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NATO Press Conference, Brussels, May 6, 1999

NATO Press Conference, Brussels, May 6, 1999

Transcript of the Press Conference given by NATO spokesman Jamie Shea and SHAPE spokesman Major General Walter Jertz.

(Presentation)

Jamie Shea: Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Afternoon. Today we have the briefing on the fielded forces in Kosovo and General Jertz will give you that briefing, plus his usual operational up-date in just a few moments.

I would like simply to start off on two points. First of all to tell you that the Secretary General had a conversation a few moments ago with Mr Rugova and spoke also earlier this morning to Mr D'Alema, the Prime Minister of Italy, and we very much welcome the fact that Mr Rugova is now in Italy, that he has been able to travel, as he has long wished to be able to do, and from the contacts that the Secretary General and other Alliance leaders have had with Mr Rugova today it does appear that he is in good shape, good physical shape, good mental shape, particularly after the very difficult life that he has had in the last few weeks in Kosovo. And we hope very much that when he goes to visit other European capitals, as I believe he is planning to do so, he will also come and see us here again at NATO headquarters. You will recall that he was here some months ago. And you will hear from Mr Rugova directly at a press conference which he is to give later on today in Rome with Mr D'Alema.

Secondly, you have just seen in the last few moments the breaking news from Bonn where the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting has just concluded, under the chairmanship of course of Germany. You have seen the points to which the G8 Foreign Ministers have agreed: an immediate and verifiable end of violence and repression in Kosovo; the withdrawal from Kosovo of military, police and paramilitary forces; the deployment in Kosovo of effective international civil and security presence, endorsed by the United Nations; the establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo to be decided by the UN Security Council; the safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons; a political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework agreement providing for self-government for Kosovo and taking full account of the Rambouillet accords; and finally a comprehensive approach to the economic development and stabilisation of the crisis region.

NATO of course welcomes very warmly the very positive outcome of the G8 meeting today. I think it shows that the diplomatic track is fully functioning at the moment and is moving forward and that co-operation between NATO and Russia can be a very important factor in helping us to end this crisis on the basis of course of the key objectives of the international community for peace with justice in Kosovo.

Of course a lot of hard work has still to be done, we are aware of that, particularly in drafting an appropriate UN Security Council Resolution, but I believe that this meeting in Bonn today will be a very important stage in finally bringing the crisis in Kosovo to an end, as I say with peace but also with justice.

Now having said that I would like to turn the floor to General Jertz for his military briefing today and I will be back in a moment for the questions.

General Jertz: Thank you Jamie. Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.

If you remember from yesterday's briefing I talked briefly about SACEUR's busy schedule. General Clark spent a considerable amount of time with President Clinton yesterday, his senior advisers and also Secretary General Solana.

SACEUR briefed the President on the progress of the NATO air campaign. This morning I am happy to say that SACEUR relayed to the staff that the President is delighted with the progress of operations thus far and that the President is proud of the outstanding performance of the NATO men and women who are accomplishing the mission with such a good success. He also stated that the President remains resolute that operations will continue until this crisis is resolved in accordance with NATO's well stated terms.

Turning to the up-date, weather affected our air operations again. However, we were able to conduct successful attacks in Serbia and Kosovo, further decreasing the capabilities of the military and police forces throughout Yugoslavia.

This slide shows you the range of fixed targets we attacked during the past 24 hours. We continued to strike the Serbian military's fuel supplies very hard with attacks against petroleum facilities at Pozega and Nis, along with the other slide shown here, further decreasing mobility of Serbian forces.

We also attacked airfields including Obrva and Ponikve, keeping what is left of the Serbian Air Force off balance. Other targets included additional radio relay sites, air defence systems, including a Sam 6 surface to air missile site near Novi Sad, plus a variety of targets within Kosovo.

Of course you are well aware that I will discuss our efforts against fielded forces in Kosovo in much greater detail in just a moment.

Serbian air defence activity was relatively low in the last 24 hours, but anti-aircraft artillery sites were active again. No Serbian air defence fighters were noted and once again I am very pleased to report that all NATO aircraft returned safely to their bases.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now move on to give you the promised up-date on the military strategy behind, and the success to date, of NATO attacks made against Serb ground forces in Kosovo or, as we call them in military terms, fielded forces in Kosovo - the forces who pursue Milosevic's brutal policy of ethnic cleansing. It is from these fielded forces that the refugees fled and it is the justifiable fear of these fielded forces that prevents the refugees from returning to their homes.

I want to start by providing you with an understanding of the overall picture, so you can appreciate the debilitating effect that we have inflicted on the Serbian war machine, particularly in Kosovo.

Let me remind you of our mission. The mission is to pin them down, cut them off, take them out - that is in military terms of course - thus denying them to go on with their brutality against Kosovar Albanians without being punished themselves.

Essentially as of today we have pinned pretty much them down, we have pretty much largely cut them off and are about to begin to take them out. We have achieved that by regularly and relentlessly harrying them in the field, as I shall go on to describe, to the point where far from moving with impunity, they can now move only furtively and with fear.

Let me also summarise progress on the second of those goals, to cut them off, on which you have had several reports at these briefings in the recent days already. As of today, with the exception of the Danube Bridge in Belgrade, all but two Danube bridges are destroyed, and this is within a total of 31 bridges attacked throughout the area of operations.

The two major rail routes into Kosovo have been closed. The two major road routes from Serbia into Kosovo have been closed also. The other two however more minor roads are severely damaged.

We have totally destroyed oil refining capacity so that Milosevic has to rely on imported fuel - costing money. 70% of military stocks have gone, so has one-third of fuel storage capacity. And NATO is progressively destroying Serb communications capabilities also.

This is significant progress in attacking strategic targets that allows us to move on to our ultimate goal of taking out the Serb fielded forces in Kosovo. Let me now turn to that.

 NATO Map

First, let me say a word about the environment. Our pilots are operating under very difficult conditions, as you can see on this slide, both of weather and of terrain. As an airman myself, I want to pay a tribute to their professionalism to do the work they are doing in such a good manner.

At the beginning of our operation, as you all are aware, Allied forces had to fight with bad weather, it was so poor that we could operate against fielded forces only about 15% of the time - 15% of the time. This sketch draws a little attention on what I am saying, clouds hiding the top of mountains. It has subsequently improved, allowing us to inflict greater damage on Serb forces on the ground.

Since those early days we have been able to adapt our tactics to take maximum advantage of our comprehensive array of intelligence gathering capabilities and now we are able to collect and distribute information efficiently so that our air crews are able to react quickly to targets, also of opportunity. We have also adjusted our flying patterns to ensure a continuous presence of combat air power that is able to operate in the directed attacks against these ground forces. We have planes circling, awaiting the call to strike from other aircraft flying forward air control or what we call spotter missions.

So Serb fielded forces that we confront are arrayed throughout Kosovo, as portrayed on this map. To attack these forces we have employed a mix of NATO aircraft that are available for use in direct attacks. The versatility of these aircraft allows us to use a type of weapon that provides maximum effectiveness against a target and minimise damage to civilians and to civilian property. Our arsenal ranges from guns to precision guided weapons and munitions, and to specialised weapons employing the very latest technology.

Remember what we have been going against - a sophisticated network of command posts, anti-aircraft missiles and guns, tanks, artillery pieces, armoured personnel carriers, supply convoys, ammunition and petroleum stockage points and Serb Army and special police units.

Serb fielded forces are very keenly aware of the need for camouflage, concealment and deception to protect themselves from our air crews. Serb forces have proven particularly adept at using tunnels, natural camouflage and buildings in villages to make it difficult to locate and attack, sometimes even impossible, because they might be in houses where we do not know if persons are still living there. However, this limits also their own mobility. Additionally the uneven nature of their operational tempo appears to be grinding down morale. There are several reasons for that: long field duty and arduous living conditions; poor food; low pay, particularly in comparison to special police force rates; a lack of sleep caused by sporadic movement in the few quiet moments they can find; and not least a continual fear of attack from NATO aircraft. This makes individuals more fatigued, less alert, more irritable, less likely to work effectively together, and hence less of a threat to Kosovars on the ground or NATO Air Forces in the air. When combined with the predictable fear of being struck by determined NATO air crews there is evidence that the whole of the fielded forces are experiencing declines in morale and efficiency.

So what have we achieved so far? You will note that we generally speak in terms of targets struck. There is a simple reason for this. We have no direct access to the individual target sites, so even so we conduct battle damage assessments after each attack, we cannot be absolutely certain that these targets we have struck have been totally destroyed, or just only damaged, or only temporarily put out of action.

NATO air crews fly regularly against fielded forces targets, often in marginal weather. And in case weather or other circumstances prevent a strike against its primary target, every time an aircraft flies out on a mission it has a pick-up target to engage also.

So let me turn to the damage done. It is considerable, it is having a powerful impact on the ability of Serb forces to carry out their policy of ethnic cleansing, both now and also in the long term. I have already spoken about the earlier priorities of the air campaign: to pin Serb forces down and cut them off from their resupply routes and their political and also military masters in Belgrade. And I have described the impact that poor weather has had on air operations. Our increasing success in achieving our early priorities, and better weather, means that we are now making good progress in taking out Serb fielded forces.

I can report to you that to date we have struck 8 important battalion brigade command posts, I am talking Kosovo. We estimate that some 50% of ammunition storage in Kosovo has been destroyed and we have struck more than 300 individual pieces of equipment including tanks, artillery pieces, armoured personnel carriers and trucks. Some 200 of those, which is about 20% of the entire estimated Serb … Kosovo, Serb heavy forces, talking tanks and artillery.

And an important indicator, we have achieved the vast majority of those strikes in the past 2 - 3 weeks, I have to admit I did tell you the reason, bad weather in the beginning.

Past military campaigns have shown that combat effectiveness of formed units is to all intents and purposes eliminated at levels of damage of course less than 100%, perhaps at around 50% losses or even a little lower. At that stage the forces concerned focus on survival rather than fighting, they are no longer that effective and we all hope that Milosevic will see reason well before we reach those levels of damage and agree to meet NATO's five conditions. But if he does not and if we have to prosecute this campaign until we break the will to fight of Serb forces in Kosovo, we are prepared to take them all out.

What do all these statistics mean where it matters - on the ground? Milosevic's forces in the field are being taken apart bit by bit, faster and faster. Their ability to operate effectively, let alone carry out acts of brutality, is further reduced with each day that passes. We have already achieved significant benefits from our campaign against fielded forces, first by relentlessly pursuing fielded forces we have all but entirely pinned them down, they can no longer move with impunity. Beyond that, our intelligence has detected that the fielded forces are dispersing into even smaller units, and recent intelligence reports indicate that they now have little option but to dig in and to protect their equipment. They can only move furtively and with great fear. Of course that makes it even more difficult to find and to destroy them, I have to admit. But it also makes it much more difficult for them to carry out their attacks against the Kosovar people.

In fact a review of the activities of both the fielded forces and the UCK reveals an interesting trend. This map from April shows the activity areas of both the fielded forces and the UCK.

NATO Map

This map, from yesterday, portrays a different situation. It would seem that as we have been able to increase our strikes in Kosovo our intelligence assets have identified fewer and more centralised areas of fielded forces operations.

NATO Map

Unfortunately this does not mean that all Serb military actions against the Kosovar people have stopped. But this trend would suggest that the opportunities for persecution on a large scale are diminishing as the fielded forces lose their mobility. As a consequence, it appears that refugees may be finding it easier to move around dispersed Serbian forces and to seek refuge across the border.

This combination of relentless pursuit in the field and strategic attacks to isolate them enables us to achieve our ultimate goal - to really take them out. When they dare to move they are exposed and vulnerable as targets of opportunity.

The impact of our campaign is reflected in the recent reports of low morale and in desertions from forces operating in Kosovo. Perhaps that should not surprise you. Imagine what it must be like in one of those units, having already lost 20% of their heavy forces, and presumably the military comrades who manned them, or even more persons, their fuel stocks have been destroyed, half their ammunition supplies have been destroyed, they know that bridges into the theatre have been struck and the major road and railroads are closed, so they are receiving resupplies of food, fuel and ammunition only sporadically. They are in only irregular and unreliable contact with super (?) headquarters in the field and in Serbia because we have struck at command and communication sites and they know that power could go out at any time.

They are able only to scurry from cover to cover and always in fear of being struck. They are increasingly exhausted from lack of sleep and for Commanders they are left with the growing knowledge that they are on the losing side and that looming over the horizon is accountability to the international community for the atrocities that they and their men, under their command, have committed. And always there is a nagging fear of attack from NATO aircraft, now operating around the clock when the weather allows.

The most striking evidence of this, and of the scale of our success, is demonstrated by the most recent intelligence reports that when they hear the approach of NATO aircraft, Milosevic's forces leap from their vehicles and run away seeking cover.

Day by day, week by week, we are hitting Serb forces on the ground harder and harder. The forces on the ground know that they are at risk the minute they break cover, so they hide, and we are hunting them and we are finding them and taking them out. With his air defences weakened, his command and control undermined, Milosevic's forces on the ground are at growing risk as the conflict goes on.

So the conclusion must be clear, and it is clear. Serb forces are increasingly forced to react rather than to act. They must increasingly turn their strengths to protecting themselves rather than persecuting ourselves. They must increasingly expend considerable effort to gathering the basics of survival. In short, they are far weaker today than they were yesterday, last week or last month. It is for that reason that we are optimistic that Operation Allied Force is systematically undercutting the strength and survivability of Serbian fielded force in Kosovo to the benefit of the Kosovar Albanians.

Mark: Question to both of you. First of all, on the matter of Mr Rugova, Jamie, what was the tenor of the conversation, and in particular did Mr Rugova indicate either support or lack of it for NATO action and what he saw, and what he thought of the five conditions. And for the General, you talked about low morale amongst the army, the VJ, and compared them with the MUP, the police. Is there any difference between the two? And I know it is difficult but can you actually quantify, you have put a great deal of emphasis on morale, do you believe that large numbers are deserting, small numbers are deserting, and are the police holding their own and are the paramilitaries still being busy with their ethnic cleansing?

Jamie Shea: Mark, on the Rugova issue, the Secretary General informed me that he was pleased to see that Rugova was still the old Rugova - I quote his words. But obviously I don't want to characterise the conversation for the reason that Mr Rugova himself is going to have his press conference at 6.00 pm and I never believe that you should put words into other people's mouths as it were, they should speak for themselves, and I am sure that Mr Rugova will do that at 6.00 pm. I have seen however from other Ministers, leaders who have spoken to him today, that he has indicated that he still very much believes in the Rambouillet formula, but again let's wait and see what he has to say at 6.00 when he speaks, he can speak for himself far better than I ever could.

General Jertz: On the question about the VJ versus MUP, we have evidence that of course MUP obviously has a higher morale than the VJ, by nature. On the other hand, straight numbers are pretty hard to get at the present time, but we have enough intelligence gathering on that so that we know that morale is really going down, but I wouldn't be able to give you numbers, that can come towards that later on. On the paramilitaries, they are convinced that what they are doing is correct because they have nothing to deal with when the war is over. We have seen the same in Bosnia Herzegovina you know and I am afraid that their morale is pretty high because they have no future.

Jamie Shea: And if I can just add to what General Jertz said, that is the problem of the paramilitaries, the VJs being forced to disperse. It hasn't been particularly successful by the way at engaging the UCK in recent weeks for a number of different reasons, and therefore Milosevic is relying both on special forces, what he has, in other words throwing all of the forces that he can find because the VJ is no longer performing as it was able to in the past and of course is relying too on Arkan and the Black Hand and these other rather notorious units.

But as I have often said, their presence in Kosovo depends upon the existence of the VJ to provide the area protection, to provide the heavy artillery which first of all shells and intimidates and destroys villages, and creates the kind of climate of mass fear and terror in which these paramilitary forces with their kalashnikovs can operate more freely. So it is very important to drive away the VJ because once the heavy equipment goes then that environment of permissiveness for the paramilitaries begins to change rather radically and they will find it much more difficult to operate as well.

It is quite remarkable that despite a very intensive VJ effort for the last couple of weeks to try to close off a UCK supply corridor up in the north into Albania, around the village of Kosari, that supply corridor remains open and that does suggest, particularly when you take the enormous force disparity between the UCK and what they have, they have got enthusiasm, they have got people but they are lightly armed, and you have got a very heavy force, but if that very heavy force is still not able to close off that corridor after two weeks I think it does suggest that they are experiencing internal problems.

Craig: General Jertz, some of this is just asking you to repeat what you said so I understand it more clearly but you said, if my notes are correct, that more than 300 tanks, artillery pieces, APCs and trucks had been struck and that 200 of these were representing 20 per cent of the total of that category of stuff. Would this be about a quarter of all such heavy equipment that has been put out of action or destroyed as a briefer in the Pentagon suggested two days ago?

You then went on to say something about 50 per cent losses meant the forces weren't effective and I didn't understand what you were saying there. If you could repeat that or make it clearer, I'd appreciate it.

General Jertz: When I was talking about the 20 per cent, keep in mind that I always quote SACEUR - a tank is not a tank is not a tank - a tank, even if it is not destroyed, if it is hiding somewhere and it doesn't have a fuel and it doesn't have ammunition, it just does not have any combat effectiveness so even though you were asking for numbers of the last few days, numbers always have to be related to the kind of operations we are in so if a tank cannot move there is no difference if it is destroyed or if it is out of order or if it has no ammunition, the effectiveness is exactly the same.

Craig: Can you clarify the numbers of 20 per cent of 300?

General Jertz: As I said, we hit 300 pieces, 200 of them were heavy pieces and saying "heavy pieces" I am talking of artillery and tanks.

Craig: Is that 20 per cent in Kosovo or 20 per cent of the total?

General Jertz: I am talking of Kosovo forces.

Jamie Shea: The rest are military vehicles?

Major General Jertz: You mean the other armour?

Craig: Yes.

Major General Jertz: Military trucks.

Craig: You made it about 50 per cent, what was that, that if it reached 50 per cent the forces wouldn't be effective?

Major General Jertz: Here I would say I was talking in theory. Our experience in combat is that if the forces are worn down to round about 50 per cent or less, they are no longer combat-effective - that is what I was saying - that you don't need to really wear them out 100 per cent. I mean pieces, equipment, assets.

Jamie Shea: We are talking about equipment, vehicles, armoured military vehicles.

Major General Jertz: Once again, it's experience from the past. In the last war we had, if you had less than 50 per cent of pieces - assets -destroyed, this force is no longer a capable force and that is why you also have to relatively say that 20 per cent is almost half of the 50 per cent.

Jamie Shea: We don't want to get into complicated mathematics, I wouldn't understand for a start.

Doug: General, a different subject really. Belgrade appears to be blockading the Montenegrin ports since Sunday and the Montenegrins are saying that economically they can't stand much of this much longer. I wonder if you could say why you think Yugoslavia is blockading Montenegro's ports and what might NATO be able to do about it if anything? Jamie, Igor Ivanov has just said and appears to give Belgrade a veto saying that if NATO is going to be in the Kosovo force Belgrade must agree first. What does NATO say to that?

Major General Jertz: We have no evidence that Belgrade did block the ports to Montenegro so I cannot comment on that further.

Jamie Shea: Doug, on the business of NATO/Russia, when I commented on the result of the G8 I did say that we still have differences, I didn't seek to play that down, we do and you cannot in one meeting overcome all of those differences. It is also true that there is a difference on the cessation of NATO's air operations. As you know, we are very determined to maintain those air operations until such time as our five fundamental objectives have been achieved.

But if you look at where we were some months ago and how close we have been able to come towards each other by this consistent diplomacy, the Russians engaging with us, NATO leaders, President Chirac and the Prime Minister of Spain, Mr. Aznar, going to Moscow in just a couple of days, it is quite clear that there has been very substantial progress and both sides I think are equally responsible and have shown good will in that so I think I would look at how far we've come even if I admit that there is still some way to go and we of course have now got to do the very difficult work of instrumentalising, as it were, these points that have been agreed today in the form of a UN Security Council resolution and that will require some very careful drafting I imagine but it does show that the diplomacy is on track and that is what makes me hopeful for the future.

To go back to the question of Bar, I think that it is unconstitutional for Serbia to try to blockade the economic activity of one its constituent republics and I know that Montenegro is resisting those efforts as it is resisting the efforts by the 2nd Yugoslav Army to take over the MUP - the police forces - that have remained commendably loyal to the democratically-elected government of President Dukanovic and we hope that will continue to be the case.

Question (Belarus): Yesterday, the so-called national assembly, the parliament under the full control of President Lukashenko, approved the decision to create a so-called "triple alliance" between Yugoslav, Belarus and Russia. Do you think it possible to create such an alliance and do you see any threat of a spread of the conflict?

Jamie Shea: There has been a lot of talk of a triple alliance - I have seen that - but so far it hasn't materialised and therefore we will wait to see if it ideed happens. It is for each of these nations to decide whether that really is the best for their long-term interest but apart from that I have no comment.

Jonathan: Two points. Firstly, you stressed that NATO has cut off these forces by destroying rail links, bridges and so on. Is there any evidence that the Yugoslav military are actively trying to throw pontoons across rivers or whatever to try and redress this problem since I understand these forces have actually got quite considerable engineering assets along Soviet lines?

Secondly, you stressed the difficulty, given that the forces are dispersing and hiding, of finding them. Is there a danger that NATO, despite your claimed success, could reach a sort of stalemate where you have destroyed a fair amount of what you can find, the forces are dispersed and not perhaps terribly active but in the absence of any ground troops, you reach a kind of stalemate, you've bombed what you can bomb, the forces are badly damaged and there the thing rests?

Major General Jertz: On the crossing of bridges, yes, they make every effort they can to make sure that either they cross rivers or other kinds of areas where the bridges have been attacked. However, we do not have any evidence that there is really any significant flow of material coming into Kosovo any more after we attacked and destroyed the LOCs.

Once they are in there, if they don't get supplies any more - supply also means food - and I don't think they go out harvesting or things like that, they won't have time for that because they are afraid to go out because they are afraid that they would be attacked so they will not be able to survive for much longer if there is nothing coming from outside and I don't think it really would help them just to hide and wait until nothing happens and NATO, I would say can wait and we could wait until they really surrender or until Milosevic finally picks up a telephone - if he has enough electricity left!!

Augustine: Jamie, is there any comment on the decision of Macedonia to close the border with Kosovo for the refugees?

Jamie Shea: I understand, really, the enormous pressures that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is under at the moment. When you look at the refugee figures, this country is now playing host to coming up to a quarter of a million refugees and for a small country with a small population that is an enormous burden and I think we should pay tribute to the government for coping under extreme pressures with the influx thus far but clearly closing the border is not the solution either because those refugees are then stuck in a No-Man's land or they are turned back - as happened yesterday to 1,000 such refugees at Blace - into Kosovo to await an uncertain fate.

Clearly, we have to help - and we are helping - Skopje to deal with this problem. There are two ways in which we are helping: one is now through this programme of temporary evacuations and you know that yesterday the first refugees arrived at Fort Dix in New Jersey going to the United States, countries as far afield as Australia, New Zealand and many others have agreed to take these people on a temporary basis and these kind of temporary evacuations which are now ongoing at the rate of about 2,000 a day as the programme gets under way, will help in that respect.

The second issue is the transfer of 6,000 refugees immediately to camps near Koce in Albania, camps by the way which are being constructed with the help of AFOR, the NATO force there. As I said a few days ago, we have plans to construct six camps on an emergency basis and I realise perfectly well that Albania is also not in the ideal position to cope with such a large influx of refugees, nonetheless that gesture will help to take some of the pressure off and I can tell you that General Jackson of ARRC has been holding talks in the last 24 hours with General Reith of the AFOR to try to see what kind of role NATO can play - and I have to say that the lead agency is not us, it is the United Nations High Commission for Refugees - and what we can do in terms of providing transport capabilities to help conduct this transfer in a civilised, humane way into the camps around Koce.

So yes, it is a strain but the international community is doing its best to adjust to that situation and I hope that those borders will, despite the pressures, remain open so that refugees at least can get food, can get shelter, can be looked after and their appalling suffering can at least be brought to an end while they are temporarily refugees until such time as they can return.

Corinne Lalou TF1: Je voudrais vous poser une question qui est en trois parties.

A moi ou au Général ? A vous, Jamie. Dans la déclaration du G-8 il est question d'un retrait de la police militaire et des para-militaires. Est-ce qu'il est question de l'Armée, elle-même?

Jamie Shea: Oui, je pense bien.

Corinne Lalou: Ensuite il est question d'une force civile et de sécurité. Le mot militaire n'est pas employé Est-ce que cela veut dire que ce serait, ou ce ne serait pas militaire, que ce ne serait pas des armes lourdes. Et enfin, si le Conseil de Sécurité adopte cette motion, est-ce que pour l'OTAN ce sera suffisant pour arrêter les bombardements.

Jamie Shea: Oui, merci pour ces trois questions très importantes. Voilà, j'ai le texte officiel du G-8 grâce à la délégation allemande, en anglais parce que je n'ai pas le texte en français on parle de "withdrawal from Kosovo of military, police and para-military forces". C'est clair, toutes les forces de sécurité serbes, military, militaire, police et para-militaires. Donc les trois catégories sont incluses. En ce qui concerne donc votre deuxième question, le texte parle de "deployment in Kosovo of effective international civil and security presences". Donc soyons clair, il s'agit de deux forces - une force civile et une force militaire. C'est clair et la force militaire , comme vous le savez, pour nous parle d'éléments centraux de l'OTAN. Laissez-moi vous expliquer ceci.

Quand vous, si vous, regardez le cas de la Bosnie, vous voyez qu'il y a des forces civiles, par exemple le UNIPTF, les forces de police des Nations Unies qui ont pour charge de former la police multi-ethnique de la Bosnie. Et nous avons toujours conçu dans le cadre d'un paix dans le cadre de l'Accord de Rambouillet un rôle pour une force suivie de l'OSCE. Il y a un annexe dans l'Accord de Rambouillet qui est consacrée à cette force de l'OSCE qui aura pour mission la protection des droits de l'homme, peut-être la restructuration des forces de police civiles, des tâches de "law and order" comme on le dit, la tâche d'aider â la reconstruction des institutions civiles et démocratiques. Voilà, donc, nous avons toujours prévu deux forces mais le texte du G-8 parle très clairement d'une force de sécurité militaire. Donc, c'est tout à fait ça parce que comme vous le savez sans cette présence militaire internationale, les autres éléments n'auraient pas l'environnement de sécurité nécessaire à leur travail.

En ce qui concerne la résolution du Conseil de Sécurité, non. La résolution de Conseil de Sécurité est très importante pour constituer une espèce de carte routière pour définir comment nous allons mettre en œuvre une administration transitoire et comment nous allons mettre en œuvre une force militaire internationale, et arriver à nous occuper du Kosovo immédiatement dès la cessation de la violence. Mais il faut que Milosovic obéisse à cette résolution du Conseil de Sécurité. Voilà, ce ne sont pas les paroles mais les actes qui comptent. Une résolution du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies montre clairement à Milosovic qu'il n'y a pas de porte de sortie politique pour lui, qu'il doit obéir, que cela a force de loi, de droit international. Mais l'essentiel c'est qu'on obéisse aux résolutions du Conseil de Sécurité. Si Milosovic avait choisi d'obéir aux trois résolutions du Conseil de Sécurité, la 1160, la 1199 et la 1203 déjà promulguées contre lui, nous ne serions pas dans la situation où nous nous trouvons actuellement. Let's go to George.

George: Just to clarify. At which point is NATO ready to stop the operation, when Milosevic announces that he accepts the resolution or when the first tank turns back?

Jamie Shea: Actions speak louder than words, George. We need to see action here, not simply words. If the words of Milosevic were reality, we would not have any refugee today in Kosovo but unfortunately his actions are not in accordance with his words so obviously what we want are the actions, that is to say not simply a verbal acceptance of the five conditions but guarantees through the withdrawal of his forces that he means this time to stick to them.

Jamie (Not Jamie Shea): A question on these 650,000 ethnic Albanians who are still in Kosovo. A couple of days ago, General Naumann suggested how difficult it was to provide for them from the air. Are there any discussions still going on about how and whether that can be done and in that context, as we talk about corridors opening up from the KLA, is there any more consideration of giving non-lethal aid to those people via the KLA?

Jamie Shea: There are many attempts, Jamie, by international organisations. Yesterday Médecins du Monde, with the support of Greece, was able, as you know, to get a convoy through to Pristina - that type of thing is extremely useful. Mr.

Samaruga, the Head of the Red Cross, has been in Belgrade and is trying to get his organisation back into Kosovo; Mr. Kofi Annan is sending a UN mission now to try also to have a UN presence.

We welcome all of these initiatives which can help but let's put this thing in context. The problem today in Kosovo is not just hunger, it's getting shot and getting killed quite frankly and if I can be rather blunt, if you die with a full belly or if you die with an empty belly, it doesn't mean very much at the end of the day and that is what is happening to the Kosovar people, it is not simply a shortage of food, it is persecution and that is linked of course to the hunger problem. Why are they hungry? Simply because they have been driven out of their homes, they have been driven into the hills, they are being shot at and staying alive in the sense of avoiding the bullet is really the number one task.

I keep coming back to this: food drops are something that, yes, it may be possible to do although there are great risks associated with it but will it solve the problem? No, it won't. The only thing that is going to solve the problem for these people is to stop the source of their suffering, in other words stop the bullets and that means obviously stopping the Serb forces which is why we have to keep going at this in a very methodical way. If we are diverted from winning this conflict into other avenues, the first person to be clapping his hands would be Milosevic. Let us be clear, this is what he wants us to do, he wants us to get diverted into lots of other avenues, to tie up our forces doing everything except winning this conflict and to buy himself time to try, as I say, to be the Harry Houdini of modern diplomacy by escaping from the five conditions but we are not going to fall for that game. We have to keep our eye on stopping the conflict because without peace in Kosovo you cannot begin to address the humanitarian issue at its sources.

Jake Lynch (Sky News): A question to the General. Agencies in Gioia del Colle have reported seeing only perhaps a couple of planes take off from there today and that the RAF is having a day off. Is that the case and if so, why?

Secondly, to Jamie, the G8 ……talks about a road map. If we reach a point on the road where for the sake of argument Belgrade is prepared to accept an international force in Kosovo armed to the extent that the UN may choose to prescribe only with no representation from America, Britain and France as the three leading protagonists of operation Allied Force, would NATO rather have that or would NATO rather continue the bombing until that too is accepted?

Major General Jertz: For sure, we do continue the pace, we didn't pause, which means we do use all the assets which are being given by the nations and we are using them to the best amount available and of course also to the best capability they have. I could not talk any more on the operation of that but of course they have been in the fight for quite a few weeks and it is a national responsibility, together with NATO, whether something would be decided but there is no evidence that any aircraft could be released, in fact the contrary is correct, we do have aircraft moving in and we are planning to intensify the operations. I cannot comment on national decisions.

Jamie Shea: Jake, on your question, when the UN Security Council decides on the composition of these forces which come under its mandate - and NATO has five members of the UN Security Council at the moment which is one-third of the membership - obviously the views of the NATO countries would have some influence on this process.

You have heard today, if I heard correctly, Madeleine Albright, when she spoke in Bonn at her press conference, say that the United States intended to participate in this force and I believe that the other countries that you refer to are also intending to participate in this force and in the case of the UK and France have pre-deployed substantial numbers of forces already in the theatre for this purpose.

I can tell you, Jake, that whatever the participation of Allies in operation Allied Force, our record in peace implementation is one of total impartiality. We have demonstrated this in Bosnia before where we have done as much to protect the interests of Serbs in the Republic of Serpska as Muslims or Croats living in the Federation and whatever the mandate would be, it would be scrupulously followed in a very two-sided way by any NATO force.

David Shukmann (BBC): A question to the General. Since you have given us your assessment of how the attack is going on the ground forces on Kosovo, can you just answer this question? How close is NATO now to stopping the ethnic cleansing?

Major General Jertz: We do admit of course that ethnic cleansing is going on. What we were trying to achieve - to stop it in the first place - we haven't achieved but we are very close to stopping what is going on at the present time, as I have already indicated. It takes a little while with air power - we did it, we have done it in the last few weeks - to really stop the war machine Serbia has, we are pretty fine in that way and I think it will take just a little more time and we will continue our pace.

Jamie Shea: David, I know you asked that of the General but would you allow me to answer that from the political perspective because you raised obviously the most fundamental question about this whole operation since the beginning and it's true, we have not been able to succeed in what was our initial objective in stopping the ethnic cleansing, Milosevic has gone on with his campaign of ethnic sectarianism and expulsions, that is true.

So which conclusion do you draw? You could say: "Yes, we haven't succeeded there!" but then that is all the more reason to go for the next logical objective which is to say: "Fine! We couldn't stop it happening but my God we are going to make that man pay a price for what he has done, a very heavy price and every day that he continues, that price is going to become heavier and heavier!"]

General Jertz has given you some figures of the intensification of the air campaign, I can tell you now that we are virtually up at 17,000 sorties, over a third of those are strike sorties. You know that over the last few days, the air attacks have intensified and they are going to intensify and so that price will become heavy and that is different from what we were seeing last year by the way when Milosevic was doing the same thing, albeit not quite in such an apocalyptically brutal way, but wasn't paying any price at all. Secondly, we are going to reverse it. We may not have been able to stop the crime happening but we will reverse that crime.

Those may perhaps not be quite the objectives that we set out with but they are no less worthy objectives than the initial one which we had and this is why we are going to pursue this so I don't think we somehow lose our moral justification or the campaign becomes devalued in any way because of that, I just think it has got everybody's back up quite frankly and made everybody in NATO all the more determined now to see this through and make sure that justice is done.

Thomas: You can decide who will give the answer but on the verification problem of the withdrawal of forces, I understand you can spot the tanks or the trucks but what about the paramilitary forces, what about Arkans "Tigers"?

Jamie Shea: Thomas, you have just given the best answer that I could possibly give as to the need for an international security presence because you are quite right, some of these paramilitaries might try to stay around in Kosovo after the Army has withdrawn, they might try to go to ground. I think that most of them basically will retreat back to Belgrade as far as their legs will carry them really but nonetheless it is a possibility and that is a good reason why you need an international military force because those sorts of chaps with their weapons could probably give a lot of trouble to a lightly-armed or unarmed civilian presence and you all saw the problems that the OSCE had in dealing with those military activities before it left in March. That is no criticism of the OSCE which did an absolutely superb job but it does show that there is an immense difference between a soldier in civilian uniform with a hand-gun and a soldier in uniform with a tank when it comes to peace-keeping particularly in that type of situation so that is one of the clear reasons why we need that international armed presence.

Thomas: When do you consider it as a permissive environment?

Jamie Shea: A permissive environment is basically when we know that we can put the forces on the ground with no organised resistance from the Yugoslav armed forces and that judgement obviously has to be made by the Alliance leadership when the time has come.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you again for today and let me say that there will be the briefing back at the time of 3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon in the usual way. Thank you for today!

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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