind of agreement. Two days ago Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that an agreement was not a precondition to use this instrument. Meanwhile the Italian government stick to the point that a could be useful, while the other countries are strictly against. Don't these signs show that the unity is not as solid as it used to be?

Jamie Shea : George, you will not be surprised to hear me say that I don't think that is true. In fact I have just heard Prime Minister D'Alema addressing the Italian Parliament saying: "I believe in such a delicate moment Italy's duty is to move in synchronisation with its NATO Allies". And as you heard the Chancellor today, and I don't believe there are any differences in what people are saying, we all agree that we should stick with the current strategy, everybody has said that in recent days. That strategy is working and it is going to be even more effective in the next few days as we carry on. As General Jertz has just shown you, we are now really beginning to achieve that objective of degrading the Yugoslav forces severely, and we want to keep that up. We all agree too that ground troops should be introduced only once the Yugoslav forces are retreating, are withdrawing from Kosovo, we made that clear at the Washington Summit, that policy has not changed whatever. We all agree, thirdly, that we are not going to send ground forces to fight in Kosovo, but as a peace force, as part of a peace implementation force once the Yugoslav Forces are withdrawing.

Now I can understand that as the campaign goes on into its 56th day everybody is looking for a story and if I were a journalist I would be doing the same. But there is no story in terms of NATO differences on ground troops, none whatever. And I have said in the past, and I say it again, the precise timing, the precise circumstances as to when those ground forces are introduced, once our political goals have been met, will be decided in common, in common, by all 19 countries of the North Atlantic Council. But that time is not now, this is not today's debate. Today's debate is continuing the air operations and turning the diplomatic screw even tighter on Milosevic and preparing our ground force to be ready for when the time for its deployment comes. Those are the priorities today, not speculating on the exact timing as to when that ground force would be deployed. When the time comes I don't think anybody, either you or I, will have any difficulty identifying it.

Mark Laity (BBC): The air campaign may be doing a lot of physical damage to the Serb forces in the field but is there any evidence that they are beginning to crack under the strain in the sense of high rates of desertion, people refusing orders because as I understand the strategy, in the end you are relying on President Milosevic changing his mind so is there any suggestion that he is changing his mind or that the Serb forces are changing their mind and leaving anyway either through desertion in Kosovo or refusing call-up elsewhere?

Major General Jertz : From the military aspect, I already indicated that morale is going down, we have already mentioned it, because of bad payment for the VJ troops, for the Serb troops and fear that they will be attacked, the hunger they have, they don't get enough food, they don't get too much sleep because we are doing the operations for 24 hours and we have continuous indications that more and more soldiers, especially conscripts, are trying to get away from Kosovo and I think, Jamie, you could mention the other part.

Jamie Shea : Obviously, the information is still anecdotal at the present time but as General Jertz says, we do know that the Yugoslavs are having enormous problems finding new recruits. Kosovo has become, if you like, the Russian front for a lot of Yugoslavs, that is to say that they know fully well that it is an extremely unpleasant experience that awaits them there and there are growing reports which even Milosevic can't hide of casualties. In fact, as you know, the demonstrations in the last couple of days which have taken place in Krusevac, Cacak and Alexandravac were all inspired by the fact that coffins are coming back and of course families are not very happy to see that their conscripts are being killed. It is no longer for the Yugoslavs if it ever was - but less and less - a casualty-free conflict in which they are giving all of the punishment but are not taking any and of course, the longer Milosevic defies the international community the higher those casualty rates are going to go.

Although I don't want to overplay the impact of three demonstrations in three cities, nonetheless the fact that these things are now happening in a spontaneous way and with many people on the streets even to the extent that the Army commander has described certain people as traitors, I think is a case that there is unrest at least among the civilian population at being conscripted into the Army, at being sent to Kosovo and among the families of those who are in the Armed Forces who clearly don't believe that Kosovo is such a sacred cause that they should allow their sons' lives to be sacrificed for it and we will obviously have to see if these three demonstrations are harbingers of a growing degree of unrest or not but I think the fact that they have happened is significant.

Mark Laity: Do any of those reports put figures on anything, is it specific units you are aware of or anything of that kind?

Jamie Shea : We will give that when we are certain. Mark, the thing is, yes, we do have reports of low morale, desertions and so on but I want to be absolutely certain of having all of the facts before I stand up here and announce it and we are checking that at the moment. But I would find it impossible to believe that there would not be these things happening given the type of pressure that the Yugoslav forces are under and as I said the other day, we do know that there are clear differences in morale and motivation between on the one hand the Army, basically conscripts and you have got to remember in Yugoslavia there has been a very demographic decline in recent years - the birth rate has been going down and therefore most families don't have six or seven people to sacrifice for the fatherland they have one or two - and therefore the idea of losing one in Kosovo is very unpalatable indeed, hence the problem now of finding people to call up particularly as the campaign of repression against the Albanians has meant that none of the 1.9 million Kosovar Albanians, at least the men, are going to obey the call-up papers, not after what has happened and so funnily enough, the repression of Milosevic has deprived him of a large reservoir of recruits for the Yugoslav Army and in fact the failure of the call-up rate among the ethnic minorities is higher vis--vis the Serbs but in a multiethnic society like Yugoslavia it can still have a significant effect. On the other hand, the MUP - what I described as the Praetorian Guard the other day - are better equipped, the lion's share of the budget has been going to them, they are the people who are more ideologically motivated, they are more bound up with the regime and we have seen this tendency - and I think General Jertz has referred to it - as this campaign is going on for more and more of the donkey work to be done by the MUP - the Special Police - and less and less by the Army because of demoralisation. In fact, what is also interesting is that in Krusevac yesterday where this demonstration occurred, the Yugoslavs were obliged to send a MUP reinforcement unit from Nis to take care of the situation which suggests that it was not simply what Harold Macmillan would have described as "a little local difficulty".

Question: You say that you are finally beginning to reach your target and two-thirds of his heavy forces as you said, are still not destroyed and you are taking two months doing this. How long are you going to continue before everything is destroyed? Will it go quicker now or will it have the same pace? Are you going to keep on doing it for months?

What is the status for the planning of ground forces regarding a permissive environment? We are talking about raising the numbers to beyond the 28,000 originally planned, where is this planning heading and how far has it gone?

Major General Jertz : Let me answer the first question and I think Jamie could answer the second one.

You know that we had a slow start - I already indicated it - because of bad weather and especially because we were fighting the forces on the ground we had to wait for better weather and so in the last few weeks we really came up to speed and that is why the figures are increasingly getting higher and higher.

On the question of how long it will take, it will take as long as we have to until Milosevic, as you have already been told, agrees to the five principles.

Jamie Shea : On the ground troops, what we are doing is we have asked SHAPE to revise the operational plan for what we call operation Joint Guardian, which is the official name for the peace-implementation force. SHAPE have now sent the revised operational plan to the Military Committee according to the standard NATO procedure, the Military Committee is now looking at it, analysing it and when the Military Committee are satisfied they will send it to the Council for discussion and ultimately endorsement.

Of course, what we are looking at in judging the size of the force are obvious things: to what degree is the situation on the ground now more complicated, worse, than last October or last summer when the planning was originally done and of course we have to take into account the fact that there are many more refugees and displaced persons now, there is a much higher level of destruction of homes but also infrastructure and one problem that there has always been in Kosovo is the lack of host nation support if I can put that way, the lack of a lot of infrastructure which a force could occupy or build on when it goes in. There are also a lot more mines that we have to consider. Force protection is very important for all of us and then of course there is the question of to what degree will the force help with the humanitarian relief effort at least in the initial phase or support the transitional authority that is going to be established and so according to which specific tasks are given to the force, you drive the numbers but I cannot comment on numbers before the formal tasks have been approved by the North Atlantic Council.

What however I would like to stress is that all of us in the Alliance share a sense of urgency that when Milosevic finally puts up his hand and says: "I accept the five conditions!", we have to be ready with a peace-implementation force to enter Kosovo rapidly and secure the situation in order to stave off any difficult situation that could emerge from a vacuum, particularly a humanitarian vacuum, so we are pushing this as a matter of priority but we are in a good situation. I come back to this all the time, we have not left ourselves bare, we have been for the last months deploying forces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a sizeable force, a so-called "enabling force". That force, although helping with the refugees, has in recent weeks been training very intensively for its mission; it is an equipped, well-trained multinational force and therefore we do have an advanced element to be deployed rapidly once the five conditions have been met.

Pierre: Jamie, do you have information or indications why President Ahtisaari decided not to go to Belgrade today with Mr. Chirnomyrdin?

Jamie Shea : Pierre, obviously that is a question that should be put to him rather than to me but I am certain that he will undertake that mission when he judges that the time is right and the chances of success are high. As you know, the diplomatic discussions with President Ahtisaari, the diplomatic discussions in the G8, all of this continues but obviously I can well understand that President Ahtisaari would wish to wait until he considers that the time is right to maximise the chances of success and that the impression on Milosevic which of course I know he would want to make, is going to be successful.

John: Jamie, there have been rumours going around London in the last few hours that as many as 1,000 soldiers in Kosovo have deserted because of the way their families and the families of their comrades have been treated during these demonstrations with the use of water cannon and so on. Have such reports been reaching NATO, would they surprise you?

General Jertz, as a military man, how damaging is it when soldiers start deserting on this scale, what does it mean for the effectiveness of the Serb forces?

Jamie Shea : John, I have seen those reports, yes. As always, I want to be cautious in handling them until we are ourselves, through a variety of sources, totally certain of the facts because I would not like to mislead you but I have seen those reports that a battalion of a certain brigade of the Yugoslav Army based in Kosovo did try to go back to Krusevac upon hearing of the demonstrations and of course out of worry that their families might be in some kind of danger but I can't give you any figures here and I can't corroborate those stories at the moment but I would not be surprised - let me say that - but let us wait until we have got the facts straight before we come back to it.

Major General Jertz : As a military commander, you can imagine you need good troops with good morale and you need to have these troops well equipped. Clearly, we are talking about 80 per cent conscripts in the Serb Armed Forces which of course makes life very difficult especially for a military commander. Please don't misunderstand me and get me wrong now, we have a saying: "Many chiefs, no Indians!" so if there are too many chiefs and you have nobody to do the work for you, you will not be successful.

Jake: Jamie, isn't it clear, going into the 9th week of this campaign, that while it might be indeed within NATO's power to basically batter Yugoslavia into submission, it is also within the power of President Milosevic to spin this out? Chancellor Schrder addressed this - or at least I understood him to - when he said that the avoidance of further human suffering was of such importance that all political means should be used to try to achieve settlement. Indeed, he said that considerations like hauling Milosevic up before the War Crimes Tribunal should fall by the wayside. It is clear that you are going to have to negotiate with President Milosevic and if, as you have said, the five objectives are non-negotiable, what are you going to negotiate with?

Jamie Shea : Jake, I think I have made this clear all along. There are two ingredients of success here which we have identified right from the word "go". The first thing is for Milosevic to understand that the military campaign, the military pressure, is unrelenting and we have shown this. Despite difficulties on the way, despite all kinds of factors, here we are, as you say yourself, in the ninth week, still doing what we were doing at the beginning and as General Jertz has pointed out, it is taking a mounting toll on President Milosevic.

Obviously President Milosevic has to be the judge of how many of his military forces he wants to lose before he agrees to accept the five key conditions but coming back to the demonstrations in the towns, if he is not listening to NATO he at least perhaps should be listening to some of his own citizens who seem already to be saying to him: "Enough is enough, we have got other priorities in life than simply losing the lives of our families in Kosovo for great gain!"

Secondly, we have to demonstrate to Milosevic that he cannot divide the international community, that he cannot simply sit it out and either expect NATO to collapse or expect the international community to fall apart and as we come together with Russia, as we come together around what I expect to be an extremely firm, extremely detailed UN Security Council resolution, then he will realise that that escape hatch is not open to him so we are closing the military escape hatch and we are slamming down the political escape hatch and then President Milosevic will have no choice but we are not going to negotiate on those five conditions, we have no interest in doing so.

We know what happens when you strike a compromise deal with President Milosevic, you either have an endless negotiation leading nowhere or you have a half-baked deal which may seem like "peace in our time" but which six months later is in shambles with fighting again breaking out, with Yugoslav forces still cracking down in Kosovo, with international observers or a lightly-armed peace-keeping force completely overtaken by the deteriorating dynamism of events and suddenly you are back at square one. No, we have done that, we have been the whole nine yards on that with President Milosevic, we have the experience and we are not going to do that any longer. We realise fully well that if we want to solve this crisis, we have to achieve those five conditions and that is why we are going to be firm on it and I think that is the message that you had from Chancellor Schrder today and that's the message you are going to get from all of the allies. You are getting the message, I hope President Milosevic is getting it too.

Jake: But nobody is going to negotiate if the deal for him is that he has to back away unequivocally with nothing to show for it. Now if those five conditions are not negotiable as you have stressed, what is going to be in for him to induce him to negotiate? You have made it very clear that you take very seriously NATO's responsibility to bring this to a swift and satisfactory conclusion. In discharging that responsibility, don't you have to suggest something further which could act as an inducement to the hasty acceptance of these five conditions in Belgrade?

Jamie Shea : We are not going to offer any carrots if that is what you mean. No, we are going to make it clear to Milosevic that we mean business. He may have in the past believed that he could dangle us on the end of a piece of string but no, not this time. We are going to solve this crisis on the basis of the five conditions and Jake, unlike you, I believe that President Milosevic has got lots to show from his activities in Kosovo: part of his country completely devastated by his own forces, an economy which has been in a nosedive for years, a budget which goes almost exclusively to the military and not to his own people, a people which have one of the lowest GNP per capitas in Europe because of his policies, a military regime which has to go from bunker to bunker every night and rarely shows itself to its own people and a rising pattern of discontent as to the unnecessary sacrifices so I think that unfortunately, the problem for Milosevic is he has got far too much to show from his actions. But no, we are not going to give up on this. Doug: In view of your last answer about the road to compromise and where that has led in the past, Chancellor Schrder said that he was more optimistic today about the prospect of a political settlement than he was last week. I know you can't speak for him but I would like to know the general view among the NATO allies of whether Milosevic has done anything in the past week that we have not noticed to warrant optimism, has he withdrawn any troops, has he stopped expelling civilians?

Can you confirm that NATO has asked the aid agencies to move back from the north Albanian border and if so, why and could you confirm if NATO is favourably considering a British proposal for a 7-day bombing pause once they are demonstrably moving out of Kosovo?

Jamie Shea : Doug, I think if people are feeling more upbeat about diplomacy, it is not because of a spirit of compromise in the air, it is because we believe that we are working now very intensively with Russia, we are working very intensively in the G8 towards a UN Security Council resolution which would, as I say, isolate Milosevic further and provide a very firm basis for subsequent action to implement the five conditions, to translate the five conditions into reality and we believe that that united front is a key factor in convincing Milosevic that there is no way out. That is why I think people I wouldn't say are optimistic - I think that goes too far - but at least are hopeful that now we have got a diplomatic process which will be very important to this whole thing. As you know, the whole G8 process reflects the five core conditions of the Alliance.

As for the question of Albania, I don't have any information - maybe General Jertz does - about NATO asking the international organisations to leave. I have seen nothing on this at all. I know that the Albanians have deployed some forces up on the border because of the shelling that has taken place over the last couple of days but nothing on the aid organisations..

Doug: What about the 7-day bombing pause proposed by Britain once the Yugoslav forces are demonstrably pulling out?

Jamie Shea : Once the Yugoslav forces are moving out of Kosovo, the conditions of the international community will be well on their way to being achieved but we are not there yet, let's focus on the business of today and we'll worry about those types of decisions when the time comes. We want to see first of all from Milosevic concrete indications that he is moving towards full compliance with those five conditions. There can be lots of valid ideas about how we are going to implement those five conditions when the time comes but that is not the business of today. Today's business is to keep up the combination of military and diplomatic pressure which will get us there hopefully sooner rather than later.

Major General Jertz : On the question about the aid agencies, you know that the aid agencies, UNHCR and NATO are working very efficiently and in a very co-operative manner together. Of course, as you know, we have seen shelling across the border from Kosovo into Albania in the last few days and weeks so we are very concerned about the safety and security of those people who have just made it out of Kosovo who may be shelled again. Those people will still live in these camps which as far as is possible give them safety and security; they needed a bed first, they needed something to eat first and now UNHCR - and they are in the lead - are asking people if voluntarily they would go to other places a little further away from the border and that is the only answer which is correct in this context.

Roslar: Jamie, now is going a new NATO/Ukraine commission with the participation of Mr. Tarazuk (phon), the Foreign Minister of the Ukraine so how can you argue that the relationship between Ukraine and NATO is going in the right direction if Ukraine doesn't accept NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and NATO doesn't accept a Ukrainian plan of resolving this problem and what is the right direction if you, during two years, discuss the same topics?

Jamie Shea : Roslar, we can have different views or nuances of view and we can still work together. The relationship between NATO and Ukraine is so important that it can easily withstand occasional different nuances of view. The fact that Boris Tarazuk is here today, that the meeting is taking place - it is a regular meeting - is a case in point and Kosovo apart, we have lots of other things to talk about today: the development of our Partnership for Peace, we are talking about the development of our NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kiev where we have just appointed a new Director, we are talking about all of the work on defence reform where NATO is helping Ukraine and so I can assure you it is business as usual on that front because we recognise a long-term strategic interest in working together.

Carlos: The German Chancellor raised this morning the Chinese embassy incident. What is the Secretary General doing to get a full clarification on that?

Jamie Shea : That is something that he is working on, Carlos, at the moment and when he has it, he will be passing it on to the Allies. Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much. See you tomorrow with Prime Minister d'Alema of Italy.

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