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Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray): Like other hon. Members, I welcome this step, while realising that it is

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only the beginning of what might be a long and fairly tortuous route to ensuring a lasting peace in the former Yugoslavia. With reference to the peace implementation conference, can the Secretary of State define more clearly what is meant by a high representative, because he or she, whoever the person may be, will have a critical role to play and will have to have the confidence of all the groups involved in what has been a disastrous conflict for Europe?

Will he also say whether there is any definition at this early stage of who will have the final responsibility for the establishment of the membership of that conference? Will it be the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or the United Kingdom Government? Obviously, those details have to be worked out and may appear in the document that is to be placed in the Library, but it would be helpful if we had some ideas on that matter at this stage.

Mr. Rifkind: On the latter part of the hon. Lady's question, the last suggestion that she made was correct. It will be the United Kingdom Government, who are hosting the conference, who will issue the invitations. Clearly, we will take account of all those who have a relevant contribution to make.

The hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) is also correct to say that the high representative will be a crucial participant in the work of the international community in Bosnia in implementing the settlement. I mentioned earlier that NATO will, of course, be leading the implementation force but NATO is a military organisation. There is a need to ensure that the political oversight and the civil co-ordination are also in the hands of someone who is responsible for these matters in a credible and effective fashion.

The high representative will be responsible for the co-ordination between the civil and military roles and for supervising the electoral process. It is quite likely that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe will have the immediate responsibility in that area but the high representative will be keeping a watchful eye on the elections that are to be held as part of the settlement and questions like the return of refugees, the economic reconstruction of Bosnia and matters of that kind will fall within his remit.

Several hon. Members rose--

Madam Speaker: Order. This is an important agreement, and I want to try to be helpful to the House and call all those Members who have heard the entire settlement statement of the Foreign Secretary. It would help me and the business to come if we could now have brisk exchanges, so that I can call all the Members concerned.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood): Can my right hon. Friend explain exactly how the high representative is to be chosen, what nationality he will be, how he will relate, if that is the right word, to the theatre commander of NATO, and whether the Russians will accept his authority or whether they will refer back to their national Government in anything they are called upon to do?

Mr. Rifkind: Thought is being given at the present time to both the identity and the specific tasks of the high

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representative. I think it is likely that agreement will be reached and a conclusion announced at the peace implementation conference to be held in London. Already much of the work has been done, but I think that that will enable the various threads to be drawn together. That will be one of the items on that particular agenda.

Mr. Calum Macdonald (Western Isles): Will the Secretary of State say something more about the status of individuals indicted for war crimes? Surely we must require more than that they are simply barred from political life. Must not the international community require that they be returned to The Hague for examination and trial for war crimes, and should it not be a requirement of any level of government in Bosnia that, in return for any political and economic assistance, they must comply with the requirements of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague?

Mr. Rifkind: We attach importance to the requirements of the war crimes tribunal being respected. The reference to participation in public life was clearly part of the political settlement announced yesterday, and it was important for it to be clarified that such persons would not be able to participate in the public life of Bosnia in future. How those persons are returned for trial is a separate but also very important issue, and will have to be addressed in its own context.

Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam): Does my right hon. Friend agree that, for the peace in Bosnia to be permanent, it would need conformation to that agreement by Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic? I understand that they have been indicted for war crimes and that they will be removed from public life, but will my right hon. and learned Friend clarify exactly what their position will be, bearing in mind that there is a real danger that, if they had personal freedom to move around, they could create an insurrection behind the scenes? That is an important factor, and we should face up to the very real dangers that could emanate from their movements.

Mr. Rifkind: The starting point is that the negotiating powers on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs were given to President Milosevic. That has been one of the reasons that we have achieved the progress that has been realised. It is also important to look to the elections that will be held for the Bosnian Serbs as well as for the other communities in Bosnia and that we hope will enable a new legitimate leadership to emerge that can speak for the Bosnian Serb interest.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): Should not the American Administration be warmly congratulated on achieving, with much difficulty, what European countries, no doubt with good will, were not able to achieve in the past four years? Is the Foreign Secretary aware that those of us who took, by and large, the Bosnian position recognise all the weaknesses--and have the reservations--rightly expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), but believe that it is the best possible agreement that could have been reached

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in the circumstances, should be supported on the ground and deserves full support from all those who live in Bosnia?

Mr. Rifkind: I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Mackinlay: Further to the Foreign Secretary's reply to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Forman), is there not a need for clarity and precision about the role of the international forces, who are headed by a British general? Will not those forces be involved in enforcement rather than peacekeeping? Are not British soldiers going to have the unenviable task of enforcing population movements? I fully recognise that those involved will be returning refugees and that the forces will have to see that they get back. Under the terms of reference now being considered by British generals in Germany, is it not a fact that the forces will have to enforce the movements of civilian populations, if need be, at the end of a bayonet?

Mr. Rifkind: It is proposed that the NATO-led force will have extremely robust rules of engagement. The objective is to ensure that by virtue of both it size and its capability, it will be able to assist in the implementation of the settlement. That enables the rules of engagement to be significantly more robust than in the past.

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey): Will the Foreign Secretary say a bit more about the arms reduction talks? Does he agree that the worst possible scenario would be for there to be a huge increase in the buying-in of weapons in the various areas of the former Yugoslavia, for the peace then to unravel and for us to end up with an even bigger conflagration as a result of lifting sanctions too early?

Mr. Rifkind: The hon. Lady is correct; there are, indeed, dangers in the lifting of the arms embargo. For that reason, it has been agreed that the lifting of the arms embargo should be a phased process taking place over six months. It will also be an early intent to have an arms control conference, so it is the intention that there should be proper consideration of the implications for the future of military equipment and military assets within Bosnia and that conclusions can be reached on that within the six-month period. By the time, therefore, that the arms embargo may be lifted on all the parties, we shall have a much clearer picture about the implications of these matters.

Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney): Following that point, how does one phase an arms embargo? Will it be based on the type of material or the type of equipment that will be allowed in the six months? Given that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now saying that there will be a NATO force of 60,000, what phasing will take place?

Mr. Rifkind: The agreement envisages two phases. After three months, there should be a partial lifting of the embargo on light weapons and other such equipment, but there will still be an embargo for a further three months on artillery, heavy weapons, mines, military aircraft and other equipment of that kind. That is the phasing that is envisaged.


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