26 May 1999
by Mr Jamie Shea, NATO Spokesman
and Major General Walter Jertz, SHAPE
Jamie Shea : Ladies and Gentlemen. Good afternoon.
Welcome once again to today's briefing. As you know NATO is giving itself
the tools to succeed in Kosovo. The first way we are doing this is keeping
up the military pressure, and over the last 24 hours NATO has once again
established a new record for the number of strikes that it has been able
to carry out. Aircraft flew 650 sorties conducting 284 specific strike
sorties and another 74 strike sorties against a Yugoslav integrated air
defence system. General Jertz is going to give you the full details of
that intensive 24 hours of operations, but the weather forecast for the
next 2 weeks is for blue skies, and therefore I have every reason to expect
that that record will be beaten quickly.
At the same time, yesterday evening as you know, the North Atlantic
Council gave itself the second building block of success, because what
we must do to succeed is not only win the conflict from the air but build
the peace on the ground and yesterday, the North Atlantic Council approved
an expanded concept of operations for the Kosovo Peace-keeping Force in
which this Alliance is going to have a central role to play. Now the approval
of the revised operational plan is of course a first step, albeit a very
important one. The process of putting this force together is going to
take time, and of course success will depend not simply on numbers, but
on efficient, effective military planning.
But we are going ahead, full steam ahead, and the first stage now will
be a Force Generation Conference which will be held at SHAPE next Monday,
during which the nations will respond to the requirements of the military
authorities for a force which will have all of the equipment and all of
the units that it needs, and this Force Generation Conference will be
chaired by the Deputy SACEUR, General Rupert Smith, and we are counting
of course on the allies to be generous in contributing what is going to
be needed in that respect.
Finally, I would just like to tell you that today, this morning, the
North Atlantic Council had a long meeting, and much of it was spent with
General Clark, the Supreme Allied Commander and of course the overall
Commander of Operation Allied Force. He gave the Ambassadors his regular
update on operations and first of all he gave them a detailed briefing
on how this operation is succeeding increasingly in striking at all of
the key indicators to put the Yugoslav Army under increasing pressure,
that is to say ground forces in Kosovo, command control and communications
systems, radio relay sites, supply routes, ammunition storage sites, petroleum
storage sites and the electrical power system on which all of those military
activities in the last analysis depend.
At the same time SACEUR made it clear through many insights that he shared
with Ambassadors, that this is indeed the most precise air campaign in
history. And his conclusion was that the Serb forces are now increasingly
vulnerable to collapse, but we have to continue until they indeed either
do collapse, or President Milosevic decides to avert that eventuality
by meeting NATO's five key conditions, but for the details I now turn
to General Jertz.
Major General Jertz : Thank you very much Dr Shea.
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. During yesterday's update, I talked
about the unrest in the southern area of Serbia. Having failed to suppress
the action by persuasion, it appears now that the Yugoslav Army is using
stronger armed tactics to keep people quiet. Demonstrations continued
in southern Serbia, mostly during the 24th and 25th of May, but only at
a reduced level. As Belgrade threatened to crack down protesters reportedly
were warned they risked losing their jobs if they continued the rallies.
Regional VJ authorities reportedly banned anti-war demonstrations, threatened
MUP intervention, and warned reservists that they had to report to their
units or face court martial.
NATO aircraft attacked a wide range of targets yesterday, as already
has been mentioned, both in Kosovo and in the remainder of Serbia. Over
the last 24 hours, NATO flew as already has been mentioned, 650 sorties,
summing up to 27,110 sorties, out of which 7,535 sorties have been strike,
and 2,487 sorties to suppress enemy air defences.
Our main emphasis remains very clear - attack and destroy military targets
in Kosovo. As the weather started to become more favourable yesterday,
and the outlook for the next days is very good, we have broadened our
attacks against those sources in Kosovo which are responsible for the
brutality and repression of the Kosovar Albanians. We struck at least
5 tanks, 6 mortar positions, 15 artillery pieces and other military revetments.
A surface to air missile launcher and an anti-aircraft artillery position
were successfully attacked. Serb army support and storage areas were struck
in and around Kosovo, including a railway tunnel used for military storage
near Pristina. We have evidence that Serb forces are making extensive
use of rail and road tunnels to hide their military equipment and ammunition.
Therefore, we continue to dedicate our reconnaissance in order to identify
these essential targets.
In the light of the overall campaign, NATO aircraft also struck strategic
targets, concentrating on Serb command and control, leadership propaganda
dissemination, including transmission sites near Belgrade and Novi Sad.
A newly constructed surface to air missile site near Belgrade was attacked,
detected and struck. Damage assessment is still on-going. Other targets
attacked are shown on these maps.
During the last few days you have asked several questions regarding
reporting NATO attacks against water facilities. I can assure you that
we have not targeted Serb water resupplies and water supplies. We have
hit the electricity supplies which obviously had some effect on electrically
driven water pumping installations. Let me say it very clearly once again.
We do not attack civilian targets.
Turning to Serb action on the ground in Kosovo. Most of the observed
activities are concentrated in the western part of Kosovo near the Albanian
border, to cut off UCK supply routes. Serb artillery again was firing
across the border near the villages of Tropoje and Dobrunin. 11 shells
were reported, increasing the need to remove refugees away from the border
for their own safety. In the area I just mentioned, Serb forces also crossed
the Albanian border but only for a short distance and withdrew again.
We also observed Serb military activity near Orahovac. Strong Serb forces
concentrated their efforts in this region to clean UCK strongholds. We
have no evidence of Yugoslav airforce aircraft flights in the last 24
hours, so obviously our continuing campaign against Serb airfields is
successful. We continue to disrupt their repair efforts at these airfields,
preventing their ability to carry out fixed wing operations. However,
Serb air defence remains active. 12 surface to air missiles were fired
yesterday against NATO aircraft, and there was intense anti-aircraft fire.
No NATO aircraft were hit, and all NATO aircraft returned safely to their
bases, contrary to Serb reports. Belgrade Tanjug reported yesterday that
a heavier type aircraft was shot down. This type of disinformation is
typical of Milosevic's regime trying not only to convince their population
that Serb forces are surviving, even more that they are strong enough
to successfully degrade NATO's air capabilities.
I am sure that you are aware of the fact that there are several Serb
Internet web-sites publishing official figures on NATO aircraft shot down
since the air campaign began. The total aircraft claimed to have been
shot down or to have crashed totals75 at the present time, and what I
have been told is that he has enough spaces to continue with the numbers.
That completes my portion of the brief.
CNN: The Secretary General said that all NATO's military
options remain open. Does NATO have contingency plans in case President
Milosevic refuses to back down?
Jamie Shea : First of all, we don't believe that President
Milosevic will refuse to back down, we believe that as all of these factors
come into play, the degradation of his forces, the growing strategic isolation
of his country, the economic pressure, the growing unrest within Serbia
itself as war weariness takes hold, that he will accept the five conditions.
As I often like to say, it is not a question of if, it is simply a question
of when, but he can shorten the when, if he so wishes. But obviously NATO,
as a military planning organisation, has plans for everything, that is
one of our jobs in normal peace time circumstances to have contingency
plans. So yes we do have plans for options, but they are plans, nothing
more than that. At the moment we believe, and SACEUR made this clear this
morning, that the air campaign is going to do the job that it was intended
The other thing that we are working on, as you know fully well, is the
Peace Implementation Force so that we are ready when the time comes to
be able to move into Kosovo and secure the province for the return of
the refugees. Those are the two priorities and we believe as long as we
keep the air campaign going and have our Peace Implementation Force ready,
we are going to have the tools to finish the job.
Question: Can you tell us what those contingency plans
Jamie Shea : Those contingency plans relate to a number
of different ground options, but at the moment they are simply plans in
the cupboard, nothing more than that, although those plans are taken out
of the cupboard occasionally, dusted down and up-dated in the light of
changing circumstances, but this is simply contingency planning. None
of these other options, apart from the Peace Implementation Force, have
gone beyond the initial planning stage.
Bill Drozdiak (WP) : Does NATO have any rationale or
insight into the latest surge in the refugee exodus to Macedonia? Is this
being done to further destabilise the state or complete the ethnic cleansing
process? What is the best reading you have on that?
Jamie Shea : Good question Bill, it is difficult to
know why this is taking place. One theory, you are right, is it could
be an effort to destabilise the neighbouring countries, but if this is
what President Milosevic wants then it is a failure before he has even
begun because we are ready now. In Albania, as you know, Afor forces have
helped to build 10 refugee camps, there is plenty of surplus capability
there. Yesterday the Afor troops began to move the refugees away from
Kukes to those other camps and therefore, and this was clear from the
visit of the Albanian Prime Minister yesterday, both his government and
we and the international relief organisations are able to cope with that
In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia the situation there is more
difficult because of the lack of excess capability in the camps and that
is why today Italian soldiers, under the command of General Jackson, are
working at expanding one of the refugee camps there - Stenkovac 2. But
again, there are no indications, beyond the humanitarian considerations,
that that outflow of refugees is destabilising the neighbouring countries
and the evacuation programme to other countries goes on as well. So that
hypothesis may be true, but clearly it is not working any more for Milosevic
now than it did in the past.
Secondly, he may be trying to create an ethnically pure Kosovo by driving
out the entire population. This would be something of almost biblical
proportions in trying to displace a population which is not going to the
Promised Land, but leaving the Promised Land, and back they will duly
go in course. But again it is not clear what his strategy is for Kosovo
in the future, and certainly that ethnic cleansing is not something that
we are going to tolerate. So even if that were his strategy, again it
is not one that is going to work for him.
He may just want to show that he is able to turn the refugee tap on
and off almost at will by playing around with the lives of an enormous
number of innocent people. He may be trying to deprive the Kosovo Liberation
Army of what he considers to be the sort of sea in which the fish swim,
that may be another tactic as well, all the better to defeat the Kosovo
Liberation Army. But again if that is his tactic there are no great signs
that it has been very successful up until now because the Kosovo Liberation
Army continues to operate in a number of areas.
So honestly Bill, this is the one time that you really should have an
MOD briefing twice a day in Belgrade, like you have two briefings a day
here, so that you can ask the Yugoslavs, not me, you are sending the question
to the wrong address, but so you can ask the Yugoslavs: What is the great
master plan behind this humanitarian tragedy? Because to be honest with
you, a lot of intelligent people here have sort of hit their brains against
the wall and really are at a loss to explain what the rationale behind
all of this is apart from cruelty for cruelty's sake.
Mark Laity (BBC) : If we could look at the issue of
the oil embargo. There has been some kind of provisional agreement from
the NATO Ambassadors, you said. Is this a sort of de facto recognition
that the oil embargo is basically ineffective from the point of view of
using force? And can you address the issue, is there anything you can
do about the oil supplies on the Danube?
Jamie Shea : Certainly Mark the oil embargo is being
effective. It is making it much more difficult for Milosevic to get his
oil, it is driving up the price and it is forcing him to make ever more
painful choices as to what he does with the barrels of oil that remain,
whether he uses those for the civilian sector, for his economy, or whether
he gives everything to the military. And those are the kind of painful
choices that quite frankly we like him to have at the moment because it
is that kind of pressure which will lead him towards NATO's and the international
community's five conditions.
Having said that, I have never pretended that this oil embargo could
ever be water-tight. There are always, as we know, ways of circumventing
embargoes, but at a price, but we are very pleased that a number of countries
have signed up to this, but of course we are at the same time watching
the situation carefully. The traffic on the Danube in which Serbia could
try, or is trying, to send unrefined oil out to get it refined wherever
it can and then to bring it back, that is something we are watching very
closely. And of course we are appealing, or we are consulting those countries
in the region which are also NATO's partner countries, to do what they
can to stop this illicit traffic happening. Because anything that keeps
Milosevic under pressure shortens the conflict, accelerates the arrival
of stability and is therefore in everybody's interest quite frankly.
Our visit and search regime has now been approved by Ambassadors, the
rules of engagement will be decided in the next couple of days, that will
go ahead and that will be one other screw of the tap into clamping down
on the oil supplies.
Freddie Bonnart (NATO's 16 Nations) : You haven't mentioned
the diplomatic track. Presumably there isn't particular news on that.
But what is the next sequence of negotiations in which NATO is possibly
Jamie Shea : The diplomatic track is going ahead and
therefore I should have mentioned it so thank you for giving me the question.
As you know, today another important meeting is taking place in Moscow
with Mr Chernomyrdin, President Ahtisaari and at the same time the US
Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott. The frequency of those meetings
shows that there is indeed no smoke without fire, that things are moving
ahead, and Viktor Chernomyrdin is due to visit Belgrade tomorrow where
again I am sure he will take a very firm uncompromising message to President
Milosevic. We are preparing for the G8 very soon.
That will be another important juncture, as you know, the Russian Foreign
Minister - that is to be in Cologne in a few days time - Mr Ivanov is
in Stockholm today meeting with the UN Secretary General, and therefore
the international community continues to work together to define the UN
Security Council resolution. There's some work to be done, but it's going
ahead very well. So in other words, if President Milosevic had hoped that
he could sit out not just NATO air strikes but these diplomatic efforts
in the hope that they would break down, I think he must be becoming increasingly
disillusioned with that expectation, because it is working together.
At the same time, you have seen that NATO unity is strong. You saw this
here with Prime Minister Aznar and the UN Secretary General yesterday.
You've seen it yesterday in Washington with the Minister Fischer and Secretary
Albright meeting, you have seen it this morning in Rome with Foreign Minister
Dini and Mr Cook, the Foreign Secretary, and therefore again any hope
that NATO would crack apart isn't coming true either. We remain a united
Alliance, in fact I could even say that there is as much harmony inside
today as in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Andrew: On the one hand you have got this force generation
conference on Monday, on the other presumably the composition of Kfor
is a matter of discussion also with the Russians. How do these two things
work together? Can you sit down at SHAPE and work out just among yourselves
what Kfor is going to be without factoring the Russians in?
Jamie Shea : There are two levels here: the first
level is at the level of high diplomacy where of course the nature of
the Peace Implementation Force, the mandate, the composition, are one
of the focus points of these discussions going on in Moscow and in the
framework of the UN Security Council Resolution. At the more practical
level, as I mentioned, we will be briefing our partners in the next few
days on the expanded operational plan and as Russia is a partner country,
Russia will be invited to that meeting. We hope very much it will come,
it will therefore be briefed and it will therefore have some initial indications
as to how our thinking is developing. So we are working if you like the
issue from both ends, from the high political end in terms of the mandate,
in terms of the composition, but also at the practical force end in terms
of inviting Russia to all of the meetings during which NATO's thinking
will be discussed.
Andrew: But presumably they are not invited on Monday?
Jamie Shea : Initially we are going to meet with the
Allies, this is the usual procedure, but very soon after, sooner than
you think, our partners will be briefed and will be drawn into the process,
Dimitri Khavine (Russian Line) : Inaudible.
Jamie Shea : We always do these meetings in something
called the EAPC format, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Russia
has a seat at the table, Russia is invited and I hope Russia will come.
Pierre Bocev (Le Figaro): Back to the oil thing, is
NATO planning to do anything on the Danube side, or maybe Black Sea side?
And secondly, what is the state of navigation on the Danube, I thought
all things had crumbled down there and there was no free waterway any
Jamie Shea : No, apparently there is still commercial
activity on the Danube. It may be more difficult but it is still, at least
according to the information I have, taking place. The Danube is an important
international waterway. I think General Jertz has got something he would
like to add here.
Major General Jertz : The Danube, using the Danube
up to inside Serbia is still open and we know that this is one of the
leakages we have where fuel and oil supplies do come along the Danube,
and we also know about some leakages coming from Montenegro into Kosovo.
So on the Danube side I will not go into more details on that, we are
looking very carefully at what is going on there and the measures will
be very straightforward.
Pierre Bocev : In the Black Sea too?
Major General Jertz : The Black Sea is out of the
Jamie Shea : Pierre, one area where we have had some
success is in Bosnia Herzegovina where an agreement between the governments
of the Republika Srpska and the Sfor soldiers there has enabled us to
more or less clamp down on any illicit cross-border of oil supplies, refined
oil supplies, between Bosnia Herzegovina and Yugoslavia. So this is something
where we continue to do whatever we can.
Pierre: Vous avez signal tout l'heure qu'il y avait
des tirs donc sur l'Albanie, que des troupes serbes ont mme russi
pntrer en territoire albanais, alors est-ce que finalement l'Alliance,
l'OTAN, a quand mme bombard ces troupes serbes ou est-ce qu'en raison
de sa stratgie arienne, elle n'a pas encore les capacits suffisantes
pour rpondre ces menaces immdiates?
Major General Jertz : Well first of all of course
we would have had the capability to react immediately, but the case I
was mentioning was such a short distance that even the Albanians, who
have a lot of ground troops in the area, did not react.
Dag: I was wondering if you had any confirmation or
comment on reports that Milosevic's close confidente and some say banker,
Karic, went to Cyprus yesterday with his wife, but was turned back and
sent back to Belgrade. Did they have lots of bags with them? Did they
have satchels full of money? Were they trying to flee, do you know?
Jamie Shea : A good question Dag. Yes first of all
it does seem, from what I have heard as well, that Mr Karic and his wife
yesterday tried to do a runner, if I can use this term, from Belgrade
to try to enter Cyprus, only to discover to their great distress that
the EU visa ban actually works and that candidate countries for the EU
such as Cyprus are applying this. And therefore it was a bit of a busman's
holiday for them because they were back in Belgrade quickly. What they
were doing there, whether to take money out or put money in, that is something
that I don't know. But as you know, Mr Karic is one of President Milosevic's
bankers, he is the Minister of Privatisation, although I think that meant
basically giving state sponsored enterprises directly to President Milosevic's
And he has certainly played a role in providing the funds that helped
Milosevic come to power at the end of the 1980s and he himself has benefited
considerably since then in terms of his own personal wealth from both
that privatisation process and his close association with Milosevic. So
again it is not clear why he was going. Was it a sign that he believed
that it was the moment to leave Yugoslavia? Was he trying to arrange some
financial transaction for the benefit of his boss? We don't know. But
the good thing is that as these people try to leave they are finding that
there are not many safe areas where they are welcome.
Question: As you were speaking on the diplomatic efforts,
you didn't mention the new initiative by two NATO members, the Czech Republic
or Greece. As it was circulated at the press centre, so it is not a confidential
document any more, can you reflect on it and what is the NATO procedure,
does it deserve an answer?
Jamie Shea : Yes, as I have said we at NATO have had
a lot of different ideas and thinking from NATO members which shows that
NATO members are people who have creative minds and want very clearly
to see how we are going to manage affairs when we get to the stage of
Milosevic accepting the five conditions. We welcome all of these diplomatic
efforts, but obviously every ally is in agreement that for the time being
- for the time being - while we obviously try to think ahead on the diplomatic
front, we have to continue the air campaign and all allies, including
the allies you have just mentioned, are fully behind the need for the
time being to continue to do what we are doing at the moment, that force
is not an alternative to diplomacy but the precondition for the diplomacy
Antonio: General, the aim of this campaign was to make
President Milosevic accept the five NATO points. If he doesn't, but still
in the near future he accepts the UN resolution, can you still consider
this from a military point of view a victory for NATO? And Jamie, out
of the 800-odd refugees that arrived in Portugal, 15 are gone, the country
is nice, the weather is nice, the food too, but they just disappear, they
went to Germany I believe or Switzerland. It means that those people went
to Portugal not really meaning to go there, they must have some family
links in other countries. Does this make the policy of the Alliance concerning
the people being sent to some places change, and do you have any other
reports of people in the same situation who arrived in one country and
decided to go to another one?
Major General Jertz : On the military part, not only
we believe but we are pretty sure that our air campaign will succeed because
it is inflicting greater and greater damages to his forces in Kosovo,
it is inflicting greater damage on his ability to sustain his forces throughout
the country, and we do it every day and every night, you know that, I
have said it several times. And on the question on is it a victory or
not, what is very important for us is that Milosevic agrees to the five
points, and for us it is not necessarily a question of victory yes or
no, what we want to have is a peace settlement according to what Jamie
always mentions, the five points. But I think for the military, victory
is not the important word, it is important that we do finish this campaign
and have the Kosovars returning to Kosovo.
Antonio: So if he accepts the resolution, it is about
the same thing as accepting the five points?
Major General Jertz : Yes.
Jamie Shea : Antonio, I don't know the precise circumstances
of these 15, but obviously 785 are perfectly happy to stay in Portugal,
and so would I, for the obvious reasons that you know better than anybody.
No, there could be a number of reasons for this. For example there could
be family ties elsewhere, it could be that they have discovered some uncles
or aunts or whatever who are in different countries. The Kosovars are
very close in family terms, I think this is something that can be said,
so I can't comment. But of course these are refugees and they are free
to go, and they don't need a visa, unlike the man we have just been talking
about, Mr Karic, who has got millions upon millions of dinars, and dollars
and deutschmarks, but who does need a visa. And this reminds me of that
old Beatles' song, you know "Money can't buy me love". Mr Karic is now
retitling it: "Money can't buy me a visa".
Question: ...et deux jours aprs. Est-ce qu'il y a
une discussion propos de cette proposition et comment l'OTAN compte
rsoudre le problme du transit par la Grce surtout aprs la dcision
d'augmenter ses forces si Athnes va appliquer cette mesure?
Jamie Shea: La coopration de la Grce qui est un Alli
loyal et solide de l'Alliance a t tout fait fondamentale dans le dploiement
de quelques 14.000 soldats, dont la rpublique ex-Yougoslave de Macdoine
.......presque tous ses soldats et leur quipement et leur logistique
a transit par le port de Thessaloniki et donc j'ai entendu ces rapports,
ces nouvelles, comme vous, mais je ne doute pas que cette coopration
trs essentielle dans le dploiement de nos forces se poursuivra donc
je n'ai aucun doute l dessus.
John: Jamie, as the negotiations resume today in Moscow,
Russia, according to the wires called for an immediate halt to NATO's
air strikes against Yugoslavia saying that their escalation could destroy
the chances of a political settlement and I am wondering, could you respond
to that demand now as formally as you can and say what you think the Russian
reaction will be if NATO's response is to keep escalating the number of
Jamie Shea : We will continue to work very hard to
convince Russia that our strategy is the right one because it is the only
one that will successfully resolve the Kosovo crisis but it is not a strategy
which consists in bombing alone, we are not a bombing only organisation
because we are, our countries, the countries that are involved in this
operation, are also, also the ones that are most committed to finding
a peaceful, diplomatic solution.
We are the same countries that organised the Rambouillet talks, the same
countries that have sent hundreds of envoys, on hundreds of occasions
to Belgrade to reason with Milosevic, we are the countries that will be
showing up in Bonn tomorrow for the EU sponsored Stability Pact talks,
we will be the ones that will be putting the money on the table for the
reconstruction of the Balkans, we are the ones that have been giving all
the financial and humanitarian aid to the neighbouring states to keep
them stable during this affair and we are the ones who are going to be
supplying the soldiers, the great majority of the soldiers, for the Peace
Implementation Force and for the other civilian relief organisations,
their personnel, their money, once the crisis is over.
So it's not as if bombing takes place here and diplomacy is somewhere
else, in another institution down the road. It's not. We are juggling
all of the balls in the air here and therefore we want to make it clear
that if we stop now, before Milosevic has met our goals, he will consider
that to be a sign of weakness, he will not become more interested in diplomacy,
he will become less interested. He will impose tougher conditions, he
will wish to give even less away than he probably does already. He will
rebuild his air defence so that our pilots will be faced with even greater
difficulties if we started again and he will regroup his forces. By the
way, there is no indication that he would exercise restraint simply because
So what we have to try to convince the Russians of, and we will continue
to make the effort, is to see force and diplomacy, not as sort of contradictions
or as mutually exclusive, but as a very intricate part of the same package
to guarantee success. And we are having some success in convincing the
Russians of that but we will never be the ones to refuse to meet with
Russia and to continue to make those arguments. And of course the sooner
Russia and the allies have a full understanding of this point, the sooner
the conflict in Kosovo is going to end.
Jake: Jamie, we keep hearing about the 5 points and
also about negotiations with the Russians edging forward very slowly and
that one of the sticking points is the composition of a Peace Implementation
Force. Now the composition of that is going to be considered in the assembly
of these 50,000 troops over the next few weeks and it has emerged during
questions to you about that, that the definition of a NATO core is not
something you can presently pin down. So what does a NATO core mean and
isn't the reality that if you think yourself forward a year perhaps, once
this is unequivocally over and NATO and Belgrade have both accepted a
UN resolution, no matter who is providing the troops to be in there, if
refugees have a choice between staying under canvas in Macedonia and going
back to their rebuilt homes then, with the exception of those who would
never go back anyway, they are going to go back. Of what practical importance
can it be? Isn't this becoming an obstacle to a negotiated settlement
and isn't it actually a case of NATO's intransigence?
Jamie Shea : Jake, not at all. There are peacekeeping
forces and peacekeeping forces. Some have been very successful, some have
been very unsuccessful in recent years and it is clear why. Some have
had the mandate, the command and control, the equipment, the robust, rules
of engagement to do the job properly, to be respected. Others have been
there more as passive witnesses of human suffering and war without the
means to intervene to decisively stop that. Now we have learnt those lessons
in Bosnia and we have learnt them in many other areas and so that is not
the sort of mistake we are going to repeat.
It is not true to say one peacekeeper looks like any other peacekeeper
and therefore is interchangeable. No, those refugees have said time and
time again to us that they will only go back if they see NATO in that
peacekeeping force. It doesn't mean to say that they have to see the NATO
flag everywhere or the NATO logo plastered on every building but they
need to know that that force is a force which is built round that NATO
core, that NATO soldiers are providing the bulk of that force, that the
type of NATO command arrangements which we know work are there, that that
force is a force which is going to be respected by all, it's not going
to crumble like a pack of cards at the first sign of a challenge and that
is extremely important and that is why say a NATO core. It is not because
we are sort of ego maniacs that want to have our name in the headlines.
No this will be a very difficult, very expensive mission and it is likely
to last some time. Let's be aware of that. It is simply because our experience
with Milosevic is that he is the master of exploiting weak, under-equipped,
peacekeeping forces. He has done that and we don't want him to feel that
this is the type of force that he can meddle with again, breaking rules,
imposing artificial restrictions, making threats, taking some of the peacekeepers
hostage, as his forces did in Bosnia you recall in the early 1990s, using
peacekeepers as human shields, humiliating peacekeepers by making it obvious
to them that they were unable to do their job of protecting the civilian
No, we are not going to do that again so I can assure you that it is
better taking a little bit of time getting this right and then have something
that works, like Sfor has worked in Bosnia, than putting something together
ad hoc and seeing it fail. At my old college there was a logo up which
I have always taken to heart. It said 'ad hocery is a mockery' and that
applies to peacekeeping as well.
Jake: There is one important difference between Kosovo
and Bosnia, isn't there? The majority of Kosovo is not territory disputed
between different ethnic groups. You haven't got different ethnic groups
seeking to interlock in some way, in different bits of Kosovo. I mean
this force is not going to be faced with the problem of ejecting one group
to install another, is it.
Jamie Shea : Jake, you are right in a general sense
but not absolutely. There are 10% of the population of Kosovo, at least
pre-conflict, that are not Albanians. They too have the right of return.
I want to make this clear, they too will be protected by NATO troops if
they wish to go back, that is clear. Secondly you have got a lot of Serb
paramilitary forces in Kosovo at the moment. What is going to happen to
them? There are a lot of citizens with kalashnikovs under the bed. There
are the Kosovo Liberation Army that also have to be, as part of an eventual
peace settlement, disarmed and integrated into the political process.
There is a humanitarian vacuum in which law and order has been totally
absent for now the best part of 2 years in Kosovo, leading to a vacuum
in which all kinds of violent incidents, settling of accounts, revenge
operations, can take place. So believe me, this is a dangerous environment.
I can assure you that when you go there as a journalist, as intrepid as
I know you are, you will be glad to have the protection of NATO soldiers
Roger: Jamie, at this stage could there be a peace?
Could NATO stop its bombing before this expanded Peace Implementation
Force is ready? In other words, if there is an accord before that, would
there not be a vacuum that would be unacceptable to you so does that more
or less oblige NATO to continue bombing for say, the next 2 - 3 weeks
until this force is ready?
Jamie Shea : No absolutely not, Roger. If President
Milosevic phones the Secretary General in the next hour we will stop and
then clearly gives guarantees of withdrawing his forces and we see those
forces go, NATO is going to stop. We are not going to prolong this once
Milosevic has accepted the 5 conditions and we have a force in the area.
We have got over 14,000 troops in one country alone, the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia. There are NATO troops all over the region now,
in other countries as well. NATO has had an operational plan involving
28,000 ready-to-go forces although some of them are still at short notice
to move in NATO countries. That plan has been ready for a long time. The
forces have already been identified through Force Generation conferences.
So we are not going from zero to 50 as it were at the speed of a Porsche
in 6 seconds. We have the troops.
Question: If it is adequate, then why is it going up
Jamie Shea : Because we consider that the environment
is now a more difficult one and a more dangerous one and that is true.
But at the same time, if President Milosevic raised the flag of peace
today we would still have, still have, even today a substantial number
of NATO forces under an integrated NATO command and with a lot of heavy
equipment, in the region able to deploy at very short notice into the
field, and which could be rapidly augmented with NATO countries. So we
are not, if you like, naked at the moment. We want to add a few more clothes
but we have got the basics for a peacekeeping operation already.
Neil King (Wall Street Journal): Jamie, if this were
a dispute between Yugoslavia and any other country or group of countries,
it would almost be certain that NATO would welcome a ceasefire because
it is natural that that is the case. It would say "stop" if only for a
day or two and talk. That is always the way of international diplomacy
and regional dispute. What argument is there against, I mean you say that
if you were to stop it would be determined, it would be seen as a sign
of weakness which hints that there would be the actual weakness. It seems
as though there is a fear implicit in the NATO structure that were it
to stop even for 24 hours to say "OK here is a sign that we are willing
to talk but if you don't do this we will immediately resume perhaps twice
what we are doing now". But there seems to be a fear, even within NATO,
that were it to stop it might not be able to resume or that it would even
create fissures if it's in the Alliance so I would just be interested
to hear the argument about why NATO wouldn't perhaps benefit from changing
the dynamics on why they may not this week, maybe next week, by doing
some sort of 24 or 48 hour ceasefire or does it actually underline a kind
of implicit weakness within the Alliance?
Jamie Shea : Neil, no, not at all. It shows determination.
Winston Churchill, as everybody knows, used to say that 'jaw, jaw is better
than war, war' He is right but it is not a question of talking for the
sake of talking. President Milosevic, by the way, is the master of talk.
There are few leaders in the world who are quite able to go 16 hours without
stopping, as I myself have discovered on two occasions in Belgrade and
many other people in NATO have discovered too, and then sleep for two
hours and have another meeting and have another 16 hours. Really if his
achievements were judged in terms of words and promises and talk alone,
he would be, his country would be the Balkan Tiger.
But of course there is more to politics than simply talking. Talking
for what? If it is a question of talking only to have our 5 conditions
immediately watered down so that we have a very insubstantial form of
autonomy for Kosovo, meaningless under Milosevic's domination, that we
continue to have large numbers of Yugoslav forces permanently stationed
in Kosovo, that some refugees can come back if they can prove their citizenship
as Mr. Dacic said yesterday, but those who can't, because they have had
their papers confiscated, can't go back and therefore the whole ethnic
character of Kosovo is permanently changed. "Yes I will talk about a peacekeeping
force" said President Milosevic "but I'll define it my way in terms of
a very lightly armed and loosely directed force which will be totally
at my control, under my sufferance, whether it goes anywhere or does anything".
No, then I don't believe that the NATO allies would have judged that
talking really led us anywhere. No, we insist that Milosevic meet the
5 conditions. They are the minimum for a stable Kosovo. Otherwise we are
simply going to be doing what we were doing last year, thinking we had
an agreement only to wake up the next day to realise that we were in a
deeper crisis than before. When Milosevic wants to meet the 5 conditions,
then of course we will see with him how those 5 conditions are going to
be effectively implemented. But he must meet the 5 conditions and not
simply in words. He must show, through concrete action, particularly the
withdrawal of his troops, that he means what we mean.
Neil: But isn't there an element of grudge match in
this that possibly that you don't have to talk, you could just say we
will give you 48 hours to meet these conditions or here we come at you
again? Because then it would at least allow him to say 'OK, I have done
this, not under immediate bombing, but just to give the guy the tiniest
modicum of a cover, then you wouldn't have to talk to him at all.
Jamie Shea : Neil, thank you for the suggestion but
Milosevic doesn't need 48 hours. It's not as if he needs time to think.
I think in those long lonely nights in his bunkers under Belgrade, he
has plenty of time to think. He probably has quite a lot of sleepless
nights for deep thinking at the moment and he knows what the conditions
are. They are crystal clear, he just has to say 'yes'. Once he says yes
and once he gives concrete indications that he means that, then certainly
the modalities of allowing his forces to withdraw, those kind of things
are things that we can look at but he has to meet the 5 conditions and
he has to show that he means that in deed and not simply word, by withdrawing
his forces. That is something that he can do tomorrow. There is no particular
thinking period that is required here. We are going to insist on that.
These 5 conditions are not negotiable. I really want to make that clear.
These are not simply starting points for a negotiation that you put into
play and you see where you end up. No, those are the conditions that we
want to have not at the entry point but at the exit point of this process
and that is why we are insisting on them. They are non-negotiable, we
are not going to back away from them. It is simply a question of how closely
Milosevic comes to them, how quickly, but he has to accept them.
Major General Jertz : There is also a military aspect
of course on this one. In Bosnia we experienced 48 ceasefire agreements,
the 49th was finally successful. Within these 48 we realised and we found
out, because I was there by that time, that within a few hours he could
also already reinforce and could move troops from one point to another
repositioning, reinforcements brought in and you know we did not attack
in Serbia a lot of ground forces. Only in Kosovo. He has still a lot
of helicopters left which he of course would use and if you would give
him a chance to use these helicopters to bring in forces, we would be
tactically of course in a completely different situation. We would have
to start all over again. I can only say also from the military side we
need to continue until, what Jamie has already said, is finally reached.