|NATO MILITARY BRIEFING|
April 3, 1999
NATO Spokesman Jamie Shea and Air Commodore David Welby brief the press on the latest military and political developments.
JAMIE SHEA, NATO Spokesman: Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon to you all, welcome to NATO Headquarters, for today's update on NATO action in dealing with the Kosovo crisis. I will begin today briefly and then, as always, hand over to David for the military operational update. Thereafter, as always, we will be happy to take your questions.
The focus of the Alliance this morning is still very, very much on the demographic earthquake that we are experiencing in and around Kosovo. Yesterday 130,000 refugees were added to the list of those leaving Kosovo into neighbouring countries, this brings to a total of 765,000 the number of displaced people since the current upsurge in fighting in March of last year. In fact over the past ten days about 290,000 people have been forcibly expelled from Kosovo.
Yesterday 55,000 entered Albania, 55,000 entered the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, only towards Montenegro was the flow somewhat reduced, only 1,000 refugees entered Montenegro yesterday. We currently estimate that between 200,000 and 300,000 people are moving towards the borders seeking refuge in the neighbouring countries. In fact if you wanted to do a "back of the envelope" mathematical calculation, at this rate the Serb security forces would have more or less emptied Kosovo in between 10 to 20 days from now.
Now NATO is obviously extremely concerned, even that would be an understatement, by the proportions of this refugee and humanitarian crisis. The Secretary General spoke in the middle of the night to President Gligorov of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, assuring him that NATO is going to do all in its power to assist that country to meet the challenge of being able to provide and care for so many refugees has been speaking to the Prime Minister of Albania earlier today. He has also been on the telephone to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, and also to Madame Ogata the Head of the UNHCR in Geneva.
We have sent now a Military Liaison Team to the UNHCR in Geneva to supplement the Civilian NATO Tem that is already there, and to help coordinate the cooperation, the effort of NATO to help the UNHCR, and today the North Atlantic Council meeting here has taken two further decisions with immediate effect. Firstly, the Council has directed the Head of the NATO Forces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Lt.General Sir Michael Jackson, to direct his forces to assist the Government and the relief organisations to cope with the inflow of refugees.
In other words, all of these NATO forces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have now been put under the operational control of General Jackson and he has full authority from NATO to use those forces in any way he likes to assist with the refugee crisis. He is already providing infrastructure for the three camps that are being set up in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He has also set up a feeding station for refugees near the border at Brasda. And he has reported to us this morning that the urgent requirement is for about one million ready-to-eat military meals, blankets for 187,000 and 200,000 litres of water. And many NATO countries are now in the process of delivering that aid through setting up a humanitarian air bridge into Skopje.
Also today, the Council has asked the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Clark, to establish immediately a forward Headquarters in Albania, to help provide direct military support to the Albanian Government and to the relief organisations operating at the border in Northern Albania. We are looking at using one of our CJTFs as we say in the NATO jargon one of our Combined Joint Task Forces, in other words, one of our permanently mobilisable tri-service headquarters to be able to take on this task.
At the same time we are looking at the deployment of helicopters in Albania under the direction of the this forward Headquarters to shuttle aid from Tirana up to Kukes in the North where there are apparently now 80,000 refugees and to back-shuttle refugees out of Kukes down towards Tirana and other areas of Albania. We are also looking at a concept of operations for a NATO deployment in Albania to provide direct military assistance to the international relief organisations and the Albanian Government, but this is a concept of operations. I anticipate decisions will be taken in the very near future but we are still at the planning stage for such a NATO emergency force.
The task of NATO military help in both the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania is, or could include the assistance with transport and the transportation of supplies directly to the refugees. The construction of refugee camps, the management and the coordination of the national contribution to the Allies and air traffic control and airport and port logistics to ensure the rapid unloading and throughput of aid supplies directly to those that obviously need them.
This afternoon we are in contact with other international institutions that have a responsibility in this area, such as the European Union, the Western European Union, UNHCR to see how we can best coordinate our respective efforts, but as you can see NATO is mobilising all of its resources behind this urgent requirement.
I would like, if I may, before handing over to David, to just make one final comment. The Spanish Government, this morning, through the Spanish Ambassador to NATO, informed the Council that two journalists of Spanish television, had been detained by the Serb armed forces while they were gathering information on a refugee crisis on the border between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Yugoslavia. Spain has stepped up diplomatic efforts to have these two individuals released, and we very much hope to have news very soon that they have been released.
Thank you, I will now ask Air Commodore Wilby to give you the military update. David please.
|The military update.|
AIR COMMODORE DAVID WILBY: Thank you Jamie, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
President Milosovic has driven the mass deportation of the people of Kosovo. He has engineered a calculated humanitarian catastrophe in an effort to destabilise the neighbouring governments of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania while simultaneously conducting massive ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. These are crisis designed and manufactured in Belgrade. NATO authorities, in conjunction with the United Nations and other international agencies are taking all possible measures to avert humanitarian tragedy and assist the Governments and the people of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania.
In Kosovo ground operations by Serbian military and police forces continued in the Malisevo and the Orahovac area against isolated pockets of UCK resistance. In other areas small enclaves of UCK still remain. Two infamous paramilitary units with proven record of brutality, namely Arkan's Tigers and the White Eagles, are active in the area shown and continue to loot and terrorise.
The human catastrophe continues to grow with several hundred thousand refugees trying to enter Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia. In Macedonia the problem is particularly acute where the FYROM Government has been overwhelmed with the flow of refugees. Some 120,000 have already entered the country with 200,000 to 300,000 en route.
NATO nations are already providing aid in the form of tents, medical support and water and further aid is being prepared. Elements of the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps have taken the initiative to help and process this distressing wave of humanity that is flowing into the country. NATO forces will also vacate barracks bases to make room for refugees without shelter. This is being achieved without any major distraction from their primary military mission. Plans are being evolved to deal with the urgent flow of logistic aid that is being generously provided by many helpful and caring nations.
Clearly it was the terrorism of the FRY military and police forces that caused this wave of deported human unhappiness. Not the bombing by NATO, but now, NATO will do everything possible to alleviate the misery and suffering of these unfortunate refugees.
There is also a risk of a crisis in Montenegro where there is growing evidence that President Milosevic may be planning a coup against the existing, legitimate government.
Turning to our air operations, unfortunately, the weather improvement in the Balkans area has not yet materialised and we were hampered in our efforts to mount operations by manned aircraft. Despite my remarks earlier in the campaign, it seems that the weather has proved to be a temporary ally of President Milosevic. Yesterday produced our worst conditions yet with cloud cover up to 30,000 feet. However, forecasts predict that the weather is likely to be a fickle friend and we are looking forward to improved conditions very soon. I can assure you that we will take full advantage of any improvement.
Yesterday's attacks by manned aircraft and cruise missiles were launched against these target areas. Manned aircraft did release weapons against staging areas, shown here. This area was known to contain Serbian armour elements of the 459th Mechanised Brigade, and we can confirm that our attacks were very effective and terminated artillery fire from those units. However, bad weather prevented other aircraft from attacking their targets. There were other attacks on a variety of targets including some important early warning radar units.
In particular, we struck two targets in Belgrade last night. The Serbian, and the Federal MUP Headquarters. As you will have seen in the media, and as shown in the images on this slide, once again courtesy of Serbian television, our attack went well. I would also like to highlight, in keeping with our stated aim of minimizing collateral damage, that Serbian television is reporting that there were no injuries in these attacks. However, this was not our first attack on Belgrade. Two nights ago, we very precisely struck at the heart of Serbian operations. We successfully hit the Belgrade Army Headquarters, home of the Elite Special Unit Corps. Whilst I cannot release sourced imagery of our assessment process, I can assure you we were most effective.
On completion of their attacks yesterday, all of our aircraft returned safely and we did not claim any Serbian aircraft airborne losses.
I do have some cockpit imagery of recent attacks to show you:
The first is an army and MUP Headquarters building and you will see, if you look carefully, at the building to the left of the marked target, that we have hit elements of this facility before.
The second is a highway bridge across the Danube that provided an alternative crossing point to the Bridge that I showed you yesterday. It is, once again, a line of communication target over which vital supplies for Serbian military and MUP units pass, or passed. Again, you will note the absolute precision of our attack from the front of the weapon.
The final shot is of an attack against a major FRY intelligence facility that supported the command authority. By destroying it, we have degraded the Federal Government's intelligence collection capability, a mechanism which has been, and is being, used to focus the oppression on the Kosovar Albanian population.
In summary, NATO forces have increased the scope of the air attacks FRY military and security force targets to include some of strategic value and will continue the systematic, well-planned and precisely and effectively executed air campaign.
Our military activities are aimed at further degrading President Milosevic's means to conduct aggressive and oppressive military and special police force activities against a civilian population for a long time. For those forces of repression, there is no sanctuary.
BBC: The attack on the Special Police Headquarters. There are many people saying that the Special Police Headquarters were effectively non-functioning, that they were emptied of their command functions. Now one can assume, I guess, that knowing it's high on the target list that certainly a lot of things have been removed. So what was the military value? How much do you think this actually degraded their forces in the field by hitting those targets?
And could I extend that to other targets where there are reports that the Serbian forces have removed themselves from the obvious places and so that sometimes you have been hitting empty buildings. And could I ask Jamie, because this could be a more political idea, that you've had now ten nights of manned aircraft operations very badly affected by weather. Are there any concerns about loosening the limitations either on the heights Allied pilots can fly, or the collateral damage risk. Are you going to take more risk to ensure that you can at least drop weapons?
Air Commodore Wilby: Let me take the first part of that question which is of course a very well put question, and one that it is not easy to answer. If you assume that everyone had moved out of every building, you would never attack anything. So I think the main point is that we have moved our thinking process and our striking process up to the heart of the matter and we have shown that we can prosecute our attacks right in the heart, in the nerve centre, where all this began.
Jamie Shea: Mark, on your question where again David may have a more professional judgement than mine, but I think the main factor hampering us has been, as David has said, extremely low cloud, and therefore even if pilots flew much lower they would still be hampered by cloud which has been very think but that's going to change. The bad weather is not going to stay forever, we hope for an improvement over the next few days and therefore, even by keeping to the same tactics as we are following at the moment we should have a much greater degree of penetration and effectiveness.
Secondly, as you've seen we're bringing in a lot of extra aircraft. Extra Stealths, doubling the number that are going to be available to us as well as other types of aircraft that have a better improved all-weather capability, and again I think that this will show in the next few days that we're able to intensify our operations.
Finally, the weather has not been a paralysing factor. As David has mentioned it has been an inhibiting factor but we have still been able to fly 24 hours around the clock. We've still been able to hit targets, including, as we've demonstrated, ground targets in Kosovo. But the injunction to avoid collateral damage, to avoid needless avoidable damage to civilians, I don't believe NATO will ever change. No.
David, you perhaps have got a more professional answer than mine though to give on that one.
Air Commodore Wilby: I think I have tried to explain to you this week that this has been a very adaptive and innovative air campaign. There has been a lot of thinking, this is a very complex and it's a very dynamic scenario and we are adapting our tactics continually to try and meet the situation and I am sure that if things continue then we will continue to adapt those tactics.
Jamie Shea: OK. Patricia, you had your hand up. Next.
Patricia Kelly, CNN: Jamie, has the military advised NATO Ambassadors that air power alone cannot solve this crisis and there is a need for ground intervention? And can you tell us if the Ambassadors have discussed this at all during any of their meetings.
Jamie Shea: No, I've been at all the meetings, Patricia, and the military advice consistently from the Chairman of the Military Committee and from SACEUR has been that air power will be effective, provided that it is given long enough in order to make a telling effect. It's a snowball affair - a snowball begins in a small way but as it goes down the mountain it picks up more and more momentum and eventually it becomes a very large and highly irresistible object and I think we are seeing the same. This air campaign is having a cumulative effect and there will come a moment when the pressure simply reaches breaking point for President Milosovic and his military and at that moment we will have the success that we have been looking for and we're hoping that that moment, that breaking point moment is not too far away.
But we are now closing in increasingly on the type of targets which are those best suited to dry up, if I can put it that way, the activities of the Yugoslav army in Kosovo. For example, fuel shortages, ammunition shortages, lines of communication being taken out, hampering movement, for instance, communications, command and control. Those type of things. So air power will be effective but it takes time.
By the way, ground troops are not a panacea either, they will take time to fine, to raise, to deploy in the theatre and we don't have that time quite frankly in order to do what we can to arrest the current humanitarian situation in Kosovo. So, no, the position of NATO stays the same, which is, we are prepared to deploy ground forces but in conjunction with a peace agreement.
You look as if you want a follow-up.
Patricia Kelly, CNN: Yes I do want a follow-up on that. You're saying that if the refugee outflow continues at the current rate, within ten to twenty days there won't be anybody left in Kosovo. So are you telling us that your air campaign has got only ten to twenty days to succeed.
Jamie Shea: I'm not going to make that assessment. But what I'm saying though is that we are intensifying the momentum of operations. I think we are seeing evidence of that now, particularly after last night's attacks, directly at Headquarters in Belgrade. We only need a couple of days' good weather, and that should be on the way, to be able to have a very major effect.
Let's go to Craig please.
New York Times: How many troops is it contemplated that NATO could send to Albania. I'm assuming that it's under consideration. It's probably going to happen. And is it true that the Italians have proposed leading a force of upwards of 6,000.
Jamie Shea: Craig, as I mentioned, I have to be cautious on figures for the simple reason that SACEUR is preparing on an urgent basis a concept of operations. I have seen a figure of six, maybe as high as eight, something in that ball-park, but again, I want to be cautious on this because everything depends on the concept that the Military Committee will put to the NATO Ambassadors in the next few hours.
The Italians have already taken an important role in deploying their San Marco Unit already in Albania to assist with some of the more immediate needs, but I mentioned yesterday that the Greeks also had forces there which are being redeployed as well. As to who would take the operational lead, let's wait and see how that turns out after the concept of operations is approved. But I think you are right in terms of the ball-park that we are looking at.
I think Pierre Lefevre of Le Soir had a question. Pierre, the microphone is coming.
Pierre Lefevre, Le Soir: Thank you. Could you confirm there is some thinking about a new version of the Rambouillet plan, something like a protectorate or things like that, with troops coming in Kosovo with refugees, even without a peace agreement with Belgrade?
Jamie Shea: I can't be specific on that at the moment Pierre, I've seen obviously some of the interesting background in articles in newspapers. Obviously I think our major goals at the moment are to end the violence in Kosovo, to make the Yugoslav forces pull back away from the civilian population and to have from Belgrade some kind of guarantee, better than what we have had up until now, that those forces are not going to be unleashed on Kosovo again. Rambouillet is still the text that is on the table. It still has the merit of having been signed by the Kosovar Albanians and if one looks at the goal of the international community, which is to give Kosovo a high degree of autonomy within the sovereign borders of Yugoslavia.
It is difficult to see what the alternative would be quite frankly because it is an extremely detailed, well thought through, very balanced document and, therefore, if we started negotiating on all of this we would probably come up with something very similar to what we have already, but given the gravity of the situation, obviously the challenge of today is to stop the violence and resolve the humanitarian crisis. It's to prevent the situation from becoming worse. Once we have arrested the deterioration we can then start looking at how we are going to move the process forward, and diplomats will obviously then come back fully into the picture, but I think we have to sort of deal with the business of today first and then pick up the business of tomorrow.
Gentleman there in the centre please.
Jamie Shea: David, do you want to take that one on?
Air Commodore Wilby: Well, I'll try and take it on but I probably won't give you the information that you're looking for. I've continually this week said that what I cannot give you is any percentage of our effectiveness because our operation is on-going at the moment. And the sort of information that you are asking me for is something which is very sensitive and it affects the tactics that we do and of course what we don't want to do is to let President Milosovic know exactly where we think we are in the battle. Suffice to say, as I have said, we are hitting him systematically. We are degrading, disrupting him. You have seen the results of our attacks. We are hitting him both in his air defence, we are hitting him in the air, in his early warning stations, his command and control facilities. We have hit very hard his logistic areas. You've seen ammunition plants being taken out. You've seen other storage facilities taken out. We have hit petrochemical areas and storage areas and we are now starting to hit him on the ground. I can assure you, we have put a lot of ordnance on target despite the weather, and we are moving very relentlessly towards the end.
Jamie Shea: Ok
Journalist: Air Commodore, when you hit last night buildings that apparently are empty, is the idea to prove Milosovic and the Government that you can as well hit him any time if you know exactly where it is. Is Milosovic nowadays a possible target to one of those effects.
Second question. On the Kosovo exodus of people, Jamie said that in ten/twenty days they will reach all the population being out. Will this make things easier for NATO then to strike on military targets that will be there. The 40,000 troops and tanks.
And a question for Jamie. European and American public opinions are more and more against, because we are here every day and there is nothing really coming out in terms of what is going on and we see refugees more and more. The drama of these people is going on. How can you keep going like this and keep European and American public opinions relatively quiet, not making governments go in difficulties like is now happening in France, Italy, Greece and probably Czech Republic.
Air Commodore Wilby: Let me try and answer the first parts of your question. First of all you can never be one hundred per cent sure that buildings are empty and for certain the building struck earlier this week was not empty when we struck it.
Yes, we can demonstrate that we can hit right into the heartland and we are prepared to hit into the heartland and to go on hitting right into the heartland where it's going to hurt President Milosovic. As to targeting President Milosovic himself. That is not the business that we are in.
In terms of your second part of your question. Please don't think that we are delaying our air battle so that we wait for all the refugees to go out and then we'll go in and we don't have to worry about collateral damage. Our aim is to stop the suffering as quickly as we can. We want to get on and do the job now and we are trying to do that to the best of our ability.
Jamie Shea: Yes, the question directed at me.
Without NATO action those refugees would remain refugees for the rest of their lives. With NATO action they will have the chance to go home one day, and soon. That is the big difference. This is something - I've said this over many days, and I'll say it again - that is part of Milosovic's strategy. Two-thirds of the refugees, even today, that are currently in Albania, or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or even as far afield as Italy or Bulgaria or Turkey, were refugees before NATO dropped the first bomb. What we are seeing is not the first chapter but the final chapter. And only NATO, at the moment is able to stop that.
Now, regarding public opinion, I, looking at opinion polls, which I do quite regularly, believe that it's holding up behind us quite well. I've seen polls in recent days from most of the Allied countries which showed that the public is not wildly enthusiastic about this operation but largely support it. Now, I don't expect anybody to be enthusiastic about the use of military force in Europe today. We are not enthusiastic about the use of military force. We see it as a necessity which was imposed on us because every other means of trying to resolve this dispute through diplomacy has failed.
If we were enthusiastic about using force we would have done so probably at the beginning of this crisis, instead of waiting as long as we did, because we hoped that there could have been another solution. And I can assure you that nobody would be happier than I to stand down from this podium and not have to give another briefing because the crisis would have been finally resolved. But I think, looking at the images of all of these suffering people, public opinion is supporting us in trying to bring it to an end.
And I believe that is going to continue quite frankly. I think there is, as time has gone on, a greater belief among public opinion that President Milosovic is the type of person who has to be stopped quite frankly, because if he is not stopped who knows what might happen tomorrow elsewhere in that region and therefore, whereas again I don't expect to see 90 per cent in favour, I do believe that the majority will be behind us and stay behind us.
Question. Gentleman just behind.
Journalist: One question, as far as the humanitarian operation is concerned. The fact that some countries don't let NATO planes fly over their territory. Does it hamper the humanitarian operation.
Air Commodore Wilby: I don't think that hampers our operation at the moment.
Jamie Shea: It's not my experience that any country has refused NATO airspace for humanitarian relief of operations and I would not expect any country would do so.
Gentlemen. Doug and then the gentleman behind you.
Journalist: Two questions if I may. Jamie, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said this morning that he would expect Milosovic in the next three or four days to come up with some plan to salvage what he can from this and to present himself as a peace-maker. Does NATO plan to take Rambouillet off the table before Milosovic can accept it and try to maintain the status quo with a lot of people out of the province. And a question for Air Commodore Wilby. You said that despite the bad weather manned NATO aircraft were able to attack staging posts on three places on the ................... Road and to stop artillery fire. Could you give us details about which aircraft did this, how many, how and where that artillery fire was being directed.
Jamie Shea: Ok. Well Doug, clearly President Milosovic has shown that he is not the best person to govern Kosovo after the actions of the recent days. He has not carried out his duty to his own citizens. That's clear. And those citizens are going to have to have international protection before they will even contemplate to go back. It's clear that the presence in Kosovo of large numbers of Serb security forces such as we had before will deter people from going back and will intimidate people. So that security presence is something that the international community will have to look at very carefully indeed.
But as far as the long-term political objectives. They remain autonomy for Kosovo and as I said earlier the political provisions of the Rambouillet agreement are probably the most balanced and far-reading arrangement that we are likely to find even if we try to redesign it and therefore I think that Rambouillet, or at least the principles and the basic elements of Rambouillet are going to feature very strongly in the political framework as to when we get to it.
But, I would like to say that. I wouldn't like to say more on that, excuse me, for the time being, because that is the business of the Contact Group and of diplomats. Our business here in NATO immediately is to stop the violence first and foremost.
Gentleman with his hand up.
Air Commodore Wilby: Doug, let me try and answer your question.
First of all, let me say that as we briefed, the artillery fire is directed at the remaining pockets of resistance and against people who are still resisting in the areas. In terms of how we actually prosecute those attacks, I'm not going to tell you because I've said to you that we've been very innovative in what we've done. We've adapted our tactics and we believe that those tactics are beginning to work and show results. It would be wrong of me to tell you how we did that because our air crews have to daily go up in that airspace which is a very hostile airspace and carry out their attacks.
Jamie Shea: Ok. German tv please.
Journalist: I've heard you saying that you were preoccupied about the situation in Montenegro. Could we have a more detailed assessment of the situation there. How grave do you think the crisis is there and how probably is it that President Milosovic is taking further steps and more massive steps against the legitimate government there.
Jamie Shea: I will take this if I may, because this was a subject that was discussed by NATO Ambassadors this morning. All of the NATO countries are very deeply preoccupied by the situation in Montenegro, we interpret the replacement of eight generals as head of the second Montenegrian army the other day as a sign that Milosovic wants to consolidate his control over the security structures in Montenegro and we would react strongly to any attempt by Milosovic to destabilise or even replace the democratically elected government of President Djucanovic in Montenegro and we have noted Montenegro's desire right from the beginning to be neutral in this particular situation.
All I can say is that NATO is watching the situation very closely indeed. You've heard statements in the last few days by NATO leaders on this subject. I don't need to add to those, but I would like to specify that we are very closely watching for any movement of Serb military forces either within or towards Montenegro. But I don't want to say more on that subject for the time being.
Right I think we should go back to this side. The gentleman in the centre there please.
Stephen Bates, Observer: After seven or eight days of military activities do you have any sense that you may have miscalculated certainly in the number of refugees. Obviously refugees could be expected but on this scale do you think you underestimated the likelihood of that problem and as a consequence have been unprepared for it.
Jamie Shea: Well, it's always very difficult to anticipate in advance how dictators are going to brutalise their own population quite frankly. We knew fully well that there was a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Nobody could have guessed it could reach such proportions, but it's simply, as I said earlier Stephen, the final chapter of something that's been ongoing in Kosovo for the best part of a year and again come back to my point that even today still we had two-thirds of the population displaced before NATO began its military activities. If anything, the scale of what we have seen simply makes us all the more determined in the Alliance to react, and to stop this as rapidly as we can.
But, again, I think it's a little bit too easy to, which I'm not suggesting you're doing, but too easy to make claims that NATO, or anybody else was unprepared. The international relief organisations certainly did not anticipate that this was going to happen and President Milosovic is not the sort of democratic leader that goes before his Parliament and makes public statements as to what his policies are. We don't know. It's very difficult to guess when all of this is taking place inside the head of one man who has proved to be incalculable and unpredictable in the past. So no, I don't think the responsibility is on us for always predicting what's going to happen, the responsibility is on us for reacting to what happens when it happens and that is exactly what we are doing at the moment.
I'll go to the gentleman there please.
Journalist: Tape muffled....... that NATO is not in the business of targeting Milosovic does that mean that he's not a legitimate target now. That he's not a legitimate target at all. And Jamie if you could add your own remarks in French please.
Air Commodore Wilby: I think it would be almost impossible for us to pinpoint where President Milosovic was at any stage in the campaign so it is very difficult for us to prosecute any, or make any statements associated with that sort of targeting.
Mrs. Savage please, at the back.
Journalist: This day there was a lot of dispute about how accelerates this flow of refugees but Air Commodore, I think you would agree with me that in case of Serbia itself people are really targets because they cannot move, they cannot leave anyway. They are kind of refugees in it's own country. So what guarantees do you give to those people. Especially now when you will target Belgrade itself which is very highly civilised populated town. And do you think that today when we face the 50th Anniversary of NATO it is the way that NATO would show its credibility in front of the world.
Air Commodore Wilby: Let me try and answer that question Mrs. Savage. First of all, I don't think anyone would wish NATO to be celebrating its 50th birthday in this sort of manner. We would hope that we would have peace. Secondly, Belgrade is a lovely city, I've been there on several occasions and seen it and as we've said before, time and time again. Our action is not against the Yugoslav people, the Serbian people. It's not against people on the ground. And the whole of this campaign we have gone to great lengths to show you some of the processes that are associated with the targeting that we do.
We go to great lengths to identify specific parts, specific units, specific buildings, as you've seen from some of the film that I've shown you. Our aim is to not only identify those particular buildings but to make sure that around those buildings we do our calculations to make sure that the effects, the collateral damage that I've explained of our weapons, does not go further than necessary, and it doesn't intrude onto any of the civilian population. Once we've done that we then look at the sort of weapons that we use. We try and make sure that we use a specific weapon which is specialised and is the best possible weapon to use against that specific target.
And then we go back to the delivery platform and we make sure that the delivery platform that we are using, whether it is a missile or a manned aircraft, has the complete technical abilities to go through and to prosecute the target. And if it happens to be a manned platform then we make sure that we put limitations on those crews that they know very well that there are certain parameters that they have to achieve before they release their weapons.
So what I'm trying to say to you is that we go out of our way to make sure that we attack those areas which are putting particular pressure on President Milosovic and his military units and his special police units. We are not attacking the civilian population.
Jamie Shea: Mrs. Savage, if I could just add a word here. I know there are other questions, but again I would like to really stress we have no quarrel with the people of Yugoslavia. NATO has sympathy for the people of Yugoslavia. Ten years ago when the Berlin Wall came down, any economist looking at the map of Europe would have probably designated Yugoslavia as the country emerging in the post communist period which was most likely to rapidly catch up with the Western European mainstream. It was a wealthy country. People had private bank accounts, they went skiing in Austria and Switzerland, it was a very civilised country indeed and many people obviously went there on holiday and enjoyed it.
But look at it now after ten years. It's gone from being at the top of the league of the post-communist societies to being virtually at the bottom. Its GDP has fallen by about 50 per cent vis-a-vis 1989. The military budget has completely consumed virtually all of the domestic resources that its being produced. The Serbs and people in other parts of the former Yugoslavia have suffered terribly because of the policies of their government. I mean if there ever was a people that really has been let down by bad leadership its been Yugoslavia and we don't want this situation to happen.
We don't want Yugoslavia to be what it currently is, a prior state. We want to have a situation of stability in the Balkans so that we can bring Yugoslavia into the same democratic mainstream as virtually all of the other countries of Europe. And that's why Javier Solana, the Secretary General, has spoken of a partnership for prosperity in the region, and that includes your country as well, but we can't start even thinking of this until we end the current process of moving backwards into the 19th Century, but hopefully there will be a better perspective tomorrow, but I want to make it clear that our quarrel is with your Government, not with your people.
Journalist: I thank you for your explanation, but I have to insist on some details. If you've said that the military target was not one hundred per cent sure of the empty building of the Interior Ministry in Belgrade, are you trying to intimidate Belgrade population. Shooting that building 50 metres near a gynaecological centre in area of hospitals.
Air Commodore Wilby: I can assure you, we did our calculations very, very carefully, and very careful military decisions were taken before we prosecuted our attacks.
Jamie Shea: John, I think you wanted one and then I think we'll probably wrap it up for today.
LA Times: As you know, before Operation Allied Force started there were concerns that an attack in Kosovo might start a chain reaction on instability in the Balkans, and this morning we heard that - just right now we heard that NATO may send six to eight thousand troops to Albania, that it may be necessary to attack in Montenegro to preserve the government there. I'm wondering, is this the domino effect that some people were worried about and is NATO getting sucked in to being the Gendarme effectively for all governments in the region.
Jamie Shea: John, I don't think we have a plan at the moment to make the former Yugoslavia and the surrounding countries into a NATO protectorate but I think you can see the decisions today vis-a-vis the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania is a sign that we take the well-being of our Partners seriously. If you are a Partner at NATO that means something, and NATO doesn't abandon you in your hour of greatest need. That's absolutely clear. In fact we are determined that the tragedy of the former Yugoslavia should be limited outside Yugoslavia as much as possible and we are determined therefore to stabilise those two governments.
Having said that it's obviously the case to the extent that we can stabilise those areas we can limit the options that President Milosovic has and secondly by stabilising those governments we can create the conditions for the refugees themselves to be able to return to Kosovo at the earliest possible opportunity. But this is not something that we intend to try and handle alone. NATO is only one international organisation. The European Union, obviously is going to have a crucial role to play in economic stabilisation and economic reconstruction as well as humanitarian aid and its playing that role already, as you know.
Obviously we are going to have to look to the special skills of the humanitarian relief organisations that we ourselves do not have. The OSCE clearly is going to come back into the picture before too long with its work on human rights and elections and the rest, so I think that NATO is going to play its role, like in Bosnia in the long term stabilisation and reconstruction of this region which we want to address as soon as the Kosovo crisis has been ended but we will only be one of the actors on the stage.
If you want to talk about a protectorate for that area it shouldn't be a NATO protectorate, it should be an international protectorate involving all the resources of the international community.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention and thank you for coming. There will be a briefing tomorrow afternoon at three o'clock.