|NATO MILITARY BRIEFING|
May 20, 1999
In the wake of another accidental bombing in downtown Belgrade, NATO military briefers take questions on what went wrong and the state of the refugee crisis.
Jamie Shea: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. As always, let me welcome you warmly to my briefing. Today, in addition to General Jertz we have another familiar face, Commander Maltinti of the Italian Navy, who as you know is our specialist on humanitarian affairs and I always like him to come up occasionally to give you an up-date on the humanitarian situation and NATO's activities to support the refugees. So we will turn to Commander Maltinti in just a moment.
Let me just offer a few things by way of an introduction. First of all, the Secretary General will be leaving in a few hours for a rapid visit to London. He will be calling to see Prime Minister Blair and then he will be having a working dinner with the Secretary of Defence, Mr George Robertson, returning to Brussels later this evening. That is part of his on-going consultations with Allied leaders on both the military and the diplomatic aspects of the Kosovo crisis.
Secondly, as you know, tomorrow we will be having a meeting, I believe the first of its kind, of NATO Ambassadors with the neighbouring states. As you know, we had a meeting at summit level of that group in Washington just a couple of weeks ago, but this is the first Ambassadorial level meeting. It will be here tomorrow afternoon at 3.00 pm. The briefing by the way will still be at 3.00, but at 5.30 there will be another briefing on that meeting and we hope to have a video link-up with Tirana when you can put your questions to the Prime Minister of Albania. So that is 5.30, extra activity tomorrow.
On the subject of support for the neighbouring countries, I would just like to inform you that today we are having meetings here at NATO headquarters with two countries, with Albania this morning and then this afternoon the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in order to see how we can use NATO's Partnership for Peace to assist them to cope with their immediate security needs, particularly the restructuring and improvement of their Armed Forces, and this of course is military assistance which is long term, but which is also directly linked to their particular needs, stemming from the crisis in the region.
At the meeting with Albania this morning we identified five areas where we can provide immediate help: one is military medicine; the other one is the disposal of explosive ammunition and ordnance and the safe transfer of that ammunition to more secure sites; another one is the security of military installations and equipment sites; another one is assistance in building up Albania's structures for civil emergency planning and crisis management, disaster relief; and the final element is border control, and they are five areas where NATO's Partnership for Peace can help with training, expertise and equipment.
This afternoon we are starting just now a similar meeting with an expert team from the Ministry of Defence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We have drawn up an urgent equipment requirements list and that is a list which is going to be filled by the Allied governments in supplying necessary military equipment to help strengthen the Armed Forces of that country.
At the same time, both those countries at the meetings today have been briefed on NATO's Membership Action Programme, or MAP as we call it in the NATO jargon, which was approved by the Washington Summit, and as a result of that briefing we will be drawing up specific assistance programmes for both countries to help them to meet the criteria for NATO membership. Of course the object of the Membership Action Programme, as the name suggests, is to draw up activities which are specifically designed to help countries that want to join NATO rapidly meet the criteria for membership. But more on the whole programme of help to the neighbouring countries tomorrow afternoon following the meeting at the level of Ambassadors.
So that is what I have by way of an introduction and I now turn directly to General Jertz for the operational up-date.
General Jertz: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today I will give you only a short update on the last 24 hours operations.
Let me start with the update on ground activity. Serb military actions continued in the central area around Malisevo and on the Albanian border. Once again there was cross-border artillery firing into Albania. Since a few days we have evidence of continuous fighting between Serb forces and the UCK also in the Junik area. There have been reports that the UCK has retaken the village of Jablanica, capturing arms and ammunition. We should not draw however too many conclusions from this incident, but it suggests that Serb forces are becoming weaker as NATO action takes effect.
Slightly improved weather in Kosovo, but some poor weather in the air-to-air refuelling areas had some effect on NATO air operations yesterday. We struck artillery systems, military vehicles, 6 tanks and an SA6 launcher. The following video shows an attack against a revetted artillery piece.
Attacks against strategic targets included airfields, air defence facilities, command and control centres, petroleum storage facilities and Serb Army and special police force headquarters. There was an increase in the number of surface to air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery fired against NATO aircraft in the last 24 hours.
Once again I am happy to say that all our manned aircraft returned safely to their bases. That concludes my part of the briefing.
Commander Maltinti: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Since last week Alliance troops have continued to improve the quality of life of the refugees and I am happy to say that even in this short period a great deal of progress was made.
Besides continuing to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the international organisations and non-governmental organisations, NATO troops are heavily involved in helping to improve Albania's infrastructure, particularly road repairing, improving their airfield capabilities, improving existing camps and setting up new ones.
As you will know, our goal is to have in Albania 59,000 more planes ready by the end of this month and 172,000 by the end of June. A special note, you will wish to be aware that in some FYROM camps we now have surplus capacity and Kukes airstrip now has been fully operational for over a week with a consequent increase in our ability to bring aid into Albania.
The number of Alliance forces supporting the humanitarian relief operation are about 11,000 troops in Albania and about 14,000 troops in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
This slide shows the number of refugees and internally displaced persons in accordance with UNHCR estimates, and I stress that these are estimated. In the bottom right hand corner you will see the total number of IDPs and refugees. In the bottom left corner you can see those of the total of the displaced persons who have become refugees to other countries. Yesterday 1,747 refugees flew to third countries. The fly out average rate is about 2,000 a day.
You can see that based on the expansion of existing camps, the construction of new ones and the relocation from camp to third countries, we are becoming prepared for changing weather conditions and surge of refugees.
Based on UNHCR and refugee reports, it is believed that approximately 580,000 displaced persons are still hiding inside Kosovo. This slide shows the areas in which these unfortunate people are concentrated. Based on refugee reports, since 12 May as many as 7,000 IDPs have set out from the vicinity of Urosevac, moving to the south western direction of Albanian borders.
The next two slides will give you a better feeling for the refugee flow across the Kosovo border into the frontline states in the last 7 or so weeks. Here is a representation of the day-by-day flow number into Montenegro, FYROM and Albania.
The second chart shows the day-by-day total number of refugees in each of these three countries during a similar period. Of interest, if you look at the blue and red lines for the period for May to date, the transfer of some refugees from FYROM to Albania is clearly highlighted.
The next four slides provide information about refugee camps in both FYROM and Albania. The first slide shows the location of the refugee camps in FYROM. In two of these camps - Cegrane and Blace - work is in progress to increase their capacity. 1,515 refugees crossed the FYROM border yesterday.
As you can see, yesterday 12 flights landed in Skopje, bringing the total number of aircraft which have been landed there up to 638.
Here is the breakdown of refugee camp occupancy in FYROM. It is worth noting that now in FYROM, as you probably know, we have a spare capacity in refugee places of about 24,000 places.
This slide shows the location of refugee camps in Albania. Here the situation has been sustainable and supportable during the last week. Yesterday for the fifth day in a row the influx of refugees into the Kukes area was limited.
NATO Commanders in Albania, the UNHCR and interested NGOs continue to work together on a programme to persuade the inhabitants of a transit tented camp in Kukes to move south to better found facilities where they can enjoy a better quality of life. As part of this effort, with the full support of the Alliance, it is the UNHCR's intention to move up to 1,000 refugees per day from Kukes to other camps in the south west of the country.
As I already mentioned, NATO is committing its manpower to build as many refugee centres as possible in both western and southern Albania. The aim is to have the camps up and running by next month.
Also, engineer units are continuing to improve the main Tirana-Kukes highway to increase the flow by road from border areas.
As you can see, yesterday 7 flights landed in Tirana, bringing the total number of aircraft that have been landed there up to 892. Here is the breakdown of the Albanian refugee camp occupancy. The total number of refugees includes the refugees living at home with Albanian families.
This slide shows the amount of measured items delivered as humanitarian aid to FYROM and Albania. The total amount of humanitarian aid imported into the two countries is up to 4,666 tons of food and water, 1,520 tons of medical supplies, 2,624 tons of tentage and 4,325 tons of other equipment for a total of 13,125 tons.
Finally, a reminder of the various humanitarian missions operated in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. There are 13 humanitarian missions planned for today. Examples are shown in this slide: ICRC convoy from Belgrade to Nis, the UN mission in Belgrade, the ICRC convoy from Belgrade to Novi Sad, the ICRC convoy from Belgrade to Jarjika, the ICRC convoy from Belgrade to Kragujevac, the UN convoys from Nis to Pristina, the Greek/Russian/Swiss mobile hospital and the Greek convoy from Prosevo to Belgrade. There are 10 convoys planned for tomorrow.
Air drop operations are still under consideration by interested NGOs. The UNHCR has agreed to co-ordinate all the humanitarian missions in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and three days ago issued instructions to the IEOs and NGOs interested.
As I mentioned last week, NATO will cooperate with these missions but we need to have through the UNHCR or ICRC at least 48 hours prior notice. The notice should include details of the vehicle, vehicle markings, route employed, possible route deviation and the confirmation that they will travel only during daylight. As others have said, I want to stress the fact that it follows that it is critical that NGOs stick to the plan they have given to us.
This note concludes my brief, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your kind attention.
Stephen Dierckx, BRT: I would like to come back to last night's bombing, you said that you targeted an army barracks in Belgrade, you said that one bomb missed its target and hit a nearby building. The hospital that the Serbs talk about is close to the army barracks. The Swedish Embassy is also damaged, so why don't you admit explicitly that you hit the hospital? Second question, there is criticism by the Swedish Foreign Minister saying that NATO is using too heavy explosives against targets in a big city centre such as Belgrade. What is your reaction?
General Jertz: On the first question, all I say so far is I have nothing to add to what Jamie said this morning and we are still under review.
Stephen Dierckx: That doesn't answer my question. Why don't you admit that you don't know that you hit the hospital, you are still not sure?
General Jertz: You know that battle damage assessment takes a while and we told you in the past that we have to be very sure if we say what has happened, and I would just ask you to accept what Jamie said this morning.
Stephen Dierckx: So how do you know that a building was hit that was not the army barracks if you don't know what building was hit?
General Jertz: You know we hit a military target.
Stephen Dierckx: But one bomb hit a civilian building apparently, this morning that was said?
General Jertz: When we are sure what happened we are going to tell you what happened.
Jamie Shea: Stephen, as I made clear this morning, one of the bombs was misdirected for technical reasons, it fell short, or rather it fell long; it overflew the target by about 1,500 feet, General Jertz, I believe, but we don't have any details yet, precise information as to exactly what were the consequences. But we gave you that information this morning.
I would also like to say that I have seen the Prime Minister of Sweden say this morning that his government supports the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia, and I quote him saying: "We want the Yugoslav government to observe human rights and withdraw its army from Kosovo."
Question: Sorry Jamie, that is not an answer to my question. I refer to criticism by the Swedish Foreign Minister that you use too heavy explosives in city centres. Could you respond please?
General Jertz: You know that we attack targets with the ammunition which from the tactical point of view and from the strategic point of view are the ones which should be taken against those targets, and that is what we did before and what we will do in the past also.
John Fraser: Jamie, you will be painfully aware that this isn't the first time that the Serbs have been turning to their own use what appears to have been a NATO blunder. Is there any consideration at the moment as to whether or not it is wise to bomb areas where there are heavy civilian populations, given that you yourself have admitted that it is not a perfect science?
Jamie Shea: John, as I say all the time, our military commanders have the authority to strike at targets which are directly supporting the Yugoslav Armed Forces in Kosovo. We have been doing that since the beginning, that is a key part of our strategy. President Milosevic can stop this today, as I always point out, if he will accept the basic conditions of the international community. It is in his power to do that in the next hour, between now and 4.00 pm, but so far he doesn't choose to do so. But we are not going to exempt targets which clearly are playing a role, have a role in supplying, supporting, directing, planning for the operations in Kosovo. Having said that, we will continue to take every precaution that we can to ensure that we hit the military target and nothing but the military target. That is the policy and there is no change in that policy.
Antonio Esteves Martins, RTP: I would like to go back to the press conference with Prime Minister D'Alema. Can we say now that if the Security Council votes on the resolution that the G8 is busy preparing, there will be a stop on the bombing, which normally goes a little bit against what the initial point of view of NATO was, first respect our five points and then we stop the bombing? General Jertz, from a military point of view, as we see Kosovo and the whole country has been under heavy fire for the last 58 days, is it acceptable, is it easy to accept from the military point of view a stop of 72 hours, 48 hours?
Jamie Shea: Antonio, I have to say that your question is a speculative one and I am not going to give you a speculative answer. The diplomacy is still being worked out. The details of what will happen surrounding the adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution are still being worked out, that is why the G8 was meeting yesterday in Bonn, that is why the G8 is meeting tomorrow, that is why you have in Moscow today Strobe Talbot meeting with President Ahtisaari and Mr Chernomyrdin following the latter's trip to Belgrade, that is why you are going to have a number of diplomatic contacts over the next few days. So I am really not going to speculate on the precise combination of factors that we will have when we get to that time. The only thing I can say is we are not at that time yet. It would be very pleasant to be there but we are not there yet and we are not there yet for two reasons: first of all because President Milosevic has not yet begun to accept the five key conditions; and secondly because the diplomats who are involved in this process have made it clear that although they have made excellent progress there is still a lot of hard work to do. In the meantime obviously every idea, every suggestion from a leader of the Alliance, all leaders of the Alliance, are things that we welcome and we are going to take them into full account and all of them have their role to play, but we are not there yet.
General Jertz: I missed the essence of your second question, I am sorry, could you say that again please?
Antonio: Jamie already told me that we have still to wait, but still from a military point of view can one expect as reasonable to have a three-day stop of fire if there is some kind of an agreement in New York? Would this be impossible to stand for from a military point of view?
General Jertz: I hoped you would ask this question so I just can refer to Jamie, I think he answered this question.
Jake Lynch (Sky News): Jamie, I understood Antonio to be inviting you to rule out a bombing pause before President Milosevic agreed to any putative UN Security Council resolution and you declined his offer to rule this out. I understand that you can't speculate about the Security Council, but If that does happen, the question is what will NATO's response be?
Jamie Shea: Jake, a speculative question and I am not going to give a speculative answer. Next question.
Question: Je crois que le général Clark n'était pas ici aujourd'hui. Est-ce que je peux savoir qui était le militaire qui était à la réunion avec M. D'Alema et en tout cas s'il a eu la possibilité d'exprimer sa position après avoir écouté cette proposition de trêve.
Jamie Shea: I believe that the commander who briefed Mr. d'Alema this morning on the military situation, apart from of course the Chairman of the Military Committee, Admiral Venturoni, was the Deputy SACEUR, General Rupert Smith because as I pointed out the other day, I believe SACEUR is travelling at the present time and NATO generals do not give their views on obviously political questions.
Pierre Julien: Est-ce que vous avez noté de nouveaux cas de désertions dans l'armée serbe ces derniers temps ou alors des preuves de l'effondrement de son moral?
Jamie Shea: Pierre, thank you very much for that question. As General Jertz has said, between the 18th and 19th May we have tracked one motorised brigade in the Jablanica region which has been involved in fighting against the Kosovo Liberation Army and has retreated, leaving behind I understand a fairly sizeable amount of equipment, weapons and large quantities of ammunition. We don't have all of the details on that yet and when we have more details I will of course share them with you. I think as far as the Kosovo Liberation Army is concerned this incident is doubly welcome, not simply for another sign that if not all, many of the Yugoslav units are losing their enthusiasm for this operation but also because they were able to obtain the ammunition and equipment which I believe is lacking for them at the moment so that is one further indication I can give you. As I say, the 18th and 19th May is when we believe that happened.
We know fully well that there is an expanding mood of war weariness throughout Yugoslavia at the moment particularly in the southern half of the country where much of the conscription has been taking place. Belgrade has been spared much of the conscription. We believe it is because President Milosevic doesn't want any social unrest in Belgrade which would be highly visible and highly sensitive for him and therefore much of the recruitment is going on in the south. In fact we know at Leskovac which is just near the Kosovo border, men above 50 have been mobilised into the armed forces. That suggests that there is a shortage of manpower available at the moment to go to Kosovo and we know that a large number of young men have taken refuge in Belgrade - have gone "underground" if you like in the capital - because they know that there they have got a good chance of escaping the draft if they lie low.
On the other hand, we do have reports of the borders in Montenegro now being closed repeatedly and young men picked off buses or being vetted at frontier posts to make sure that they are not escaping the draft. Men of military age are not allowed to leave Yugoslavia except under very stringent conditions. We know that there is a problem with the call-up of reservists particularly from non-Serb ethnic groups but from Serb groups as well and we know of several cases of people who have taken refuge either as deserters or people refusing the draft in Hungary and in Republica Srpska and Croatia and I am sure that is going to continue.
As for the situation in general which I think is where your question is directed, it is clear that we have not seen the sort of exuberance of the early days, the nationalist demonstrations, the rock concerts, the anti-NATO happenings - although they were never as spontaneous as the word "happening" suggests nor were they ever well-attended - but all of these things seem to have been postponed or cancelled for the time being.
Obviously, we have briefed you on the incidents that have occurred in three towns. In southern Serbia by the way, which is where much of the unrest seems to be located, significant numbers of people have demonstrated - for example at Krusevac up to 5,000 - and for a number of days in succession - and you will have seen the statement by the leader of the Democratic Party this morning, Mr. Djindjic, to the effect that Krusevac is now a state-of-emergency region where the roads and access have been cut off, so clearly I think Belgrade doesn't see any interest in allowing any communication with that city for the time being.
Incidentally, Mr. Djindjic continues to pay a high price for speaking out because I understand that this morning his Democratic Party headquarters in Belgrade were attacked and stoned for the third time in the last ten days and this time we've had a phenomenon - a new one - of what I call "Mercedes Marxists". These are people belonging to the party of Mrs. Markovic, Milosevic's wife, the YUL Party, who turn up in Mercedes and BMWs - which is not what Marxists normally drive around in - and 30 of them were brought in a bus to stone the headquarters, and I am sorry to have to report that the local police, instead of doing what policemen normally do which is to intervene to protect the property of citizens, stood by and did absolutely nothing while that took place.
Another interesting thing to report is that in the city of Cacak in the last couple of days the locals have set up a non-political anti-war citizens' parliament at the local cultural centre with two demands: one is that Milosevic takes steps to stop the NATO attacks by agreeing to a diplomatic solution and secondly, that the VJ units in the town should move out and go somewhere else.
We have also noticed that in the last couple of days the media of Yugoslavia have first of all allowed a statement by the party of Vuk Draskovic, the Serb Renewal Movement, to be broadcast in which Draskovic has said that Yugoslavia should support the G8 principles and that all obstacles to a peaceful settlement have been removed, and that some of the vituperative and hateful programming has been stopped as if there is a growing realisation that this is not convincing the local population any more and indeed could be counter-productive in fuelling the growing spirit of war weariness but I would hope that the attack on the Democratic Party headquarters is not an indication that Milosevic is trying to divert attention from the war weariness by stirring up civil strife and political strife.
Julie: Jamie, do you have any more information on the desertion that we have been told about, the manner in which it occurred, were there convoys that pulled out, did they shoot their way out, were they pursued, were they allowed to pass, were they attacked? Can you tell us anything about that?
Jamie Shea: The only information I have is that there were two battalions - I said one earlier but the latest information is that there were two battalions - of the 7th Armoured Brigade that decided to go AWOL (Absent Without Leave) and this was in response to reports that they were getting on Radio Free Europe of unrest in Krusevac and the MUP using water cannon on the local population - it is interesting that despite the media restrictions in Yugoslavia, soldiers in the field seem to prefer to listen to Western radio stations which I find is encouraging. They vote with their ears - and then they went along and made it clear that they were determined to get to Krusevac. I don't believe there was any shooting, at least not that I know of, but they certainly made it clear that they weren't going to be persuaded not to do that. I don't know what has happened to those soldiers, where they are at the moment but what I find interesting is that the Yugoslavs themselves have made public statements suggesting that they have not tried to forcibly resist these desertions even saying - you have seen these reports too - that those soldiers who want to go home will be allowed to go home having started, by the way, by making statements which went in the other direction - acts of treason, courts martial and the rest and this suggests to me that they are worried that this could be the start of something much larger and they don't want to encourage that by clamping down on those soldiers who do desert, but they may be trying at least to adopt a more tolerant approach because they realise that otherwise they could be faced with a much larger phenomenon.
But Julie, let's be cautious on this. Unfortunately, as much as I would like this to be the case, one swallow never did make a summer. I think this is significant, it does show that something is going on, to paraphrase Hamlet "something is rotten in the state of Yugoslavia". That is clear but it is too early to say if these are isolated incidents or part of a more general trend.
Julie: Going back to what Antonio asked, there is this new concept that we are hearing increasingly about - if you could clarify it - in the context of the deliberations, synchronisation. What are we synchronising and how is that moving the process along or how is it serving as a stumbling block?
Jamie Shea: Well Julie, there are three elements here in play which have to of course occur at more or less the same time in order for the crisis to be resolved, the three elements at least which we are trying to bring about.
The first one is Milosevic accepts the five conditions. That is the key to all of the rest; unless that happens the rest cannot happen; that there is a UN Security Council resolution which boxes him in politically by making it clear that this is the international community's most serious and solemn demand on him; and that as part of accepting the five conditions he pulls his forces out and then of course NATO can stop its air operations, and how you synchronise those three factors of course is the key point but I come back to my fundamental point: we are not there yet although we hope to be soon but we are not there yet today. There is still more work to do and in the meantime NATO's operations continue. There is no change.
Mr. Kresniki: There are reports about Russian soldiers fighting along with Serbian forces in Kosovo in last night's fighting near Kosare on the border with Albania - a certain Pula Vitalin Grego (phon), born 2 January 1965 in Gop (phon) His military record says Captain of Russian military, fought in 1982 in Chechnya and in Pakistan. My question is how do you comment on the fact that the composition of the international forces is going to find a place for Russian troops and do you think that can bring enough confidence for deportees who get back in the same area, Russian soldiers fighting already?
Jamie Shea: Obviously, I have seen these reports like you have yesterday but I can't comment on that. I don't have any precise information and of course I can't explain or account for the actions of individuals. What I can say is that we very much want Russia to be part of the international security force that will be deployed in Kosovo once the five conditions are met. We have got excellent arrangements already in Bosnia which have operated very well between NATO and Russia for the last four years. We can use those as a model, as a basis even if there may be various adaptations. We will have to wait and see. The indications from Moscow are that Russia would like to be part of that international security force so we will work at defining the exact modalities with Russia and that of course is what part of the G8 discussions are about at the moment.
John: Jamie, I'm confused on the five conditions. You have been adamant throughout that Milosevic has to accept the five conditions before there is any let up, any pause, any stop in the air campaign. Today, we had a prime minister of a NATO country in fact propose a stop on another set of criteria. What is NATO's stance and also what does what we witnessed this morning say about the much vaunted unity within NATO?
Jamie Shea: John, if there wasn't unity in NATO I wouldn't be standing here every day, neither would General Jertz, giving you the overnight military update. We would have stopped doing this by now if there were disunity in the Alliance but the fact we are here every day reporting on the operations I think shows that the Alliance is sticking together and it is full steam ahead, absolutely no doubt about that.
What you heard today and what you have been hearing from the political side is simply people trying to conceptualise how we are going to approach the end-game once President Milosevic has accepted those five conditions and I think you heard a very firm message from the prime minister today, he made it clear that first of all there is no unilateral cease-fire, and secondly he made it clear that the purpose of a UN Security Council resolution, which all of us support in the Alliance, is to make it clear to Milosevic that he has to accept the five conditions which would be embedded in that UN Security Council resolution, and he was very clear on the consequences for Belgrade of not accepting an eventual UN Security Council resolution. As I said earlier, every leader of this Alliance has an important and valuable contribution to make to what is a process of conceptualising how we manage the end part of this crisis when the time comes but equally of course the work has to go on. All of these ideas have to be incorporated as we come towards that but we are not there yet and for the time being the best way to get there is to keep up the military pressure which is exactly what we are going to be doing.
John: A follow-up. Are you prepared to give us a guarantee that NATO will never cease its air campaign without first the agreement of Milosevic to the five conditions?
Jamie Shea: I can tell you that NATO will meet its objective of making sure that the five conditions are carried out yes, absolutely.
John: Before or after?
Jamie Shea: No, I am not going to get into that. I am not going to speculate on speculative questions, there is no interest to do that. We will see when the time comes. What counts for NATO is achieving its five conditions, the means that we use to get to those five conditions are for the allies to determine.
John: And the timing?
Jamie Shea: What counts is the five conditions not the timing. If the objectives are worthwhile, then it is worth taking time to realise those objectives but what counts at the end of the day is achieving the objectives. That is why we set out to do this and we are totally convinced that those five conditions are the minimum that is necessary to ensure that this crisis is satisfactorily resolved and all of the allies agree to that.
Question: Jamie, maybe it is a question for Mr. Maltinti but watching the map of Yugoslavia and the routes of those humanitarian convoys, we saw that only one arrived and that in Pristina and it is the only one that arrived in Kosovo. Do you have any indications that some of the convoys might be sent to the IDPs in Kosovo and when it comes to Pristina, do you know who is receiving that humanitarian aid because there are no Albanians or if there are, they cannot go into the street?
General Jertz, we saw that NATO hit a target in a place called Istok in Kosovo. There are some reports on the Yugoslav media saying that NATO hit a prison knowing that the Serbian authorities sent a lot of Albanian political prisoners there from all around Yugoslavia. What can you say about that target and do you have any indication that NATO could hit that prison or not?
Commander Maltinti: What I showed you on the map is based on the report of the plans we had from the IOs and NGOs so we have no control over these convoys and you should put the question to the interested IOs and NGOs.
Jamie Shea: Anything on the prison, General?
General Jertz: It is not a prison, it is a military target.
Jamie Shea: At least on the prison in inverted commas!
General Jertz: It is a militarily significant target, we know it is a military security complex and this target has been attacked because it was a legitimate military target and we have no evidence that any weapons did go some place else or the crew was wrong. I can add that we used precision-guided munitions and to sum it up, it was a military security complex, a military legitimate target.
Question: Can it be that they are using the prison as a human shield?
General Jertz: I cannot speculate on that. We know from our intelligence-gathering that this was a military security complex and that is why it was targeted because it belongs to the command-and-control and all the other military assets Milosevic is running.
Doug Hamilton: Jamie, do you expect the activation order for KFOR before the end of this week and General Jertz, can you confirm the figure that the Pentagon yesterday gave saying 90 per cent of Yugoslav artillery in Kosovo had been destroyed, and maybe comment on the fact that it wasn't all that difficult to destroy because they were digging it in along the border making it relatively easy for NATO to hit?
Jamie Shea: Doug, in reply to your question - and General Jertz will come back to this - the Pentagon has certainly given the figure of 90 per cent of artillery and yesterday you got a lot of other statistics: 75 per cent of the fixed surface-to-air missiles, 12 per cent of the mobile SAM sites, 69 per cent of the MiG-29s, bridges, key roads, 556 pieces of military equipment including 312 tanks.
Those statistics are familiar to you and I am not going to bore you by repeating them all but they do inspire in me a reflection if I can just share this with you - that here we are two months after Rambouillet and the Paris peace talks collapse, and that time President Milosevic could have accepted what is going to happen anyway, which is to say a multiethnic, democratic and autonomous Kosovo with the refugees living in their homes not being refugees but with the right of all Kosovar Albanians and all other Kosovars to live safely in their homes, and an international security force. He could have accepted that and it would have cost him two drips of ink and a dozen return plane tickets between Belgrade and Paris - a bargain at any price!
And here we are a couple of months on and we know that this is finally going to be what is going to happen in Kosovo and yet yourself have just mentioned the price now compared to the price at Rambouillet - 90 per cent of the artillery, all of these units being degraded, all of these lost tanks, all of these lost aircraft, all of this lost infrastructure, universities and schools closed, rising social unrest, economy further weakened, sanctions tightened, more international isolation. Here is a leader who is unique in history by turning a bargain basement into a Sothebys' auction in terms of driving up the price not to the international community but to his own country and his own people for what has happened.
Having said that, on KFOR the planning is going on. We are still looking at the operational plan in the Military Committee, it hasn't gone to the Council yet; I imagine it will go to the Council very shortly to be considered and as soon as some decision has been taken I will obviously share the details with you but it is being handled on a very expeditious basis indeed.
General Jertz: The numbers I mentioned yesterday - I think it was 312 tanks, artillery and armoured personnel carriers because they are the ones within Kosovo which we believe to be the most dangerous ones and the heaviest military assets. The debrief, to the best of my knowledge, only spoke about artillery 90 per cent so I have no numbers of what they briefed on tanks and other pieces so I stick to my numbers because they are the ones which I worked out up to yesterday and of course DOD for sure is right talking artillery but I would need to have the complete numbers talking about the whole spectrum of what I had said before.
Same Questioner: I wasn't opposing rival figures or anything like that, it was the idea that digging-in for an invasion which NATO says is not going to happen but they are digging-in for it anyway, they are making their artillery very vulnerable to strikes from the air. As a military expert, what do you think of that sort of tactic, isn't it a bit wasteful of their artillery and their men?
General Jertz: There are lots of reasons why they have to dig them in, first of all because they don't have enough fuel to send them around and that is one point. The other point is of course if I want to defend because we would invade this country, then of course I would dig my pieces in, my ground assets in, so I can understand what they do, but of course they are more vulnerable against air attacks.
Jamie Shea: Doug, one of the reasons why we may be seeing more desertions is because as the Yugoslav units in the field have to disperse and break into smaller units in order to escape the effect of NATO air strikes, obviously the command-and-control becomes much more difficult and it becomes comparatively easier for individual units to decide to take a holiday.
See you tomorrow!