TRANSCRIPT: Jamie Shea Talks To The West Pacific
UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY
Television and Film Service of Washington, D.C.
Jamie Shea, NATO Spokesman
TOPIC: NATO's Role in Kosovo
POSTS: Sydney, Wellington, Singapore
DATE: July 15, 1999
TIME: 06:00 - 07:00 EDT
MS. LILLY: Hello, and welcome to Worldnet's "Dialogue," I'm your host today Judlyne Lilly.
Kosovo, NATO and peacekeeping, hot topics in the news over the past several months. We are very glad the war is over. But many challenges remain. To discuss NATO and Kosovo issues with our international audiences, I am honored to welcome Jamie Shea to our program today. Mr. Shea is the chief NATO spokes person. Mr. Shea, sincere thanks for joining us today. Can you give us an update on the situation in Kosovo?
MR. SHEA: Thanks very much. I think at the moment things in Kosovo are going well. The KFOR NATO soldiers are proceedings up to their full deployment strength of about 50,000, which we should achieve by the beginning of September. But already we have over 41,000 NATO soldiers in the region, over 30,000 of them in Kosovo. So they are establishing an effective environment of security, they are dealing with the still unfortunately too frequent incidents of revenge attacks that are beginning fortunately now to go down. They are demilitarizing the Kosovo Liberation Army. They are providing protection to the Serb minority that we hope very much will stay in Kosovo and help us to build there a truly multiethnic society.
And at the same time the KFOR soldiers have provided the secure routes and secure framework for the return of the refugees. Now, I think that this is an astounding story. Already just one month after the NATO airstrikes are finished, 80 percent -- and that's to say virtually 800,000 -- refugees are on their way to returning to their homes in Kosovo. It's almost unique in recent history that so soon after the end of the conflict the overwhelming number of refugees caused by that conflict are able to return to their homes, in many cases spontaneously. And they have the summer weeks ahead of them to rebuild their homes so that they can live as comfortably as possible by the time that the winter arrives at the end of October.
At the same time we are also concentrating on the next phase, which is the rebuilding of Kosovo.
MS. LILLY: Thank you, sir. We will begin our international discussion now with our distinguished guests in New Zealand, Singapore, Australia and the Philippines. Welcome to today's program. We will start with our guests in Wellington, New Zealand, and in particular Mr. David Dickens (sp). Mr. Dickens (sp), please go ahead with your comments and questions.
Q Thank you very much, and good evening. Good evening, Jamie. My name is Dave Dickens. I am the director of the Center for Strategic Studies in Wellington, New Zealand. My first question is that as the media skepticism grew during the NATO air campaign, did you have any doubts? Was your confidence (dented ?) at all? How did you hang together so to say?
MR. SHEA: Well, for inquiring -- but I did manage to hang together, although there were some difficult days of course, particularly in the air campaign that lasted 78 days in all.
No, I never doubted that NATO was going to prevail. I first of all believe that we have a moral duty to do so. I was impressed that the alliance did not break up, but held together very well indeed throughout -- even during the tough days. And I knew that our airstrikes would be having a cumulative effect on Milosevic, which ultimately would oblige him to meet the conditions of the international community. And of course it was difficult to say exactly when this would happen, but I had no doubt that eventually we would get to that goal.
No, my main task was to simply make myself available to the press, which I did twice a day, to show that NATO was never going to evade any tough question, that we would always be there to provide answers, and that we would make the best effort that we could to put the fats as we knew them accurately on the table. Our credibility was not by trying to counter the Belgrade propaganda with NATO propaganda, but simply by being honest and truthful about what we were doing, why we were doing it, and why we believed we had a moral duty to continue until our objectives were met.
MS. LILLY: Thank you in Wellington. We will return to you soon. We turn now to Singapore and Ms. Jill Newbranner (ph) of CCS TV. Go ahead please.
Q Good evening, Jamie, and welcome to "Talking Points." Now, U.S. officials in China are now talking with Beijing over the issue of compensation over NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. What's expected to come out of those talks given China's earlier rejection of NATO's explanation of the bombing?
MR. SHEA: Well, I hope that those talks will result in some form of an agreement on compensation, and I think it's obviously very good that the United States has been so forthcoming in explaining to China the circumstances of this tragic accident. And of course we never evaded the responsibility for the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy. We made it clear that it was a tragic accident. We apologized to the Chinese authorities immediately on the tragedy, that it happened. And the undersecretary of State of the U.S., Tom Pickering, has been recently in Beijing to present the Chinese authorities with a very full and very honest report as to why this tragic mistake happened. And so I hope we can move beyond this now, and that China would accept that this was simply a tragic accident of a conflict, accept the NATO apology, and that we can obviously resume healthy bilateral relations. NATO as such as no relations with China, but NATO allies do. And I think now we need to close the chapter and look to the future.
Q Anything so far on the size of compensation for Chinese families?
MR. SHEA: That's for the allies to determine. The U.S. has taken the lead on this, and I think we will just have to wait and see what are the results from these talks in Beijing.
Q Sir, if we can turn our attention to Kosovo, as NATO expected there were many mass graves discovered. What is being done for the families whose loved one have been massacred? Of course they have to wait for the War Crimes Tribunal to exhume and witness these atrocities. And then what for the families?
MR. SHEA: Well, I think what those families want above all is for justice to be done. And of course the International Criminal Tribunal has made a very good and very effective start in gathering evidence. We have discovered up to 100 suspected mass grave or mass crime sites, even more than we predicted from our intelligence sources during the conflict itself. The international tribunal has over 100 forensic scientists and investigators in Kosovo, and Justice Arbour, the chief prosecutor, was in Kosovo yesterday, seeing the very good work they are doing gathering all of the evidence. And of course the evidence is so overwhelming that I anticipate that the tribunal will be indicting many more war criminals over the next few weeks. And of course it's very important that we keep all diplomatic, economic and other pressures on Yugoslavia until these indicted war criminals are handed over to the tribunal. That is the best thing that we can do for those families, to make sure that every crime is thoroughly investigated, and that those responsible are effectively brought to justice.
Q Well, Russia's role in the peacekeeping force has always been a contentious issue. Now they take their orders from KFOR. But there's the possibility that they could override these orders if it conflicts with their own national commanders. Now, how has this affected NATO's unity of command or even credibility?
MR. SHEA: I don't believe it's having any impact whatever. We had a tough negotiation between the United States and Russia recently in Helsinki, but which came up with a very workable, very good agreement which provides for the Russian forces to be deployed in three of the NATO-led sectors, but following the same rules of engagements, following the same command procedures as applying to the NATO troops. So let me emphasize the Russians are not conducting some sort of separate mission here. They are fully integrated into the NATO mission. And indeed some of the troops that they have sent to Kosovo have been for the last four years with NATO in Bosnia, so the procedures of working together have already been very effectively worked out. So I don't believe we are going to have any problems here at all.
What I do hope is that the Kosovar Albanian population, which in part has been somewhat hesitant about the Russian presence, will understand that the Russians will be as evenhanded in their treatments of all of the people of Kosovo as the NATO soldiers are going to be.
Q So you don't feel that their cultural and historical alliance with the Serbs will affect NATO's work in Kosovo?
MR. SHEA: No, I don't. The experience of our cooperation with the Russians in Bosnia is that they implement the same missions, the same rules of engagement. Indeed in Bosnia they patrolled together with the United States, and I believe that the NATO commanders in Kosovo will also establish arrangements for these joint patrols. They will be very closely liaisoned at all headquarters levels as well. So I believe that Russia is there because it wants to play a constructive role in this peacekeeping effort. We know that we have got arrangements which guarantee the Russians will be part of KFOR, not part of any kind of separate force. And I believe that a lot of the suspicions that I have seen, particularly among the Kosovar Albanians, misfounded, and I hope that they will cooperate with the Russians as much as the Russians I know -- and the Russian Foreign Ministry made this clear in a statement yesterday -- wants to cooperate with them, the Albanian population of Kosovo.
Q If we could turn our attention to the Kosovo Liberation Army, do you see the KLA as a thorn in the side of peacekeepers, especially in light of reports that they are setting up their own interim government in some areas?
MR. SHEA: No, I don't believe so. I think that the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army has gone well. Next week will mark the 30-day period of which they are due to have handed in all of their long barreled and heavy weapons. The Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, General Clark, was in Pristina yesterday, and he reported publicly that the demilitarization is going according to schedule. So far hundreds of weapons have been handed over and are being placed in secure storage sites.
Now, the UCK, the Kosovo Liberation Army, wants to be part of the political future of Kosovo, and if it wishes to turn itself into a political party along democratic lines, then that is something that obviously we would welcome very much. And the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Mr. Hashem Thaqi, has so far I think played a very statesman-like role in Kosovo in appealing for reconciliation with the Serb community, in accepting to participate in the transitional council established by the United Nations, and in issuing firm instructions to the UCK military commanders to stop their military activities, to take off their uniforms and put on civilian clothes, and to cooperate fully with KFOR over demilitarization. And of course we are going to be very vigilant in ensuring that all aspects of the demilitarization agreements are followed to the letter.
Q In Kosovo itself reports say damage has actually set the province back several decades. What kinds of numbers are we talking about here?
MR. SHEA: We know from U.N. reports that about 65,000 houses in Kosovo have been destroyed. That's an enormous number. But, on the other, what we have seen is some of the damage is less bad than what we had anticipated. In fact, it's very regional. Along the Albanian border in the west and in the north unfortunately the damage is terrible. Cities like Djakovica or Podujevo or Pec have been very, very badly damaged if not destroyed. On the other hand, Pristina itself, where I was just a couple of days ago, the south of Kosovo, the east, have not been badly affected. The roofs are on most of the houses there, and then of course that will help reconstruct. And some of the infrastructure has also not been as badly affected. It again shows that the NATO air campaign through its accuracy did not inflict massive damage on Kosovo. That too I think is a plus point for reconstruction.
Now, I think the most important thing here is that first of all the Kosovar Albanians want to rebuild Kosovo. They have gone back spontaneously in massive numbers as I've said earlier. They want to get on with the job of rebuilding their homes. And that mentality is half of the key to a solution. Secondly, the international community has made it clear that it is prepared to come up with the money for the reconstruction of Kosovo, currently estimated at around $5 billion over three years by the European Union. That's a big amount, but it's not an insurmountable amount of money. And clearly the U.N. Transitional Authority, which is now being established under -- (inaudible) -- will have as one of its key tasks to set the priorities for reconstruction.
But I believe within a couple of years Kosovo will be unrecognizable, and that's for the good.
Q Jamie, what do you know in the sense of latest intelligence on the strength of the Milosevic regime, if at all, it is coming to an end, especially in the light that there doesn't seem to be an alternative among Milosevic's opposition?
MR. SHEA: Well, I believe that Milosevic is in trouble. His people are passing a verdict on his 10 years of misrule, the four wars that he started in the former Yugoslavia and which he has lost; the economic degradation of Yugoslavia, which used to be one of the most successful of the post-communist countries of Eastern Europe is now one of the poorest; the fact that the Serbs have been reduced to the status of pariahs in the international community, when they have indeed a very great contribution to make to the future of Europe. And people now in Serbia are voting with their feet. Everyday in about 10 Serb cities we have seen major demonstrations. And with the opposition increasingly vocal, and calling even on demonstrations now to take place in the capital of Belgrade.
We'll have to wait and see what is going to happen here. Obviously we hope that the opposition will be united, they will be more effective in ousting Milosevic from power in a democratic process to the extent that they settle their differences or their rivalries and be united. But I believe that the green shoots, if you like, of a democratic alternative are not dead in Serbia, despite what Milosevic has done in muzzling the media for instance, in creating a crony economy. Many people obviously want to be part of Europe in Serbia, and we in NATO, the countries of NATO, strongly encourage and support that democratic alternative to Milosevic.
MS. LILLY: Thank you in Singapore. We'll go now to our guests in Sydney, Australia, and Ms. Indira Nidu (ph) of SVS TV. Go ahead please.
Q Thank you for your time tonight, Mr. Shea.
MR. SHEA: Thank you.
Q Kosovo Albanian refugees here in Australia will begin returning to Kosovo from as early as next week. Is it safe for them to return home?
MR. SHEA: Yes, it's fully safe for them to return home. Already about 800,000 people have started to move out of the camps -- in fact have largely left the camps in Macedonia and in Albania, and have gone back. It's because that they know with KFOR now achieving fully deployment in Kosovo there is that environment of security which will allow them safely to return to rebuild their homes. The international community would not be organizing a mass repatriation program for the 90,000 or so refugees that were sent to third countries if they didn't believe that it was safe for them now to go back.
Q What about the dangers posed by land mines and booby traps? Just today we heard of another civilian being killed in a land mine accident.
MR. SHEA: Yes, that is obviously a major concern. There have been about 95 separate incidents of people being either killed or injured with mines. And indeed one of the big programs of the international community which KFOR will help will be a de-mining program. But it's very important of course that the refugees follow the advice of KFOR regarding the routes to take to go home, those which of course have been cleared of mines by NATO troops already; that they be very careful regarding booby traps and mines when they go back to their homes, particularly in allowing for example their children to play in surrounding fields. One of the problems of course is that the Serb forces laid hundreds of thousands of mines. Some of them are in clearly marked areas, which are along the Albanian border, which we can identify. But a lot of them were simply thrown into the soil randomly, and we don't yet have the accurate information that we need. So this is a great problem. It can't be solved immediately. It often takes many, many years and a great amount of money to effectively de-mine a country.
But the most important thing is that the refugees undergo a U.N. or a KFOR mine awareness program. In the camps in Macedonia and Albania the U.N. Refugee Agency, with NATO assistance, conducted mine awareness training for refugees prior to their return. And it's very important that those refugees follow these instructions and try to minimize the risks which unfortunately can't be altogether eliminated just yet.
Q Should those Kosovar Albanians who are concerned about returning be forced to go back to Kosovo?
MR. SHEA: It's the policy of most governments, in line with standard practice of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, that people are not forced to go back against their will, or at least have the opportunity to request asylum or temporary residency status, or at least even the right of return. This of course depends upon national legislation as well.
But what I want to stress here is that so far the signs are that the refugees do want to go back to Kosovo. The Kosovars are very, very attached to their homeland. During the conflict itself sometimes the humanitarian organizations had a difficulty in persuading refugees to jump on a plane in Skopje and to be flown to the United States, or to be flown to Australia, or to be flown to Germany, to be given temporary shelter, because they did not want to leave. In fact, in Albania one key problem we had was persuading refugees to move out of Kukes in the north along the border and go to safer areas elsewhere in Albania. They simply wanted to stay just a couple of miles away from their homeland. So I think this shows the very positive mentality of the overwhelming majority of Kosovar Albanian refugees. They want to go back, they want to rebuild Kosovo. And therefore I think there would only be a handful of people who would not want to return.
Q Albanian Kosovars have been protesting, we are seeing today, about the partiality of Russian troops. What guarantees are there that the Russians will comply with KFOR's rules of engagement?
MR. SHEA: Well, we dealt with this earlier in a previous question, and therefore I would like to reiterate that the Russian troops and the Russian political authorities in Moscow have emphasized that they will be as evenhanded in their treatments of the ethnic populations as the NATO troops will be. They are there to protect Albanians, they are there to protect the Serbs and the other minority groups that make up Kosovo. We have two agreements with Russia that provide for the Russians to be fully integrated into KFOR. They are not there as part of any separate force. And indeed our experience in working with the Russians in Bosnia over the last four years is that they do understand modern peacekeeping techniques and they are evenhanded. We have effective liaison with them throughout the KFOR chain of command. We have a political instance here at NATO headquarters in the form of the permanent joint council, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, which can deal with any political or policy-related questions. And therefore I believe that the Kosovar Albanians should not rush to judgment because of perceptions of the Russian role that they may have inherited from the time of the conflict. They should just give the Russians a chance to show what they are capable of. I am sure the experience is going to be a positive one.
Q And finally, Mr. Shea, is NATO satisfied with the way things are going in Kosovo?
MR. SHEA: Well, obviously there are always going to be problems. Things will never be perfect, particularly not when you have a society and a province completely torn up by war, which has seen unparalleled barbarity and suffering in Europe at the end of the 20th century -- reconciliation, forgiveness, the willingness to live together between Serbs and Albanians is not going to happen overnight; the economic problems of a province which has had a lot of its industry devastated -- not by NATO attacks but simply by the Serb military campaign, which has seen its economic prosperity sink to below $400 per capita per annum -- all of these issues are going to take time to resolve. But it's going to take not only a great number of NATO troops at least for the immediate future, although we hope to be able to withdraw them as circumstances permit -- but a great deal of international economic aid.
You've got to remember also that Kosovo has been part of Yugoslavia; that is to say, part of a communist country of much of the period since the end of the Second World War, and part of a dictatorship over the last 10 years. And that has not of course assisted the process of democratization, the process of privatization, the process of market economic reform, which of course are fundamental to any prosperity and success in Europe as much as anywhere else. So there is a reconstruction effort, there is a reconciliation effort, and then finally there is an economic, political transformation effort that has to be engaged.
But on the other hand, am I encouraged? Yes, I am encouraged by the fact that the NATO forces have been able to achieve security quickly, by the willingness of the refugees to go back and participate with us in this effort, by the fact that the Kosovar Albanian leaders have shown a great deal of courage and wisdom in appealing for reconciliation vis-a-vis the Serbs, by the fact that although many Serbs have left some have chosen to stay and some have chosen to come back. So they are willing to give things a chance as well.
I think the democratization in Serbia in the long run can only help this process. And of course the international community will have to keep its promise not only to assist Kosovo, but to reconstruct the entire Balkan region -- in other words, to implement the stability pact on which there will be an important summit meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on the 30th of July. Because the problems of Kosovo cannot be solved independently of the wider problems of the entire region of Southeastern Europe, which has to be given assistance towards economic reform, borders have to be opened, not closed, trading patterns have to be established, security cooperation has to become the norm and not the exception, and some perspective has to be offered to this region for eventual integration into NATO and the European Union. And so we just can't take one country individually or one place individually; we need a program which appeals to all countries to move closer together.
But I am optimistic that we have learned the lessons of the past and that we are going to offer this perspective to this region.
MS. LILLY: Thank you in Sydney. We will return now to our guests in Wellington, New Zealand, and our guest there Ms. Kathy Bell (sp). Go ahead please, Ms. Bell.
Q Mr. Shea, I am interested in the effect media scrutiny had on the NATO mission in Kosovo, and how you present that mission. Some of the media scrutiny was quite intense and personal. How does that affect you and your job?
MR. SHEA: Well, the only thing you can do is be yourself in these kinds of situations. You have to talk to an audience of millions in the same way that you would talk to an audience of a few journalists in a small briefing room at NATO headquarters. I decided from the beginning that our best policy was to be accessible to the press. We gave two briefings a day here at NATO headquarters -- to always be on hand to answer questions, never to evade questions -- always to be honest and be forthcoming, to provide information, even on things which were embarrassing to NATO, like the regrettable accidents, when unfortunately innocent civilians died -- and to accept the responsibility and to explain why things had happened.
Yet at the same time I also believe that it's important to point out to the press day after day why NATO was doing the right thing, even if this could not be a perfect conflict in which technology would always perform perfectly, and in which you could always discriminate between military targets and civilian victims. Unfortunately that wasn't possible. But where ultimately it would be far worse not just for the Kosovar Albanians, but for security, stability in the Balkans in general if NATO had thrown in the towel, had given up, and had simply left Milosevic to his own devices. In other words, why our course was just and why the price that had to be paid was a price ultimately that was worth paying.
You see, in conflicts the problem is the media often concentrate on the story of the day, often the risks of conflict, without concentrating on the benefits in the future which will come when the conflict has been successfully won. Fortunately now we see the benefits -- the refugees are back, NATO troops are in Kosovo, Serb troops are out of Kosovo, reconstruction is going on, families are being reunited.
When I was in Pristina a couple of weeks ago, what impressed me was the immense relief being felt by the Kosovar Albanian population that they could finally come out of their homes, they could walk the streets at night, they could speak their mind without fear of being murdered or being expelled or being mistreated. And that made me believe that everything that we have done, no matter how difficult it now seemed at the time, particularly in dealing with the media, is ultimately worthwhile.
Q Do you think you'd do anything differently if you had to do it again?
MR. SHEA: Well, obviously one always commits mistakes, and I committed mistakes. I clearly accept that. And of course I would have loved if everything had gone smoothly every single day. But I believe that one at the end of the day has to be realistic. Your performance is never going to be perfect -- you will have good days, you will have bad days. There are days when you will have all of the information that you need at your fingertips from your military commanders, and there will be days when confusing things happen that simply can't be cleared up in real time -- and when you won't have all the information at your fingertips. You will have days when the words slip off your tongue eloquently and are very convincing, and there will be days when you are less eloquent and feel tongue-tied.
I think that when you live as I had to live for 78 days under worldwide media scrutiny 24 hours a day, which everything I said was basically analyzed and dissected, then you have to realize that you cannot expect to be perfect, even if you have to learn from your mistakes.
And again people pointed out to me all of the time that what some liked about my style of communication others hated. So in other words, if I had tried to change what I was doing to appease my critics I would have ended up losing my supporters. And I believe that's a lesson that is to be learned as well. So, yes, I would always try to affect what we were doing next time round, but realizing that a perfect communications job is probably an unachievable goal.
Q Reports carried by the New Zealand media suggest that NATO attacks on Yugoslavian ground forces in Kosovo may not have been effective. Is this a finding of NATO battle-assessment teams who are in the province now?
MR. SHEA: No, we haven't come to any conclusion. You are right we have sent in a battle-damage assessment team -- it arrived two days ago. And I think we clearly have to wait till it produces its report. It will produce the most authoritative, most accurate report into this question of how many tanks, how many artillery NATO destroyed.
At the end of the day though you have to also recall one fundamental point, which is that Milosevic gave in. Milosevic agreed to withdraw his forces, he agreed to the deployment of NATO forces. He met the conditions of the international community.
So whether NATO destroyed one tank or one thousand tanks doesn't really matter. At the end of the day the military objective was achieved. And for NATO there was no ideal scoreline here of saying that if we achieve a hit rate of 599 we were winning, but if it was 589 we were losing. What counts at the end of the day is that we applied sufficient military pressure on the Milosevic regime to get them to do the rational thing of stopping the repression of their own population, and that's of course what history at the end of the day I think will record about Operation Allied Force.
Q Kathy Bell (sp) again. How does the funding the West is providing for reconstruction in Kosovo compare to the costs of NATO's military campaign? And does NATO see that as a relative comparison?
MR. SHEA: Well, it's not a direct comparison, because of course you have to do both. Without the military campaign -- and this brings me back to the previous question -- we would not be in the situation where we are in today. So whether the military campaign is perfect or not, whether we achieved every objective we wanted to achieve, at the end of the day had we not started this military campaign I can assure you there would not be 800,000 returning refugees in Kosovo today -- they would still be in camps in the neighboring countries with no hope for them going back. There would not be NATO troops bringing peace to Kosovo today; there would be Serb troops there continuing their campaign of repression. So the air campaign was the key that has now brought the brighter prospects of reconstruction of Kosovo.
Now, we have to do both. We therefore of course have to on the one hand finance the air campaign that was required; but we also have now to realize that a conflict is only justified by the good peace that it helps bring about, and therefore creating that good peace is our responsibility.
I am encouraged here. We had a conference in Brussels -- not at NATO, but at the European Union -- two days ago of the G-7 finance ministers in which initial pledges were put on the table for the reconstruction. Kosovo is not a big place. It's about the size of the U.S. State of Connecticut. So we are not talking about rebuilding an entire continent here. It's very small. It's population is at the moment about 1.5 million. And in global terms the reconstruction costs of $5 billion over three years, provided it is now shared on an equitable basis throughout the international community, should be perfectly manageable and should not have a damaging effect on reconstruction elsewhere in the world, whether it be Africa or Asia or in other societies that have been torn out by war. And indeed what we have to do is bring about a sufficient degree of reconstruction and confidence in Kosovo's future so the private money, private investment venture capital from the private sector of course is forthcoming. That's the key to success, and that correspondingly will take some of the weight off our governments.
Q David Dickens here -- we have been told to repeat our names before we speak to you. Modern air-land battle doctrine holds that a air campaign should precede a land campaign, and then they should go together simultaneously. Do you know Michael Rose (ph) has been quite vocal in suggesting that there should have been more of a land campaign and earlier. What are your views on that?
MR. SHEA: Well, I respect General Rose's views and he has a great deal of experience of course as a U.N. commander in Bosnia. But I don't agree with him on this particular point.
First of all, the air campaign worked. That is the fact, whether or not as I said earlier every tank that we hoped we destroyed wad effectively destroyed. At the end of the day the air campaign succeeded all -- not just one or two -- but all of our key objectives. Secondly, I do not see how a ground campaign would have brought about a more successful result any more rapidly. I have never believed that it was some kind of panacea, or that the air campaign was so bad that it needed to be replaced by a ground campaign. I felt that some of the talk of some strategists, that because the air campaign had not succeeded in 24 or 48 hours it was a failure were wrong. I mean, any military action, even a ground action, takes several weeks before it can produce optimum results. We never believed that any kind of activity was going to produce a knock-out blow. It was completely ridiculous to our view that because something had not succeeded in 24 hours it wasn't going to succeed as it produced its full effects. That's finally what happened.
A ground campaign would have carried enormous risks. And rarely did many strategists actually discuss the risks of a ground campaign. They only seem to prefer to discuss the risks associated with an air campaign. But a ground campaign would have taken several weeks to deploy all of the soldiers in the area -- thousands, even hundreds of thousands, would have been required for a successful invasion of Kosovo. How many atrocities would have been committed by Milosevic in those several extra weeks to get that ground force ready?
Secondly, if any people have been to Kosovo, as I have over the last couple of weeks, and seen the mountainous terrain between Albania and Kosovo and the very large hills between Macedonia and Kosovo, a ground invasion against a very well organized resistance of the Yugoslav army would have not been an easy job. There would have been lots and lots of casualties, I can assure you.
And, thirdly, the Yugoslav army has trained ever since Tito's days for a ground invasion and how to resist a ground invasion, how to use defense to the maximum advantage. They trained of course against the prospect of an invasion by the Soviet army. But this Tito doctrine, which is still very much done in the Milosevic regime, would have been used against NATO. And therefore -- not that I believe the Yugoslavs would have won -- but they would have made it very difficult for us. And therefore I believe that we need to realize that a ground campaign was not some kind of easy alternative, and that's why wisely NATO leaders decided to concentrate on the air campaign. And the proof of the pudding is in eating -- it worked.
Q Was there much of a debate within NATO headquarters over these kinds of issues?
MR. SHEA: We of course considered the ground option. We planned for a ground option, because that was what you would expect NATO to do. NATO is a planning organization, and we never rule out any eventuality. So we had plans in the cupboard -- three different plans -- for ground options. But at the end of the day NATO leaders believed that the quickest, most effective way of getting Milosevic to meet our five conditions was through air power. After all, we were not at war -- never have been -- with Yugoslavia. We were not trying to occupy Yugoslavia; we were simply trying to put sufficient leverage on Milosevic to get him to meet the key diplomatic conditions for resolving the Kosovo crisis, including withdrawing his troops from Kosovo itself and allowing an international peacekeeping presence, as well as allowing the refugees to return.
So for those particular objectives, which were limited, air power struck us as being sufficient. And again, indeed it proved to be the case. To have assembled a large ground force and then to invade Kosovo with it would have been tantamount to declaring war against Yugoslavia, and this went well beyond the political objectives that we were pursuing during the Kosovo crisis. Again, that's another aspect which many advocates of the ground campaign did not mention.
MS. LILLY: Thank you in Wellington. We'll go now to our guests in Manila, the Philippines, to speak with our guest Mr. Ramon Izberto (ph) of GMS TV. Go ahead please.
Q Good evening, Mr. Shea. Thank you for joining us this evening. Just a few -- I would just like to follow up on the line of questioning our colleagues in Wellington were pursuing regarding the military campaign. Was there an identifiable turning point from your point of view where things really changed qualitatively and it went finally NATO's way?
MR. SHEA: Well, yes. I believe there was. I think the turning point came after the first month also, when Milosevic saw NATO was not going to crack apart. I imagine Milosevic rather like Napoleon probably went into this saying, Lord, if I fight may it be against the coalition. Napoleon always believed coalitions would not hold up under the pressure. But Milosevic was wrong about NATO in this respect. The fact is that although we are an alliance of 19 democratic sovereign countries we did not crack up. Even those countries which had internal political problems, or even a negative public opinion, still stood solidly behind their NATO allies. And so I think it was clear to Milosevic after about a month that NATO had the staying power. And this of course must have been a vital factor in getting him to realize that sooner or later he would have to meet the conditions of the international community. I think that was the first point.
I think the second point was that Milosevic did not succeed in his aim of eliminating the Kosovo Liberation Army as a fighting force. He often boasted that he had done that or was about to do it, but the Kosovo Liberation Army stayed in the field right until the end. And of course there were Serb casualties which Milosevic had to take into account.
Thirdly, I think the turning point came after about a month -- maybe a little bit longer -- when the reality of the Kosovo war started to come home to the people of Yugoslavia. Milosevic had done his best to shroud Kosovo in a veil of secrecy so that nothing was shown on Serb TV, nothing was written in newspapers about what was going on there. The atrocities certainly, the persecution of the Albanians, but also the casualties that the Serb armed forces were taking. And then when there were some desertions from the Yugoslav army, when Milosevic could no longer hide the reality of what was going on, the response in many cities was clear: demonstrations, petitions, citizens councils, protests. And I think Milosevic began to realize that the opposition to his role, which we now see on the streets of Yugoslavia every day, was far from finished. And then ultimately we had too the fact that the Russians as the crisis went on were more and more prepared to work constructively with the United States, with the NATO allies, behind a common diplomatic platform to end the war, and therefore it was not only NATO which was united against Milosevic, but ultimately also the entire international community. And I pay tribute of course to Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Russian envoy, to Martti Ahtisaari, the Finnish president, who together went to Belgrade and finally persuaded Milosevic that it was time to settle should he wish to avoid further damage -- and unnecessary damage -- to his country.
I also, if I may be complete, have to pay tribute to the NATO pilots who conducted this campaign. We did not lose any pilots during the actual air operations, although we lost two planes. And it must have been extremely depressing for Milosevic every day to be told by his generals that over the last 24 hours, and despite all of their best attempts to shoot down NATO aircraft they had not been able to do so. The training of the pilots, their dedication, their professionalism, were really I think beyond the parallel. I think they have to take a fair share of the credit as well.
MS. LILLY: We'd like to create the affiliation of Mr. Ramon Izberto (ph). He is with GMA TV in Manilla. And go ahead please with your next question.
Q Okay, thanks again. Right now, going back to the present, Kosovo is virtually an international protectorate, and of course the United Nations is there with its special representative, NATO of course is there with KFOR, and you also have the European Union and the Russians as a distinct factor as well. Isn't this still a conglomeration of so many international bodies with all their own respective interests and their own respective agenda a recipe for the kind of disarray that plagued international agencies in Bosnia earlier?
MR. SHEA: No, I don't believe so, because again I think we learned from our experiences here, and I believe that in Bosnia we have learned how to cooperate effectively among the international institutions, on how to come up with a rational division of labor, which means that we each contribute what we do best in a coordinated, synchronized way.
Secondly, I think that in Kosovo we are avoiding the gap or the time lag between the military implementation of peace and the start-up of the civilian implementation. I agree that in Bosnia unfortunately this was rather slow. But in Kosovo it is happening much faster. Already the U.N. administrator, Werner Kuchnia (ph), as arrived in Pristina, but he has already been preceded by an acting special representative, Mr. Vieria de Mello, who has been doing sterling work. So all of the organizations are now set up and running together. You now have a rational scheme which gives a different slice of the cake if you like to different organizations, but under the effective coordination of Mr. Kuchnia (ph). And the international community, as we were talking about earlier, is quite fast in coming up with pledges of support. There will be a donors conference here in Brussels in just ten days' time, around the 27th, 28th of July, to actually pledge the money for initial reconstruction.
And also I think there is a significant difference with Bosnia in that there is no ethnic opposition to the return of refugees. I agree that there are tensions between the Serbs and the Albanians as a result of what has happened -- not simply over the last year but over the last decade in Kosovo. But there are not these mono-ethnic dictatorships that unfortunately have characterized Bosnia that prevent refugees going back to minority areas, and which have still brought about a situation in Bosnia where four years after the Dayton peace agreements the majority of the refugees have still not been able to return. So I think Kosovo is a slightly easier issue in that respect.
So I believe that these institutions will work harmoniously together.
Q Mr. Shea, you mentioned earlier that the refugees are now returning in large numbers. How is it on the ground? How do you prevent the returning groups from the natural tensions which understandably arise from breaking out into conflict?
MR. SHEA: Well, obviously KFOR cannot be on every street corner 24 hours a day and stop every incident, no more than the best trained, best equipped, best manned police force in the world can prevent every instance of mugging on the streets of a city. So I think we have to be realistic.
On the other hand, what KFOR has been able to do is to deter major acts of violence, like riots or armed clashes between groups which could lead to significant loss of life -- atrocities, massacres and so on -- even if as I say we can't prevent every individual act of looting or house burning.
It's very important in Kosovo to establish an international police force. Policemen are better than soldiers in apprehending criminals and deterring crime by being present on the streets. They are better trained, better equipped than soldiers are to deal with petty offenses. Soldiers are not trained to be policemen, even if we have some experience in Bosnia and we are to some degree providing law and order at the moment in Kosovo. But getting the U.N. policemen in is really a priority at the moment -- 3,000 are required -- about 1,300 have been pledged. The first policemen have already arrived from Bosnia, about a hundred. Next week the first contingents from overseas for the U.N. police are due to arrive, and that is going to be a critical function. They will first of all of course patrol very much with KFOR behind them. But as they become more accustomed, and as of course law and order takes hold, they can then start patrolling without a military protection.
There is also another aspect here which is extremely important, which is not lose any time, as unfortunately we did do in Bosnia in reforming the judiciary. We need judges that are impartial, that are trained judges, we need courts. We need judicial systems, lawyers, both for the prosecution and the defense, so that when we arrest a criminal there is somebody we can hand him over to to ensure that the charges are level, that there is a fair trial, an that justice is done. And that of course will also deter actions. To the extent that criminals escape with impunity, they are more likely to commit acts than if they know there is a functioning judiciary to which they are going to be answerable. So law and order, police, judiciary, border guards to try to guard against illicit gangs coming into Kosovo from surrounding countries with the intention of looting -- that these things, although not eliminated immediately begin to decline as time goes by.
Q Mr. Shea, you mentioned about restoring the criminal justice system there. What about the war criminals that have been identified already in the course of the conflict? What is being done right now to pursue them? And doesn't this pose complications for efforts to reconcile the communities in Kosovo?
MR. SHEA: Not at all. For reconciliation it is essential that all criminals face justice, because until they do so the sense of vengeance, the sense of unrequited justice is extremely strong, as we found in Bosnia. When war criminals receive their just desserts people feel that some kind of retribution is unnecessary, because those responsible have faded their crimes, and then reconciliation can take place. So I can assure you no matter how difficult it is we have a duty to do our utmost to make sure that those who are responsible for these appalling acts do face justice. It is not only morally right, but it is also politically wise in that it does foster reconciliation. The Albanian community which suffered must know that those responsible brought to justice, and the Serb community has to also realize that terrible acts were committed in its name.
But to the extent that an Albanian sees a military commander face justice, that Albanian is best likely to blame the entire Serb community for what was done ultimately by a very small -- and let us hope unrepresentative minority -- of thugs and war criminals.
Now, at the moment I grant you it's not easy to arrest many of these people, because they have not stayed behind in Kosovo; they have gone to Yugoslavia. And President Milosevic, who is an indicted war criminal himself, has a very poor record when it comes to cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal and handing over the indicted war criminals in Yugoslavia that were indicted by the tribunal for earlier crimes committed in Vukovar in Croatia at the beginning of the Yugoslav war.
But two things. First of all, the International Criminal Tribunal has no statute of limitations, which means to say that these indictments do not expire over time. Secondly, let us hope -- and I believe what we can also be confident of -- that Yugoslavia will not remain a dictatorship forever -- hopefully not for much longer. Democracy will come. And hopefully a democratic government in Belgrade, seeking the support of the international community, wanting to be reintegrated back into the European and Euro-Atlantic family of nations, would be willing to hand over the indicted war criminals on its territory. The tribunal is not tuberous. If you look at Bosnia there is now a situation in which over 50 percent of all the war criminals indicted for crimes in Bosnia have been in The Hague. And 16 of them, incidentally, have been detained by NATO soldiers in Bosnia. So this is a justice which does work, and therefore I think it's only a question of time before these war criminals will go to The Hague. If I were an indicted war criminal, I would certainly not be sleeping on my two ears.
MS. LILLY: Thank you, Manila. We are very short of time, so we are going to return to Wellington now. And please ask a very brief question, and Mr. Shea, give us a very brief answer. Thank you.
Q It's David Dickens here with the last very brief question. Looking to the future, Milosevic has started four wars. He's lost them all. What will NATO do if he starts another one in Montenegro?
MR. SHEA: Well, Jude, thanks for the hint to give an uncharacteristically short answer. I'll try to do this now. NATO heads of state and government meeting in Washington for their summit at the end of April made crystal clear -- and in their declaration to Milosevic -- that if he tries to disrupt or to undermine the democratically-elected government of President Djukanovic in Montenegro he will face severe consequences. We haven't spelled these out -- I don't think we need to. Milosevic has seen through our intervention in Kosovo that we really do back up our fine words with actions, and hopefully that will be a deterrent to him. Anyway, given the demonstrations in many Serb cities at the moment, and which show no signs fortunately of going away, he seems to have enough trouble on his plate at home for the time being to keep him occupied.
MS. LILLY: And with that I must say goodbye. Thank you very much, Mr. Shea, for taking the time to share your insights with us today. I also would sincerely like to thank all of our international guests and audiences for joining us today. For Worldnet, I'm Judlyne Lilly.