Header
Updated: 23 May 1999 Press Conferences

NATO HQ
Brussels

23 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 our briefing. As you can see, after a day off, which in reality turned out to be a day at SHAPE headquarters, General Jertz is back with me here at the podium.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Secretary General is continuing his consultations with allied capitals and leaders. This afternoon in Brussels he will be receiving Minister Van Aartsen, the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands.

I would like to inform you that at 10.30 tomorrow morning, just at the beginning of our daily operational up-date, we will have a video link with Minister Rudolph Scharping, the German Defence Minister, who is visiting tomorrow the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and this video link will be from the Segrane refugee camp.

Also at the beginning of our briefing tomorrow afternoon at 3.00 pm, we shall have the pleasure of receiving Mr. Izas Zimberi who is head of the Kosovo Information Centre in London and he will give you his insights into the current situation inside Kosovo.

Obviously our concern remains, as it has throughout this crisis, on the situation of the refugees and the displaced persons, it is for them that we began this intervention, the air operation, and it is for their benefit that we will end this operation. Yesterday 5,000 people crossed the border between Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, this was one of the highest figures since 6 May. And I understand from the UNHCR that today a further 5,000 have already crossed in a train of 13 carriages and in 4 buses.

Several of the refugees have told the international humanitarian organisations that they were removed from a train from Urosevac last Friday, herded into a field and told to "wait for NATO to bomb them", which I hasten to add we did not do, and would not do, and then they were told to walk back to Urosevac where they were able to board another train and then to leave. Some of the refugees arriving at the Blace reception centre also said that they had been on the move for a year - for a year - going from one house, one village, to the next, having to pay money consistently to the police in order to be left alone, and yet once they ran out of money having no option but to leave.

2,398 of the refugees in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are scheduled to leave today as part of the emergency evacuation programme, they are going to 11 host countries, and that will bring the total of temporary evacuations to over 60,000 which I think is an impressive figure, and I would like to point out that 80% of all of those people are being hosted in NATO member states.

Meanwhile the NATO troops under General Jackson in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are reviewing contingency plans to handle the additional influx of refugees, together of course and in support of the UNHCR, and to help if necessary with the construction of two new refugee camps at Segrane and Totabo, which the government has offered to make available, and there will be a reconnaissance mission on 24 May to the sites, as a contingency measure should the refugees flow at the present level.

On the other hand, into Montenegro, the refugee flow has turned into a trickle. That may be due to the very tense security situation in Montenegro which you are all familiar with and which has obliged the UNHCR to temporarily suspend its operations. But 20 trucks of humanitarian aid are apparently stuck at the border between Croatia and Montenegro. And at the same time today we have learned that a Bulgarian aid convoy has been turned back, or at least refused access, mainly because the organisation behind that convoy insists that it control the distribution of the aid, and not the Yugoslav authorities, because obviously it is very important that the aid on these humanitarian convoys go to those who really need the aid and not to those who don't need it.

As far as Albania is concerned, again there has been a sharp pick-up in the number of refugees, 3,650 along yesterday, and I am glad to say that the evacuation from Kukes to the other camps is proceeding well, as many as 2,132 were moved yesterday and 600 are being moved already today.

However, as you all know, the truly dramatic event yesterday, which I think has deeply moved all of us, has been the sudden arrival at the Morini border post of 583 prisoners, or former prisoners. These are Kosovar Albanian men who have been abducted over the last month from refugee convoys and forcibly incarcerated in a prison near Kosovska Mitrovica, and it is clear from the appalling physical shape in which these men have been received by the international relief organisations that they have been severely mistreated. None of them, it seems, have been members of the KLA and I note that they were all handcuffed until shortly before they reached the border. They apparently, at least while they were being incarcerated in this prison, were put on a starvation ration of bread and water, forced to sing Serb nationalist songs and as a reward received broken bones and heavy beatings and even forced to fight each other with broomsticks, if the reports of these men, which we have all seen, are true.

This is truly a return from the dead, but at least these individuals are alive. The reasons for their release are unknown to us, but apparently there are still 1,500 inmates of this notorious institution and we very much hope that those men will also be allowed to leave and enter Albania because clearly those people need medical help urgently.

The UN mission in Kosovo continues, as you know, today under the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr Sergeo Viera de Melo. Yesterday they visited a village at Svetlav near Podujevo up in the north, they spoke to many displaced persons and they saw again many signs of desolation, of abandoned homes, of people obviously who had had to make sudden departure plans. Some refugees apparently reported to the UN humanitarian mission that they were "living like dogs", that they needed papers to move from one village to another, and again even where the villages are intact, the fact that they are virtually deserted I think has been very impressive for the UN humanitarian mission. A member of the UN team is quoted as saying "the silence of this city is frightening" - referring to Prizren.

At the same time I am often asked a question, after 2 months now of the NATO operation, what has the Alliance achieved? And I would just like to briefly with you outline what I believe have been the results that we have been successful in achieving thus far. On the military front, we have destroyed over 550 pieces of major military equipment, including one-third of all of the Serb heavy equipment there. We have destroyed over 100 aircraft of the Yugoslav Air Force, which is over half now of the frontline combat aircraft. We have destroyed 75% of the fixed surface to air missile sites. 50% of the ammunition storage in Kosovo has been destroyed, 11 battalion brigade command posts have been hit. The two main rail links from Serbia to Kosovo have been cut. The two main road routes from Serbia to Kosovo have also been cut and the remaining minor roads badly damaged. All bridges over the Danube, with the exception of Belgrade, have been cut. Command and control facilities have been progressively degraded, all of Serbia's oil refineries have been crippled, eliminating Serbia's capability to refine crude oil. The campaign has forced increasingly severe fuel rationing in Serbia, and the headquarters of the VJ First and Third Armies have been destroyed.

On the humanitarian front, NATO forces have helped to care for almost half a million refugees in Albania and we have helped to care for a quarter of a million refugees in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia we have built 6 major refugee camps, 7 more are in the course of construction. NATO has helped unload 1,500 humanitarian aid flights in both the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania. We have helped to distribute 5,000 tons of food and water, over 1,500 tons of medical supplies and over 2,500 tons of tentage, along with 4,500 tons of general goods.

On the political front, for the first time in NATO's history the Alliance has been able to conduct a full scale combat operation, beginning with 350 aircraft and moving now to 852. This Alliance of 19 countries has been successful over 2 months in pursuing and intensifying its air campaign with a view to stopping and reversing the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovar Albanian people. We have stayed united, even during difficult times, and that unity is still there today as strong as it was at the beginning. Furthermore, we have been able increasingly to build a diplomatic position with Russia and other countries in the G8 which is currently being converted into a UN Security Council Resolution. We have solidified the 7 frontline, or neighbouring, countries bordering Yugoslavia, persuaded them to join with us in imposing economic sanctions on Serbia, and have assisted them with security assurances to enable them to withstand the shock-waves of this crisis.

Forty-four countries around the 19 Allies are now coordinating humanitarian relief for the Former Yugoslavia and we have demonstrated at a successful 50th anniversary summit our unity and determination. We have persuaded a further 11 countries to back our oil embargo against Serbia. The Yugoslav government, President Milosevic, began this semi-isolated in the international community, after 2 months the isolation of Yugoslavia is nearly complete.

I say this, and some of these facts are of course familiar to you already, because sometimes I believe we have a tendency to lose the wood for the trees in this campaign, to become over-focused on the day to day news and to lose sight of our fundamental objectives and how close we are now to achieving those fundamental objectives. The fact is that the Serb military machine is now being increasingly degraded. We are stemming the tide of human misery and we are caring for the hundreds of thousands made homeless by ethnic cleansing. And the international community is increasingly revolted by what has been going on, and increasingly willing to support what we are doing to put a stop to it.

So I believe in short the strategy is working. If I can use an analogy, I would say that when we started this on 24 March, within a few days we had won the game. At the moment we are taking the first set and in the couple of days and weeks ahead we are going to conclude the match.

Now I would ask General Jertz to give you his operational up-date.

Major General Jertz : Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me give you an up-date of the last 24 hours of operations. Once again NATO aircraft struck a wide range of targets in both Kosovo and Serbia. 652 total sorties were flown, 222 were strike, plus 79 suppression flights.

To be more specific on what we achieved in the last 24 hours, let me start with Kosovo. In Kosovo we attacked Serb ground forces, striking a variety of vehicles, including tanks, military vehicles, several armoured personnel carriers and 10 artillery positions. 3 Antanoff Colt aircraft were hit on the ground at a grass strip in the northern tip of Kosovo. These aircraft are primarily used for transport purposes, also they are also there for capability to drop weapons. We also struck two surface to air missile launchers and an associate radar site. A number of fixed sites were also attacked, including ammunition sites at Urosevac and Kosovska Mitrovica, further reducing the supplies to Serb forces.

Across Serbia a range of strategic targets were also struck again. These included an air defence command post at Drakovica and radio relay sites at Prepolak and Kacanic Bodeva, further degrading Serb capability to threaten NATO aircraft. A radio site at Kula was attacked, limiting Milosevic's ability to broadcast propaganda, like he did in the past. Petroleum storage sites at Smidorevo and Leskovak were attacked, further reducing the army ability to move. The large ammunition storage complex at Zabac was also attacked. Bridging equipment, which is produced at this site, could be used to repair army lines of communication, thus further degrading Serb forces mobility.

On the ground, Serb military actions continue in western and central Kosovo. There have been reports that UCK forces have retaken the village of Produc in northern Kosovo. Serb forces fired 13 surface to air missiles at NATO aircraft, a mixture of manned portable and fixed Sams, surface to air missiles were used. There was also a large amount of anti-aircraft artillery fire but no NATO aircraft was hit. I am happy to say that all NATO aircraft returned safely.

Humanitarian flights continued into Albania and also the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with 10 and 11 flights respectively. We have been notified of another 10 aid convoys operating in Serbia and Kosovo and we do continue to do our best to co-ordinate with them, but we also have to mention again that we are unable to guarantee 100% safety.

That completes my portion of the brief.

Mark Laity - BBC : Could we look at this thing of aid convoys. You mentioned that the Bulgarian convoys have been turned back, we have had other reports about convoys being blocked in Montenegro and so on. These aid convoys, as I understand it and correct me if I am wrong, they went in on the basis of 50% Serb, 50% Kosovo Albanian. Is the 50% Kosovo Albanian actually happening, is any of this food getting into the internally displaced people who are up in the hills, or is it going to the Serbs, and in which case have the Serbs had you?

Jamie Shea : Mark, obviously we very much support these humanitarian aid convoys, obviously, for humanitarian reasons. But the concern I expressed is certainly that many of the organisations want to be able to have some influence on the distribution of the food, to make sure it goes to the victims rather than to those who are causing the victims, that is key, that is the whole business, and that is something that obviously we are tracking carefully. We do know for example that when some French and Italian convoy crossed into Montenegro from Croatia during the last week, some of the supplies, medical supplies and food, were confiscated by the army at the checkpoint. What has happened to that, we don't know. So no I am afraid I don't have any information exactly as to where the food and medical supplies are getting to, who they are reaching. But clearly we do hope very much obviously that the food is getting to those who need it most urgently.

Greg : Could you clarify when it is decided on the Security force, the size, whatever to go into Kosovo in the event of a deal. Is it all coming from Macedonia? For example Bacon on Friday in the Pentagon said we want 50,000 troops to go into Macedonia, is that already decided, that all of these troops will be based in Macedonia, that it won't be split up between Macedonia and Albanian, or is that still to be decided? Secondly, we are talking about troops, maybe another 30,000 or so need to be sent there perhaps in a more robust force, but there are more troops going there now, right, 3,000 from one country, maybe 2,000, can you tell me about any troop movement now towards that goal of a more robust force?

Jamie Shea : Yes, certainly Greg. First of all, as I mentioned the other day, we have just over 13,000 at the moment forces in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and we are aiming to bring that figure up, in fact the exact figure is 13,830 with 74 personnel in Greece in order to help to handle the forward movement of goods and forces that come via the port of Thessiloniki. The aim in the immediate future is to bring that level up to about 16,000, which is the ceiling that we have currently agreed with the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and for that ceiling to be reached, some Canadian, some Italian and some UK forces are shortly to be deployed, that transit is on-going at the moment. As I have made clear, any increase above that ceiling, in view of a forward deployment of NATO forces to prepare for a peace implementation mission, will have to be obviously subject to the agreement of the government in Skopje. But first of all, before any of that happens, the North Atlantic Council has to approve the revised military operational plan for Operation Joint Guardian. That has been cleared by the Military Committee, it is now on the desk of the NATO Ambassadors and the Secretary General and they of course will take that up in the course of the week.

Secondly, SHAPE will need to hold a force generation conference, as it is called, in order to ensure that those extra forces that may have to be deployed are forthcoming from countries, not simply in terms of numbers but in terms of the type of forces, the type of units which SACEUR requires. So I'm afraid I can't give you the exact details yet Greg because all of that has to be approved by the council first and foremost.

As to the planning, as you know up until now we have been fortunate in having the agreement of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to station a so-called enabling force, the advance guard, for that operation there, but will have to wait and see if units would go elsewhere. But of course that would always, I repeat, have to be subject to the consenting government.

Question: No decision that they would be split up between Albania and Macedonia, all Macedonia, doubts about Albania because of the mud and the roads and everything?

Jamie Shea : No. Up until now, as you know, it has been in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but I can't speculate on what is going to happen tomorrow. Anything to add there General Jertz?

Major General Jertz : No. The numbers are still not fixed, you know that, discussions are on-going and Jamie already said it.

Dominique Thierry : Au fur et mesure, ces derniers jours, on a vu les zones tenues par l'UCK, sur les photos que vous nous montrez, s'agrandir, devenir de plus en plus nombreuses, pourriez-vous expliquez un peu ou en est l'UCK aujourd'hui. Ils ont la possibilit de prendre des villages, ont-ils rcupr de l'quipement lourd de la part des Serbes. Quel est le nombre de leurs troupes sur le terrain et est-ce que cela ne risque pas de poser un problme par la suite lorsqu'il faudra dsarmer ces soldats ?

Jamie Shea :Voil. Pour les effectifs, je n'ai pas un chiffre tout fait prcis Dominique, mais l'UCK parle lui-mme de 12 15 000 hommes oprationnels, arms, actifs sur le terrain au Kosovo. C'est un chiffre que je ne peux pas personnellement, ni confirmer, ni vrifier. Certainement, il y a deux zones d'activit majeure de l'UCK, le long de la frontire Albanaise, o ils ont russi s'emparer comme vous le savez d'un poste frontalier Kosare et pour crer un couloir qui leur donne directement accs au Kosovo et puis l'Ouest, et puis je crois que pour l'instant leurs oprations essaient de crer une espce de couloir logistique pour relier les forces l'Ouest du Kosovo, qui parat-il manquent de munitions et qui ont subi des dgts importants et bien sr les bases arrires. Ils sont toujours actifs mais il faut dire que leurs pertes sont lourdes parce que ceux qui s'occupent de l'hpital de "Tropoje" en Albanie, disent souvent qu'aprs chaque nuit d'oprations, il y a beaucoup de blesss qui reviennent. Et bien sr, en ce qui concerne l'quipement, ils ont toujours le dsavantage de disposer de trs peu d'quipements lourds mais ils ne manquent pas d'effectifs, a c'est tout fait certain et ils ont eu "Suva Reca" la semaine dernire un succs tactique important contre une brigade motorise des forces yougoslaves o ces forces yougoslaves sous la pression du feu ont battu retraite et ont abandonn d'importants stocks d'quipements et de munitions donc l'UCK est loin d'tre battue.

Dominique Thierry :La suite de ma question tait : Est-ce que a ne risque pas de poser un srieux problme l'OTAN par la suite ?

Jamie Shea : Comme vous le savez les Accords de Rambouillet prconisaient une dmilitarisation du Kosovo. La scurit va tre fournie par la force internationale, donc il n'y aura plus de raison d'tre pour des groupes arms, une fois la paix tablie, vu que la raison d'tre, la motivation principale d'une force de scurit, c'est de fournir la scurit. Donc nous n'avons pas besoin de fournir de duplication dans ce domaine. Une fois les forces serbes parties, une fois la paix et la scurit au Kosovo, nous esprons, nous allons oeuvrer pour que l'UCK se transforme, se mtamorphose en quelque sorte soit en parti politique pour construire avec les autres formations politiques du Kosovo le futur d'une autonomie, soit ces effectifs s'intgrent dans une force de police, une force civile de police qui doit de toute faon tre cre et qui est galement prvue par les Accords de Rambouillet.

Pierre Julien - RTL :J'ai deux questions. L'UCK, justement, ce genre d'oprations, est-elle aide par l'OTAN. C'est--dire est-ce que les avions de l'OTAN participent l'crasement des forces serbes pour que l'UCK remportent ces victoires et la deuxime question qui est plus une sorte de bilan. Vous avez commenc tout l'heure nous donner des chiffres. Est-ce qu'on peut connatre le nombre, par exemple, le nombre de bombes utilises sur l'arme serbe, aussi bien sur le territoire yougoslave que sur, videmment, le Kososo compris et est-ce que l'on a une ide du cot des oprations, par notamment, le cot du kerosne et autres.

Jamie Shea :Pierre, beaucoup de questions. D'abord l'OTAN n'a pas de lien direct avec l'UCK je viens de le dire mais il est certain que l'affaiblissement des forces serbes du fait des bombardements de l'OTAN indirectement facilitent les actions de l'UCK. Les Serbes doivent tre bien sr conscients qu'ils sont dans une position inconfortable, ils sont bien sr exposs des tirs de deux directions, direction de l'UCK, direction de l'OTAN, nous esprons que c'est cette pression qui va faciliter ou acclrer le retrait de leurs forces mais nous ne sommes pas des allis directs dans cette affaire, je tiens raffirmer cela. Quant aux chiffres, non, je ne peux pas vous donner, peut-tre le gnral Jertz quelques chiffres porte de la main mais je n'ai pas de chiffre sur le nombre total des bombes ni sur le cot pour l'instant de toutes ces oprations, difficilement estimables parce qu'il faudrait tenir compte aussi de l'aide aux pays riverains, la contribution aux oprations humanitaires en plus du simple cot des oprations militaires et quant au kerosne. Non, j'ai vu un rapport amricain, l'autre jour, qui disait que 5 %, mais je ne peux pas le confirmer.

Major General Jertz : Only a rough figure on the numbers, of course we don't count every bomb, yes we do but I wouldn't be able to give it to you. So around about 14,000 bombs have been used so far, out of which about 10,000 were precision guided.

Jake Lynch (Sky News): First of all, Jamie in your opening remarks you referred to 550 items of heavy ordnance destroyed, whereas from General Jertz we have had the claim that they have been struck. Is this a worthwhile distinction, can NATO assure us that in every case where, say, a tank for example is hit, it is destroyed or as good as destroyed in terms of removed from the picture. Secondly, on the incident at Kosare, I understand that the border post at Glava, which is the building that NATO hit, is indeed the same as the one where TV crews were shown the other day, and it is indeed within the commune of Kosare. Is this attributable to an intelligence failure to realise that Glava and Kosare are to those intents and purposes the same place?

Jamie Shea : First of all, and General Jertz will have more to say on this, our battle damage assessment is extremely conservative, we don't claim a hit unless we are certain that it is a hit and the system has been sufficiently destroyed to be put out of action. OK, there may be a track on the tank or there may be half a turret or whatever, but as far as we are concerned it is not claimed as a hit until we know that it is out of action. That is why we are probably erring on the side of being unduly conservative here, because we are very careful not to claim something unless we know that it has been destroyed. There may be a lot more out there which we have destroyed significantly but which does not meet our exacting standards. But General Jertz is more of an expert on this and he will probably have something to add.

As for the Kosare incident, I have said this morning very clearly that yes we did not have the information that this border post had been subsequently captured by the UCK. You have got to remember that every night, as you know, we are flying 700 sorties, 25,000 in total, this is an enormous momentum of operations. Every day you see the very, very long list of targets struck, so clearly in all of that there are going to be one or two mistakes along the road, and that was a mistake and we are not trying to pretend that it wasn't.

Major General Jertz : On the two names, one is a town, the other one is just a few hundred metres away, so when you are using both names it was not a misinterpretation of maybe two different sites, two different positions, it was the Glava position close to Kosare.

And on your question about the figures, Jamie is absolutely correct, we are on the conservative side using figures. The way we are judging if it was a decoy or if it was a real one, we normally use what we call secondary explosions. Every time you have what we call a secondary explosion we know it was not a dummy, we know it was a real target, and it was On the aircraft, I know you didn't ask the question but still let me go ahead with that. On the aircraft we are very conservative because aircraft being in shelters or hangars, not necessarily we do get secondary explosions out of it, so in the aircraft numbers we are very precise because we use exactly those which we know we hit, not knowing what was in the shelters, or I am pretty sure the number is higher once we have a chance to be on the ground.

Jake Lynch: Is it the case then that when NATO heard that Kosare had been taken over by the KLA, that did not ring the bell that Glava was also the same place and therefore should be removed from the target list?

Jamie Shea : Jake, again the facts are the facts. The military make every effort, every effort to have the best up-to-date intelligence they can. But we are dealing here with something in the region of 2,000 targets since the campaign began and that is a lot, and clearly out of those 2,000 there are going to be some where the intelligence is not as good as it is with others, that is the reality of this type of operation. But again, compare us not with the standards of absolute perfection but with the standards of previous air campaigns of this type, and there I think is the true comparison and I think we stand up very well.

Major General Jertz : And on the military side, remember that we talked about, especially in the Junik area, having continuous fightings in weeks and weeks and as you can imagine it is very difficult to really have the picture on who is sitting in which house or which building, especially in the Junik area and that is where it was, it is not too easy to really get the clearest pictures on it. In other areas of course we have a much better and clearer picture.

Rick: Would you also say that your battle damage assessment on your destruction of Serb air defence is also conservative and are those defence systems rebuilt and re-used by the Serbs, are they struck? And Jamie, would you respond to Robin Cook's statements this morning to the BBC that ground troops need to be ready to be entered into a non-permissive as well as a permissive environment?

Major General Jertz : Also on the air defence side I think we have to be, and we are, conservative in the numbers, especially on the surface to air missile 3, we are pretty sure that we really destruct them and hit them, I think 4 are left, out of 16, 12 we hit so far and 4 are left, and here we are pretty sure that we really hit them hard and not only in the transformer and radar site but also the launchers.

On the other side, once again on the reconstitution, yes if they are only small parts which are necessary to get what we call cannibalising, you know taking a part from one surface to air missile which is no longer really operational, but part of it might still be operational, you just put them in the other radar system or any system, any asset, and then you can re-use them again. In some aspect, yes they do reconstitute those but not in broad numbers.

Jamie Shea : Rick, from what I have seen of the remarks of Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, I didn't see that he said that we should send ground troops into a non-permissive environment. What he said is that we have to be ready with a very robust force, I think he used the expression with teeth, and with sharp teeth I would add, that is capable of doing its job and that force has to be ready, forward deployed, trained, equipped so that it can enter Kosovo as soon as the five conditions are met and as soon as the Serb forces start to withdraw, and he is fully in line in that respect with NATO policy, all of the allies agree to precisely that. Nobody is talking, no ally, about putting in ground troops into a combat situation, everybody agrees that the air campaign has to run its course until such time as those Serb forces are degraded, diminished, demoralised and are on their way out, are voting if you like with their feet in terms of moving out of Kosovo and then the circumstances will be there for the deployment of a ground force, so I don't see that he is in any way different from what everybody else here is saying.

Rick: Maybe I misread his statements but I thought that he had said that the troops needed to be prepared and trained so that they could enter possibly into a non-permissive environment, and wouldn't that be against what we heard from Chancellor Schroeder earlier this week that his country would completely block any effort to do that?

Jamie Shea : Rick, all of the allies are on board here. You are talking about 1% of nuance and 99% of total agreement here and I would rather look at the 99% of agreement quite frankly because I think that is what matters, not the 1% of nuance, anyway we are an Alliance of 19 different countries and please do not ask all of our political leaders to employ the absolutely identical terminology in every case in describing the same situation.

We all agree that the air campaign has to run its course until such time as the Serb forces start to withdraw, we all agree that there has to be an international security force, we all agree that it has to have a NATO core, we all agree that it has to be robust enough to function in what is going to be a permissive environment but a difficult environment, and please do not equate permissive with easy. Permissive means that we are not going to fight our way in, but permissive also means that the environment in Kosovo is going to be one which will require a substantial, well equipped, well trained force with very robust rules of engagement and a very solid command structure. We are going to face as you know a vacuum of law and order, we are going to face a very dire humanitarian situation, we are going to face a kind of wasteland in which the basic necessities of life in terms of communications and lines of communication, of food distribution, will all have been substantially disrupted, and of course you are going to need a heavy force to deter any further breakdown in law and order and to constructively help the other organisations to get started. And that is why I believe Robin Cook quite frankly is stressing that this force has got to have teeth, but again I think there we are talking about the 99% of commonality and not the 1% of nuance quite frankly.

Douglas Hamilton, Reuters: Is there any sign of a Yugoslav troops withdrawal from Kosovo and is there any sign of them regrouping their forces in the Serbian heartland proper, and what is their disposition on the main entry roads coming in to Kosovo from the south, up through Urosevac from the Macedonian border and over to Prizren from the Albanian border?

Jamie Shea : There is no sign of a Serb troop withdrawal from Kosovo, General Jertz will perhaps have something to say here. In fact I think that is one of the reasons for the unrest in Krusevac and Alexandrovac this past week because I think that the Serbs, or the Serb people in those cities, took more seriously than we did the offer of a partial troop withdrawal and were therefore expecting the boys to come back home. And when it became clear that it was the coffins rather than the boys that were coming back home then I think you started to have the signs of unrest. In fact I think the problem has been in many of these cities in Yugoslavia, is that instead of people coming back home, everybody is being called up. The Yugoslav Army is now trying to mobilise increasing numbers of reservists who don't want to be mobilised and least of all to go to Kosovo. So that I think is a sign of where the real problem lies quite frankly. Milosevic may say that he needs less and less, but the day's reality as we see it is he wants more and more for this unending and self-defeating fight against his own population.

As far as the activities of the Yugoslav army in Kosovo are concerned, I will hand over to General Jertz to see if he has any insights for you there.

Major General Jertz : For sure we have no sign of withdrawal. The contrary is correct, we have just found out recently that obviously another still unspecific number of recruits did come into the Pec area, of course only people, not with heavy military assets because they couldn't bring in heavy assets because of the lines of communications which are not available. But there are men coming in and we are just checking on the number, so for sure no withdrawal.

Question: So that means reinforcements?

Major General Jertz : You might call them reinforcements but you could also say they try to help the losses which they encountered at the same number again, but still the numbers are not available to us, but it is in the Pec area, they do obviously come from the area from the Montenegro side.

Jamie Shea : Let's just say that President Milosevic seems to have an inexhaustible appetite for soldiers at a time when his population seems to be having a mounting appetite for peace and a solution.

Mr Krasniki: The Croatian President yesterday had addressed a letter of the G8 Ambassadors in Zagreb accepting the idea of the withdrawal of the Serbian troops in the northern part of Kosovo, which kind of built up the idea of partition of Kosovo. Is that a current subject in the G8 discussions concerning international forces? And a second question related to this, in your understanding what is the motivation of President Tudjman of that idea?

Jamie Shea : Mr Kraskniki you will obviously have to ask President Tudjman why he put that idea on the table, but the policy of the NATO governments is not for partition. Rarely in international politics has partition solved problems, most of the times it has stored up problems for the future. Partition goes against our vision of a multi-ethnic democratic Kosovo, it would undercut our promise to the refugees that they can return to their homes, it would redivide borders in an area where there has been too much redetermining of borders over the last few years, of which the populations have been the casualties obviously and we don't want to open a Pandora's box. If I can quote Earnest Bevin, he says: "If you open that Pandora's box, you never know how many Trojan horses are going to come tumbling out."

Go to Homepage Go to Index