JAMIE SHEA, NATO Spokesman: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
At this time tomorrow, I've asked the secretary general and also SACEUR
to come up and be here at the podium and to give you an assessment of
the operations thus far and respond to your questions. That is the secretary
general and SACEUR tomorrow. But for today, it is once again Air Commodore
David Wilby and myself giving the briefing, and today I will begin.
First of all, when the ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council met
just a few moments ago, they had a readout on the mission of Yevgeny
Primakov, the Russian prime minister to Belgrade, yesterday. And let
me say from the outset that NATO welcomes all efforts by the international
community to persuade Belgrade to stop the violence. And we very much
appreciate the efforts made by Prime Minister Primakov and his team
yesterday to go to Belgrade at a very difficult time and to try to make
the Yugoslav government see sense and change course.
As you know, this is one of the hardest tasks in international diplomacy
today, as the experience of many envoys over the last few weeks has
shown. And unfortunately, Mr. Primakov yesterday was not able to achieve
success. As Chancellor Schroder and Prime Minister Blair, President
Clinton and many other leaders made clear, the offer of Milosevic fell
completely short of our requirements.
Milosevic offered no end to the fighting. In fact, even while Prime
Minister Primakov was in Belgrade, the fighting was continuing in Kosovo
unabated. He offered no guarantees regarding the withdrawal of his forces,
many of which clearly would have remained in the field, ready to start
offensive operations at a moment's notice.
He made only a very vague offer to start negotiations without accepting
the current basis of the Rambouillet peace agreement. And he gave no
indications whatever of a willingness to accept the refugees back and
help them to resettle. And, of course, even these rather vague offers
were dependent upon NATO switching off its military pressure, first
So, unfortunately, this mission has not succeeded. If President Milosevic
had wanted to use this opportunity to show good faith, to give clear
indications that he was willing to stop the violence, he could have
done so. But he didn't, and so we have drawn the obvious and only conclusion,
which is that we have to continue. And we will continue.
Today our primary concern on the political front -- obviously David
will speak from the military side in just a few moments -- is to alleviate
the humanitarian disaster in the region. Over the last 24 hours, the
refugee flow has slowed somewhat, but this is for two reasons. The first
reason is because the Yugoslav border guards have been closing the frontiers
off and on, thereby slowing down the flow outwards. And we also know
that many Refugees, faced with these bottlenecks, are simply crossing
illegally into neighboring countries. I heard this morning of a very
major (tell-back?), for example, of Refugees trying to go to the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
At the same time, we've had reports today, which the ambassadors have
been briefed on, of the forced expulsion of Kosovars from Pristina.
At the same time, one thing I don't think we've stressed enough in recent
days is the number of internally displaced persons in Kosovo itself.
There's obviously, because of the access and ETVF and journalists, been
a lot of focus on those -- (inaudible) -- in Albania or arriving in
But there are tens of thousands of people who are living in the woods
or on hills, on mountain slopes, in Kosovo itself. And these people
are in a truly precarious position. They have no food, no water, no
shelter. At least those Refugees outside Kosovo can be succored by the
international community. And the fighting has clearly disrupted the
flow of food and other supplies to the towns and villages.
But even if the flow was somewhat less intensive yesterday, nonetheless
we are facing, this is clear, an enormous challenge in helping these
poor people. The UNHCR, for instance, is now making contingency plans
for 150,000 Refugees in Albania; 100,000 are there already. Yesterday
alone, 5,000 Refugees went to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
And I saw today a statistic that shows that 12 percent of the population
of Montenegro is now composed of Refugees In fact, we have some statistical
information from U.N. sources on the Refugee situation, which I'll be
very pleased to distribute to all of you after today's briefing.
At the same time, we have also received more reports in the last 24
hours of what I called the other day identity elimination. The Yugoslav
forces, so we are learning, are destroying the archives of the Kosovar
people. Property deeds, marriage licenses, birth certificates, financial
and other records, public records, are being systematically destroyed.
This is a kind of Orwellian scenario of attempting to deprive a people
and a culture of the sense of past and the sense of community on which
it depends. This attempt to rewrite history reminds me of George Orwell's
"1984," which I used to believe was fiction but now seems
to be actually happening in reality.
The (KDON?) -- that is to say, the OSCE mission in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia -- is interviewing Refugees as they cross the
border, taking as much evidence as we can from them while it's fresh
and can be corroborated easily on what is going on in Kosovo today.
And this material can be used for war crimes indictments.
I'd like to stress again that NATO countries did not create, have not
created this terrible Humanitarian tragedy. You only have to talk to
the Refugees and ask them who has forced them from their homes, and
I haven't heard one so far who has said NATO In fact, all of our meetings
with Kosovar Albanian leaders outside Kosovo today show that they want
us, on behalf of their people, to continue to do what we are doing.
But if NATO has not created this problem, NATO countries today are at
the forefront of the international community's effort to help these
people. And today in the Council we've heard a variety of reports of
rapid mobilization of aircraft and ships enroute to Albania and other
neighboring countries, bringing in money, bringing in medical supplies,
pharmaceuticals, tents, food, and everything that's required. And Emma
Fannino (ph) -- as you know, the E.U. commissioner dealing with Humanitarian
affairs -- is in Albania today. She has been taken there by the deputy
SACEUR in a NATO Aircraft We continue to cooperate very closely on this
with the European Union.
At the same time, Admiral Ellis, the commander-in-chief, Southern Forces
Europe, has sent an assessment team with NATO international staff participation
to Albania to see what NATO as such, as an organization, might be able
to do. As I've said already, a Euro-Atlantic disaster response coordination
center has been activated and is ready to help the UNHCR, and SHAPE
and (Euro Control?) are working to coordinate the flights of Humanitarian
relief supplies into the region to make sure there, of course, is no
difficulty with regard to the military operations in that area ongoing
at the moment.
So we, as I said, have not created this problem, but we are being asked
to solve it. And as NATO allies, we are going to be at the forefront
of those efforts to solve that problem, even though, again, I have to
point out the only solution ultimately to any Humanitarian crisis is
an effective cease-fire and a political settlement which alone will
encourage Refugees to return home.
Two final points, if I may, before I hand over to David. I have seen
some reports in the press today that NATO has decided to go to phase
three. This is not the case. Yesterday, simply to clarify what has happened,
SACEUR was authorized by the secretary general, after consultation with
allies, to extend the range and the tempo of operations in order to
maximize the effectiveness of the campaign. But this is not phase three
In fact, I think, to some degree, it's misleading to talk of phases,
because what we are actually seeing is one Campaign., one strategy,
one objective, which is simply to make an aggressor pay the price for
unacceptable behavior which cannot be tolerated, cannot be tolerated
under any circumstances.
Ladies and gentlemen, finally, I'd like to mention, if you will allow
me to, a problem of a more practical nature. I know that as journalists,
you rely a great deal on our Internet home page for your information,
and perhaps some of you have been wondering why, since the 28th of March,
the service from our Internet home page has been erratic, to say the
We have looked at this very carefully. I've been asked to look at this
very carefully. And it seems that we have been dealing with some hackers
in Belgrade who have hacked into our Web site and caused line saturation
of the server by using (ping?) bombardment strategy. At the same time,
our e-mail system has also been saturated by one individual, who is
currently sending us 2,000 e-mails a day. And we are dealing with macro-viruses
from Yugoslavia into our e-mail system. But let me assure you that despite
these technical glitches, you will continue to receive updated political
and operational information from this alliance.
AIR COMMODORE WILBY: Thank you, Jamie. I think that's what we'd call
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. NATO now has a responsive and
adaptable air operation underway against the military forces and structure
of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia This will intensify degradation
of strategic targets and FRY forces in Kosovo, despite significant risk
and difficult weather.
The situation in Kosovo continues much as before. We now have substantial
evidence from the massive number of Refugees flooding out of the country
that our assessment of the brutality and tactics being employed by the
FRY army and police units was accurate.
Of particular importance today is the situation in the Pagorusha (pH)
Valley, which I mentioned yesterday. I can confirm that there is a large
number of Refugees and some elements of the Uceka (pH) in the area.
These unfortunate souls are surrounded by Serb military and MUP units.
They have been shelled by Serb artillery and tanks of three brigades
of the FRY Army -- the 243rd, the 549th and the 15th. This happened
yesterday and continues today. This additional slide shows an area just
to the north of the Pagorusha Valley, and you can detect columns of
people and vehicles moving.
Turning to our air Campaign., we did press forward with our air attacks
last night. This shows the area of yesterday's operation. And please
remember, yesterday I went through that those triangles depict areas
where perhaps multiple attacks have taken place.
Because of the adverse weather conditions, not all Aircraft released
their weapons. However, we did manage to hit a full spectrum of targets
using both manned Aircraft and missile platforms. While we await full
confirmation of the effectiveness of these attacks, I know that we achieved
some very encouraging results.
Surface-to-air missile activity remained much the same as we have come
to expect. However, we had no Aircraft losses, and once again we did
not engage FRY military Aircraft So far, we estimate that we have destroyed
or severely damaged, either in the air or on the ground, some 30 of
Unfortunately, I still cannot offer you imagery of some of our crucial
operations against fielded forces. But we are working hard to provide
this. Nevertheless, as an indication of our success, one of the Serb
battle groups, group three, after experiencing heavy attacks by our
Aircraft over the last few days, has been forced to move to a new location,
which we are waiting to address.
For now, let me show you some more imagery of our other recent attacks.
This is a pre-strike photo of the Novi Sad heliport and vehicle storage
facility, 31 miles northwest of Belgrade. This is the photo taken after
some of our attacks. You can see the damage in the highlighted areas.
The next three photographs depict post-strike evidence only. This shot
is of Nic (pH) Airfield, home base of the Serb military's 63rd airborne
brigade. As you can see, the damage is considerable. The next slide
is of the military Police HQ in Kula (pH), Serbia. The last is of the
Pristina Army garrison. Again, heavy damage was inflicted, and you may
make out the debris around the target.
The last three slides are evidence of the concentration of our air attack
against military and MUP facilities. We again have some cockpit tapes
to show you. The first target is an Army HQ and ammunition storage facility,
and I'll let you watch it. (Video clip shown.) The second and third
videos show attacks on a fuel storage facility, and the second target
is actually a buried facility. (Video clips shown.) You will see that
sometimes we use multiple bombs in our deliveries. Attacks on this sort
of installation have caused the FRY to ration and redirect all available
fuel reserves to the offensive military effort in Kosovo
The final clip shows an attack against another ammunition assembly
building. And you will notice that this is the second element of a multi-strike
attack. (Video clip shown.)
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, we will continue with our efforts
to relieve the appalling pressure on the Albanian Kosovars But let me
make it very clear that there is no instant solution. This will be an