|NATO Press Conference, Brussels, May 1, 1999 |
NATO Press Conference, Brussels, May 1, 1999
Transcript of the Press Conference by Mr. Peter Daniel and Colonel Konrad Freytag
Peter Daniel: Good afternoon. For those of you who were not here this morning in our brief encounter, Jamie's got a day's vacation, at last, and will be back tomorrow with you. Colonel Freytag and I will try to up-date you on the military situation. I have a short statement and then we will take your questions.
Two nights ago we attacked the brains behind the brutality in Belgrade and yesterday we went after the nervous system that keeps the Milosevic machine informed and in touch. NATO forces pounded transmission towers and control buildings of the Yugoslav radio relay network in 7 different locations. In the same period we attacked 7 bridges that provide key lines of communication between the Serb forces in the field in Kosovo and the rest of the Yugoslav military. And as Colonel Freytag will elaborate for you in a moment, we also attacked a full array of fielded forces in Kosovo.
Every day Milosevic is less able to stay in touch with his forces and to keep them supplied. Every day the Serb forces in Kosovo are more isolated from their commanders in Belgrade. Every day the Belgrade regime is more isolated from the world. Until Milosevic meets the demands of the international community, we will continue to keep the pressure on and turn up the pace.
As most of you know, President Clinton will be here this week, on Wednesday; he will be here to meet with the Secretary General to assess the political and military situation. We will have a programme and as soon as we have it we will make it available to you. I am not promising that today, so let's not misinterpret what I have said, but as soon as we do have it we will make it available.
Colonel Freytag will now give you the detailed military briefing and then we would both be prepared to take your questions.
Colonel Freytag: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. It is again a pleasure for me to brief you. I don't know whether it is as pleasant for you, we will see.
NATO airstrikes continue with increased intensity against military and strategic targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the last 24 hours, command facilities, petroleum plants, several radio relay stations, lines of communication and military airfields were struck. Tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other fielded military vehicles were destroyed in Kosovo.
NATO forces' support for Non Governmental Organisations and governmental institutions of Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue. Their support contributes significantly to the relief efforts in these countries. In the last 24 hours there were 24 aid flights to the FYROM and there were 13 aid flights to Albania delivering a wide range of humanitarian supplies.
I will now cover current Serbian ground operations in Kosovo. The Serb forces offensive and security operations continue in Kosovo focusing on key lines of communication. (NATO Map below)
In southern Kosovo Serb forces continued to conduct operations along the Suboreka and Stimulu corridor, while special police forces reportedly destroyed homes along the route. During the on-going operations however special police units encountered strong resistance from UCK elements near Suboreka. Fighting between the UCK and Serb forces along the Kosovo Albanian border in the west, resulting in heavy losses for both sides.
Serb elements appear to be undergoing a gradual process of degradation and demoralisation. We have received reports of low morale and increased demoralisations in some of the units in Kosovo and Serbia, including the 252nd Mechanised Brigade. Incidents of desertions are on the rise and unconfirmed reports have been received of officers warning their soldiers that they will be shot if they attempt to desert.
UCK forces are also continuing their operation in the following additional locations highlighted on the slide.
Turning to Serbian Air Force activities, Serb early warning radar were active. Serb air defence included 2 Sam 6 surface to air missile launchers. Anti-aircraft artillery was also evident. No FRY air defence fighters opposed our aircraft. There were indications however that the Serb Air Force were rapidly moving their aircraft around in an attempt to avoid our air strikes. And once again we had no NATO aircraft losses.
I will now turn to operations during the past 24 hours. First I will cover our operations against the fielded forces in Kosovo and southern Serbia. We continue to place a strong emphasis on this aspect of our operations and we are scheduling NATO strike aircraft 24 hours a day towards the task.
The targets struck in the past 24 hours included artillery, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, mortars, command posts and military vehicles.
Turning to the rest of Serbia. Allied aircraft again attacked the full range of military targets. We concentrated on the Serbian command and control network and targeted many key facilities, as depicted on this slide. (NATO Map below).
The following video is taken from our attack on Thursday, 28 April against the Serb Ministry of Interior headquarters building in downtown Belgrade. On the video you could have also seen the simultaneous attack on the FRY MUP building which was located across the street and as you know both these attacks were successful.
In the command and control targets set we place particular emphasis on the radio relay communication facilities. Our air crew targeted 9 radio towers and control buildings of the radio relay network. This was part of our ongoing effort to stress the Serb leadership and degrade their tactical commanders' ability to direct and co-ordinate Serb forces' activities in Kosovo.
The following cockpit video was taken during an attack against the Avala radio relay towers located just south of Belgrade, and this video was also taken during the attacks on Thursday.
Their integrated air defence system was again targeted in our continuing campaign to repress their capability to reconstruct an integrated air defence. Airfields at Ponikvia, Sombor and Ovova were struck. Petroleum storage and production facilities were struck, including the facilities at Vitanovac, Sombor, Pozega and Karajevo Novi. We also retargeted the refinery at Novi Sad. (NATO Map below)
We again struck numerous bridges providing lines of communication in our campaign to isolate the Serb forces in Kosovo. These included the railroad bridge at Uce and the highway bridges at Kokinbrod, Treknik, Raska and Bistrica. The following is an image of the Bistrica bridge after our attack.
Ammunition plants at Valijevo and Barik were struck, the ammunition bunker at Sombor were also targeted and totally destroyed. And finally the VJ and MUP forces and their support facilities were hit including the Belgrade training centre located south east of the city (next NATO Map)..
And that concludes my portion of the briefing. Thank you very much.
Question: Your response to reports coming out of 23 passengers being killed in a bus, allegedly hit by NATO?
Colonel Freytag: I don't have any evidence of this kind of accident, but we will check that and I will come back on that tomorrow.
Question: Have you seen the reports?
Colonel Freytag: No, I have not seen this report but I have seen two other reports on a bridge attack and also do not have the evidence of that and I will come back to you on that tomorrow during my briefing.
Question: The German news magazine, Der Spiegel, will come out with an interview of Secretary General Solana this Monday saying that NATO is quite close to an end of its air campaign and very successful. This contradicts anything we have heard these last weeks from the US Defence Ministry.
Is it just a different opinion or has NATO split into two different factions?
Peter Daniel: I think your interpretation of the Secretary General's remarks, which I have also seen in English wire reports, as what the Secretary General was saying is that we are now in the most intensive phase of the air campaign, that means we are operating 24 hours on 24, 7 days on 7, in all of the territory of the FRY and that this will continue, it is the most intensive phase of the campaign and it will continue as long as it takes for Mr Milosevic to accept the conditions that the international community have put down for an end to the conflict. There is nothing different in what the Secretary General said than what we have been saying, other countries have been saying, and what we said last weekend, just a week ago, in Washington.
Craig Whitney, New York Times: Yesterday it was said that in the previous 24 hours there had been around 600 strikes. Was that the case today, you didn't mention any number today? And can you also tell me whether the weather is continuing to allow that level of strikes today and tomorrow?
Colonel Freytag: The weather is much better for our operation right now, we have improvements in that case. I think we did not say yesterday that we had 600 strikes but we flew 600 sorties, that is something different.
Craig: Will it be the same level today?
Colonel Freytag: Yes, it is about the same level today.
Question: The OSCE is reporting shelling of an Albanian village today. Does that constitute an attack on Albania and is NATO going to respond? And if not, does NATO in fact have any means to respond in any other way than NATO is already doing by airstrikes?
Peter Daniel: I heard those reports just as I was coming here into the room, as a matter of fact it was part of the reason for the delay, we were trying to find out exactly what was occurring and I have no confirmation or detail of what is actually happening but there are reports of shelling across the border into Albania in the Kukes area. There has, as most of you know, been this type of activity sporadically a couple of weeks ago and it did cease, and I would just say that if these reports turn out to be what we know up till now, we would hope that this would stop as quickly as possible.
Question: Colonel Freytag, can you give us some appraisal of the situation with the serving ground forces, how much armour is left, how much has been knocked out? Also, where is the 252nd Mechanised Brigade located?
Colonel Freytag: There you hit me. I cannot give you this precise figure but my people might be able, so you will get an answer where the headquarters of that is. And I cannot provide you with figures, neither in percentage nor in sheer numbers, on the amount of tanks we have hit.
Jake Lynch, Sky News: How far have NATO military commanders got in reassessing NATO's plans for a ground invasion of Kosovo, as they were asked to do by the Washington summit, and when might that reassessment be ready to be presented as advice to political leaders?
Peter Daniel: There are no plans, and I think this has been said before from this podium a number of times, for the use of ground troops. We believe that the air campaign as we are conducting it now, as I think I told you a few moments ago, is in its most intensive phase and will continue at that pace for as long as is necessary. We believe that that will bring Mr Milosevic to his senses, where he will finally look at seriously the conditions of the international community and respond more positively than he has up until now.
Jake Lynch: Does that mean that the task given by the Washington summit to military commanders to, I think the phrase was dust off, the plans that were drawn up last October and reassess them, has that task been shelved?
Peter Daniel: I think you are reading too much into it. Contingency planning is a normal occupation in this organisation and has been, I was here 20 years ago and I recall at that time there was contingency planning of one kind or another and I think you are reading too much into it, you are reading it back to me as if this is about to be an order that is given and anything could be further from what is actually happening. There is no plan for ground troops. We believe the air campaign will be successful in bringing Mr Milosevic to reality and addressing positively the conditions that we have put down.
Sunday Times: Can you tell us, Peter, what the latest situation on the thinking of the enforcement of the oil embargo is? There are reports today that the decision you are coming to is that you will not seek to search any tanker that does not belong to a nation taking part in the oil embargo. And Colonel Freytag, you have shown us a lot of videos during this campaign of airstrikes, you have also said all along that you have been hitting tanks. We have never seen a video, as far as I am aware, of a tank being hit. Are you going to make those available? Do they exist? And can you give any idea of how many tanks you have actually hit in Kosovo?
Colonel Freytag: How many tanks, I have already answered to your colleague that I am not in a position to release numbers. But when you were at the meeting 2 days ago, you can check with the internet, we released a video where we hit tanks.
Peter Daniel: On the oil embargo, the search and visitation regime, there is a discussion among the military authorities that is not yet complete and when that discussion reaches a decision, as you know decisions here are taken among all 19 nations, when there is a decision that decision will be forwarded for consideration in the appropriate political forum. That has not yet happened. As far as oil goes, the EU, as you know, embargo went into force, is in force today, and not only are the 15 European Union countries taking part, but most other European countries are also a part of that along with the United States and Canada. The embargo is already biting, this will bite. His fuel reserves I think as you have heard in various briefings are quite low and refining capacity is non-existent, operating refining capacity in the FRY is non-existent, which means that import would involve refined products and the ones that are the most valuable are of course diesel and gasoline and you can't move those around in the same way as you move crude oil.
Question: If refining capacity is non-existent, why do you keep hitting the Novi Sad refinery?
Peter Daniel: I think we have often told you that in this air campaign it is a race between disruption and reconstruction and that is one way to make sure there will be no refining capacity in the FRY.
Colonel Freytag: And may I add to this? I showed you an air picture of Novi Sad refinery, it is a huge complex and we have done careful strikes to certain parts of it. That is it.
Question: One political question, do you have any reaction or is there any reaction from NATO officially on the meeting between Chernomyrdin and Milosevic? And from the military point of view, do you have any indication how is the situation with internally displaced persons in Kosovo?
Colonel Freytag: The latter is not a military question. Yes we see increasing numbers of internally displaced persons and we see some convoys going into Kosovo from humanitarian organisations to help to distribute some food and water. But that is all I have for you.
Peter Daniel: On your first question, I think we addressed that last night, and I did again this morning, that we are of course encouraging any effort to reach a peaceful settlement, but from the public statements that we have seen, in particular the 7 point plan that was put forward yesterday from the Yugoslav side, we have seen nothing that is worthy of consideration, it does not come anywhere close to meeting the 5 conditions that the international community has put down for an end to this conflict. But of course we continue to encourage diplomatic efforts because we would like nothing better than to have a peaceful solution to this conflict, but not at any price or on any terms.
Question: I would like to go back to the question of the ground forces. I think you sort of danced around that. I understand ground forces are not going to be sent soon, but the question was, and I would like you to answer that, how is the contingency planning going? Will you be able to give something to President Clinton next week on this issue, even if it is contingency planning?
Peter Daniel: I wouldn't think so, and I am not prepared to go into the detail of what would be involved, that is the particulars, of a contingency plan. But I can tell you again that there are no plans to introduce ground forces into this conflict. Where ground forces would be introduced, I think you are perfectly aware, is under the 5 points that we are asking Mr Milosevic to consider and to accept and ground forces would be there to provide security and a peaceful environment for the hundreds of thousands of people that have been thrown out of the country, and more of them as we speak.
Question: Dans l'interview de M. Solana avec Der Spiegel, je voudrais savoir quand il dit qu'il y a une phase finale veut-il dire qu'on est déjà à la phase 4 du plan militaire ?
Peter Daniel: Non, je crois que j'ai expliqué tout à l'heure que la phase finale peut durer un certain temps et la phase finale c'est que maintenant on a une campagne aérienne qui est très robuste qui est 24 heures sur vingt quatre, sept jours sur sept et nous ciblons tout le territoire de la république fédérale de la Yougoslavie et c'est un campagne intense, qui n'arrêtera pas et qui va continuer jusqu'au moment où M. Milosevic accepte les conditions, que je crois que vous connaissez bien, de la communauté internationale pour une fin à ce conflit.
Same Questioner: On est toujours en phase 2 ou on l'a quitté déjà ?
Peter Daniel: On n'a pas quitté la phase 2.
Question: Dans la mesure où les témoignages de massacres se multiplient au Kosovo, quelle est votre politique concernant l'UCK? Puisque ce sont en fait les seules forces terrestres actuellement au Kosovo, pourquoi est-ce que vous continuez a ne pas les aider ?
Peter Daniel: Je crois comme vous savez l'OTAN comme telle n'a pas de relations avec l'UCK. Certains pays ont probablement des relations ou des contacts informels avec l'UCK mais l'OTAN comme telle a comme politique, je crois qu'on vous l'a dit déjà, aucun contact avec l'UCK.
Same Questioner: C'est un choix qui s'explique comment?
Peter Daniel: Je crois que l'OTAN comme organisation doit prendre une decision dans son ensemble sur une telle question et il n' a pas été demandé qu'une telle décision soit prise et nous n'avons pas de relations avec l'UCK. L'UCK vous savez a des relations avec certains pays de l'OTAN mais ça s'arrête là.
Question: Si vous pouvez faire le commentaire sur la declaration hier de Mme Mary Robinson, qui est le représentant special des droits de l'homme des Nations Unies qui .....fortement l'OTAN, disant que le bombardement de la yougoslavie a provoqué un grand nombre de civils tués et en plus apprécie toutes les trois parties, les paramilitaires et les forces serbes, les groupes armés albanais l'UCK et aussi l'OTAN pourrait aussi être accusé de .......devant le tribunal international à La Haye.
Peter Daniel: Nous respectons beaucoup Mme Robinson et nous espérons parce que je crois qu'elle va faire un voyage à Belgrade, que quand elle sera là, qu'elle présentera les cinq conditions de la communauté internationale à M. Milosevic pour un arrêt des combats qui amènera la paix dans la région et qui permettra à des centaines de milliers de personnes soit de retourner chez elles, qui ont été déportées et qui continuent à être déportées même aujourd'hui et qui va permettre aussi des gens qui sont deplacés à l'intérieur du Kosovo, certains d'entres eux dans les collines dans des conditions qui sont loin d'être idéales, de retourner chez eux dans leurs villages. J'espère que quand Mme Robinson sera à Belgrade, elle fera part à M. Milosevic de la situation qui existe dans son pays et dans les pays limitrophes, une situation qui a été causée entièrement par lui.
Question (Spanish National Radio): Don't you think that with the petrol embargo on Montenegro and the recent damage inflicted there the population could turn against Djukanovic in the way Milosevic wants and then push down from power?
Peter Daniel: I can't comment on local politics in a country other than my own and even there I think I'm limited in my current position but I think you will appreciate that in the case of Montenegro there have been attacks not in the last day but previously a couple of days ago and I think we have gone to great lengths to make it clear that these attacks were strictly on military targets that allowed the Yugoslav military machine to operate and to continue and support the kinds of things that they are doing vis-à-vis the Kosovo population. We have been extremely careful in targeting only those facilities that are helping fuel the military machine in Kosovo and as you know, the Yugoslav Army can re-supply itself from various parts of its territory and that is the reason why we target facilities in Montenegro.
Question: On the oil embargo, what is NATO's response to the Montenegran pleas to take into consideration its own needs, are you considering modifying any plans? General Freytag, you spoke of desertions of Yugoslav soldiers, can you tell us what kind of evidence you have to back that up and are we talking about Montenegran soldiers who have made it quite clear that many of them don't want to serve or do you have evidence of Serb soldiers deserting too?
Peter Daniel: You are assuming that the oil embargo is a decision that we have taken and I think a few moments ago I told you that that decision had not been taken, there is still a discussion among the military authorities which will then, when there is a decision, be forwarded to the appropriate political forum for discussion so that issue is not something that I can comment on right now but we as NATO, our countries as members of the European Community and the others that are non-members which have joined the European Community action, are involved in that oil embargo which is a matter that has been directed by the European Community but as to our action, as I told you there is no decision as yet.
Colonel Freytag: On the desertions, as I said in my briefing, we have some confirmed and some non-confirmed reports about desertions. What we see from those deserters, the first deserters came from Kosovo because there are also Kosovans in the Serbian Army; then we saw more coming from the Vojvodina with Hungarian background for instance, but we also have reports of Serbian soldiers deserting. But as I said with all caution, some reports are confirmed, some are not. We have our intelligence and that is why I cannot elaborate too much about that.
But can I add here the answer to the question of where the 52nd Mechanised Brigade is located. It is operating in southern Kosovo and its mobile headquarters is at the Subereka (phon) highway area; where it's peace-time headquarters is I have to find out and I'll have the answer tomorrow.
Pierre Bénaset, Radio France: Une double question si vous permettez. Avez-vous des informations sur des rapports de ce matin à propos d'un missile qui a raté sa cible vers un hôpital à Pancevo, la ville où il y a un complexe petro-chimique alors que depuis six semaines vous nous parlez de la précision des frappes. De plus en plus on a l'impression que ces missiles de précision ratent leurs cibles, vont en Bulgarie quand les radars ne sont pas accrochés, se perdent un peu dans la nature. Est-ce que vous pouvez faire des commentaires là-dessus.
Colonel Freytag: I am not ready to answer that in French but when we talk about this missile incident, the missile was fired over the air space of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and by a technical error it landed in Sofia. There are no reports about anything in Pancevo but I read that media report and we have checked it but there is no verification of that.
Mr. Jonsonn (Norwegian Radio): You said something about an increasing amount of convoys with humanitarian aid inside Kosovo. Could you give us some more information on that, please?
Colonel Freytag: I have only the information that they come from Greece and are a humanitarian organisation.
Mr. Jonsonn: Does NATO have any attitude to this kind of humanitarian aid coming into the area from Greece, is that a positive action?
Colonel Freytag: I cannot speak here for the NATO position but from the military point of view we watch this very carefully because we do not want to target those convoys so we would appreciate any information we can get from the convoy planners so that we are able to identify them and their routes and talks about this co-ordination process are ongoing.
Peter Daniel: And I would say from our side that we of course would encourage any humanitarian aid that could reach people in Kosovo. There have been, as you know, some efforts on the part of some non-governmental organisations talking to the Yugoslav authorities, trying to see if they cannot arrange delivery of humanitarian aid to the people in Kosovo but other than this Greek NGO we are unaware that any other organisation has met with success in getting permission to make deliveries to the IDPs.
Question: Colonel Freytag, on the question of tanks, you've represented that you are not in a position to reveal the numbers on those. The number of aircraft that have been shot down has been revealed and I wondered if you could explain to us beyond saying that we don't to give a gift to the enemy what the rationale is behind that because certainly the Serb forces know what they've lost and more to the point, they know what they have left so how does this compromise NATO in any way?
Secondly, regarding the morale of the troops, NATO officials out of the United States in Washington have represented in a number of reports that contrary to what NATO has said, the air campaign has unified the Serb forces and that morale is far from low, in fact it has increased. Could you square and reconcile those two different versions coming out of the same organisation?
Colonel Freytag: If I understood your question correctly, you were quoting American sources and here we are at NATO so I cannot square that circle, you must square it but I can give you an answer on a question that was asked yesterday which was: Why don't you release tank figures while you have released air force figures? We have not released figures about aircraft.
Question (inaudibl but regarding SACEUR releasing the figures)
Colonel Freytag: No, SACEUR did not release them. I saw the press reports, yes, but we did not release the figures and I cannot have an answer different to the one I gave twenty minutes earlier on the tanks.
Same Questioner: But the Serbs know what they lost and know what they still have and how would revealing to us what has been degraded and destroyed in any way aid the Serbs who know exactly what they have lost and more the point, what they have left?
Colonel Freytag: I can only say at this moment that I have to live with this unsatisfactory answer that I have given to you.
Question (NTV Turkey): We have reports coming from Kosovo saying that Yugoslav forces are using Albanian manpower forcibly for mining and some position digging activities. What does you intelligence say about the extent of that activity in Kosovo?
Colonel Freytag: I don't have any information on this.
Peter Daniel: I have seen those same reports that you are referring to and I can tell you that internally I have seen nothing on that subject up until now.
Question: Slobodan Milosevic has spent a good deal of time in the last 48 hours or so talking to a couple of different Western media outlets including UPI and the Washington Times, in two separate interviews he has said "that his troops are not angels" and I am wondering what your reaction to that is. Also that the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo has been caused not only by NATO bombs but also by rogue paramilitary forces some of whom have been punished, he says, and finally in his interview with the Washington Times he said - for the first time I believe - that a lightly-armed force could be allowed into Kosovo after a political settlement is reached. Your reaction to those two interviews.
Peter Daniel: A lot of the things that I saw basically was Mr. Milosevic acknowledging that there were some bad people in his operation that had done some bad things to some other people and I think that probably could qualify Mr. Milosevic and put him in contention for getting the title for the understatement in these last days of the millennium.
I have seen nothing on the second matter that you have suggested to us but certainly will be looking at that, that somehow did not get any prominence and did not come to our attention so I cannot comment on that but I will say again there are five conditions that we put down for an end to the conflict and it starts with stopping the shooting and the killing, withdrawing the forces, allowing an international military presence on the territory of Kosovo so that peace and security can be established so that the refugees now numbered in the hundreds of thousands both outside and internally-displaced inside, can start going back and rebuilding something approaching a normal life and of course, the political part has to come after that condition has been established on the ground.
Question (Los Angeles Times): Have any of the Apache helicopters that have been deployed to Albania been involved in this intensified air attack and if not, what is holding up their use?
Peter Daniel: The answer is a short "No". As to what is holding up their conversion from deployment to action, they are undergoing a period of training and familiarisation, establishment of the base and all the things that go with settling them in and when a satisfactory end to that process is reached, there will be a decision from the commanders that they are ready to be used.
Same Questioner: What do you expect to be the length of time before they are operational?
Peter Daniel: I can't give you that answer, I don't know.
Question: Could we find any example of how refugees in Kosovo have been helped by the bombing that has been carried out for the last five weeks? Is there anything, any example that we can say: "Here's a village that wasn't burned out because we were bombing Belgrade!" or "Here are some people who didn't starve because we were bombing Valvadina!" ? I don't quite see the connection here between the bombing we're doing all over and the suffering of the refugees in Kosovo. Where is the connection?
Peter Daniel: If we don't bring this conflict to an end by making Mr. Milosevic realise that he has to face reality and meet the terms set down by the international community, nothing is going to happen for the refugees, they will continue to be pushed out as they were well before bombing began. The only way to end this conflict and get those people home, get those villages reconstructed and bring some kind of normality to Kosovo, is for Mr. Milosevic to start addressing in a positive way the five conditions that the international community have put down for an end to the conflict and we hope that happens, the sooner the better.
Question (Portuguese TV): The Secretary General told us the other day that among the countries in the area nobody was for a change of borders so Kosovo would remain, as the European leaders said, as part of Yugoslavia. We know that some members of NATO have a very close relationship with the UCK. The UCK is not exactly like Mr. Milosevic said, i.e. angels, the past has been very hard for this organisation especially in the '80s. Isn't it is a danger for NATO in the post-crisis to have some members who have such a relationship with this kind movement that really wants something else than keeping the borders?
Peter Daniel: The UCK is not something natural that just started to grow on a tree one day. There is a reason for the UCK and I would suggest that that the person most responsible for the UCK becoming active is Mr. Milosevic himself and that the sooner he comes back and addresses the conditions that we put down for an end to this conflict - and as you know, in the Rambouillet accord the UCK was also a party that had to respect certain conditions in the aftermath - the sooner we can get to a situation where a UCK won't be needed because Kosovo will be secure under an international military presence, the people can return to their homes and there will be no need for a guerrilla army.
Same Questioner: Can you imagine that the UCK will give up the weapons that nowadays they get from some countries?
Peter Daniel: Remove the conditions of where the weapons are needed and then you are talking about another set of circumstances and I believe that if there is no need for an opposition that you will see that conditions will return to normal and only return to normal after the conditions of the international community are addressed by Mr. Milosevic. We keep repeating this and I can tell you it's not just some bureaucratic or political fixation. These conditions respond to reality on the ground, they are logical, they respond to an objective, an objective to bring back peace and a normal situation in the province of Kosovo and that these refugees - and I think you have seen right on this stage yesterday afternoon Mr. Schala - and hundreds of refugees that have been interviewed in the camps, when they were asked if they would go back under the conditions that exist they universally said no and when they are asked what is required they have in various ways expressed that some international military presence with NATO at its core and this would be required to encourage these hundreds of thousands of people to start going home and make that territory, that province, a normal place to live again for them as it was for many years before Mr. Milosevic disturbed the balance.
Question: Colonel, a follow-up to the very first question. In view of the seriousness of the allegations in these reports out of Yugoslavia, can we get something on this allegation of the 23 killed in a bus during a NATO raid on a bridge in Kosovo before tomorrow, before 24 hours?
Colonel Freytag: I will try my best.
Question: Could you clarify whether you are able to confirm that a bridge in Kosovo on the Pristina-Produjeva highway was hit by NATO?
Colonel Freytag: No. I have conflicting reports on this and that is why I have to go back to my headquarters to find out what the truth is.
Question: In your opening statement, Colonel, you mentioned heavy fighting between the KLA and Serbian forces. Is this the heaviest clash since March 24, how would you put that in some kind of perspective and how do we know about that fighting?
Colonel Freytag: It is heavier than it was the day before and that's why it was worth mentioning but I cannot qualify it on some days as high, on some days as low but you might recall that in the early days we had a front where the UCK could do operations all along and that force was heavily defeated and then they were doing hit-and-run tactics which shows that they had suffered severe losses and then they could re-activate and that is what they did and yesterday during the last 24 hours it was significant and that's why it was worth mentioning.
May I add here something we owe you from yesterday. You were asking about the ferro-nickel plant and why did we hit the ferro-nickel plant at Pristina, it was referring to raw materials. That was not the reason why we hit this. The ferro-nickel plant at Pristina is a very large facility at present not functionally producing ferro-nickel products but for that reason it was a very large staging area for MUP forces and for the Serb Army and we have exactly struck this part of this facility.
Peter Daniel: Jamie will be back tomorrow at his regular times, the small session in the morning and again at 3 o'clock tomorrow. Thank you!