by Mr Jamie Shea, NATO Spokesman
and Major General Walter Jertz, SHAPE
Jamie Shea : Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon
and welcome to our briefing a little later today but for reasons which
will be obvious to all of you and I would like to start by saying that
NATO welcomes - indeed warmly welcomes - the diplomatic breakthrough achieved
by the G8 Foreign Ministers at their meeting in Bonn yesterday and today.
This breakthrough now leads the way to a solution to the crisis in Kosovo
and also to a durable peace, a peace with justice for those refugees that
can now start thinking about turning their tractors around and hopefully
soon heading home; a peace with honour for the international community
that combined military assets and diplomatic skills to stop a brutal campaign
of repression and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo; and a peace with hope for
the peoples of the region that can now look forward to greater stability,
help with reconstruction and in time full integration into the Euroatlantic
community of democracies.
The draft UN Security Council resolution that has been agreed by the
G8 Foreign Ministers is wholly consistent with the terms of the Ahtisaari/Chernomyrdin
peace plan that was accepted already by President Milosevic and it fully
endorses the objectives of the Allies that we have been pursuing since
the beginning of our operation Allied Force on March 24th. We hope that
that resolution as it goes to New York can be adopted soon by the UN Security
Council. We also welcome the discussions by the G8 Foreign Ministers on
a sequencing of actions in coming days to enable us to bring a durable
end to the conflict.
The North Atlantic Council will be meeting at 5 p.m. this afternoon
to be briefed by Germany, as the Chairman of the G8, on the detailed outcome
of the discussions. NATO also thanks President Yeltsin and Russia for
the constructive approach that has been taken, this is a co-operation
that has been the basis to end the conflict, it must now also be the basis
to build the lasting peace.
Of course, it is up to President Milosevic to demonstrate through his
actions that he is going to keep the commitments that he has made; he
has often in the past preferred to slow things down but let him now speed
things up, let him hear at his back time's winged chariot drawing near,
that is to say let him instruct immediately his military commanders to
resume their discussions on a military technical agreement with the NATO
commanders in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, General Jackson
is ready and waiting and let him also make immediate preparations to withdraw
his forces from Kosovo.
As we enter what we hope will be the final straight - or the home straight
- in ending the crisis in Kosovo, NATO will do three things all of which
are going to be key conditions for success in the next few hours and days:
First, we are going to maintain our military pressure on Yugoslavia
until we see the clear indication of a complete, rapid and verifiable
withdrawal of the Yugoslav forces. Today no less than yesterday, implementation
is the bottom line.
Secondly, we are going to move full steam ahead on our preparations
for the KFOR or Peace Implementation Force. Today, we have 16,596 NATO
soldiers in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia preparing for that
mission and others are arriving all the time and the North Atlantic Council
is now very well advanced with the operational plan which will be provisionally
approved in the very near future for that force.
Thirdly, we are going to step up our assistance to the international
humanitarian relief organisations, most notably the UN High Commission
for Refugees, so that we set the conditions for the refugees to be able
to go home as soon as possible following the deployment of the International
Security Force. NATO can help with education programmes particularly dealing
with mine-awareness for the returning refugees; we can help in providing
transport and logistics; and we anticipate that 50 per cent of all of
the refugees will want to return very quickly and to be home well before
the end of the summer so there is a great deal of work naturally that
lies ahead of us in the next few days but at least following this diplomatic
breakthrough by the G8 we now have a clear road map to bring the conflict
to an early end and we will pursue that road map vigorously.
Now I will ask General Jertz to brief you on the ongoing military operations.
Major General Jertz : Before I report to you on the
success of yesterday's military missions, I want to remind you of what
NATO's air campaign is all about. Our purpose is to effect the return
of the population of Kosovo to their homes quickly and safely and to set
the basis for the safe return of the internally-displaced persons within
Before I further detail the operations of the last 24 hours, let me
remind you of what I have said several times during my last briefings.
The air campaign was started in March as an ultima ratio, I referred to
it as diplomacy backed by force with the emphasis on using force. Now,
after what Jamie just referred to about the Petersburg talks, the emphasis
has now shifted back to diplomacy but still in the last 24 hours the NATO
air campaign did continue with almost 660 sorties flown against strategic
and technical targets. During the attacks, Serb ground-based air defences
were active, anti-aircraft artillery was heavy and 6 surface-to-air missiles
were fired against NATO aircraft. However, there was no Serb aircraft
activity at all and all NATO aircraft returned safely.
You can see the range of the strategic targets we attacked on the slide:
an early-warning site and the airfield at Bataniza and Zenica were hit;
at Bataniza we attacked 3 MiG-29 aircraft dispersed on the ground, the
MiG-29 being the most modern fighter in the Serb inventory thus further
decreasing the combat effectiveness of Serb fixed-wing air assets plus
there was a variety of other strategic targets included as seen on the
As I have told you for the last two days, our main emphasis continues
to be the Serb forces on the ground inside Kosovo. Technical targets included
heavy weapons, riveted positions and military vehicles. We continued to
strike artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, armoured personnel
carriers and mortars in large numbers. I can say with confidence that
we destroyed - not just struck - in the last 24 hours many of the targets
because air crews observed numerous secondary explosions and as you know,
secondary explosions occur when fuel or ammunition ignites thereby increasing
the lethality of weapons used.
NATO's air forces will continue to hit military targets until appropriate
agreements have been reached and we are pretty close to that. So far,
there is no clear sign of movement on the ground yet which can clearly
be interpreted as the beginning of a withdrawal. Having said that, ground
fighting continued in Kosovo during the last 24 hours, still heaviest
in the west with the Serbs maintaining their pressure on the UCK in the
Junic area and near Mount Pastrik. We have reports that the Serbs are
reinforcing their western units by moving armour from central Kosovo but
their intentions are unknown.
Artillery fire into Albania which began increasing on 4 June continued
along the entire Kosovo/Albanian border; that heavy artillery fire has
caused further evacuation of Albanians from the border further into Albania
to safeguard them. Though the ground activity was most intense along the
western border, it wasn't confined to there; Serb and UCK forces were
engaged all over Kosovo in the north, centre and south. In short, the
fighting hasn't stopped yet.
NATO will continue its successful air campaign at an increasing or less-increasing
intensity depending on the talks until Serb forces accede to the demands
of the world community. Serb forces must withdraw from Kosovo and permit
the orderly, safe and speedy return of the people they expelled form their
homes, the people living in refugees camps in Albania and Macedonia, the
people given shelter in other countries and the starving people fearing
for their lives, hiding in the mountains and woods inside Kosovo.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Mark Laity (BBC): General Jertz, we have seen the air
strikes obviously intensified over the last 24 hours. Will you confirm
they are going on and are they likely to down-scale overnight given what
has happened in Cologne today?
Jamie, from what we have seen of the agreement it is still quite light
on details, it includes, we know, the annexe of the Chirnomyrdin/Ahtisaari
agreement but that itself left many questions still open and one of them
is the relationship between Russia and NATO but also it seems to leave
a lot to the military technical agreement to be worked out between the
generals. Is that military technical agreement definitely going to include
something on the status of NATO and KFOR and maintain that NATO must be
mentioned in that document rather than just merely be a withdrawal agreement?
Major General Jertz : Thank you very much, Mark, for
the question which also gives me a chance to say sorry about what I said
yesterday. I only had a fraction of General Jackson's statement so you
On the question, I think it is too premature from the military aspect
to really say how we will continue. First of all, we do have to have a
look at what is written in the Petersburg paper and then of course the
outcome of the military technical arrangements led by General Jackson
will be the most interesting and most important part of what is going
on in the near future.
Jamie Shea : I think General Jertz answered the question,
Mark, but you heard the G8 Foreign Ministers' press conference just now
and it is clear that nobody is doubting that the force that will enter
Kosovo will be a force with a very strong NATO component, nothing has
been watered down, it is going to have all of the same robust rules of
engagement and command structure that we always designed - that point
is now acknowledged.
As far as Russia's contribution is concerned, we hope in the next few
days - it will depend on Russia - that we will be able to sit down at
the working technical level, military commander to military commander,
to start discussing practical modalities to associate Russia with the
force. As I have said on many occasions, we would like Russia to participate,
the indications are that Russia would like to as well subject to satisfactory
arrangements. We are not starting from scratch, we have the Bosnian model
to build on and so we are going to show flexibility and imagination to
have the Russians go to Kosovo alongside us and to stay there alongside
Mark Laity: But can you confirm that that agreement
which General Jackson is going to negotiate isn't just about the withdrawal,
it must include a recognition by the Serbs of the status of NATO forces
by name in the same way as you achieved in Bosnia?
Jamie Shea : In that agreement, Mark, we are going
to pin down all of the things that we believe need to be pinned down before
the NATO forces go in.
Jake Lynch, Sky News: Just continuing on that theme,
to me the statements by Madeleine Albright and Igor Ivanov seem slightly
contradictory, Madeleine Albright saying that we have made it clear and
it is in the appendix to the resolution that it has a NATO core and NATO
will be the military leaders and Mr. Ivanov saying that all parts connected
with the international security presence are to be determined through
negotiation. Is NATO still having to negotiate with Russia the fact that
NATO is going to be leading this international security presence and in
charge of Russian troops?
Jamie Shea : Jake, of course I was not at the G8 otherwise
I wouldn't be here and therefore I can't give you obviously any kind of
detailed insider's account of those talks but I think what was said at
the press conference makes it crystal clear that the issue of the NATO
role in that force is now understood and recognised and that is what has
allowed the drafting of the UN Security Council resolution to be finalised.
Of course, the issue of how Russia is going to participate is something
that we still have to resolve and I have answered that question already
Jake Lynch: You must be saying that Mr. Ivanov is just
plain wrong then. He said in as many words and I quote: "All the aspects
connected with the international presence on security are subject to negotiations."
Jamie Shea : Well Jake, as I say, the Ministers have
to speak for themselves but as far as I am concerned here the NATO role
in the International Security Force is something which is as solid today
as it was yesterday.
Augustin Palokaj, Koha Ditore: Jamie, you said that
maybe 50 per cent of refugees can return before the end of summer. Do
those refugees have to have permission from ???? Shavoyvic who said that
the Serbs must stay on the border to check and to decide who can come
back and who not?
General Jertz, the Albanian ambassador here at NATO said that according
to some sources the Serbs are using chemical weapons in the ???? area.
Do you have any evidence of that?
Jamie Shea : It is totally true that the Yugoslavs
over the last few months and even days have tried to complicate the return
of refugees, they have taken away their identity papers and now the refugees
that were entering yesterday the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- about 450 - reported that they had been forced to renounce their citizenship
and sign documents to that effect as a condition for being allowed to
leave the country. Normally, you just show your passport, you don't actually
have to renounce your citizenship when you want to travel abroad. Others
have been forced to re-register and to lose that registration if they
move from one town to the next - all last-minute tricks which will not
in any way undermine the right of all refugees to return to their homes.
There is a registration process which is being conducted by the UNHCR
and that will be the basis for resettling people, not the last-minute
bureaucratic obstacles that Belgrade is trying to put in the way of those
Major General Jertz : Two days ago, we had some reports
about tear gas having been used on the ground but confirmation by NATO
at the present time is almost impossible because we are not on the ground
so I think we just have to make sure that once we are there we find out
what has happened.
Jamie Shea : I believe that the use of tear gas at
least in armed conflicts is a contravention of international law and existing
Ekrem Krasnicki, Zeri: Are the NATO countries considering
already what happens after the resolution is adopted and Milosevic is
going to refuse once again?
Jamie Shea : I believe that he will heed the signs
of the unity of the international community behind a strong chapter 7
UN Security Council resolution in draft form coming out of Petersburg
today so if President Milosevic had one option yesterday, he has one option
less today, that is crystal clear. We will obviously wait to see what
he chooses to do but I have said already we are not going to prematurely
surrender the pressure of NATO air operations until Milosevic begins to
move. He knows what he has to do, now let us see him do it.
Jean-Marc Illouz, FR2: Jamie, est-ce que la rsolution
des Nations unies telle que vous l'imaginez, telle que vous le comprenez
aujourd'hui permettra le recours la force en cas de refus d'obtemprer
de la part du Prsident Milosevic?
Jamie Shea : Je comprends savoir que la rsolution
est place sous le chapitre 7 qui est dj un facteur trs important,
mais une rsolution du Conseil de Scurit des Nations unies comporte
toujours l'autorit du droit international et l'autorit moral de la communaut
internationale, donc il va de soi c'est un facteur de pression politique
considrable en elle-mme.
Jean-Marc Illouz France 2 : Si vous permettez, d'autres
rsolutions des Nations unies, mme rcemment n'ont pas t respectes
par Slobodan Milosevic...
Jamie Shea : Oui.
Julie Mccarthy, National Public Radio: First of all,
can you tell us what is the status of the military technical agreement
talks, are they back on, do you anticipate they will be back on tonight
or early tomorrow morning, are they under way now and secondly, the diplomacy
that we have seen really seems to put things on a very fast track, people
here at NATO are talking about things taking place in a matter of hours,
48 hours, 24 hours but General Jertz paints a picture along the Albanian
border of intensifying fighting. How is that you get to the point where
this peace process can actually take hold? What kinds of communications
is NATO making with the KLA to make sure that this thing can proceed?
Jamie Shea : Julie, General Jertz will have his observations
on this but clearly if Milosevic wants, things can go quickly, if Milosevic
wants to drag these things out that is his decision but obviously he will
once again pay a price in terms of the continuing NATO actions.
Clearly, General Jackson's door is open, the Yugoslav commanders know
his phone number and as they have been there twice over the weekend, they
are not going to lose their way along the road so let's wait and see what
happens there but as you know, low-key liaison contacts have been maintained
since Sunday night and so the channel of communication is clearly there
when Belgrade decides but obviously if those Yugoslav military commanders
go back they have to go back with instructions from the top to do serious
business, no shilly-shallying as Madeleine Albright has just appropriately
We also very much welcome the assurance that the political leader of
the UCK, Mr. Thaci, has given to Mrs. Albright in Bonn that they will
issue shortly a declaration confirming that they will co-operate with
a Yugoslav military withdrawal and will not in any way try to hinder that
- those are words that we take here very seriously.
Major General Jertz : There are quite a view aspects
actually to your question and the first one might be that I was referring
to the fighting of the last 24 hours of course and not what is going on
at the present time plus I think the military commanders might not even
be aware of what has happened at the G8 in Petersburg so we need to wait
until they get the information and then I hope they will understand what
is happening. I could also say on the military side although it is only
a speculation that perhaps it is a kind of last effort to regain positions
which they have not had in the past even though we are not willing too
much to negotiate because the agreement has been set.
Julie Mccarthy, NPR: Is there a timing set for talks?
Jamie Shea : Julie, as I said, it only takes a call
to set things up and we are ready so those talks can begin very quickly
indeed. General Jackson has still got the maps spread out across the table
inside his tent.
Bill Drozdiak, Washington Post: Jamie, Russia and China
are insisting that there should be a bombing pause before even a debate
on the Security Council resolution. Is this something that the NAC is
prepared to consider as early as this afternoon or is there something
also that the Secretary General could initiate himself?
Jamie Shea : Bill, I think President Clinton who I
heard just a few moments ago and other Allied leaders have made it clear
that we are willing to suspend operations when we see that dust on the
tracks of the Serb forces withdrawing. That is still the condition for
a suspension and therefore the ball is in Belgrade's court. The sooner
we see those tank tracks start to move, the sooner we can consider a pause
but not until. That is absolutely clear, the sequencing has been worked
out and I think it is a good plan but everything hinges on Belgrade being
willing to pull its forces out. That is the key that unlocks the syndrome
to the solution of this conflict.
Jean-Marc: ...alors que est-ce que cette rsolution
pourra faire mention de la fameuse phrase "utiliser tous les moyens ncessaires"?
Jamie Shea : Il va de soi que je n'ai pas le texte
sous les yeux et vous posez des questions que vous devriez avec plus de
lgitimit poser ceux Bonn qui ont ngoci ce texte, mais il y a cette
fois-ci une diffrence fondamentale, alors que les rsolutions antrieures
ont t votes contre Belgrade le 1160, le 1199 et le 1203, il n'y avait
pas ce moment-l une action militaire internationale pour convaincre
Milosevic d'obtemporer. Alors que cette fois-ci la situation est diffrente,
cette rsolution avec toute l'autorit qu'elle comporte, est aussi accompagne
de moyens pratiques et militaires pour la faire respecter et je crois
que cette diffrence va tre dcisive.
Jonathan Marcus, BBC: Clearly, two documents need to
be arrived at, one the UN text, secondly the military technical agreement
but could you fill us in a little more on the sequencing of events after
those documents are in place? What it sounds like from the intimations
we have from Germany is that this whole process then is going to be telescoped
with all the various other factors happening if not simultaneously then
in very quick succession.
Jamie Shea : Jonathan, yes, there is now, as you know,
a clear road map, as I said, of actions that should follow each other
in a virtuous circle rather than a vicious circle, in other words rather
than block each other they should lead to each other and we hope that
that sequence is going to unfold but the thing that NATO will be looking
for is practical implementation by Belgrade. Without that, nothing can
go forward and that is why, despite the fact that we warmly welcome this
very considerable diplomatic result that has been achieved today, the
watchword here will be "vigilance and implementation".