in Yugoslavia coverage
April 1, 1999:
April 1, 1999:
Secretary Cohen and General Henry Shelton
March 31, 1999:
John Warner provides an update on the situation.
March 31, 1999:
briefing on latest military actions.
March 29, 1999:
NATO's top commander, General
March 28, 1999:
F-117 Stealth fighter downed in Yugoslavia
Security Adviser Samuel Berger
March 24, 1999:
March 24, 1999:
Albright discusses the air strikes.
March 23, 1999:
NATO hope to achieve through air strikes?
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Complete NewsHour coverage of Europe
JAMIE SHEA, NATO Spokesman: Welcome to this afternoon's briefing. You
see a new face on the podium today. We are changing just a little the
format. And I'm very pleased to welcome Commander Fabrizio Martinti
of the Italian Navy, who is going to give you a briefing on NATO's assistance
to the humanitarian relief effort. But to reassure you, you are going
to have the usual military update immediately thereafter. And as you
can see, Air Commodore Wilby is waiting to do that. And then I will
be on hand with the two briefers, obviously to take your questions in
the usual fashion.
I'd just like to make just a few very brief points before I hand over
to Commander Martinti. The first thing is simply to inform you that
this morning the secretary general met with the foreign minister of
Germany, Mr. Oskar Fischer, for consultations obviously on the Kosovo
crisis. And Minister Fischer briefed the secretary general on the agenda
and anticipated results of the E.U. foreign ministers' meeting this
afternoon in Luxembourg
At the same time, the Council, when it met this morning, was busily
preparing for the exceptional meeting of NATO foreign ministers which
we are holding here on Monday. It will start in the morning at about
9:30, 10:00. I'll provide you with the details either this afternoon
or tomorrow. And it will go on until the early part of the afternoon.
And naturally there'll be the usual press conferences, both of the secretary
general and of ministers.
Today the Council discussed the Humanitarian situation. I won't comment
at length on this because we have a briefer who will be able to go into
this in greater detail than I can. I just wanted to stress, however,
that we are on the verge of launching Operation Allied Harbor; Allied
Harbor, our operation to provide military support to the international
relief effort in Albania
Today at SHAPE there is an initial logistics planning conference for
this operation, which I remind you involves the deployment of the Ace
mobile force land headquarters, together with an accompanying force
which we think will probably be around 8,000 troops. The numbers, of
course, will depend on the tasks and the statement of requirements,
but that's the sort of ballpark area that we're planning for. Fourteen
nations are participating in this initial planning conference. The force
generation should begin early next week. And we hope to be able to deploy
the Ace mobile force headquarters to Albania by the end of next week
with some lead companies.
At the same time, NATO countries continue to be active in Albania,
particularly in establishing a helicopter supply route between Tirana
and Kukes on the border. More helicopters have been provided by allies
this morning to that effort.
In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, our operations continue
to go well. The NATO enabling force has now established five camps for
refugees and displaced persons. The numbers that these camps are accommodating
now are 43,400. So a significant portion of the displaced-person population
in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is being looked after,
courtesy of NATO And the NATO soldiers have already distributed 87,000
food rations, together with building latrines and a field hospital,
providing drinking water and so on.
At the same time, we continue to coordinate our airlift arrangements
into both Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Tomorrow
at Ramstein in Germany there will be a special coordinating meeting
to again have the smoothest possible interface between civilian and
military traffic in the region.
I'd like to remind you that tomorrow afternoon the NATO ambassadors
and the secretary general will be receiving the foreign minister of
the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for a special 19-plus-1 consultation
on the situation in the region.
Finally, at the Council meeting today, a great amount of
concern was expressed about the fate of all of those people who are
still inside Kosovo, particularly those who apparently were trying to
leave when border posts were closed yesterday, particularly border posts
between Albania and Kosovo We don't know what has happened to these
people, who seem to have been forced back inside Kosovo NATO countries
are obviously trying to find out. It's not helped by the fact that there
are no international organizations operating in Kosovo at the moment.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees established a figure
back at the end of March of 260,000 displaced persons at the time inside
Kosovo We don't obviously know what the numbers are today, but we are
very concerned about their safety and well-being. So we'll be tracking
that situation very closely indeed. As I mentioned yesterday, now that
NATO is helping to get on top of the Humanitarian crisis outside Kosovo,
we do not want to see a second Humanitarian crisis inside Kosovo itself
with all of these displaced people without shelter, food or any kind
I will be back in a moment. But in the meantime, I hand over to Commander
Martinti for his briefing. Commander, thank you very much.
CMDR. FABRIZIO MALTINTI, Italian Navy: Thanks, Mr. Shea. Good afternoon,
ladies and gentlemen.
NATO forces increased their effort to relieve the situation of the Refugees
in Albania and FYROM. This effort is based on sound fundamental principles,
and it is important that they are clear.
First, NATO will not seek to create an independent Humanitarian role
Second, United Nations high commissioner for the Refugees in Geneva
has the lead role in the operation. It is UNHCR, in fact, that established
priorities and identifies the requirements for the Humanitarian effort.
Third, the requirements are determined on the ground by the UNHCR, and
the nations provide what is requested. NATO role is to help to coordinate
the flow of aid, to assist the Humanitarian relief effort.
Fourth, whatever support is made available, NATO will eventually be
replaced by civil organizations. And we are working to ensure an orderly
transition without disruption of Humanitarian effort.
This slide will show the relationship between the UNHCR, international
organizations, non-governmental organizations, NATO and nations. The
United Nations organization on the ground identifies the Humanitarian
assistance requirements. The requirements are given to the nations,
who provide the aid in all its forms, including the transportation assets.
I want to stress the fact that NATO doesn't have any Humanitarian aid
The refugee support coordination center at SHAPE is designed to match
the requirements on the ground with Humanitarian assistance. Its aim
is to identify what the relief agencies in the host government need
and put together the necessary capability, in cooperation with nations.
We emphasize that we are not duplicating the civil contribution of nations
and relief agencies. We are concentrating in providing military resources
not readily available to civil agencies.
To do this important job, the Refugee support coordination center is
linked to the NATO forces in FYROM and Albania, to the NATO chain of
command, which includes the Euro-Atlantic disaster relief coordination
center, to the national representatives at SHAPE, and to the UNHCR in
Geneva. In this way we will be able to have a clear picture of what
is happening on the ground and be able to respond as quickly as possible
to the Humanitarian aid requirements.
This slide shows the situation of Refugees In FYROM, two events have
taken place on the FYROM border. First, 20,000 Refugees left Blace in
four convoys of nine buses each, with an escort of FYROM police. It
is now confirmed that they entered Albania At the same time, the border
was closed by Serb authorities, and indications suggest that the Refugees
on Kosovo side of FYROM border have been collectively transported back
into the Kosovo area. The situation is still unclear, and we wait for
In Albania, 8,000 Refugees arrived in northern Albania from Kosovo in
the last 24 hours. The Serb authority closed the borders at 3:00 a.m.,
telling the displaced persons still inside Kosovo that it was now safe
to go home because of the cease-fire. Indications are that these 8,000
Refugees returned in an unknown location in Kosovo
The FYROM Refugee centers are now accommodating 43,400 Refugees, 24,000
of whom are in Brazda transit center. They have increased their planned
total, which is now for 47,000 Refugees NATO forces in Kosovo, in conjunction
with the UNHCR, are planning the transfer of responsibility for the
Refugee center. The same aid agency will take over running the Refugee
center, and will be given responsibility for supporting them with essential
commodities such as food and medicines. International and non- governmental
organizations report that they expect to be running at full capacity
in two to seven weeks.
In Albania, as was mentioned, there are 11 Albanian Refugee centers
which are all open. Only the Tirana and the Dures center are near capacity.
The Refugee center accommodates 24,000 Refugees, while the total capacity
is about 76,000. As it was mentioned during yesterday's press conference,
the Commissioner is today in Tirana.
Yesterday, 357 tons of aid was transported into FYROM and 248 tons into
Albania and, of course, distributed accordingly, bringing the total
to 1,601 tons for FYROM and 599 tons for Albania The Ace Rapid Reaction
Force's support in FYROM continues in various forms, including provision
of logistic support at the airport, distribution of aid, provision of
cooks and field kitchen facilities. Yesterday we delivered to Skopje
baby food, insulin and pediatric supplies which were in critical shortages.
Yesterday 48 aircraft landed in Skopje and 26 in Tirana. The aid flights
into Skopje and Tirana are continuing.
This concludes, ladies and gentlemen, my portion of the briefing.
Thanks for your kind attention. I will be followed by Air Commodore
David Wilby for the operation update.
AIR COMMODORE DAVID WILBY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. During
the past 24 hours, NATO air strikes continued against the strategic
infrastructure in Yugoslavia. We continue to systematically degrade
and diminish the military, paramilitary and special Police. forces of
the FRY. All of our Aircraft have returned safely to their home bases.
Despite Belgrade's declaration of a cease-fire, Serbian forces continue
to engage remaining UCK units. And there is evidence that the mop-up
operations are still being carried out in isolated areas. Yesterday
we also detected some counterattacks mounted by the UCK. Nevertheless,
it would appear that the Serbian units are generally adopting the defensive
and concealed posture that I mentioned in yesterday's briefing.
This photograph shows field-deployed FRY main battle tanks, marked by
the red circles, and hidden among the remnants of buildings; houses
which Serbian forces had previously destroyed as part of their scorched-earth
policy. However, we continue to improve our techniques and to refine
our tactics to engage and destroy these fielded forces.
We have been making the most of the improved weather. Yesterday NATO
flew nearly 400 combat missions over the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
and Kosovo Air defense activity was normal. I can confirm at least one
SA-6 was fired and that a MiG-29 took off but recovered to his home
base very quickly, and we did not engage him.
This graphic gives you an indication of the target areas we struck yesterday.
The categories of our strategic and operational targets remain unchanged
into what has become our regular pattern. I would like to emphasize
that all targets were of military significance, and our concerns for
collateral damage and loss of civil life remain paramount.
In particular, you will be aware that yesterday the Serbian authorities
arranged a visit by western reporters to Pristina. Several news reports
filed last night describe significant damage to the entire city. I can
absolutely assure you that whilst NATO has attacked military targets
around Pristina and one very carefully targeted MUP headquarters, which
was struck very successfully in the city area, NATO has certainly not
caused the reported widespread and random damage which we believe has
been orchestrated by Serbian forces. I'm sure that closer forensic investigation
will reveal the truth.
We are maintaining our air presence over Kosovo for a longer period,
and this is bearing fruit in our efforts against the fielded forces.
If you will remember, yesterday I showed you a graphic which depicted
an attack against a convoy in western Kosovo I can now show you imagery
we obtained late yesterday which shows that same convoy, or more accurately,
the remains of that convoy. You can clearly see the abandoned military
vehicles along the road.
Today I have some cockpit imagery from our recent operations against
other Serbian forces within Kosovo Unlike the area attack which I described
to you yesterday, these attacks employ guided munitions. On the video
I am about to show you, you can make out a road with Serbian vehicles
If you watch closely when the video begins to play, you will see that
the pilot locks his missile to the target. Once the missile is launched
from the Aircraft, the video feed starts, but the weapon automatically
guides to the target to which it is locked. The pilot then executes
a rapid escape maneuver to avoid target defenses and the detonation
of his own Weapon Unfortunately, that means you will not be able to
see the result of this Weapon strike. (Video clip is shown.) You can
see the convoy on the road. It locks on the frame and it goes. If you
want to see it more closely later on, then I'm sure we'll be able to
run it for you.
The next video I have shows a successful attack on an ammunition production
facility. If you watch the right side of the image, you may see the
bombs prior to their impact. (Video clip is shown.) You start to look
for the bombs coming in now. And just to prove that it's not all done
by mirrors and magic, the final clip very clearly shows one of our successful
strikes against the Serbian armored vehicles operating with Kosovo Because
the guidance is from the Aircraft, you can clearly see the final results.
Today is another busy day, and our operations are ongoing with even
greater success against fielded forces. Our operational tempo and effectiveness
continues to increase. And I believe that our momentum is building with
MR. SHEA: David, thanks, as always, for the update. We go to questions.
Sarah, please. Commander, please join us for questions.
REPORTER: For the air commodore, please. We -- as Jamie mentioned, there are
these increasingly clear reports that borders are closed and people
are being pushed back into Kosovo How might that impact the way -- or
would that complicate the way the air campaign is carried out over Kosovo?
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: I rather think that depends on where those poor,
unfortunate people finish. And I think the question that you're getting
at is, what happens if they put people associated with targets? Is that
REPORTER: Either on purpose or in general -- either on purpose or as a general
if people are moving back into villages which are near units.
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: Well, as I've always said to you, we will look
at the circumstances at the time and we'll make sure that before we
carry out our attacks that we can carry out those attacks without collateral
damage, and particularly loss of civilian lives, particularly innocent
MR. SHEA: Okay. Nick, please.
REPORTER: Can you confirm reports that NATO will now be striking television
and radio transmitters, antennae, et cetera?
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: Well, Serb radio and TV is an instrument of propaganda
and repression. It has filled the airwaves with hate and with lies over
the years, and especially now. It is therefore a legitimate target in
this Campaign If President Milosevic would provide equal time for western
news broadcasts in its programs without censorship, three hours a day
between noon and 1800 and three hours a day between 1800 and midnight,
then his TV could become an acceptable instrument of public information.
Does that answer your question?
MR. SHEA: Let me add, if I may -- let me add to that that also many
of the TV transmitters are integrated into command-and-control communication
nodes for the Yugoslav armed forces. And we have therefore been attacking
those military targets, which may have had as a secondary effect also
that certain TV transmitters have been damaged or destroyed. But again,
to the extent that the TV transmitters are integrated into the military
systems, then they are going to be targets. And as far as Serb TV opening
itself up to pluralism, I can only endorse what David said.
Let's go to Mark, please.
REPORTER: Mark Latey. Commodore, you seemed to be expecting that question.
Can we take it that that reply should be seen as either a threat or
a promise that you will be bombing their television transmitters unless
they allow three hours of western television? And also, a secondary
question: Are you seeing any evidence of a slowdown in operations by
the VJ and MUP forces as a result of the attacks?
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: Okay, first of all, as to my statement, I think
you can take it as a public statement, a public announcement. As regards
your second question, I've tried to give you an impression, particularly
through this week, that we have been striking his petroleum depots.
We've seen evidence that he is having slight problems. He is having
to slow down. And I think that this latest evidence that we've seen,
where they're hiding up, (loggering?) up in deserted villages, taking
on a more concealed process, is perhaps an indication that our Campaign
is having its effect.
MR. SHEA: May I -- if David will forgive me, may I also add to that
a perspective, which is that it is not enough, of course, simply for
these Serb units to stop firing. I share David's view that it's because
they're trying to husband extremely scarce fuel now and, of course,
because NATO air strikes are having an effect. That's why they want
to hide, because they know that we will hit them and are perfectly capable
of doing so.
And so, to some degree, that's a good sign. And if that takes the pressure
off the long-suffering Kosovar population for a while, then that's all
to the good as well. But the fundamental point is that a lot of the
violence that we see going on in Kosovo is not done necessarily by tanks
or artillery, though unfortunately there has been a lot of that. It's
done by these paramilitary units and even armed Serb civilians supported
by the paramilitaries and indirectly or directly by the military, who
go around to people's homes at gunpoint, intimidate, who then force
people to leave.
And that is why we've always made it clear that a cease-fire, as such,
is insufficient. It's nice to have it, but it is not, in itself, going
to bring peace to Kosovo, as everybody knows, because of these activities
of paramilitary squads going around from door to door. That's why we
stress that the Serb forces have to leave Kosovo
Mark, let's go to the person in front of you.
REPORTER: Also. There's been a lot of talk about permissive environment, to
change to another subject regarding Kosovo and deployment of ground
forces. And I'd like to know Jamie's answer to if it is possible that
a permissive Environment can be created through the air attacks alone
without Mr. Milosevic having to, in fact, sign some deal, a Rambouillet
MR. SHEA: Well, certainly we want to be able to deploy NATO forces,
NATO-led forces, into Kosovo as soon as possible. And therefore, as
soon as we put a stop to the violence and achieve those objectives,
which I outlined yesterday in terms of getting the Serb forces to withdraw,
making sure that that process is a verifiable process, that we know
that we're not having, if you like, the wool pulled in front of our
eyes, and then guarantees regarding the return of all Refugees
Naturally, it's going to be very critical for then an international
military presence to enter Kosovo quickly, not only to create a verification
mechanism on the effective withdrawal of the Serb forces, but also to
create, as we've done in Bosnia with SFOR, a climate of confidence,
of stability, which will encourage Refugees to return home free from
intimidation and will also presumably provide a backup to the international
relief organizations that I fear are going to have a lot of work to
do in Kosovo, once the violence has been brought to an end.
Now, we have said all along that that has to be done also in the context
of a political framework. And it's up to NATO governments to decide
on the exact timing of that, when the time comes. But it has to be a
permissive Environment and it has to be in the context of some kind
of ongoing framework towards a political solution for Kosovo But, of
course, we have to see what the circumstances are going to be at the
time, obviously, on this one.
Yes, Stephen, please.
REPORTER: Two questions. Thanks, Jamie. One is for Commander Martinti. You gave
various figures about Refugees Do I take it from your presentation that
all Refugees outside Kosovo have been accounted for? Because there was
some confusion about the fate of about 10,000 Refugees
And also a question for Air Commodore Wilby, if I may. There are conflicting
reports on when the Apaches will be effectively deployed and used in
the air Campaign Can you give us an update on that? Thanks.
CMDR. MARTINTI: Thanks for the opportunity to clarify one aspect. The
figures that we have now is the figures that we were able to collect
from the ground, from the troops that are there and from Humanitarian
assistance organizations. You have to consider that the troops that
are there at the moment, they are heavily involved in feeding people,
build tents, dig latrines. So they are not so greatly involved in bureaucratic
work. So the number we have is the number -- I cannot guarantee that
they are exactly 100 percent, but it is the best we can do at the moment.
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: As to the deployment of the Apache, as I said to
you yesterday, it is deploying as quickly as it can. And the advance
parties have already started to flow.
REPORTER: (Off mike.)
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: I couldn't give you a question of days, I'm afraid.
MR. SHEA: Okay, let's go to Television Francais.
REPORTER: Oui. A question to Commodore Wilby. First, a tough question.
Do I understand correctly that if the Serbian television were to respect
the kind of programming you're suggesting, they would not be bombed?
And the second question is, if you look at what's going on inside Kosovo
at the moment, the vast movements of population, and secondly, the quite
conspicuous mining and fortification of the border of Albania, especially
around the Morina area, does that make a pattern and does that make
military sense? Can you interpret the reasons why those populations
are being shifted back, and secondly, why the Serbs are conspicuously
fortifying and mining the frontier of Albania?
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: Okay, I'll answer your first question. I've made
a public statement here. And, of course, if Serbian television was used
as a proper tool of free speech, as opposed to a propaganda machine,
then it would be considered, as other media broadcasts, very much acceptable.
In terms of the mining, in fact, I heard today about mines being laid.
And, of course, there are far too many mines in this world, and it is
not encouraging to hear that more mines are being laid. As to the precise
use of those mines and any policy that's going on in the Serbian military
mind or President Milosevic's mind, I'm afraid I cannot really give
you a full answer on that at this moment.
REPORTER: The population movements -- that is, the people that are being herded
back to somewhere -- what does it mean militarily to you?
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: Well, I think that question rather came from the
front to start off with. We're not really sure at this moment. And I
think we are watching very closely and trying to --
your question about where were the 10,000, I think; I'm not sure whether
that was in some way related to this one. But we are certainly trying
to identify all movement of people, and we are obviously very concerned
about where those people will be moved to.
MR. SHEA: I'd like to add a couple of things on this one, although
you didn't direct a question to me. But, first of all, we face a situation
where for many months the Serb Armed forces. were mining the border
with Albania to stop people going in. Now they seem to be mining to
stop people going out. So we have a kind of anti -- (inaudible) -- phenomenon,
if I can put it that way, to make Kosovo into a total no man's land
in the full sense of the term. It simply is going to increase the costs
to civilian lives for years to come, and, of course, in financial terms
of taking out all of those mines in the future, as we've seen in Bosnia
As for the 10,000, my understanding is that those that have not been
accommodated in the NATO-constructed camps in the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia, or who are not slated to be evacuated on a temporary basis
to various countries, have gone to Albania And at the moment, one of
the focuses of NATO planning is to help the UNHCR and other organizations
to put up some additional camps in southern Albania, particularly in
a town called Podrodec (pH) -- I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly
-- to receive these people who have come in.
The Albanian government, as you know, has extremely generously offered
to accept up to 100,000 additional displaced persons. And, of course,
the international community has to help then to accommodate these people
who have come in from the southern part as opposed to around Kukes,
directly over the border from Kosovo, in recent days.