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Lord Kennet: My Lords, what a lot of good and important speeches we are having. I want to begin by inviting the House to go back to 1648 which was the end of the Thirty Years War in Germany. I believe that it was the worst war Europe has ever known, in terms of the proportion of the population at risk which was killed in the war and as a direct result of it.
In that year, by the Treaty of Westphalia, the Germans invented the principle of cuius regio eius religio: that is to say that each of the little principalities of which Germany was then made up should choose its own religion, Protestant or Catholic, and that at their own speed, unharassed and in peace, people should be allowed to move house if they wished to the nearest region which had the religion that they believed in. It is in point of fact the greatest invention towards civilisation that the German people ever made.
In the Yugoslav war (we are in a war: they have declared war on us, incidentally; the Federation of Yugoslavia has declared war on NATO collectively though we have not declared war on them) we have to recognise that among other things there is an element of religion. The internecine Yugoslav War is a religious war. It has had three movements: first, the Serbo-Croat War between Catholic and Orthodox; secondly, the Bosnian War between Orthodox and Moslem; and now, the war we are talking about, between Orthodox and Moslem again.
At the end of the day, we are all thrashing around looking for a political aim. At the end of the day, I offer as a political aim the establishment of the principle cuius regio eius religio in Yugoslavia. It will take some exposition to get it home to people and to governments around the world, but it might be worth a shot. The Balkans have been politically held apart from that possibility, which has been exploited to the general peace and good will by all the other countries of Europe, first because of the Turkish dominion, then because of the Austrian dominion and most recently because of the communist dominion. Each of these has prevented the natural development and movement of peoples. It has prevented change. They are in a condition anterior to that of religious and political liberty which the rest of us enjoy. Naturally, steam blows out around the edges.
If we look around the world and see how things lie, all NATO countries, even Denmark, are included in this force. That is a remarkable achievement of military diplomacy. Outside, we see Russia, the absence of which is deeply troubling and can teach us a lot. It is a European country if ever there were one. We also see
I wish to turn to a few detailed questions. They may be a little too detailed on the diplomatic side. If my noble friend Lord Gilbert feels that he has enough to put up with on the military side, they can remain on the record until later. What did Mrs. Allbright promise to the Kosovars when she got them to sign when the Serbs would not? We know that she promised something. She spoke separately with the Kosovars in Rambouillet and never spoke with the Serbs at all. I understand that they were proximity negotiations where little was done around the table; the teams were in separate rooms. Did she promise the amalgamation of the Kosovo Liberation Army into the political and military life of Kosovo after the end of the war, with direct military funding from the US and with a State Department official working full time to organise all that? At any rate, so said the armed forces minister of Albania yesterday. The Kosovo Liberation Army has also received a State Department invitation to visit political and military circles in the United States--and that in the middle of the war.
Moreover--I am filling in some gaps because not everyone knows--it is alleged by the Bavarian interior minister that £40,000-worth of illegal drugs money was raised at one meeting in Bavaria, a meeting of Kosovar exiles and others, and sent to the Kosovo Liberation Army. It was said that the total amount of illegal drugs money that has gone to them is between £300,000 and £400,000.
Returning to negotiations, President Milutinovic of Serbia has said that the only option open to his country was to accept foreign troops or be bombed. Is that right? He was told that he could have 28,000 soldiers governing Kosovo, and if he would not have them he would be bombed. So what difference did that utterance from the United States make to the Serbian reaction to the Rambouillet proposals?
They saw the proposals from Rambouillet, taken along with that choice, as violating their sovereignty and constitution. Moreover, it was not the Contact Group which made it, because by the time it was made the Russians were not there.
Lord Sandberg: My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, for initiating this necessary debate. I wish that I could say that I had a solution which no one else had thought of and that this is how we should be proceeding, but I am in the same position as most other noble Lords; that is, I am unhappy about what is happening, but not clear about the alternatives.
We are worried about casualties, as we should be. They will come in due course and we should be under no illusion about that. We wonder whether we can send many aircraft thousands of feet above a country and bomb it into submission. It is unlikely. We did not do so in Iraq, which has gone off the front page, but we continue to bomb Iraq every day. We have not seen much of a solution. Of course, Iraq is a different kettle of fish from Serbia, but one must consider the similarities.
As my noble friend Lady Williams said, we have to hark back and remember what happened in Bosnia--where we did nothing--and in Croatia. There comes a time when one has to take note of human misery and try, to the best of one's ability---perhaps not very good ability--to do something about it. I believe that we really could not just stand there and do nothing.
I return to the subject of the bombing alone because the thought of putting troops on the land, and the appalling casualties that would undoubtedly occur, is more than we can bear. Only last week I was in Washington. The talk of body bags, a rather emotive phrase, was paramount in the American newspapers. Who can blame people for that?
We have to press on as far as we can but we must also answer the question, "What on earth do we do when we have pressed on and nothing much has happened?" I do not agree with all newspaper reports; if one does, one is very naive. However, it was uncomfortable to read an article in the Washington Post yesterday. Somebody asked President Clinton, "What happens if the bombing does not succeed?" The report goes on to say that the president looked rather puzzled and turned to one of his aides for an answer. The answer came back, "You go on bombing".
Obviously, that is not something with which we can live forever. We do not know the solution, but I believe that all of us would like to hear from the Minister what the long-term thoughts are. Of course, the bombing campaign has only just started. We have not yet given it a chance to succeed. Perhaps it will--we all hope that
We are in an unhappy position. The Serbs are a proud people. We cannot forget what Yugoslavia went through during the war when they fought long and hard against the Nazis and tied down many divisions of German troops which would have been used against us on the Western front. I do not believe, therefore, that we can expect a quick and dramatic surrender by the Serbs. I wish I was wrong.
That brings us back, full circle, to where we started, with the question, "What is the long-term solution?" There must be further talks. We must ensure that further talks with Milosevic--if we can bring him back to the table--must not just be with Mr. Holbrooke; there must be a raft of people who should talk to him. Obviously, we must bring the Russians in, whether Mr. Primakov or his chosen man. They are close to the Serbs and are likely to have much more influence on them than we are likely to have.
This is probably a difficult situation for Mr. Primakov. He makes remarks and his boss, President Yeltsin, makes unhelpful ones. We must try to bring them in. I hope that the Government are making approaches to the Russians in this regard. I do not expect answers at this time but I hope that such approaches are being made. I believe that they will be the people who can help us to resolve this most unfortunate situation.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, this has been a serious and sober debate to which there have been many wise contributions, none wiser than that of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. He put the whole question into a very reasonable perspective. We must bear in mind that he did so from his wide, detailed and close experience of the whole problem of Yugoslavia. I hope that the Government will heed his wise words.
The Kosovo operation is a momentous departure in policy. Our Armed Forces are not defending the realm, nor any specific British interest, nor any sovereign state which has made a request for assistance. In the Gulf War, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were under attack from an outside body. They requested assistance and received it. The fact that we have not yet ended that war should be borne in mind. So, there has been no request for any military assistance from anywhere.
Furthermore, as we have already heard, the armed intervention in Yugoslavia does not have the backing of the United Nations. I believe it was entirely wrong that we should have embarked upon that operation without even apparently consulting the Secretary General of the United Nations. That was a snub which I believe is unforgivable. I think that he felt that very hard. As has been pointed out, the repercussions could be dire. They were adequately pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams.
This evening, I speak to dissociate myself from what happened last night and from what, unfortunately I believe is to come. I never thought I would see the day when a Labour Government--albeit a "New" Labour
It is particularly odious that the Luftwaffe took part in the bombing given that it last blitzkrieged Belgrade over 50 years ago. Far from undermining President Milosevic's position, I believe that that will strengthen it. It is most unfortunate that we allowed the German Luftwaffe to be involved. It is sad to see the mightiest armed force in history, representing over 600 million people, unleashing such a bombardment on a small country of 10 million people. We are told that it is to protect the Kosovar people. Quite frankly, I do not see how it will protect them. It may put them in more danger.
However, there are two sides to this issue. Kosovo has been recognised as part of Yugoslavia. The KLA, by Western parlance, is a terrorist organisation. Its members, too, have committed atrocities; but, that seems to have been forgotten. They have been attempting to undermine the status quo in Yugoslavia, which has existed over a long period of time. They have been trying to do so by armed struggle. The Serbs, quite naturally, have reacted accordingly--unfortunately, viciously on occasions. Everybody regrets that. Diplomacy, intentionally or otherwise, has encouraged the KLA to believe that NATO would eventually come in on its side. The bombing will be seen as confirmation of that. Again, I believe that that is most unfortunate. It really is difficult to see what the end game is. Is NATO prepared to pulverise Serbia to dust to get it to submit to what it sees as unjustifiable demands? How many casualties is NATO prepared to countenance?
What of the Kosovars? If the Serb army entrenches itself in built-up areas of Kosovo, what then? What are we to do to clear it out? We cannot do it by bombing; otherwise we hurt the very people we want to defend and to help. Suppose the Serbs continue to defy NATO; how long will it be before ground troops are sent in--and at what cost in terms of our servicemen's lives? There are rumours flying around that ground troops will be sent in sooner rather than later. I should like my noble friend to comment on that and to say whether those rumours have any substance. How long will the troops remain if they are sent in? Will it be for one year, five years, 10 years, or 20 years? Have we thought about this? How many casualties are we prepared to sustain and what is the cost of this operation to British taxpayers?
Again, one has to ask: why Serbia or Yugoslavia? There was no armed intervention in Chechnya, Tibet, Somalia, Rwanda or in other areas, including Turkey, which oppresses the Kurds, and which is, of course, a member of NATO. Why is Serbia or Yugoslavia being treated in this way?
Just exactly what is the objective of western policy? Is it simply to get more autonomy for Kosovo, to get independence for Kosovo and eventually incorporation into Albania, or is it part of a game plan to incorporate
It must be a great anxiety that Britain has been drawn into this deadly venture from which it seems that there is no quick or easy exit, as the United States found in Vietnam and as the Soviets found in Afghanistan, after the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.
Finally, there is not the near-unanimity of consent of purpose in this country for this armed assault on a small nation which is entitled to defend its territorial integrity, just like any other nation. We should immediately get back to the negotiating table, but this time on the basis of a real discussion, on equal ground, and not based on the threat of massive air bombardment if one side does not give in and allow an army of occupation on its soil. That is what we need. Let us not forget Churchill's dictum,
The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, I was greatly heartened to hear the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, expressing his disgust--I think that that is the word--for the use of Luftwaffe pilots and crews in this so-called "Allied" attack on a sovereign state which stood by us during World War II and suffered greatly on our behalf.
I was also much heartened to hear the warning from my noble friend Lord Carrington, who speaks with unrivalled experience as a former Foreign Secretary, of the dangers of the course on which we are now embarked. I tried to make some notes as he spoke, but I cannot read my own writing at any time and my notes probably would not add much anyway. He was perfectly right in saying that a clear objective is lacking in this operation unless it is somehow to show that we are the bullies who can get away with murder.
I find myself at this moment almost as embarrassed and unhappy about the policy that the Government are pursuing, and to which our Opposition's leadership is consenting, as I was when British forces left the Suez Canal zone in the mid-1950s, the consequence of which has been our utter impotence to influence Middle Eastern affairs.
I was greatly more encouraged by the attitude of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, who showed considerable understanding of the internal politics of Yugoslavia and in particular of the significance of Montenegro in the whole picture.
We have heard the term "moral imperative" used. Indeed, I heard my noble friend Lord Moynihan use it from our Front Bench this afternoon. The term "moral imperative" is absolute rubbish here because the confusion of sentimentality with morality is probably one of the greatest errors of the age in which we live. Sentimentality is odd basis for deciding major international actions.
The background to this situation is seldom understood. Most of the so-called "Albanians" in Kosovo are not indigenous. They have infiltrated more or less as illegal immigrants over the past generation, having been encouraged to do so by the Tito regime in an attempt to spread Communism among the Serbs, whose individualism was totally resistant to it.
In that sense, perhaps I may ask your Lordships how we would feel if, over a generation, we found that Dutch, Belgians or French were gradually taking charge of events in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, buying up farms and shops and gradually establishing themselves there. We would not welcome that--and the Serbs do not welcome it in their country either, but that is what they have seen in Kosovo over the past generation. We are not talking about indigenous Yugoslav citizens who are being bullied by their fellows but about illicit infiltrators who have finally forced their hosts to run out of patience.
I do not have any special love for the Albanians, but I do know that when the Albanian Crown Prince Leka was in London a few years ago, he was openly proclaiming the ambition to lead his country to a greater Albania, incorporating Kosovo.
We are told that the Kosovars have been offered autonomy, but that is not acceptable to the Serbs--and I shall tell your Lordships why. We have discovered in our own country that the Scottish Parliament has unleashed talk about Scottish separatism which was unheard of five years ago. In the eyes of the Serbs, "autonomy" spells eventual separation. That is one reason why the autonomy which their constitution awarded Kosovo some years ago was withdrawn. There was a fear that separatism was afoot.
I speak with the greatest reluctance. I say again that I have the same sense of nausea about the confusion of sentimentality with morality that we have heard tonight as I felt at the time of the British withdrawal from Suez in the mid-1950s, some 40 years ago. At that time I refused my party Whip and became an open Suez rebel. I am not proposing to become a Kosovo rebel now, but I am seeking as well as I can in my dotage to warn the Government, and our own Front Bench, to be cautious about all this. It is not as easy as it looks; we have heard from an expert on aerial warfare that it is by no means clear that bombs can do the job. We have been warned by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that we have embarked on an enterprise which has no obvious end. We do not know where it is going to lead. I am very sad indeed. If there was any way of toning down or altering the Motion before us tonight I would try to do so, but I have not had time to find out, whether, procedurally, that could be done.
"Taking note" is a timid, mild and half-hearted way of responding to an international crisis of great severity and difficulty affecting an area which is of historic importance to the Serbs. Perhaps I may say something
Noble Lords who do not know that part of the world as I do and who have had the exposure to it that I have had, cannot begin to understand the sentiment that has been aroused. It does not surprise me at all that the Serbs, who are not great negotiators in the familiar Mediterranean sense, would rather stand their ground. They would rather be killed than give way. They are unlikely to be moved by sentimentality, let alone talk about morality. They have their history, their values, their ancient monuments and traditions. They will fight and die for them, and I say God bless them.
Lord McNair: My Lords, I also thank the Minister for the way in which he introduced this debate. I recognise the heavy responsibility that lies on him and the Government. I shall not detain the House for long. There is one element of this conflict to which I believe attention should be given.
We have seen and read about the intense brutality which has been a part of this conflict for the past 10 years. We have been appalled by the ferocity and unbelievable cruelty which has characterised it. It is true that prior to this decade different cultural, religious and ethnic communities had been living in peaceful proximity for many years. It is also true, in contrast, that previous episodes of inter-community fighting have been bitter and very violent.
I am raising this issue following a discussion I had with the noble Baroness the Leader of the House after the Statement on Kosovo made the day before yesterday. I hope I am not taking her name in vain, but she expressed an interest in what I said then and what I am saying now. I believe that she invited me to mention this when we next discussed the situation.
I believe that we should focus at least some of our attention on the psychological warfare elements to which my noble friend Lady Williams has already referred. There are two main phases to this. First, there was the spreading of hateful propaganda to incite a population to want to make war by making them regard other communities as inferior, a threat or probably both.
Secondly, in conjunction with a continuation of the first phase, there are measures to strengthen the resolve of the fighting troops. It will be some time before we have details of these measures in respect of the fighting in Kosovo, but we do know that in Bosnia, exhortation which, presumably accompanies every briefing to soldiers in a combat zone, was strengthened by supplying the Serbian soldiers with psychoactive drugs to increase their ferocity and determination. I suggest that the intense brutality and unbelievable cruelty to which I referred earlier was heightened by the use of these drugs.
I have no idea what psychoactive chemicals were used in Bosnia by the Serb military leaders, but it is common knowledge that some psychoactive drugs can give people who have taken them immense, almost superhuman, strength and an inability to feel pain. In that respect at least the Serbian soldiers were also the unwitting victims of a horrible experiment, as reports I have with me make clear. In addition to white pills, liquid drugs and injection equipment were found on dead and captured Serbian soldiers.
In returning to the first phase of this psychological warfare, the hate propaganda, we should remember how Radovan Karadzic, the successor to Jovan Raskovic, as leader of the nationalist Serbs in Bosnia--and, like Raskovic, a psychiatrist--used the mass media to generate fear and hatred among the Serbian people. Raskovic wrote a book to this end called This Mad Country which was a mixture of Mein Kampf and Freudian nonsense. It chillingly propagandised the supposed inferiority of the Moslem population. I hope that besides all the other considerations that the Government have in this matter, they will take account of these two psychological warfare aspects of the Balkan conflict.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, one of the ironies of the war in Kosovo is that there had been some dramatic improvements in the conditions of the Albanian people there in the past few years. That was due in part to the presence of international humanitarian agencies. I shall quote only one example. Infant mortality was the highest in Europe five years ago. It has been halved thanks to an immunisation campaign. There have been many other successes in health and education. UNICEF and the other agencies involved fear that all these gains may now be thrown away.
There are about 16 non-governmental organisations active in Kosovo including some names which are well known to us, such as Oxfam, Save the Children, UNICEF, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Red Crescent. Some have provided welfare such as supplementary foods and material aid and others like Oxfam are focusing on long-term priorities such as clean water and sanitation, often in very dangerous and difficult terrain. It is a formidable task. The noble Lord, Lord Eames, described the extent of the human need. I have seen a figure of 180,000 internally displaced persons. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, rightly says that the figure has increased to 250,000 of whom two-thirds are children and most of the rest women.
The courage of aid workers needs little explanation because in a sense they are the counterparts of any humanitarian crisis. They have to be there because, however much we endorse the actions of NATO, it is simultaneously our policy to serve the victims on the ground, the ordinary people and the refugees.
Some NGOs have already suffered direct hits themselves. For instance, the ICRC medical team struck a landmine last September and lost a doctor. Earlier last year three ethnic Albanian workers of the Mother Teresa Association died at the hands of the Serbian police.
My purpose in the debate is to ask some questions of the Minister. In a war which, as a matter of policy, does not involve ground forces--in other words, a war of punitive air strikes--are we not exposing our aid workers considerably more than would be the case in other emergencies and conflicts around the world? What consultations, if any, are taking place between NATO and the non-governmental organisations on the position of these personnel? Is there any contingency plan to protect NGOs, perhaps via the ground forces in Macedonia? We all saw on television last night the worried looks of the NGO staff in Pristina as they contemplated the prospect of joining the refugees they had gone to help.
I hope that the Government do not regard the situation of the NGOs as an optional extra in a modern war of this kind. Their contribution continues to be of vital importance during a crisis of this magnitude.
Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, I, too, begin by thanking my noble friend for his introduction to today's debate. To make my position clear at the outset, I believe it is right for the Government to feel that they cannot stand aside. It is right also that NATO should demonstrate that it is serious about the principles and values on which it is based.
Today's debate is really a convolution of three debates which have been running now for many months. The first concerns the action and capabilities of British troops and how they are performing. That is very much the way in which my noble friend presented his speech when he was talking about last night's action. Perhaps he could say a few more words about the position of British troops, both in Bosnia and Macedonia, and how they may be protecting themselves.
The second debate that has been running over the past few months concerns the institutional relationships, to which a number of noble Lords referred, between NATO, the UN and the OSCE. The Washington Summit is to take place shortly where we will be looking at European defence. Institutions will be built on the experiences through which we are going at the moment. I hope that those experiences will lead us to the conclusion that we need to strengthen Europe's capabilities for acting on small-scale types of task--so called "Petersberg" tasks--to prevent us from getting into these extreme situations in the future. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, referred to the huge efforts made by NGOs over the past months and how it is ironic that they averted the crisis over the winter period only to arrive at where we are today.
The third convolution of the three debates is the moral argument; the rightness of this cause as opposed to other causes; the necessity to take sides and at the same time to try to maintain a balance. It would be useful if the Minister could say something about the Government's
I wish to make just one point and to develop the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams. It concerns the importance of the Russian Prime Minister Primakov. It is easy to be negative about Russia; I have done it myself and have sat through many debates where the point was made that the only thing that unites Russian politicians is their opposition to the expansion of NATO. It is easy to talk about how its economy is in tatters and it is easy to say that it is weak and being ignored. At best Russia is seen as a dangerous ally.
But it is extremely important to be far more positive than that. I hope that we will soon be in contact with the Russian Government and when we are, we will need to be positive about what is happening in Russia. I would point out that we are seeing the very beginning of a recovery in the Russian economy. There was a terrible crash on 17th August, but I believe I am right in saying that in the first three months of this year the Russian stock exchange performed better than any other stock exchange in the world. So that indicates a very small start towards recovery there.
It is also right to point out that the Russian people are becoming more influential in the world than ever before as they join western companies and work in all parts of the world. While the Russian Government may be losing influence, in my view the Russian people are not. My third point is that Russia remains a hugely dominant regional force and must be used as such.
The one message that I really want to give the Front Bench tonight is that if and when our Prime Minister talks to Prime Minister Primakov, he must be positive about Russia's contribution; about its overwhelmingly important role in trying to move this desperately difficult situation forward. In doing that he must point to its successes over the past few years.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, this has been a short and sober debate. No doubt we shall have others. The Minister correctly said that at this stage we must limit ourselves primarily to the military operations and to their immediate implications, though it is also correct that we always have to ask what are the long-term objectives and where do we think we may be going? Can the Government assure us that there are sufficiently clear objectives?
There have been a number of calls in this debate for us to make our objectives entirely clear. I say with some sympathy for the Minister and Her Majesty's Government that at this stage, in these extremely complicated circumstances, it is not possible to have entirely clear objectives. There are a number of things we do not know. We know that Mr. Milosevic is in a shaky position in Serbia. He has been forced to dismiss
A number of people questioned the possibility of fighting the Serbs in Yugoslavia, unless we have overwhelming military force. I remind your Lordships that we faced in the Falklands an unwillingly conscripted Argentinian force and the difference between unwillingly conscripted people fighting for something about which they are not entirely convinced, and those who are fighting for clear objectives and who are well trained, is not something that can be ignored in calculating the level of force needed on both sides.
Clearly air power has to be proportionately applied for proportionate purposes; air power in itself is not enough. I welcomed the speech of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, emphasising that this is part of what is being done, but it cannot in itself do everything. From these Benches we have said throughout the Yugoslav crisis, since 1991, that forces on the ground have to be part of the package. There were those within my own party who said that we ought to have put forces into Bosnia at an earlier stage, when it was clear that Yugoslavia itself was breaking up, because a proportionate use of force then would have prevented worse now.
I remind Members of the House that there are already 1 million refugees from the former Yugoslavia now scattered throughout the European Union. We have seen an extra 250,000 created within Macedonia and it is estimated that 100,000 more lost their homes within the past month, before the bombing started. That seems to justify the action that Her Majesty's Government have just taken, which was the essence of the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, with which I entirely agree.
If air power is not enough, then clearly we have to think about the long-term implications. Again, people from my party have said throughout that this is likely to be the beginnings of a long-term commitment; that we are likely to have to put forces in on the ground at one stage, we hope by agreement, raising major questions about military overstretch, about whether or not the SDR's cutting down of reserves was sustainable, about how we may manage with our allies to sustain a military presence in Bosnia and in Kosovo, and perhaps also, as my noble friend Lady Williams said, in northern Albania over an extended period.
Perhaps I may remind those who have spoken in favour of hesitation in this debate that the alternatives are not particularly easy either. What we have seen is clearly the beginning of ethnic cleansing within Kosovo. There are those who suggest that what Mr. Milosevic has really been attempting to do is perhaps to divide Kosovo into north and south, as Bosnia was divided, so as to hang on to a northern Kosovo in which Serbs would become the dominant party and from which Kosovars would be driven, leaving them with the remnants of an already destroyed southern Kosovo.
I have students from the region. I was talking to two Serbian students last week before they went back to Belgrade. I have to say that both of them are women. I was also talking to a Bulgarian student of mine. It was a deeply depressing experience with two Serbs and a Bulgarian sitting round a House of Lords' tea table discussing the future of the region. There is a great deal of opposition within Serbia to the current position of the government. As my noble friend Lord McNair said, we are aware that the Serbian Government have been attempting to use propaganda to inflame ethnic hatreds.
I reinforce what my noble friend Lady Williams said about the importance of maintaining as actively as we can our efforts to inform and influence opinion within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. There has to be an alternative to Mr. Milosevic and, when there is an alternative to him, we will do our best to help. As I spend some of my time advising Serbians on what they should do until Mr. Milosevic goes, perhaps I may add that part of what the European Union needs to do is to help prepare those who will have to reconstruct Yugoslavia after a change of regime.
We have heard a certain amount about dreams of a greater Albania from the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, who seems to support dreams of a greater Serbia and not of the various alternatives. Those of us who know a little about the history of south-eastern Europe can recall that there were dreams of a greater Bulgaria, dreams of a greater Romania, dreams of a greater Greece, of a greater Serbia and, indeed, of a greater Albania all to be built out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire that led to the three Balkan Wars of the first 10 years of this century, with their ethnic cleansing and massacres on all sides. The governments currently attempting to cope with what is happening in south-eastern Europe are conscious that that is only two generations away and that the potential for a return to that kind of ethnic cleansing is there, way beyond the boundaries of former Yugoslavia. That is why we have to take this responsibility on board.
I should tell the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, that I do not believe that there is an alternative in the long run other than to extend across this region of Europe the peace, prosperity and order which we have established inside the European Union over the past 50 years and which we are in the process of extending across the states which are currently applicants for the European Union. That is one of the many reasons why I support the EU. I regret the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, and the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, with, I have to say, their anti-German undertones. I find it odd to argue that it was right to go into Suez, but it is wrong to go in to suppress Serbian air defences now.
In looking at a long-term commitment, we have to recognise that there may well be casualties, both British and others. I was in Germany for three days last week. I heard Oschka Fischer talking about the situation. I did not meet great German imperialism; indeed, we all met deep unease among members of all parties at a conference that I was attending about the commitment of German troops. As part of building a more peaceful European region, it is now time, 50 years after the war, for the Germans to take their share of the common
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