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NATO Press Conference
Brussels,
17 May 1999
Speakers: NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea and Major General W. Jertz

[Posted 7 January 2002]

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Below I have posted that section of the 17 May 1999 NATO press conference in which NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea stated that NATO controls the Hague Tribunal. Following that is the full transcript of the conference, with the section on NATO control of the Tribunal highlighted, so you can find it easily and see it in context. (Just scroll down to the last three paragraphs of the transcript, highlighted with blue lettering.)
 
- Jared Israel
Emperor's Clothes

***

[Press Conference excerpt dealing with NATO's control of Tribunal starts here]

QUESTION:

Jamie, I wonder if you could comment on a speech made by Justice Arbour of the International Criminal Tribunal last week, a copy of which I left with your very fine secretary so that you would have reference to it. Judge Arbour in her speech said that as a result of the NATO initiatives being initiated on 24 March the countries of NATO have "voluntarily submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of her court whose mandate applies to the theatre of the chosen military operation and whose reach is unqualified by nationality and whose investigations are triggered at the sole discretion of the prosecutor who has primacy over national courts." Does NATO recognise Judge Arbour's jurisdiction over their activities?

JAMIE SHEA:

First of all, my understanding of the UN resolution that established the Court is that it applies to the former Yugoslavia, it is for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

Secondly, I think we have to distinguish between the theoretical and the practical. I believe that when Justice Arbour starts her investigation, she will because we will allow her to. It's not Milosevic that has allowed Justice Arbour her visa to go to Kosovo to carry out her investigations. If her court, as we want, is to be allowed access, it will be because of NATO so NATO is the friend of the Tribunal, NATO are the people who have been detaining indicted war criminals for the Tribunal in Bosnia. We have done it, 14 arrests so far by SFOR, and we will continue to do it.
NATO countries are those that have provided the finance to set up the Tribunal, we are amongst the majority financiers, and of course to build a second chamber so that prosecutions can be speeded up so let me assure that we and the Tribunal are all one on this, we want to see war criminals brought to justice and I am certain that when Justice Arbour goes to Kosovo and looks at the facts she will be indicting people of Yugoslav nationality and I don't anticipate any others at this stage.

[Press Conference excerpt dealing with NATO's control of Tribunal ends here]

==================================================

Transcript NATO Press Conference
17 May 1999
NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea & Major General W. Jertz

Transcribed by M2 PRESSWIRE (c) 1999.

This transcript is archived in Lexis-Nexis, which is available at many libraries.

If you are reading this for Jamie Shea's assertion that NATO controls the Hague Tribunal, you may go there directly or  scroll down to the last three paragraphs of the transcript, highlighted with blue lettering.

***

JAMIE SHEA:

Welcome to the Allied Force briefing. As you can see, General Jertz is once again with me at the podium and in just a few moments, as always, he will give you the operational details of the missions over the last 24 hours.

What I'd like to do, if I may, very briefly and by way of an introduction, is to give you a preview of the week ahead; it is going to be a very busy week particularly on the diplomatic front and that is very welcome because we seek, as you know, a diplomatic solution and any efforts to get the diplomacy to work, to put pressure on Milosevic, to settle on the basis of the five conditions, is something that we need and we welcome and hopefully, from what happens this week that momentum, which has already begun, will get a further significant boost. As you know, tomorrow here in Brussels the EU Foreign Ministers are going to be meeting and they will be meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Ivanov, as well as with Mr. Rugova and with President Dukanovic of Montenegro, so significant meetings there. The focus will be very much on Kosovo and I expect EU Foreign Ministers again to state clearly their determination to continue with the operation until the essential objectives of the international community are met, but just as much to start looking ahead to the time when we will have resolved the crisis in Kosovo and then need to think about the future development of the region as a whole and this will be an opportunity for EU Foreign Ministers of course to finalise some of their ideas and proposals ahead of the conference in Bonn on the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe which is to take place on 27 May so it is coming close now.

Tomorrow also, Chancellor Schroder goes to Italy to speak with Prime Minister d'Alema of Italy in Bari which of course is an important location given that that is the port from where much of the aid of the international community and particularly the very considerable help of the Italian government to the refugees in Albania leaves from. Chancellor Schroder will also be going to Finland, I understand tomorrow, to speak with President Ahtisaari on the latest moves towards a diplomatic solution and also tomorrow, Prime Minister Blair of the United Kingdom of course will undertake his second visit in a few days to the region; this time he is going to Bulgaria and also to Albania and tomorrow at his first port of call in Bulgaria he is going to pay tribute to the solidarity with NATO of these neighbouring countries and I am sure - in fact I know - that he will reiterate NATO's commitment to their long-term security and stability. I am sure that on behalf of the Alliance Prime Minister Blair will also underscore our gratitude to Bulgaria for allowing our forces to use its air space and we will recognise the contribution that these neighbouring countries are making to bearing the costs of this international solidarity to put pressure on Belgrade. We are mindful, of course, of the economic costs and the need for this long-term programme of reconstruction of the region that must follow once Kosovo has been pacified.

Let me also stress a number of other meetings which I think will focus your attention in the days ahead:

On Tuesday, Mr. Chernomyrdin, the Russian envoy, meets with President Ahtisaari and also the Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, Strobe Talbott in Helsinki and Chancellor Schroder you will have seen has just announced from Bonn - so I can confirm it - will be coming here on Wednesday to meet with the Secretary General of NATO, Javier Solana, on these diplomatic initiatives.

We will also on Wednesday afternoon be receiving an important Partner of ours, that is to say Ukraine, in the form of the Foreign Minister, Boris Tarasyuk, for our regular NATO/Ukraine consultations and Kosovo again will be a key topic there.

On Thursday, here at NATO headquarters, we are meeting with Heads of Humanitarian Affairs of all of our Partner countries in the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee; that will be addressed by the Secretary General and this will give us a chance to exchange information and views and help co-ordinate among this large grouping of 44 countries the current humanitarian assistance efforts.

Finally, on Friday of next week, we have, as you know, our meeting at ambassadorial level between NATO and the seven neighbouring countries. This is a follow-up to the summit meeting that took place in Washington a few days ago when again we will be exploring with these countries ideas for the reconstruction of the region and what I would like to emphasise is that NATO will have a role to play in that stability pact in the security area, fostering and intensifying security dialogue with these neighbouring countries, helping them through the Partnership for Peace and other initiatives, to solve some of their practical security problems, trying to help them promote vis-a-vis each other co-operative security relations based on transparency, trust and openness and that will be, as I say, an important meeting as we make our contribution for the 27 May in Bonn.

Let me just say a few words finally on the humanitarian front before handing over to General Jertz. We are of course continuing to be very preoccupied with the outflow of refugees, in fact after a few days in which very few refugees crossed into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the flow seems to have begun again. Yesterday, there were 300 but today UNHCR is anticipating up to 1,000 crossing into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and these people continue to be obliged to pay over money to Yugoslav border forces, charging I understand now 200 deutschmarks for people who have already lost almost everything in order for them to be able to cross.

Thanks to a lot of work by the international relief organisations and NATO, particularly German engineers, the Blace and Cegrane camps have some surplus capacity so that we are in a good position to cope with this additional influx. At the same time, now over 50,000 of the refugees in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have been evacuated to a number of countries. In Albania the focus again is on evacuating refugees from Kukes to camps elsewhere in the country and about 1,000 will be leaving every day after 20 May where they will be in much safer locations and we can better care for them. Indeed, at Kukes at the moment there are about 86,500 refugees so the number has already declined considerably from the levels of well in excess of 120,000 over the last few weeks.

I would like, however, today to focus on a refugee problem that I don't normally focus on so much which is Montenegro, because there are many refugees now trying to enter Albania from Montenegro and the UNHCR has reached an agreement with the Montenegran government so that refugees can be transferred from some of the camps in Montenegro, particularly at Rozaj, towards the border with Albania but we are very concerned here at NATO by reports that we have been receiving of the Yugoslav Army stopping these refugees at the border with Albania. On Saturday morning, for example, one group was turned back at the Rozaj frontier post and the men - this is I am afraid a well-noted pattern - between 18 and 65 were led away. Yugoslavia says that all men between the ages of 18 and 65 are subject to the draft and therefore cannot leave the country but of course that doesn't mean to say that those men are necessarily conscripted into the army, what happens to them thereafter is still a major question mark and NATO is grateful to the Montenegran government for all of its help in allowing the refugees to cross into Albania.

Let me stop there and then ask General Jertz to give you the military operational update.

MAJOR GENERAL JERTZ:

Thank you very much, Jamie, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

Yesterday, NATO aircrews flew 539 sorties against a variety of targets throughout the area of operations. This number represents a decrease from previous days because of declining weather conditions into the evening and overnight and weather continues to affect operations today. Nevertheless, we were able to continue our air campaign to strike many Serb positions, particularly in the Junik area. You will understand that attacks on those forces in Kosovo of course do remain our first priority.

Yesterday's ground action is shown on this map. Of particular interest are Serb activities in western Kosovo which has of course attracted the attention of our aircrews. We continue to observe a similarity in the deployment of Serbian ground forces and the UCK. Logically, this is because of ongoing fighting between those two forces.

In Kosovo, we struck 6 tanks and several other armoured vehicles, we struck two bridges, three line revetment positions, several military vehicles, many of which were also dug-in, artillery pieces, troops in the open, various military storage areas and again, command-and-control facilities. These attacks do continue to degrade and disrupt the Serbian ground forces in Kosovo and we are keeping up the unrelenting pressure on these forces for obvious reasons.

Our strategic strikes included military radio-relay sites at Urosevac, electrical power transformers supplying an iron and steel plant in Smederovo and the Bor copper smelter and refinery; an army command post and barracks in Pristina and other targets as shown on the slide.

We have received these two photographs that clearly show the damage to two strategic targets having been hit on Friday. The first is of the Sjenica airfield which we have hit before. I draw your attention to the extensive damage to the runway and taxiways. This strike obviously degrades the ability of the Serbian Air Force to operate from this facility.

The second post-strike of the same day is of the Glogovac power station. Again, our success in this strike is clearly evident.

Air defence activity was less than we have seen over the past few days; there were only two surface-to-air missiles fired along with anti-aircraft artillery.

I am again pleased to report that all of our aircraft returned safely to their bases.

We also continued to co-ordinate closely with those organisations, as you can imagine, sponsoring these convoys in an attempt to reduce the risks to them and as the number of convoys grows, we do have to continue to do our best to provide safety to those humanitarian aid deliveries.

NATO forces also continued to support humanitarian agencies and organisations contributing significantly to the relief efforts in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania. Humanitarian aid flights continued also. Over the past 24 hours, 10 aid flights arrived in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and 17 aid flights arrived in Albania. These efforts, in co-ordination with the hard work of the various non-governmental organisations, continue to provide comfort and support to those forced from their homes by Serb forces and you have heard more details about that from Jamie.

That concludes today's briefing.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS


JAKE LYNCH (SKY NEWS):

Earlier in the week, we heard that the G8 Political Directors meeting to work on modalities of the diplomatic blueprint had been put off till next week but the British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, is quoted as saying that G8 is actually quite close to the wording of a UN resolution so what can he mean so far as you know?

Secondly, clearly a package based on the five objectives is not yet acceptable in Belgrade, equally clearly NATO would not put up with a package based on subtracting from those five objectives. Can you suggest anything that might be added to them perhaps in the category of the reconstruction of the region, some kind of economic benefit, which might serve to hasten its acceptance in Belgrade in the interests of bringing the resolution that you have said you want?

JAMIE SHEA:

Jake, thank you for that. You obviously don't need a G8 meeting for progress to go forward. As you know, Foreign Ministers are talking to each other, exchanging texts in New York where the resolution would have to be passed; the delegations of the G8 have been engaging on an informal basis so yes, things are going ahead and again that proves the point that what we want is a diplomatic solution, we would like it to go through a UN Security Council resolution and that is the priority at the moment as well as keeping up of course the military pressure, the two go hand-in-hand, force has to help diplomacy, diplomacy has to be supportive of force particularly in a situation like this where it is still necessary to convince President Milosevic that he has no option. I am not certain which day a G8 Political Directors meeting will take place but I anticipate that it is likely to be this week, that is all for the good.

When it comes to the five key conditions, as you can see they are still very much there at the forefront. We are not going to compromise on those because for us they are the minimum, not the maximum. You can compromise on a maximal position but not on a minimal one and they are the minimum as I have said so many times to guarantee that we are going to solve this crisis once and for all. President Milosevic has a habit - and he is very good at it - of drawing out crises endlessly; unlike most of us, he seems not only to thrive in a crisis but actually to be quite able to keep one going indefinitely and we don't want that, we have that experienced more or less permanently in Yugoslavia since 1991. We want to have conditions which ensure not simply that the refugees go back but that Kosovo is stabilised for good and that it therefore has international protection and some final definition of its status can be arrived at through the diplomatic process. We know very well, Jake, that if we settle for something less than those five conditions Milosevic within a three- or four-week or three- or four-month period will have an opening to once again start a crisis and we don't want that.

When it comes to what could be thrown in, I don't think anything needs to be thrown in and if you see the pattern of the last few weeks, we are not moving towards Milosevic, Milosevic is moving towards us. He is now putting out feelers in terms of at the beginning saying: "I won't accept any international presence in Kosovo!" and now saying: "Yes, I will!" OK, he may not want it to have a NATO core but now he is talking about the UN or the OSCE so he accepts that Kosovo has to be an international issue, that it is not something that he can or will be allowed to solve purely in a national framework on his own terms. Then he said; "No arms!" and now we hear from Belgrade: "Well, yes, weapons" maybe not of the heavy type that we believe are indispensable but he is putting out feelers there as well and some of his ministers have even said: "Well some NATO countries could participate even if not necessarily all of them!" so Milosevic has begun to move, he's got a long way still to go and he will only go the whole 9 yards as opposed to the 1 yard or the 2 yards that we have seen up until now because the international community remains united and NATO keeps up the pressure - that is key. This is not the moment to relax the pressure, certainly not on somebody with Milosevic's track record.

As for the carrots, yes, we want a Yugoslavia of the future to be able to participate in the new arrangements for the economic political reconstruction of the region but it is very difficult for countries which are not democratic to participate in democratisation enterprises, it is also very difficult for countries which have totally turned their backs on any meaningful market or fiscal reform and which continue to run something between a kind of communist and a crony economy, to really benefit from the type of market-opening arrangements and free-er trade arrangements and EU partnership arrangements which are designed frankly for social market economies and so yes, we want Yugoslavia to participate but I would venture to suggest that it would have to put its own house in order first for either its political or economic integration to be realistic.

QUESTION:

Jamie, I wonder if you could comment on a speech made by Justice Arbour of the International Criminal Tribunal last week, a copy of which I left with your very fine secretary so that you would have reference to it. Judge Arbour in her speech said that as a result of the NATO initiatives being initiated on 24 March the countries of NATO have "voluntarily submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of her court whose mandate applies to the theatre of the chosen military operation and whose reach is unqualified by nationality and whose investigations are triggered at the sole discretion of the prosecutor who has primacy over national courts." Does NATO recognise Judge Arbour's jurisdiction over their activities?

JAMIE SHEA:

First of all, my understanding of the UN resolution that established the Court is that it applies to the former Yugoslavia, it is for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

Secondly, I think we have to distinguish between the theoretical and the practical. I believe that when Justice Arbour starts her investigation, she will because we will allow her to. It's not Milosevic that has allowed Justice Arbour her visa to go to Kosovo to carry out her investigations. If her court, as we want, is to be allowed access, it will be because of NATO so NATO is the friend of the Tribunal, NATO are the people who have been detaining indicted war criminals for the Tribunal in Bosnia. We have done it, 14 arrests so far by SFOR, and we will continue to do it.
NATO countries are those that have provided the finance to set up the Tribunal, we are amongst the majority financiers, and of course to build a second chamber so that prosecutions can be speeded up so let me assure that we and the Tribunal are all one on this, we want to see war criminals brought to justice and I am certain that when Justice Arbour goes to Kosovo and looks at the facts she will be indicting people of Yugoslav nationality and I don't anticipate any others at this stage.

(c) 1999 M2 Presswire * Reprinted For Fair Use Only

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