12 May 1999

Press Conference

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

Video Press Conference

with the NATO Secretary General, Dr. Javier Solana
from Skopje

Jamie Shea: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, welcome to this afternoon's briefing. As I mentioned to you this morning, we are very pleased to have with us live on the video link from Skopje airport where he has just arrived in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, of course the Secretary General. What I am going to do is ask the Secretary General to comment on the impressions that he has gained from his trip thus far. As you know, this morning he has been in Albania, he is just beginning now the second leg of his trip in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Secretary General: Thank you Jamie, good afternoon everybody. I am here at the airport in Skopje. I have just arrived from an early morning trip that started at 6.00 in the morning to Albania where I had the opportunity of meeting with the authorities of that country, and then I visited a couple of refugee camps, in particular in the region of Elbasan.

Let me say that the reason for this trip is I would say threefold: first to show solidarity to these two countries, FYROM - Macedonia - and Albania which are two countries which are committed with us to stop ethnic cleansing, to reverse ethnic cleansing and at the same time to give support and help to the refugees; second, to show the fantastic work that is being done by the troops of NATO deployed in both countries, together with the UNHCR people; and third, after having talked to many, many people in the camps, I would like to convey to you my very deep sentiment that I have been always convinced that the task that we have started to make all the possible efforts for all the refugees to return to their homes, to their country, after having talked to them I am more and more convinced that we have to continue our battle until we see through. I would like to say that the five points that NATO is defending are the very same points that all the refugees are defending: to stop the killing, withdraw the troops, allow the refugees to return, it is a Kosovo multi-ethnic, safe and democratic and a political agreement for the future. Today I am more convinced than ever that this is the right course.

That is, Jamie, what is my experience of today, a very intense day, a very profound day that I would like to be able to transmit to you in all the intensity.

Mark Laity, BBC: Secretary General, you are there, you have described that you are more and more convinced that your course is correct. But you are 50 days now into the campaign. President Milosevic shows no signs of backing down. When do you believe that you will be able to have the troops that are in Macedonia and Albania escorting refugees back in after 50 days of air campaign.

Secretary General: I would like to see that as soon as possible. We will continue with our air campaign steadily, intensively. This past night has been a very effective night in order to hit the troops which are deployed in Kosovo and continue doing criminal acts against the Kosovar people. I would like to see them returning to their home, to their country as soon as possible and that is what I have conveyed to the refugees with whom I had the opportunity of talking today.

Patricia Kelly, CNN: In the last couple of weeks NATO has celebrated two 50th anniversaries, one 50 years of NATO and one 50 days of airstrikes. Which do you think is going to be the most significant anniversary for the future of NATO, which period do you think, the 50 days or the 50 years, will make the most difference to the future of NATO, especially if the airstrikes do not succeed in fulfilling their objective?

Secretary General: I think that I don't like to celebrate specific dates. I think that we have a mission, that the mission is going to continue until we obtain the objectives. But let me say that the meeting that we had in Washington not long ago was again a very important meeting, probably the most important of NATO's history, in which the determination of all the 19 Allies to continue with our campaign until we see it through was total. And let me also insist that we are not only the 19 countries of the Alliance, but another 35 countries that belong to the Partnership for Peace, to the EAPC, who are together with us, with the same aim, with the same goal. Ethnic cleansing cannot prevail in Europe and we are making in all our capability not only to stop it but to reverse it. That is my aim, that is our aim.

Dimitri Khavine, Russian TV: Russian President Yeltsin made a statement today that if the Russian position wouldn't be taken into consideration seriously, Russia may withdraw from the negotiating process. Could you comment on this?

Secretary General: Well I don't have any comment to make because as you know we are working together with the Russians in very many places, in very many institutions, and in particular in the G8 where the position of Russia, the ideas of Russia are taken into consideration. So I do hope very much that in the coming days we will continue the diplomatic effort so that in a few days from now we will move forward the process and we will have UN Security Council resolution codify the points that were approved in the meeting of the G8.

Jamie Shea: We are going to start today with the briefing by General Jertz of SHAPE on the operational activities during the last 24 hours and I will come back for the Q and A session.

Major General Jertz : Thank you Jamie. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

Before I begin I want to be clear on one point. At no time during our last 24 hour operations did we detect any indication that Serb forces were moving out of Kosovo. Let me therefore re-emphasise once more. All our military actions against Serb military forces are in accordance with set political guidelines. Our goal is to degrade Milosevic's military power to a point where he is unable to continue his brutal policy of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Yesterday we hit his forces in Kosovo very hard. To give you a better picture on operations conducted in the last 24 hours, this briefing will be more detailed than usually.

Turning to yesterday's effort, I will start with a quote from SACEUR's daily video teleconference held this morning. One of our Field Commanders who we talk to every day, opened his address by stating: "We have experienced our most successful day of the campaign." This map shows today's extent of Serb ground forces and ground activities, noticing that in the Podujevo area it was less heavy than yesterday, perhaps because of our previous pounding of Serb Air Forces.

Let me give you a rundown on our operations in more detail now. Our day started around sunrise with a streamed package of 36 aircraft, including A10s, GR7 Harriers, Etendard, AMXs, F16s, Jaguars, CF118s. In the area of Suva Reka we attacked military vehicles, revetted artillery, dispersed artillery and tanks. At the same time F16s struck the Kosovska Metrovica radio relay station.

A late morning package of 32 aircraft, including Tornadoes, Jaguars, F16s, AMX, AV8B Harriers, returned to the Suva Reka area and repeatedly attacked Serbian forces on the ground. More tanks, vehicles and troops were struck. In addition some of these aircraft attacked the Popovac highway bridge and the Nis airfield and petroleum facility.

The next package of 30 aircraft following up included F15E, F16, GR7, Etendar, CF18s, and they struck the Kacak ordnance repair facility, the Juvica radio relay station, the Kovinbrod highway bridge and Ponikve airfield.

In the early afternoon, 16 aircraft, including F16s again, CF18s, F15Es, attacked the Savak army barracks and the Novi Sad radio relay site. During this period F15Es attacked the highway strip and destroyed 2 MiG 21s on the ground, on the highway strip.

By mid-afternoon the next package of 28 aircraft set out with A10s, GR7s, EF18s, Jaguars and Tornadoes. They continued the attacks against Serbian forces in Kosovo. They struck self-propelled artillery and vehicles, a tunnel used to store equipment and munitions, you will recall my earlier discussions of the importance of such tunnels, and the field command post and other targets in the field, for which we await details yet.

Early evening marked the launch of another package of 24 aircraft, including again A10s, F16s, CF18s, F15Es. They struck ground force targets in the Djakovica area and the important area around Stimulje. This package also attacked the bridges at Gerdelica, Kozomaca, Vlarajine highway bridge and the important Kozumilje highway bridge, a critical line of communication in and out of Kosovo.

Our attacks continued throughout the night. A midnight package of 38 aircraft, including F16s, F15s, B1Bs, B52s, CF18s and Tornadoes. They hit strategic targets including airfields at Obrva and Sunitca, Kupria barracks, Paracin ammo depot, Kargujevac army factory. This factory is a surface to air missile factory producing so-called surface to air missile fixers, a very important, very dangerous weapon. And they also struck bridges at Kuprija, Ucen, Svetose, Revo, Baren and Maglij, doing considerable damage to the supply routes.

Our early morning pre-sunrise package of 24 aircraft included B52s, Tornadoes, F16s and CF18s. They went back again furthest in the field carrying out strikes against the Junic area and the Simlje area again, and also again against Pristina airfield and the Kavovo support base.

We know we hit vehicles, Sam launchers, surface to air missile launchers, armour and not least 3 more MiG 21s on the ground close to Pristina. We also hit other strategic targets like Rakovica air defence operations centre, Kacarevo tactical reporting post, Horgos highway bridge, Vrsac radio relay and the Sombor petroleum production facility.

The range of our targets engaged once again demonstrated the superb co-ordination of our assets - strategic surveillance, reconnaissance, early warning, command and control. This allowed us, with great success, to detect Serbian forces as soon as they started to move, confirmed their position and attacked them.

Let me give you one example to the flexibility of air power. A target was confirmed at 1515h by tactical reconnaissance, its position was verified by a controlling strategic asset who was able to direct an airborne forward air controller on to the target. This forward air controller in turn directed A10s on to the target at 1600h, that was 45 minutes from the detection.

Throughout the day's action we observed 16 surface to air missile shots against our aircraft again and there was significant anti-aircraft artillery.

I also would like to mention that all of these packages I have discussed in such detail were only strike aircraft. Of course you know that there are a lot of supporting air assets necessary to be successful.

Outside air assets, NATO personnel are supporting these operations at all levels from the support aircraft, the engineers, the maintenance personnel, the weapons loaders and other ground crew, the planners in the operations centres and all of the others who make it possible to fly these attack missions. I am very pleased to report again that all Alliance aircraft returned safely to their bases.

As a summary, what I have given you is only a comprehensive picture of the damage we have done to the ethnic cleansers inside Kosovo. This was a day in the life of Operation Allied Force where it really matters, against the forces on the ground. When the final battle damage assessment is done we will be able to give you more exact figures of what was hit, but the damage done so far, as you can see, was considerable.

At the end of this morning's video conference SACEUR was able to thank his Commanders for what he called the best day's work of the air campaign so far.

Thank you very much.

Paul: General, you said it was the most successful day of our campaign. Why was it that successful today? What military made you do what you haven't done before?

Major General Jertz : Well once again the main reason was that the weather was good again and it was in favour to our operations, and the numbers of course of sorties we have flown, you have been told this morning already, are already clear and in the open, the numbers were about the same level, however these numbers were almost all directed against Serbian forces in Kosovo which of course is so far our first goal to really hit them so that they will not be able to continue to do their atrocities.

Patricia Kelly, CNN: At the 50 day mark NATO has not achieved its stated goal of forcing President Milosevic to agree to NATO's five demands. Are you prepared to concede the ineffectiveness of your campaign, especially in view of reports today quoting western intelligence and defence specialists saying they now believe President Milosevic has achieved his goal?

Jamie Shea: Usually incoming governments are given 100 days before they are judged, but if you wish to judge us after 50 days, I would simply say that the game is not over yet quite frankly and I don't think we should start writing the history books until the final results are in. I wouldn't rush to any premature judgment here. We are starting to hit Milosevic very hard indeed in Kosovo and it is going to get harder, and harder in the days ahead. General Jertz has just given you a very comprehensive briefing that makes it clear that we really are now turning our attention not simply to those who are being killed, but to those who are doing the killing, and we are going to continue to do this. And the fact that President Milosevic may not have agreed to the five conditions yet is no logical reason for saying that he won't agree to them tomorrow or the day after. He will and we are going to keep this up.

We said right from the beginning when we started this campaign that it would not be an overnight wonder. This is not instant coffee. We knew that we were up against a very cynical person, a very strong military machine, well-dug-in in Kosovo and with a great array of forces, paramilitaries, military police and so on. Secondly, we made a decision from the outset that we were not going to use all of the means at our disposal because we are democracies and we would not resort to the same barbaric methods of terrorising the civilian population that has characterised what President Milosevic is doing, but I don't think our public opinions want us to do that either, and that therefore on this one we would have to demonstrate a little bit of perseverance, a little bit of patience. But believe me, we are going to prevail. When the final score is in at full time I can assure you the result will be that it will be five conditions for NATO and Milosevic will accept them, that will be the score at the end of the day.

CNN: The second part of the question is a response to these reports quoting western analysts are saying that Milosevic has achieved what he sought to in Kosovo?

Jamie Shea: Obviously it depends on what you consider are Milosevic's objectives. If his objective is to lay what, about 10% of his country into a wasteland, if his objective has been to drive out hundreds of thousands of his own citizens, if that really is what you would call his objectives then perhaps, but I personally don't think that is a very productive tally at the end of the day. And no I don't believe frankly that even if those macabre objectives are the ones that Milosevic is pursuing, that he has achieved them. The fact that he is still fighting, as General Jertz has shown, in four significant areas against Kosovar Albanian groups, notably the KLA, I think shows that he is far from doing that. And when he said the other day that he was going to have a partial withdrawal of his forces because he had defeated the KLA, I immediately showed that that is far from the truth indeed, and we are not going to allow that situation to stand. It is not what President Milosevic's objectives are that count, it is what our objectives are that count and we are going to make sure that at the end of the day all of those refugees are able to go back to their homes. That is the key. I am not interested in President Milosevic's objectives, I am interested in our objectives and we are going to fulfil those.

Question: Jamie on parle les derniers jours des efforts diplomatiques qui ont aboutis à un accord, un texte, du groupe G8. Après, si on veut avoir une résolution basée sur ce texte, après vous allez insister que Milosevic accepte cette résolution ou les cinq points de Rambouillet?

Jamie Shea: Mais c'est -à-dire une résolution du Conseil de sécurité aura la force du droit international, que President Milosevic sera contraint de l'accepter, mais comme nous savons, comme nous savons bien, Milosevic n'a pas accepté les résolutions du Conseil de Sécurité antérieur du nécessité pour l'OTAN de continuer son opération aérienne jusqu'au point où il accepte formellement cette fois-ci les cinque conditions fondamentales de l'OTAN que je suis sûr seront reflété dans une résolution du Conseil de Sécurité et c'est pourquoi également nous demandons des garanties de respect de ces cinq conditions dans le retrait de ses forces du Kosovo. Donc nous voulons qu'il accepte formellement, mais nous voulons également qu'il nous fournisse des garanties en retirant toutes ses forces du Kosovo.

Mark Laity (BBC): Accepting that you are saying that you are hitting them very hard indeed now, you also said that you are starting to hit them very hard indeed. Would there be some acknowledgement that whatever results you are achieving now, it has taken you a long time to get there which would suggest that the start of the air campaign was flawed because you were hoping President Milosevic would back down very quickly and as a result you didn't hit him, from a NATO point of view, hard enough early enough?

Jamie Shea: Mark, General Jertz can give a specialist answer there but just from the political side let me say that obviously first of all we had to start with the air defence system, clearly that was important. NATO military commanders always made it clear that that would have to be severely degraded and diminished so that we could operate with relative safety over the skies of Yugoslavia and we never underrated the capacity of the Yugoslav air defence system.

Secondly, it is much easier to start having a significant impact against the Serb forces in Kosovo if you have already cut them off, deprived them of fuel, demoralised them, cut their lines of communication and reduced their mobility which is what we have been doing, then they are obviously much easier targets than they would have been under more normal circumstances. As General Jertz has made clear, we have also had some bad luck with the weather quite frankly, which has begun to improve lately but now that the correlation of forces - if I can use that term - is moving in our favour, it won't stop moving in our favour, it will move increasingly in our favour and we are going to use that to really strike hard against those forces until they withdraw so obviously there is more of what we had last night to come.

Major General Jertz : Let me just add to what has been said by Jamie about bad weather. I indicated and also explained yesterday that the weather could have an effect on fighting capabilities. If we were not careful about collateral damage of course we could use our weapons in all kinds of weather but we don't do it because we are not as brutal as Milosevic is and that is one of the reasons of course why the weather, especially against ground troops, makes it difficult to achieve the goal and that is why at the beginning - and we said this right from the beginning and you will recall in my last briefing - in the first, I would say, two-and-a-half weeks we only had about 13 per cent of favourable weather where we could attack forces on the ground but this has now improved and as we can see, the command-and-control capabilities and the mobility of Serb forces in Kosovo have now been severely degraded.

Antonio: One week ago, we came from Bonn with some news about a possible agreement in diplomatic terms. Can you tell us where we are now concerning this meeting of Political Directors?

A follow-up question: how is the bombing of the Chinese embassy and the internal problems of President Yeltsin affecting this process?

Jamie Shea: I understand, Antonio, that the G8 Political Directors are going to meet this Friday and start working on the text of a UN Security Resolution to start dealing with some of the difficult issues of how we translated our five core objectives into reality on the ground and they are going to get on with that work.

I don't believe that the political developments will have a significant impact on the diplomacy, I hope not. I believe that Russia is now working with us very consistently on that G8 framework, I think that is going to continue. As you know, Strobe Talbott is in Moscow and incidentally, Strobe Talbott will also be here on Friday to consult on his meetings in Russia with the North Atlantic Council, he should be here if all goes according to plan on Friday morning. President Chirac is going to Moscow tomorrow and I believe that this co-operation with Russia is going to stay on track, I think it is in the objective interests of both sides and I hope it won't be affected by the internal developments. Certainly those internal developments as announced by President Yeltsin this morning were not linked to Kosovo. I heard what President Yeltsin said and he said that they were linked to the internal economic situation.

As for China, I was encouraged yesterday to see that China is no longer insisting in the UN Security Council on a resolution condemning NATO even if the Chinese are still angry, I recognise that. Chancellor Schröder is there today on behalf of the Alliance and I am certain that he will be successful in convincing the Chinese that this mistake was that - a mistake and a very bad mistake but nonetheless a mistake - and it was not the result of any political intention at all. I think he will appeal to China to put its long-term interest in having peace in Kosovo in working with the other Security Council members above the short-term reactions and I believe that will work, I believe that the anger will calm and that we will be able to work with China in the Security Council. The fact that, as you know, Mr. Chirnomyrdin came back to Moscow yesterday and said in a press announcement that the Chinese might be interested in participating in a peace-implementation force in Kosovo I think is an indication that the Chinese are looking at this constructively and I believe they will continue to do so.

Question: General Jertz, can you shed some light on the story in Byron, Albania? Apparently, KLA forces were bombed by a plane yesterday - we got pictures of that at home - and then the AP this morning said that they had been bombed by a Yugoslav plane which then crashed or landed on the Albanian side and the pilots are unheard of. Could you explain the whole incident and what happened to the plane and what is going on, please?

Major General Jertz : I have seen the reports about it and we have some background information on it but we are still investigating the whole case. Yes, we do have to say that there was one Serb aircraft which we obviously did not hit early enough to really go airborne attacking troops on the ground.

Same Questioner: Inside Albania?

Major General Jertz : No, according to our information it was in Kosovo but we are investigating the case and have no more information on that. I also heard, as you have, that the aircraft was downed but we do not know who downed it.

Same Questioner: You do not know who downed it, but not NATO?

Major General Jertz : We didn't, no.

Same Questioner: Do you know where this aeroplane took off from?

Major General Jertz : Yes, from what we have found out so far it was close to Pristina but once again, as it is under investigation and I would be speculating if I continued to try and explain what I don't know for sure at the moment. Let me re-emphasise again that there was one aeroplane, it was not detected early enough so it at least could fly and we are now reinvestigating how long it was in the air and then I will come back with the answer but I am not in a position to give the answer now.

Same Questioner: How is it possible that a plane taking off in Kosovo could elude the attention of NATO observation means?

Major General Jertz : You have to bear in mind that of course there are a lot of own operations (solo operations?) going on and a lot of own flights (solo flights?) going on and it is a very difficult task to find out which aircraft would be not of your own force. Of course, we have a good picture of our aeroplane but once again if it flies very low it is very difficult from the air - like helicopters which are also very difficult to identify when flying very flow - so it takes a little while before we find it out but once again I don't want to speculate on this matter. I have already make it clear that yes, we do have the reports about this aircraft but no more information than that.

Same Questioner: And type of aircraft if I may add a last question?

Major General Jertz : I cannot confirm the type of aircraft yet.

Doug: General Jertz, from your briefing today, it is clear that NATO is now going in harder and lower against fielded forces in Kosovo. I am told that the Apaches have completed their training and they are ready to go whenever President Clinton gives the green light and that SACEUR wants to put them in. Is this not the time to put the Apaches into the battle or does the heavy anti-aircraft cannon that you described also on Day 49 still preclude their use?

Jamie, is there a sense in the Council that the air war is turning a corner now in the last few days with the successes against ground forces in Kosovo?

Major General Jertz : I think I have elaborated on the Apaches in the last few days because the question comes up every day; give the boys and girls a chance to be ready to go to war and once they are ready they will be in and they will be in in time once the masters have decided that they are ready.

Jamie Shea: Doug, as to your question, no, I think the mood in the Council is one of determination. We don't know when we are going to turn the corner but we know that we will sooner or later, it is as simple as that but we are not going to give up now, no way, things have gone too far. We have seen too many atrocities, too many massacres, too many rapes, too many suffering people to do that. We have an obligation to the Kosovar Albanians and we are going to keep that obligation.

I think that we are satisfied that we are now having the type of military impact which will impress President Milosevic and which will start making him think of how he is going to get himself out of this crisis and we are going to keep that pressure up. We have had our setbacks but we have shown that we cannot be blown off course and at the end of the day that is the most convincing thing, that every time Milosevic thinks that maybe with a propaganda ploy or a setback he is going to see cracks in the Alliance, he sees that none of that happens, we take it and we come back the next day and we continue and I think that is the sense now that we have shown we can get through a setback or two and we can continue and that at the end of the day we are going to be successful because of that.

Thomas: The Belgian Army yesterday made public some figures of the achievements of the operation and there are certain differences between those figures and what NATO has made public. Is there any explanation of this?

Jamie Shea: Yes. I saw those figures and my immediate reaction is that they are old figures and I believe that they are old figures, they don't correspond to the figures of today.

Question: General, were the planes flying lower last night than they had in the past, are they using different tactics against the ground forces than have been used in the past?

Major General Jertz : Once again, as I have always said, I am not going into specifics on tactics. We do fly precise weapons and whenever the circumstances allow it, the aircraft are allowed to fly lower to make sure that they do attack the right targets.

Alex Nicol (Financial Times): Could you please give details of the aircraft that are being deployed to Turkey and Hungary - I believe there have been announcements about this - the numbers, types of aircraft and the purpose of the aircraft?

Major General Jertz : This is still under negotiation, as you know and I am not going into more detail on that I hope you understand because it is an issue for the countries involved and there are no aircraft yet at the present time but the negotiations are ongoing but there is nothing on specific numbers, type of aircraft, airfields and so on.

Jamie Shea: Things are slightly further advanced politically in Hungary. With Turkey, negotiations are still going on but you have seen already public announcements vis-à-vis Hungary regarding some tankers, A-10s and F-18s but the exact numbers, as General Jertz says, are still subject to negotiation as well as the timing and as for Turkey, we will wait for Turkey to make a public announcement when the time is right.

Jake Lynch (Sky News): General, it is just over a week ago that you gave us the estimate, I believe, that NATO had destroyed 20 per cent of Yugoslav heavy ordnance in the form of tanks and artillery pieces in the field in Kosovo. I recall you saying that it will be a little before the full battle-damage assessment of yesterday's raids comes in but a week on from that assessment, i.e. at this stage yesterday, what had the percentage gone up to because I recall you saying that that 20 per cent had largely gone in the previous fortnight and it was accelerating and given that you also offered the view that once it got to 50 per cent the operational effectiveness of that army would be effectively removed, that must be close - a week, two weeks?

Major General Jertz : I am not going into numbers, days. As long as Milosevic doesn't accept the five points, we just continue until he does and he might be thinking that he can even fight with only 30 per cent of his armed forces. When I mentioned 50 per cent, that was of course what we in the West think brings down the fighting capability but I am not at the present time in a position to give you the exact total of what we destroyed so far but I was about to announce that in the near future you will get another update on the effect of the attacks against forces on the ground so once again I can refer to what Jamie already said, let's wait until the battle damage of today's raids is really in our hands and we just have to wait and make sure that we don't give you figures which might be misleading.

Julie: This question was posed yesterday and I feel the need to ask it again. It has to do with the impressions that have been created in the briefings in the past three days, not so much contradictory perhaps but they seem to be at odds with one another in some way.

On Monday, you reported diminished Serb activity owed to Allied air strikes that you said had pinned down the Serbs and taken them out of a lot of the action and that there were large places across Kosovo where the KLA was providing protection to hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Then we hear that at a rate of 10,000 a day refugees are still being expelled from Kosovo and at the same time the Serbs were engaged in intense skirmishes with the KLA. What is the impression that NATO wants to leave here and what is the most accurate picture of those two different characterisations?

Major General Jertz : A conflict like this one is a very dynamic situation and of course one day might look a little different than the other one. Once again, I have to reiterate that we are successful because we are in the air for 24 hours night after night, day after day, we are pinpointing the assets on the ground, we are going back, they don't have any place to run, no place to hide any more. However, we still talk about other forces which are very hard to pinpoint, talking paramilitary because they do behave like they are normal civilians and they of course do still harm the Kosovars and that is one of the reasons why we also have to make sure that even those people are identified.

I hope I didn't give you the wrong picture in the last few weeks because we are successful, we are really cutting the capabilities of the Serb forces down and we do see a decrease in mobility but we were also honest with you that we could not make sure right from the start that ethnic cleansing would be stopped which we would have liked to do as you know. Of course there are still people fleeing from their homes but there might also be other reasons why they flee from their homes, they might be hungry, they might be afraid of being shot at and so on, those are other reasons why they do leave their homes and not stay home.

Jamie Shea: Yes, I agree, that bears out the assessment that we have on the political side as well, that Milosevic's main army units are suffering increasing problems, four in particular; the 243rd Brigade, the 125th, the 252nd and the 211th have been damaged by NATO air strikes and there we see signs of slowing down, of dispersion to avoid NATO air strikes and morale problems and the rest but Milosevic as you know, has never relied purely on his army, he has spent a lot of money in recent years on his MUP, his special police forces as well, and as the army forces suffer enormous problems so he relies more and more on those special police forces and on paramilitary units as well but of course, to the extent that the army is not able to provide protection for those paramilitary forces in terms of artillery and tank support, they are going to have a harder and harder time against the Kosovo Liberation Army and sustained losses and they also of course will be targeted by NATO as well so I see this as a progressive thing.

We have begun with the army forces and as I say, the fact that Milosevic is now calling on his MUP or special police, I think clearly shows that the army is less and less up to the job here of keeping control in Kosovo and then we will move on to those special police forces and to those paramilitary forces. The moment we can oblige the main army to leave Kosovo, then of course the other forces, particularly paramilitaries, will have no logistic base of support any longer, they will be forced to leave as well. But it is the easiest thing in the world for somebody with a gun to go along, knock on the house of a family that don't have any guns and order them out and that is again the reason why all of these Serb forces have to leave and they will. As General Jertz says, if the people are fleeing from Kosovo it is also because they have seen what the Serb forces can do and of course they want to try to protect themselves as best they can by seeing refuge in other countries.

Neil: There are reports of stepped-up Serb ethnic cleansing in Montenegro near the Kosovo border. Are you aware of such phenomena and if you are, does this pose yet another threat or challenge to NATO?

Jamie Shea: I reported this some weeks ago, Neil, in fact even inside Montenegro some villages in the south but I haven't heard, I must say, in the reports that I have been seeing anything on that in the last couple of weeks.

Major General Jertz : On the military side there is no evidence that something was going on which we had not known before as Jamie already mentioned.

David Shukmann (BBC): Jamie, in the last big campaign of this kind, the Gulf War, after Day 50 the West had achieved its principal war aim of liberating Kuwait and here we are at Day 50 in this campaign and the main war aim of making Kosovo safe has obviously visibly not been achieved. Are you surprised and what do you say to commentators, critics, including British Opposition politicians in the Conservative Party, who say the campaign is not working?

Jamie Shea: David, the fight against Facism in Europe in the 1940s took six years. Does that mean to say that it was a failure or shouldn't have been done? No. If the cause is just then the timing is secondary and this cause is just. Obviously we don't want to take six years and of course we won't take six years but you cannot, I am afraid, judge success by times, you judge success by objectives, we are successful because we achieve our objectives. That is the criteria, not we are successful because we happen to do it in 24 hours and the other guys last time did it in only 36 hours, no.

I find these comparisons, quite frankly, of little practical use, all the more so as the Gulf War was an entirely different type of scenario without refugees for one thing, in totally different geographical terrain and it was a completely different type of military operation so what counts for us is getting those refugees back and if it may take three weeks longer or four weeks longer than foreseen, it still doesn't matter. You ask the refugees if they would rather wait for NATO to finish the job and go home and be asked to wait another couple of days or for NATO to give up now because we haven't performed a 36-hour wonder and remain in refugee camps for the rest of their lives, I think you are going to get a very clear answer. Again, it is results that count here. As I said in reply to CNN, the final score is the score that counts, not the score at half-time. Thank you very much!