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10 May 1999

Press Conference

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

Jamie Shea: Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Afternoon to you all, welcome to our daily briefing.

I would like to begin today by simply stressing that we had a large number of military operations over Yugoslavia last night, a number of sorties were planned, and I will ask General Jertz in just a few moments, as always, to up-date you on the details of that.

This evening the Secretary General, Javier Solana, will be in Bonn. He will have dinner with Chancellor Schroeder and together at that dinner they will review the progress in our air operations thus far, as well as the progress in the diplomatic activities. As you know, this week Chancellor Schroeder is going on behalf of the EU Presidency to Beijing where he will, I am certain, convey the regrets of the Allies for the mistaken attack against the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade at the weekend, and he will also brief the Chinese government on the efforts under way, to which Germany has very significantly contributed in the G8 framework to find a political and diplomatic solution to the crisis in Kosovo and I am sure he will appeal for the support of the Chinese government in helping in the UN to complete those efforts expeditiously as one of the best ways of solving this crisis.

I should also add that over the weekend, on behalf of the North Atlantic Council, the Danish and Polish Ambassadors in Beijing made a demarche to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on behalf of the Alliance.

On the humanitarian front in the region, NATO continues to do its utmost to make life as comfortable as we can for the refugees and to relieve their suffering. In Albania the situation remains stable. Yesterday, with the support of the NATO forces, 1,500 refugees were evacuated away from Kukes towards refugee camps inland. The NATO forces in AFOR, Albania Force, are currently building centres for 50,000 refugees and we hope that all of those construction projects will be complete by the end of this month and that the work by engineers of the NATO forces to upgrade the road between Puke and Kukes, which is very important for evacuations of refugees, will be completed by 17 May. We need more engineers, however, to do this work; engineers are extremely important in these type of operations and we hope that NATO governments will be able to provide some.

But we very much welcome the news given by the British Secretary of Defence, George Robertson, in London this morning that the UK will send an extra 200 troops to the region, to Albania, as well as redeploy on a temporary basis 1,000 from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Albania to help in this business of camp construction and helping to transfer refugees from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Albania, where they can be cared for. 90 such refugees are being moved today and NATO forces are of course fully at the ready to help with that transportation work. And in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Arc, the Alliance Rapid Reaction Corps troops continue to provide assistance at the Segrani camp. So we are very much involved still, as you can see, in all of those efforts. We are going to care for the victims of Milosevic until such time as we can return them safely to their homes.

At the same time, NATO very warmly welcomes the decision of EU Finance Ministers just a few moments ago on behalf of the General Affairs Council, or acting as the General Affairs Council of the European Union, to make formal and official and give immediate effect to a number of sanctions against Belgrade. 300 of the most senior officials of the Belgrade government, including President Milosevic and his family members, will not be able to have visas to travel to the European Union. Their crimes have made them prisoners in their own family henceforth. At the same time the EU is extending its freeze on assets held by Yugoslav corporations abroad in the European Union. It has again continued and affirmed its ban on commercial flights and it has confirmed its ban on export credits, which have also been extended now to the private sector. And finally it has confirmed its ban on the export of materials that can be used by the Yugoslav security forces to continue their campaign of internal repression in Kosovo.

So it is not simply NATO which is isolating President Milosevic, it is the European Union and the entire international community. Rarely in history has one state been so isolated politically, militarily, economically and geographically. This cannot be something which the Yugoslav people need or want at the present time, but it is the result of the counter-productive policies of their leadership.

I now ask General Jertz to give you his daily military operational up-date and then we will go into questions in the usual fashion.

Major General Jertz : Thank you very much, Jamie. Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me start with a firm statement today. The air operations planned in the last 24 hours were at the same level as it was in the last weeks. Even though within Kosovo a number of our operations have been cancelled due to weather in the target areas, we were able to strike tanks, armoured personnel carriers, trucks and troops in the area of Suva Reka, Podujevo, Junic and Metrovica, where we also struck a radio relay site. At Pristina we attacked a petroleum facility, thus continuing to cut the fuel supplies and reducing the mobility of the fielded Serbian forces.

I have two videos to show you today. The first demonstrates once again our ability to find and target Serbian military units in the field. This Serb patrol will no longer be operating within Kosovo.

The second video also shows the absolutely outstanding and professional job our NATO air crews are doing. This attack, like many, was at night against a defended target. The target is a bridge near Cuprija. The co-ordination and the accuracy of this flight of NATO aircraft is self-evident. As I have stressed, lines of communication are essential to the Serbian military operations against the Kosovars. Military supplies will not pass over this bridge for quite some time, again cutting into the mobility and sustainability of the forces in the field.

Elsewhere in Yugoslavia we attacked targets as shown, including Nis airfield. But as already mentioned at the beginning, the weather precluded attacks against many of our other targets.

I suspect that some of you are becoming somewhat tired of hearing me tell you how often our operations, mainly against forces on the ground, have been affected by weather. I would like to take a few minutes and talk about this in a little more detail.

Let me start with a good message on the military look. We were effective. First, since the air operation began, the majority of days the weather has been unfavourable or marginal. This graphic shows the weather history thus far. I want you to fully understand, generally NATO has the capability to operate through solid cloud cover and we can take the fight to the enemy in any weather. However, for a variety of reasons we impose restrictions on our operations in bad weather. The single biggest reason is our commitment to ensuring we strike only military and military-related targets. You all understand that we are using a variety of precision weapons. Many of the weapons require laser guidance and as you know, you cannot by and large use laser guidance through very thick cloud cover. Also other weapons of course require that we see the target throughout the attack to ensure precision and to make sure that we don't hit somebody who should not be hit.

Many people will immediately ask then why don't you just fly below the weather? Let me reiterate on that. We don't go below the clouds or into the clouds at low altitude for several reasons. First of all, let me emphasise that of course under special circumstances we do not have to fly low to be successful, as I already indicated. But coming back to the statement, flying below the clouds is more dangerous from a technical standpoint. It puts our NATO air crews down into the range of tactical surface to air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery and of course small arms fire. It also highlights aircraft against the clouds, making them easier to see and target from the ground.

If our crews fly within the clouds at these low altitudes there are also other dangers of course. Kosovo, as you know, is a very mountainous area. You may recall this slide which I showed you the other day. The peaks of these mountains are many times enveloped by the clouds, air crews are always very careful about avoiding terrain. Believe me, airplanes and mountains don't mix very well. When the crews fly a combat mission, reacting against threats and manoeuvring, you can understand there is an increased danger of becoming distracted and colliding with the terrain. And you know I am an airman and I really can confirm that.

Speaking of reacting against threats, it also much more difficult to manoeuvre away from a missile or anti-aircraft artillery fire when you are in a cloud. You can't easily fight what you can't see. Clear air gives our crews a much better fighting chance to survive these engagements. For these and other reasons the weather affects our operations under the circumstances I just explained.

We make these weather decisions with regard to objectives of the air campaign, in consideration to minimise the risks to the air crews and in consideration of innocent civilians. And so there are many days when I must report to you that once again weather hampered our operations.

One other point concerning the weather while it hampers our operations, unfortunately it also provides some cover for the Serbian military to continue their ruthless attacks. Unfortunately they try, and they do, take advantage of these times to conduct ground and air operations which have continued to result in what can only be called atrocities. Thus it is very important for us to continue our efforts with highest priority, to identify their locations, I am talking aircraft, helicopter, to pin them down and finally to destroy them so they cannot continue to threaten innocent victims from the air nor from the ground.

The following sequence of images are of five villages and towns in Kosovo. They show homes and businesses of ordinary Kosovar Albanians which have been demolished, burned or in some of these shots you can still see them burning. These, Ladies and Gentlemen, are the results of Serbian military and special police attacks against civilians. None of these targets were legitimate military targets and without doubt none of the damage was caused by NATO attacks.

Finally, I would like to provide you with my up-date on our continuing humanitarian effort. Yesterday there were 12 aid flights into Albania and 18 flights into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia . This brings our total effort to 763 flights to Albania and 572 flights to Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia thus far. The running totals of our aid airlift are shown once again on this slide.

Before I finish, let me address to you on an additional point : it is a matter of outstanding leadership that the highest ranking responsible general is visiting his troops in combat to get the best impression of the performance of the troops, but also of course to give the men and women who are risking their lives to save others, a chance to address their leader. I am talking about General Clark, SACEUR - my boss - visiting the Aviano aircraft base in Italy yesterday, Aviano being the centre of NATO's air campaign as part of his regular visits to the troops.

General Clark found the Servicemen and women focused and confident. They had, like he said, their heads in the fight and morale was outstanding. They said they were determined to do what it took to see the job through. What else could we expect? General Clark spoke to each Squadron in turn. He congratulated the air crews on the superb and courageous way in which they have been carrying out their mission. He also spoke to the Commanders on operational issues, and in particular he wanted to talk to the unsung heroes of the air campaign, without denying other heroes of course - the Marines from the 5th Squadron of prowlers who day after day, night after night, go out up front to jam enemy radars so that the fighter-bombers could complete and can complete their run. He also commemorates the ground crews who keep the aircraft up in the air at peak performance despite the gruelling schedule. They make sure that the aircraft are ready to go, fixing problems, working overnight in sun and rain. They don't get the recognition because they don't fly the missions, but they are the people who keep this show on the road.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, concludes my part of the briefing.

Jake Lynch, Sky News: As you said earlier, the Yugoslav government have petitioned the International Court of Justice in The Hague against 10 nations who are NATO members. If that court ultimately decides that those 10 have been acting in breach of international law, will NATO bring Operation Allied Force to a halt in response?

Jamie Shea: Jake, thank you for that question. As you know, NATO always obeys the injunctions of international law and that is the reason why our aircraft are flying over Yugoslavia at this moment, because we are trying to ensure that President Milosevic finally heeds what three UN Security Council resolutions - 1160, 1199 and 1203 - have called on him to do. We obey international law. I think if you look at President Milosevic's record, he is only interested in international law when it suits his purposes, when he feels that he has something to get out of it. When it is not convenient for him, as in heeding these three UN Security Council resolutions, or as in handing over all of the indicted war criminals that he is protecting on his territory, or granting the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal a visa, when it doesn't suit him, he tends to ignore it. But international law is not something that you can pick and choose. I remember the phrase of Louis XIV who used to say "L'Etat c'est moi". Well I think President Milosevic has a modern day version about law : "La loi, c'est moi". But no, I am very sorry, you cannot decide yourself what international law is and what it isn't. International law is international law. The Allies obey it and I believe that president Milosevic has to obey it too. And as for the 10 NATO governments that have been summoned to appear, they are perfectly able to defend themselves, and they will defend themselves, and vigorously too. We don't lack the winning arguments when it comes to this.

Jonathan Marcus, BBC : Back to the Chinese Embassy, the Chinese government is still insisting on a full apology and a full scale investigation of what went wrong. Given that the problems are buried so deep in essentially the American intelligence process, do you think that NATO will be able to give a comprehensive read-out of what went wrong to the Chinese government, not least since you haven't been able to share one with us at this stage?

Jamie Shea: We have clearly identified where the problem came from and that is the most important thing to do. Secondly, we have clearly taken action to make sure that that glitch, that problem in the system doesn't repeat itself and of course that is the other priority thing to do. General Clark, SACEUR, has ordered a comprehensive review of the operational procedures and the targeting databases and as a result, we are confident that the Chinese incident was an anomaly, a tragic and regrettable anomaly, but an anomaly nonetheless and that we have taken measures to ensure it won't happen again. But as you know, I am not going to comment on targeting policy, I comment in these briefings on a great number of things, and very willingly, but I am not going to comment on targeting policy.

Michael Jungwirth, Kleine Zeitung : Two questions : for two weeks NATO has tried to find a decision on implementing the oil embargo. Could you give us an up-date on the discussion? And secondly, there have been reports that General Clark wants to deploy missiles in the neighbouring countries like Croatia, could you give us some details on that?

Jamie Shea: The oil embargo is in place, it is being implemented. A number of countries are doing precisely that and President Milosevic today has to think very hard about how he is going to get oil and whether he has got the money in the kitty to pay the higher prices that come from seeking oil from fewer and fewer sources. That is what is important.

As far as the visit and search regime is concerned, this is before the Military Committee at the moment, a reworked operational concept that takes into account the political factors that had to be weighed, and I understand, I know, it will be back up before the North Atlantic Council very soon. Again, there will be a visit and search regime, it will be one in which all Allies will participate and it will be effective. But the most important thing is for the oil not to leave ports in the first place, then of course it is less important whether you have a visit and search regime at the other end, but there will be one. And let me also say that the Council is currently looking at some advice from the NATO military authorities with respect to deploying part of the Standing Atlantic Force of NATO to the Mediterranean to provide the extra assets which will be necessary to implement a visit and search regime.

As for Croatia, we have excellent cooperation with Croatia. Croatia, as you know, is part of the Group of Seven with whom we meet on a regular basis between NATO and the neighbouring countries. We are extremely grateful to Croatia for the solidarity it has shown, particularly in implementing the oil embargo, turning off its pipeline, which it did very early on in this crisis, and anything that we can do to provide a 360 degree isolation of Yugoslavia is something of course that we will pursue, but I am not going to comment on any specific initiatives or decisions at the present time.

Augustin Palokaj, Koha Ditore : General Jertz, you didn't speak today about the activities of the ground troops in Kosovo. There is some information that they launched their offensive in the area of Ferisi, where there are more than 100,000 displaced persons.

Major General Jertz : You are well aware of the fact that I do comment normally on ground troop activities, but in this case I need to have some more information on it and I will come back to you once I have it.

I think I am still in a position to answer your question on the question of additional efforts. Of course SACEUR welcomes all assets which operationally and militarily are needed. However, as plans are going forward to end this conflict, I am not in a position to comment on the more detailed plans which we are having at the present time.

Doug Hamilton, Reuters: Jamie, a name from the past has cropped up in Belgrade today I think that might send shivers down the spine of some NATO military people, it's Yasushi Akashi, the Japanese diplomat who is UNPROFOR days. He has talked to Milosevic and he said Milosevic is willing to discuss everything on the G8's plate but he wants a small force, lightly-armed, under the United Nations. How does NATO take this?

General Jertz, if I could just follow up on the previous question, can you say in general what would be the purpose of putting these US Army ATAACMS missiles down in Dalmatia, would it be for Montenegro, would it be for Kosovo?

And can we return to the question of a few days ago? What do you know about the jugoslav navy activities blockading supposedly Montenegro ports?

Jamie Shea: Doug, on this topic, I saw on the wires briefly before arriving here the remarks of Mr. Akashi. If it is true, then of course it would suggest that President Milosevic is beginning to feel the pressure and is beginning to realise that sooner or later he is going to have no choice but to meet the demands of the international community and if now wisdom is telling him that it is better for him and his people that it be sooner, then that would be good news indeed but we have to be a bit cautious.

First of all, again, we need to hear this from President Milosevic himself; he has a voice and therefore he can tell us himself and that would be the most credible source - you, a journalist, I am sure would agree with that. Secondly, he does seem to be somewhat ambivalent about this international security force, at least in the wire reports that I have seen and that would have to be elucidated. As far as we are concerned, it has to be a force with the weapons, with the rules of engagement, with the robust command-and-control, with the strong mandate to do the job effectively, not some sort of eviscerated force which Milosevic feels that he can control or hoodwink. We are not going to go down that road. So it could be very encouraging but I think we need to know a little bit more before I can give you a firm reaction but certainly I would like to believe that President Milosevic now knows that his only exit strategy is to say to our five conditions: "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!"

Major General Jertz : Once again of course, as I said, SACEUR is very much interested in all the assets which would be capable of let us say pinpointing targets even better than aircraft do because aircraft are flying fast and sometimes it is very difficult, especially when those targets on the ground are camouflaged. For sure I can tell you that there are no plans that any of the ground-based artillery or attack assets if they come in would be inside Kosovo or would be inside Serbia, they would be in areas where countries would allow us to use them.

On the navy question, I remember one report of one ship going into Bar but the navy itself, the military navy, is not moving at all, they do try to hide, they do move around within the harbour, try to get their ship sheltered but there is no military activity whatsoever.

Jamie Shea: I can add, if I may, General, a few things here. I have already expressed our very firm opposition to the notion of a Yugoslav blockade. The Yugoslavs are now blockading their own country, this is a supreme irony in terms of preventing materials coming into Montenegro which is part of their own Federation. Other countries normally have sanctions against other countries but it is very rare for a country to blockade itself! Having said that, I understand that it is only Bar at the moment which is the subject of the blockade by the Yugoslav navy and that therefore there are possibilities, Doug, of essential supplies arriving for Montenegro via other sources.

A few days ago, a delegation of a NATO country visited President Dukanovic and was able to give him some financial assistance, some millions of dollars, which by the way he used to pay his police forces and it is very important because those police forces have been very loyal to President Dukanovic, commendably so, to the democratically-elected authority of their country that that financial assistance should be forthcoming. I think that is obviously a priority area for the time being.

You will note of course from today's newspapers the very strong commitment to democratic values of President Dukanovic in the joint ??? piece that he penned with Zoran Bindic (phon) of course and it is admirable that despite the enormous pressure that he is under, he continues to stand for democracy and to continue to move towards liberalisation. If that's what he can do under the type of pressure he is under, think what he will be able to achieve when peace comes to that region! It is a very encouraging sign.

George: Is it enough to get Milosevic's approval - agreement - on the five points? The UCK for the time being rejects the G8 proposal, is it something that you can ignore?

Jamie Shea: They signed the Rambouillet commitments, George, as you well know. It is not all of the UCK leaders that have expressed the same opposition by the way, there are different views within the UCK, let's be clear about this. There is a moderate wing but there are obviously more extreme wings, you have that in these kind of movements but I would not believe that the rejectionist front speaks for the majority. You have also from other leaders of the Kosovar community - and the UCK does not speak for all of the Kosovar Albanian community - statements of support, particularly from Mr. Rugova, in recent days and I would urge all Kosovar Albanians to firmly support the five NATO conditions and the G8 principles because is the best deal available for now and in the future to secure their basic human rights, they are the winners and not the losers from those principles and I hope that they would not react overhastily and would consider and realise that those principles are being done for the Kosovar Albanians and that they should support those principles.

Neil: Jamie, picking up on your response to that, what concerns do you have about the deep and deepening divisions within the Kosovar leadership ranks?

Secondly, in terms of Rugova himself, it has been a bit curious because he has been a very compromised figure in recent weeks and when he gave his press conference on Thursday he never made clear whether he was actually negotiating with Milosevic of his own free will or not, he indicated essentially that he was by not saying otherwise and he is certainly not held in great repute among most Kosovar Albanians now. Is NATO perhaps making a mistake by casting a plot too firmly with him at the moment?

Jamie Shea: Neil, good question obviously. Firstly, he has never signed a piece of paper with Milosevic - that is important - and we all know that he has been under duress, that is clear, during the period when he remained behind in Kosovo. What he has said since he left Kosovo shows that he is still the same Ibrahim Rugova in what he has stood up for - Rambouillet, autonomy, an international security force in which NATO would play a very important role, the withdrawal of the Serb forces - he has been very clear about that and therefore, despite the intimidation, clearly his mind is still free and we welcome that very much indeed because once he has been outside Kosovo he has been able of course to speak his mind so I therefore like to believe what he said in Rome recently or Bonn as opposed to what he said while he was still in Pristina or being taken to Belgrade.

There have been divisions among the Kosovar Albanians but they came together at Rambouillet when they saw that the stakes were high, when they saw that there was an opportunity and they sank their differences and signed and I hope that they would have the foresight and wisdom to do the same when it comes to the principles of the Alliance and the G8 because those principles have been designed for them first and foremost. What we are doing in all of this is for the Kosovar Albanians, so that they should be the beneficiaries but they too have got to help us to get this right and as I say, I hope that they would put statesmanship before partisan interest.

Question: I wonder if you could clear up some confusion over the recent days. You have both tried to convey the sense that the NATO air force had got total domination of the skies over Kosovo and yet at the same time you have described today explanations of why you can't do certain things, why we can't have Apache helicopters, why we can't fly low. These seem inconsistent with the idea that you have total domination of the skies.

Similarly in recent days, you put up some slides and showed how the Yugoslavian forces had been withdrawing into a few enclaves and had been "more interested" I think were your words, in survival than they have been in attacking Kosovars and yet we also hear reports from our colleagues at the refugee camps that they are coming in, that there have been recent expulsions, there is this report today of an offensive in the area where there are a large number of internal refugees.

These things seem a little inconsistent. Do you feel that you have stopped the military actions and are you in control of the skies and have got them hunkered down or is that not true? There seems to be conflicting information from your own briefings over the course of the last several days.

Major General Jertz : I hope you haven't had the feeling that I said that I am giving you different information on what I am saying. I think I really was in broad terms explaining to you that for instance by trying to avoid collateral damage we are not using weapon systems which we could use if we were as brutal and as cruel as Milosevic is. That's one of the reasons of course why it takes longer to really come to an end.

On the other hand, I also said that we have to always think about our aircrews when we are flying below clouds, that is why I mentioned it just a few minutes ago. We do have to make sure that the risk involved on our crew when they are flying low is bearable by the tactical leader so we are always in the position to either fly higher, not attacking when we are above the clouds because of collateral damage and on the other hand, of course we do fly lower but unfortunately - and I was very honest about that - in some cases when the weather is bad the enemy takes advantage of that knowing that he could start to fly with his helicopters and with some other artillery pieces travelling around without being punished from the air and that is why I said we are continuously having our emphasis on stopping and destroying and pinning down pieces like helicopters and aircraft. Even though he has not used aircraft in the attack area since the first days of the war, there are still some helicopters left which we are checking and it will not take very much longer and they will be all gone.

On fielded forces, I will give you the briefing on Thursday and I will come up with an update in the future. Here we really pinned them down but of course once again we could not so far pin them down totally.

Jamie Shea: That is obviously a question more for General Jertz than for myself but look at the statistics. We have flown 19,000 sorties and we have lost two aircraft so what would you conclude about NATO's ability to dominate the air space? I think for me the conclusion is clear that yes, by and large we do but there is no room for complacency. We will never be complacent. There is always a possibility that the Yugoslavs will have enough residual air defence to pose a threat and we have to take it into account but if you look at the statistics, they don't suggest that it has been an uncontrollable problem for our pilots thus far.

Secondly, we have been honest from this platform that we have not been able to prevent yet the ethnic cleansing. It was going on a long time before we intervened and when you have somebody like Milosevic who is determined to use whatever resources he has to pursue it, then what conclusion do you draw? I draw the conclusion that every massacre is another reason to press on, every massacre makes it clear that we are going to press on because what counts is reversing that crime and we are going to reverse that crime, we are not going to abandon these poor people no matter how much they have suffered and there is a fundamental difference here, that if we weren't doing this, they would be suffering without any redress, now they are going to have redress, they are going to have justice. It won't unfortunately apply to everybody because many will have lost their lives but the responsibility for that is not with NATO, the responsibility for the crime is with the individual who pulls the trigger, not with the police force that tries to prevent it and that is clear, it will be on Milosevic for ever.

Question: General, have you got now a concrete time-table concerning the involvement of the Apache helicopters?

Major General Jertz : I already explained to you how difficult it is to really get the Apaches operational with all the aspects I was talking about so still there is no time-table but it will be in the near future.

Kristina, RTL Club: There are reports that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that civilians killed or injured in NATO bombing can be counted as human rights victims. Can you please comment on that.

I also have another question. more and more NATO soldiers are working for the humanitarian aid in Albania and Macedonia. Can you give us a figure of how many soldiers are there right now and how many more are getting there in the next future?

Jamie Shea: OK, thanks for those questions. I have been monitoring very closely of course the remarks of Mary Robinson and she has made it clear that she blames Milosevic for this and I don't think there is any ambiguity about what she has been saying on the trip to the region. She has talked about human rights being most flagrantly violated in Kosovo, she has told of torture, mass killings - I am reading - forceful separation of families, stripping of personal documents, that these were being carried out by army police and paramilitaries. NATO doesn't have any army police and paramilitaries on the ground in Kosovo so I think that Mary Robinson is being truthful and accurate as to where these human rights abuses are coming from. She has also called upon NATO to take every means available to avoid inflicting harm on civilians and I join her wholeheartedly, NATO should and will take every conceivable precaution not to inflict harm on civilians so I can endorse virtually everything that Mary Robinson has said.

As for the troops, perhaps General Jertz will allow me to comment on that, but we have already a sizeable force of just under 7,000 in Albania at the moment with a temporary support, as you know, by UK forces and ARRC forces just over the border in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) so that is a sizeable force for the humanitarian effort and we have, as you know, coming up to 16,000 in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia so as far as troops necessary for the humanitarian effort is concerned I think we have enough but the real problem is not numbers, it is a question of specific capacities and certainly when it comes to putting up tents or building tent-cities, providing water sanitation, field hospitals, improving roads, engineers are extremely important and we would like to have some more engineers and we will see if our governments can contribute them.

Question: Jamie, can you say a little bit more about the question of the armament that would be involved with an eventual international force? Milosevic apparently is willing to entertain the idea of a force that goes in carrying defensive side-arms, you said it needs to be more heavily-armed than that. How much more heavily-armed? Do you need to have tanks, Bradley vehicles, what else can you say by way of elaboration?

Jamie Shea: General Jertz will probably have a more professional view on this one than me and I don't yet have a table of necessary equipment but you saw with the IFOR/SFOR operation in Bosnia that you have to have first of all a lot of mobility in terms of helicopters to go around quickly to deal with any incidents, you need to have the type of armour and equipment that is going to ensure that people take you seriously, that nobody will try in any way to intimidate or challenge the force and to the extent that that heavy armour is there, as we have seen with SFOR, incidents simply don't occur, you deter and therefore by deterring incidents, you create a situation where you are less likely to be called upon and I think that is a very valuable lesson - deterrence works in other situations as well. And some of the equipment that has been pre-positioned in the Enabling Force under General Jackson in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia of course is heavy armour so I can't at the end of the day give you a number of tanks or a number of Bradleys or armoured personnel carriers, that is for the military planners to come up with, but we certainly do not see side-arms as being efficient to ensure either force-protection or the necessary degree of respect for the force to accomplish its mission.

The OSCE civilian mission was allowed side-arms for self-protection in many cases by Milosevic but you could see that it still didn't help them when it came to being denied access to areas where so-called "exercises" were going on, it didn't stop them being held up at the border for days while their cars were systematically searched in contravention of the diplomatic rules and even the agreement that Milosevic signed with the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Foreign Minister Geremek of Poland at the time so I think when it comes to Milosevic you need to, I am afraid, err on the side of caution rather than on the side of naïve hope.

Major General Jertz : Let me come back to Bosnia. I tend to do that because I was involved in that area also. At the beginning, from 1992 to 1995 there were UNPROFOR, protection forces, lightly-armed with just a gun and nothing else and they couldn't do the job, even though they were UN-mandated they just couldn't do the job and as Jamie already mentioned, SFOR-type soldiers equipped with artillery, tanks, guns and so on - what we call a "robust force" - that is the one we are looking for that. Other than that, there is no sense going in, plus of course it also depends on the situation, is it a permissive environment, you have to take the geography into consideration and so on. The plans are already made up but we are not going into more details on that, as you can imagine.

France 2: I have a question for General Jertz and of course, Jamie, a wrap-up in French would be helpful at the end.

General, from all the intelligence that you have gathered on things happening within Kosovo, is there such a thing as a pattern in terms of how the Yugoslav army and the special forces split their tasks? Has this pattern changed since the beginning of the operation? My question includes not only military activity but also other types of activities, be it arson, deportation and what else.

Major General Jertz : In fact, from what we see it is almost about the same every time. The heavily-armed VJ, as we are calling them, first surrounds the villages, then the special police go into the village, displacing persons, attacking houses and then the paramilitary - like Arkan's Tigers for instance - very unfortunately fulfilling the job and ending the job and we saw that every time it is almost the same pattern and it hasn't changed since the beginning.

Jamie Shea: Pour répondre en français je crois qu'il y a 3 éléments à signaler, d'abord qu'il y a toujours des opérations très intenses des forces spéciales de l'armée Yougoslave le long de la frontière albanaise pour couper le couloir créé par les forces de l'Armée de Libération du Kosovo et dans la région de Junik et également pour essayer de détruire les derniers postes de l'Armée de Libération du Kosovo dans les montagnes de la région.

Il est intéressant que Milosevic doit maintenant faire appel à des forces spéciales parce que visiblement l'armée conventionnelle n'arrive plus à faire le travail. Surtout après les dégâts qui lui ont été infligés par les forces de l'OTAN.

Troisième chose à signaler c'est le nettoyage ethnique dans une zone qui va du Nord, Pec vers le Sud pour aboutir à Pizren en passant par Jakovica. Nous avons vus ces derniers temps un nettoyage ethnique à Jakovica, un nettoyage ethnique à Pizren et maintenant presque tous les réfugiés qui arrivent en Albanie proviennent des villages autour de Pec.

Quatrième élément à signaler comme l'a dit le général Jertz, la séparation des hommes entre 15 ans et 60 ans en âge militaire des autres. Et il y a beaucoup trop maintenant de témoignages de réfugiés que vous lisez d'ailleurs dans vos journaux tous les jours pour ne pas croire à un phénomène systématiquement planifié.

Par exemple, entre 50 et 60 dans le village de Zalc, près de Pec l'autre jour, entre 8 et 30 à Kobovac près d'Istok, 300 hommes qui ont été saisis dans un village qui s'appellent Durakovac et je vais vous épargner tous les détails.

Mais je veux souligner une chose, pour nous ici à l'OTAN cela, c'est la Une de l'actualité tous les jours, c'est notre Une de l'actualité, c'est notre première page tous les jours. Même si le cycle un peu répétitif de toutes ces atrocités et horreurs peuvent créer un sentiment d'apathie ou de fatigue mais pas pour nous ici. Pour nous ça c'est la vraie histoire qu'on le veuille ou non du conflit au Kosovo et toutes ces vies ont pour nous une valeur aussi importante que n'importe quelle autre vie. Donc malheureusement cette campagne continue.

Stephen Dierckx, VRT: Two brief questions if I may. does NATO feel that sanctions should be taken against anyone after a comprehensive review of who turns out to be chiefly responsible for mistakenly hitting the Chinese embassy, anyone in the intelligence-gathering process?

Secondly, is that building of the Yugoslavian weapons agency that you tried to hit on Friday night still on your target list.

Jamie Shea: OK, you asked me so I'll answer but General Jertz may have something to add on this question.

First of all - I was asked this yesterday, Stephen - what counts in these situations is to find out why it happened and put it right. It involves the intelligence community as a whole, I don't believe that any particular individuals can be held accountable for this type of thing, it is a mistake of a system not a mistake of an individual and the most important thing therefore - and this is being done - is to correct the system as such and ensure it doesn't happen again and as I have said, that is what SACEUR has been doing and that will be done successfully.

The second question: as you know, any facility which in the eyes of the military commanders is being used to supply, support, direct, sustain the Yugoslav war machine in Kosovo has not been a sanctuary, is not a sanctuary nor will be a sanctuary in the future.

General Jertz has nothing to add neither have I, so we will see you tomorrow morning. Thank you very much.

 

 

http://www.nato.int/kosovo/press/p990510b.htm