Examination of Witness (Questions 200
THURSDAY 1 MARCH 2001
200. If I can clarify about the Ground Safety
Zone, the Covic plan suggests that the Ground Safety Zone could
be reduced in width and the response appears to be that is being
entertained as a notion but that confidence building has to occur
first. If so, what sort of likely timescale are we talking about
for a possible re-ordering of the Ground Safety Zone and the rules
that pertain to it?
(Mr Crawford) If you imagine the zone as a band around
Kosovo, there are different ways of dealing with it. There are
various so-called Covic plans around there at the moment. One
original idea was instead of having a band five kilometres thick
all the way around, to have a band four kilometres thick or three
kilometres thick. We now seem to be moving more to an idea where
you actually abolish the zone altogether in certain parts of that
band and in the area where there is a particular crisis you actually
try to have special arrangements for that. I think there are different
variants out there, this is the point. I am fairly confident that
this has not yet been agreed in detail. There is an issue of sequencing
which I think you are right to point to. How do you choreograph
the synchronised reduction of the zone both with confidence building
measures down there in the high tension area, but also if you
are the Albanians in Kosovo what you do not want is the zone to
be abolished in areas where there are not Albanians or all of
a sudden the VJ just surge forward and start pointing their tank
barrels over the border. There are issues even where there are
not ethnic tensions as to how the zone would be abolished or scaled
back in a way which is helpful to everybody. I think what is impressive,
even though we know there are elements out there on the Serb side
who are dangerous and want to have a go and go in there and sort
it out in a very violent way, is there is a sense among the senior
leaders, so far as I can tell, of a need not to rise to provocations,
to keep on with what you might call a diplomatic track because
that is actually in Belgrade's national interest. That is an encouraging
development by any standard given where we were between the VJ
and NATO not that long ago and we need to be encouraging that,
and that is really what we are doing.
Sir David Madel
201. Are you saying that the senior military
want to push it along the diplomatic track as well or are there
growing numbers of senior military in Belgrade who accept that
is the best way to deal with the matter?
(Mr Crawford) There is an issue, of course, between
the military and the so-called MUP, the internal affairs police.
When you are down there you meet people who look like military,
Rambo figures bristling with weapons and funny hats and so on
who it turns out are policemen. They do not look like policemen
as we understand them in this country. There are issues as between
the MUP, who traditionally were the guys who went in there and
did some rather nasty security work, and the army, who in a way
do not want to get involved. All of this is frankly a bit unclear.
I do not want to say all the commanders say this, or all the commanders
say that. I met several senior people when I was down there who
made a good impression, frankly. They talked about all this and
they said "we do not want to have another punch-up, we know
it will be disastrous, let us try and work this out". We
do have to be aware that among the ordinary Albanians living in
the area there is a long tradition of discrimination and persecution
of some sort, and on the other side there are (a) people who want
to have a go at them because that is just what they are good at
doing, or bad at doing I should say, and (b) there are people
who find it hard not to respond to provocation but if one of your
friends is shot or something your instinct is to fire back. I
do not want to give the impression that the thing is solved but
I had a slight sense when I was there, and it could have blown
up this afternoon while we are having this meeting, of a certain
uneasy stand-off appearing. One of the other things that is going
to have to happen is while that stand-off is happening we do not
want the ethnic Albanian insurgents to completely pour into the
zone and just dig more trenches and bring in more heavy weaponry
because that is just going to become a nuisance. There is clearly
a role for KFOR in terms of monitoring the border and holding
it back. How would I sum it all up? I would sum it all up by saying
there is a strong political impetus from Belgrade to use political,
economic, what you might call normal measures to solve this. Does
everyone share that? No. Are there people on the Albanian side
who want to fight? Yes, the situation is tense. I have a feeling
in terms of the way the Skopje Summit came out, the noises coming
from us, the noises coming from NATO, extremism is seen to have
no support whatsoever.
202. Have KFOR got enough people to monitor?
(Mr Crawford) KFOR have certainly got enough people
to monitor their side of the border. How they monitor it and how
far they go in arresting trouble makers of different sorts or
cutting off supplies is another question. KFOR are not really
meant to be in the zone, the zone is not there for KFOR, so it
is an issue which needs to be talked about about how far, if at
all, KFOR would go into the zone, for example, to protect EU monitors
if they were there. There are all sorts of technical issues on
this which I do not want to give the impression are solved or
are even clear. The main point, I think, for today is that the
context for this looks fairly positive at the moment and we have
to patiently build on that.
Sir Peter Emery
203. Before I call Mr Maples, Mr Rowlands and
I went down to the Presevo Valley and we were with the 45 Royal
Marine Commandos and were able to see certain of the areas in
which the Kosovo Albanians were actually training with gun drills
and firing and everything else. We were told, and reassurances
were quite obvious from the marine who was briefing us out of
the blue, he did not expect us and was really quite brilliant,
that they have 60 of these every fortnight, they just come in
and train for a fortnight and then they disappear and another
60 come in. This is part of the more extreme aspect of the KLA.
They were saying "if we are going to have any peace at all
we have got to really put an end to this sort of thing and here
we are not allowed to go into the zone, we have to sit here and
just watch what is happening." They were pretty disappointed
about it, although they are doing their job very well.
(Mr Crawford) I would not dispute any of that. I am
here representing the British Government in FRY, I am not really
here to represent NATO. When I met our troops in Kosovo the other
day they were saying that when the British had gone in to deal
with this issue they had very quickly intercepted all sorts of
people and taken them off and broken things up in a way which
other NATO contributing countries apparently were not quite so
keen to get involved in. I do not want to point at any other NATO
contributing countries but it is not on the face of it very satisfactory
that the zone is being used in this way. I think the danger of
this situation developing is now clear to all of us and I think
NATO is now moving to take more precise steps to deal with exactly
the sort of thing you are talking about. What exactly those steps
are will remain to be seen.
204. The point that I was trying to make was
the military were saying they cannot do anything until the politicians
begin deciding how, in fact, we can narrow it or how, in fact,
we can begin stopping the insurgents going in. In fact, it was
quite amusing because many of them trained in Lympstone in my
constituency and they were saying "Hi, Sir Pete, have you
come down to solve this for us" and I had to disillusion
them somewhat. There is no doubt the feeling that they are doing
their job but they feel that to some extent they are protecting
what is likely to become a rebel element.
(Mr Crawford) I am not disputing that, I can understand
why they think that, but all I can say today is, if you like,
the politicians, ie governments contributing to NATO, are not
only seized of this situation but they are engaged in a way which
was very hard to predict even a month or so ago in detailed consultations
with Belgrade in a spirit of partnership, intelligent, hard-nosed
partnership, which is a very, very new and positive thing in terms
of dealing with it. I think there is a bigger point in all this,
if I can just float it, which is that following the end of the
Cold War, in normal circumstances if we had not these disasters
in the former Yugoslavia we would have wanted the Yugoslav armed
forces collectively to be part of Partnership for Peace and those
sorts of programmes. Now, because of everything that has gone
on, it has been very difficult to take that forward but if we
can move in the coming years to a sense in which the VJ and NATO,
instead of opponents, start to become partners, this sends a very
powerful and positive signal for peaceful co-operation across
the region. I think you are starting to see in Kosovo signs that
the UNMIK authorities are seeing the need to talk to Belgrade
in a much more structured way as well. Things are moving down
there even though it is not altogether very obvious and we are
certainly encouraging these trends.
205. We have talked about the Presevo Valley
and the Liberation Army, so-called, there. There is a similar
extremist, terrorist movement, or whatever one wants to call it,
in Albania, part of Macedonia, and at the same time one is seeing
the Albanian attacks on Serbs, and I know there have been Serb
attacks on Albanians as well but Albanian attacks on Serbs, in
Northern Kosovo. Do you think these are co-ordinated? They all
seem to have the objective of an independent Greater Kosovo taking
in the Albanian populations of the Presevo Valley and Macedonia.
Do you think that they are being co-ordinated or are they just
sui generis local happenings?
(Mr Crawford) I think it is generally difficult to
know given the way things operate in that part of the world how
far things are, in a sense, formally co-ordinated. Is there a
little office somewhere in Switzerland, or wherever it might be,
where Albanian emigre groups are working this out? Is there a
nerve centre? It strikes me as not altogether likely, although
I would not completely exclude it. Does one thing lead to another
thing? Are there groups down there who are all cousins to each
to some degree co-ordinating informally and trying to push forward
a radical Greater Albania agenda, the answer is yes, these people
are clearly there. This is something that the Serbs are worried
about. They say "we know the Albanians" and there is
a sort of now or never movement by them. They feel they have really
done a good job on Kosovo. One of the senior Serb ladies who was
involved in the Presevo Valley incident said to me the other day
"the trouble is a lot of people do not realise that Milosevic
has gone and things have changed", and I said "but maybe
it is the other way round, that because Milosevic has gone and
because there will be a process starting, it pays extremists to
create new realities on the ground so they get a better negotiating
position". It is very important, I think, that we send a
powerful signal to extremists across the region, whoever they
might be, that that sort of thing is not going to be at all acceptable.
I think we are doing that. Part of what we are seeing may to some
degree be desperate lunges for people who are feeling that time
is not on their side any more. Having said all that, it is very
depressing that still in Europe you have got these, if you like,
fascist groups of different sorts still having a go at each other.
I said to Mr Covic when he presented his plan, the plan is called
A Plan to Deal with Albanian Extremism in the Presevo Valley area,
"this plan looks great, the only problem with it is the title,
what you should be calling it is a plan to deal with everyone's
extremism", because we would not have this problem in this
part of the world if we had not had a lot of so-called Serb extremism
as well. These extremisms depend upon and, as it were, feed each
206. I understand what you mean about probably
not formally co-ordinated, but do you think that these objectives
of a Greater Kosovo, to put it like that, are shared by the mainstream
political opinion within Kosovo itself or do you think they have
just got friends among former KLA supporters in Kosovo?
(Mr Crawford) To be honest, I do not know the answer
to that. If you were the Albanians in Kosovo and were asked "would
you like to have a Greater Kosovo everything else being equal?"
you would probably say yes. Is it something they think they are
ever going to get, it is hard to say. Is it something worth fighting
for, probably not, "let us consolidate Kosovo first and then
worry about so-called Greater Kosovo later on". There has
always been an issue down there as to whether or not we are talking
Greater Kosovo or Greater Albania. These groups exist and we know
they exist. It is one thing even if they exist pursuing these
objectives politically, it is another thing using what you might
call ethnic cleansing and murder to accomplish them, and that
is the trouble we have down there. If people want to talk about
a Greater Kosovo or a Greater Serbia or a Greater anything, let
them talk, the main thing is they should not fight about it and
try to use revolutionary violence, which is really what we are
talking about, to accomplish their objectives.
207. You sound reasonably confident that KFOR
can deal with this but so far the Presevo Valley goes on being
a different story every week and now we are seeing stories coming
out of the Albanian part of Macedonia. You talk about new realities
being written on the ground, are we seeing new realities as this
(Mr Crawford) We have seen some new realities. It
will take a while now to roll back that network of trenches and
weapons which these people have brought into that particular part
of the zone. I have to be confident that KFOR can cope with this
because if we cannot cope with this
208. They have let it happen.
(Mr Crawford) Sure, but I think there is a question
of what you mean by coping with the Presevo Valley. If the Presevo
Valley goes really wrong, and this is why we are all worried about
it, if it goes spectacularly wrong, by which I mean Albanian extremist
groups provoking a really major military confrontation and we
have tens of thousands more refugees streaming into Kosovo, streaming
across the region, that will set back everything we have tried
to achieve. Quite how we will "cope" with that will
be very difficult.
209. There were newspaper stories, and I know
no more than that. This is the American sector, is it not, the
Presevo Valley is bordering the American sector of Kosovo?
(Mr Crawford) Depending on how far you define it,
210. That they were not being perhaps as forward,
as proactive, in trying to prevent this as they might have been,
or indeed as the British or other countries there might have been.
Do you think there is any evidence of that?
(Mr Crawford) In so far as you can see these training
camps within a couple of hundred yards of the American base, it
is hard to deny that proposition. The question is not to some
degree how we got there, the question is what we do with it now.
The big policy point is that NATO as a whole, including with the
new American administration, is working hard to deal with this.
What I feel about this is that for ten years we have had the proposition
that everything which is Belgrade is Milosevic and is therefore
bad and, therefore, because we found this Milosevic factor so
striking and so startling and so awful, we have ended up giving
support to other movements in the region who were against Milosevic
who under normal circumstances we would not necessarily have liked
very much. The issue now is how do we realign the whole basis
of our effort down there to take account of the fact that Belgrade,
for all the problems we have got, is fundamentally becoming part
of the solution, not the large part of the problem. That means
that Kosovo Albanians and other groups in the region have to deal
with a Belgrade which is now a partner, and that is basically
a very positive thing I suspect, what we wanted our policy to
achieve. That does mean quite a lot of people in the region, to
some degree us as well, have to rethink what we are doing and
look at things in a different light and send slightly different
messages to the Kosovo Albanians that they cannot carry on as
if Kosovo is an island in the South Pacific somewhere which has
no real links with Belgrade, or has no more links with Belgrade
than they have with New Delhi, it is not going to be that way.
We all have to calm down a bit and try to look at these issues
which are incredibly complex and intractable and have gone on
for a long time but in a more measured, structured, reasonable
211. On this constitutional area of the Federal
Republic, you are accredited to the Federal Republic but the way
I understand it is that you deem that you have almost equal responsibility
and have access to the Serbian Government. Would I be correct
in that? Are you equally accredited to them? How does it work?
(Mr Crawford) I am accredited to the Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia which means I am accredited to the whole space of
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which is Serbia and Montenegro.
The Kosovo part of Serbia is now under international control but
I am regarding it as a normal part of my business to go down there
and talk to people and see how we can make that happen.
212. But you are in normal contact with Serbian
Government Ministers, are you not?
(Mr Crawford) And with Montenegrin Government Ministers.
The day after I visited Kragujevac I went down to Podgorica to
meet President Djukanovic and people there. I have now done two
visits to Montenegro in the five weeks I have been there. I am
accredited to the country as a whole.
213. One of the things that is exercising us
is I think there should be a presence, a Consular General in Podgorica.
I do not know if that is a matter you would like to comment upon?
(Mr Crawford) There are not many Ambassadors in the
world who would not like to have rather more troops on the ground.
Whether you have a Consular General, whether or not you have a
British office, if you say to me, "What would someone do
down there for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks of year?" it is
not completely clear to me at the moment whether that would be
a good use of resources I have at my disposal. Whether or not
that might be a place we would want to come to in a few months'
time, fine, I do not think that is a problem. I think we can do
quite a lot. It is only a half hour flight and you can visit it
regularly and follow it on the Internet. The Montenegrins come
up to Belgrade. It is not as if we are unsighted as to what is
214. One of the things which struck me after
my visit was that in terms of good governance Serbia would be
better off and able to focus on rebuilding its economy, international
relationships, et cetera, et cetera, without the incumbrance of
the Federal tier. I guess you are somewhat constrained by what
you can say about that. Just observing what is good governance,
it is better that way, and the impression one got from Serbian
people we met was that they would not burst into tears if this
almost charade of federalism was lifted (by Montenegro seceding)
and it struck me that that was really the mood, although they
could not say it in quite those terms. What say you to that?
(Mr Crawford) That is not an unfair characterisation
of the situation. On the other hand, there is not, as far as I
can tell, at least at the moment, a clear convincing majority
of people in Montenegro who want to break away. My guess would
be that what the majority of people in Serbia and Montenegro would
want would be for these politicians to get together and sort it
out. Montenegro is now very, very semi-detached, as it were, from
Serbia, and that will tend to continue under any set of arrangements.
But these two units, if one can call them that, have had a long
relationship for a long time. People are inter-married. If you
are independent, do you want passports and do you want possible
visa regimes between these places? This is a bit difficult for
people to get their heads round. You are right, there are people
in Serbia who would rather see these countries to some degree
become independent and remarry on a different basis.
215. The impression we also got, Ambassador,
was that if there was this "velvet divorce" there would
not necessarily as a consequence of that be additional problems
in relation to Macedonia or elsewhere but the Macedonia thing,
if there are going to be problems, is all deigned by demographics
rather than anything else. If there are going to be problems,
and we hope we can avoid it, we can avoid it perhaps by that region
being embraced into the European Union or by some association,
but the Montenegrin separation, if it were to come about, if it
were to be voted for by the people, is not going to alter one
way or the other the fortunes both of the people there and European
fortunes in that region.
(Mr Crawford) I think that is generally right. The
only issue is what do we regard as a convincing vote in favour
of it. I thinkand I said this to them when I was down there
the other weekthere are two issues. There is the question
of whether there is a convincing majority for independence and
the question of whether there has been a convincing process? There
are issues about what you might call the propaganda quality of
the media on both sides down there as to whether or not the issues
are being given a fair hearing, and I think there are grounds
for concern on that. It is one thing there being a vote; it is
another thing being a vote which in a way has been stacked by
certain interests or certain politicians in a way which enhances
divisions to a dangerous degree. It is one thing there being a
clear consensus that this should happen; it is another thing it
being rather artificially forced.
216. A final point in this area, you diligently
have this relationship with the Montenegrin Government as with
the Serbian Government, you told us how you do that and I accept
that wholly. There has been a dearth of United Kingdom Ministers
going to the Federal Republic. Part of my question is who has
(Mr Crawford) Mr Caborn.
217. He did not go to Montenegro, did he?
(Mr Crawford) As far as I know he did not go there.
218. So one Minister, a junior trade Minister
has been but no Foreign Office Minister has been to Belgrade or
to Podgorica, so there is a no political intercourse at ministerial
level with the Government of Montenegro unless they come to London,
is there? I apologise I put it in that way because it is not your
fault; I wanted to clarify that the answer is no.
(Mr Crawford) The Prime Minister sent President Djukanovic
a letter the other day.
Mr Mackinlay: He writes to me!
Chairman: We are not here to get into these
intimacies! Dr Starkey?
219. I wanted to take up the point you made
at the beginning about the fact this Mr Markovicwhich seems
to be a terribly common name, is it like Smith or somethinghas
just been arrested. I wonder if you could expand a trifle on whether
you think that is deeply significant. The newspapers have speculated
that this might be the smoking gun that leads to the indictment
of Milosevic within Yugoslavia.
(Mr Crawford) When you are there this is one of the
problems we have when we look at this issue; we are looking at
a different issue to the ones people in Belgrade are looking at.
Part of my job is to try and enlarge the context. Markovic was
brought in as a senior secret police person by Milosevic relatively
late in the whole process so he seems to be implicated in things
like the crash which nearly killed Draskovic, the disappearance
of Ivan Curuvija, a former senior Communist, and the murder of
the journalist Cuvuvija, and various of those sorts of incident.
No-one, at least in Belgrade, seems to be talking about his role
in Srebrenica and those other much wider questions. I think what
they seem to be doing is going for people like him because, as
far as I can tell, they have got evidence he was involved in those
sorts of things. These are not war crimes, they are just appalling
forms of behaviour. Whether or not that is a way of them easing
themselves and public opinion into the wider question of war crimes
issue is a good question. It probably is. That seems to be the
way they are tackling it. For them the overwhelming stuff that
appears in the papers down there is all about Milosevic smuggling
gold out of the country, or stealing a villa, or corruption, or
things his wife was involved in. It is not really about Bosnia,Vukovar,
Dubrovnik, and those sorts of issues, although I think the consciousness
on that is growing. The coverage on The Hague Tribunal within
the Belgrade media, I would not say it is positive but it is certainly
not negative in the way it was even a few months ago and a representative
of the Tribunal in Belgrade who is there said he is pleased with
the coverage. They are talking about The Hague in a much more
matter of fact way. This seems to be an "unofficial"
official campaign to bring the public round to accepting The Hague
as part of the whole solution.