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Mr. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester): The Government can have my full support for the aims of the military action, but I am worried that they are willing the end but not the means. It has always seemed clear to an enormous number of us that bombing alone is very unlikely to achieve the Government's objectives. Might the increased forces that the Government are putting in place be used in a non-permissive environment, as defined by the Foreign Secretary?

Mr. Robertson: The troops announced by NATO are not an invasion force. That is clear from the numbers. They are a peace implementation force to escort the refugees back to their homes. We willed the end--an end to the violence and a peaceful and secure return home for those who have been driven from their homes. All the military commanders believed that that was the right way to proceed. That was endorsed by the politicians, who make the ultimate decisions. We are confident that, after eight weeks, the air attacks have caused huge damage to the Serb military. Dissent is increasing in Serbia. Many brave people of real substance are speaking out and deserve the support of all decent people in Yugoslavia. People are beginning to realise what has been done in their name in Kosovo. That is a major pressure towards the settlement for which we all hope.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): Should not the critics in the House and outside accept that the conflict can quickly come to an end once Belgrade signals its intention to accept an international military force that would allow all the refugees to return in safety and protect all the other civilians in Kosovo, including the Serb minority? Perhaps the critics could try to persuade Belgrade of that. Two months after the start of NATO's military intervention, the majority support in the country

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for what we are doing has been maintained because the people know, as we do, that to stand aside while such terrible crimes and atrocities were being committed in Kosovo would have brought lasting shame to this country and to our European allies.

Mr. Robertson: My hon. Friend speaks with authority and consistency. We are taking action only because of the genocidal violence practised by Milosevic and the Belgrade regime. When that ends and the conditions are accepted, the bombing can and will stop. The conditions are not onerous. They are simply that there should be an end to the violence, the withdrawal of the Serb troops and the acceptance of a political process and an international security force to allow the refugees to come home. Those were all component parts of United Nations Security Council resolution 1199, passed last September. That list of demands is endorsed by the vast majority of the international community. The demands make sense, they are humane and they would impose no more on Milosevic than his human obligation.

Sir Archie Hamilton (Epsom and Ewell): Why do the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary continue to talk about allowing Kosovans to go back to their homes when they know quite well that many of them have no homes to go to for the simple reason that they have been burnt or razed to the ground by the Serbs? Why should the Kosovans be so much keener on returning to Kosovo than the Bosnians were to return to Bosnia, where some 1 million people were displaced and only 78,000 have gone back? Would the Secretary of State not do better to assume that hundreds of thousands of refugees will be left in refugee camps this winter, and start providing the shelter that they will need to withstand the rigours of the Balkan winter, instead of adding to their agony by allowing hundreds of thousands to freeze to death?

Mr. Robertson: We have to make arrangements for refugees who may well have to spend the winter in the cold of the Balkans. That is sensible contingency planning and it has already started. However, the clear intention is to get refugees back to their homes and villages--despite the damage that has been done and the fact that some of their houses and villages no longer exist--because that is what they want. They say that they will rebuild their homes and keep their communities together and that they have no intention of leaving the land of their forefathers. We have no right to make assumptions about what should happen to them. Not all the analogies with Bosnia are correct; some are, especially in respect of the violence that Milosevic was willing to perpetrate there, which gives us an indication of what he did to human beings in Kosovo. However, 90 per cent. of the population of Kosovo were Albanian by extraction. They know how to go back and where to go back to, and their houses have not been occupied. It will be a difficult and painstaking process, but it will happen.

Ms Dari Taylor (Stockton, South): I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement to the House today and warmly welcome the peace implementation plan. Will he take as an example the tremendous work of our Territorials and Reservists in Bosnia and consider the extensive value and use they could be to a reconstruction

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plan in Kosovo? Will he give them adequate warning so that they can put their lives in order before their call-up papers arrive?

Mr. Robertson: I congratulate my hon. Friend on the consistency of her message. We certainly have not forgotten our Reserve forces who continue to play a distinguished role in Bosnia. Many of them will be valuable and important in the potential implementation force that is being set up and strengthened for Kosovo. They will undoubtedly have a role there too.

Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle): Is it intentional or unintentional that the Secretary of State always leaves the strategy of NATO--if it has one--very unclear? After 60 days and nights of bombing, the tragic truth is that not a single Kosovan Albanian has been saved. If the military capacity of Serbia has been so much reduced, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested in his opening remarks, it is difficult to believe that, in a permissive situation, it would be necessary to increase the number of troops from 28,000 to 60,000.

On the other hand, if, as I strongly suspect, we shall ultimately go into an opposed invasion, 60,000 troops will be wholly inadequate. On 23 March, the Prime Minister admitted in the House that if we had to take on the Serbian Army we would require at least 200,000 troops. So we are getting the worst of both worlds. As I said to the Prime Minister on 23 March, it is time for the Government to come clean with the British people and tell us what they really intend to do.

Mr. Robertson: When I hear such questions, I wonder whether some people are looking forward to failure. The strategy has been clear from the start. The intention is to stop the violence in Kosovo and to get the refugees back in safety and security to the land of their ancestors. That is the strategy to which the 19 NATO countries have subscribed. It has been clear, open and transparent--perhaps too transparent--from the word go. That is exactly our intention.

I have made it clear, in this House and outside, that this is not an invasion force but a peace implementation force, strengthened for the reasons that I have given. In the new circumstances following the eight weeks of the air campaign and the carnage wrought by Milosevic in Kosovo, it is the belief of the military authorities that we need more people to be ready to escort the refugees back.

The hon. Gentleman says that not a single Kosovar has been saved. Perhaps he should take the opportunity to go to some of the places in this country where there are Kosovar refugees--if he cannot make the journey to Macedonia or to Albania--and ask them how many lives have been saved and how many people were not put to the bayonet because of NATO forces. Perhaps he should hear the acclaim with which NATO has been greeted as the only saviours of the Kosovar people. We will get those evicted people back to their homes.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Although it has taken place in a sparse House, in 37 years I have not heard a more momentous or far-reaching statement from a Minister. It must be about a land war of uncertain outcome in the Balkans on which we are embarking.

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What is the port situation? Are we going to be guaranteed the use of the port of the Piraeus, because the mayor of Athens has said that not a finger would be lifted by the dockers? Are we going to have the facility at Salonika? If not, how is such a force to be supported?

On the question of cluster bombs, the Secretary of State justifiably can claim considerable credit for his work on land mines. Cluster bombs are not so very different from land mines. What is the justification for their use? The Secretary of State talked about the refugees returningto Kosovo. Could I ask a factual question? In the knocking-out of tanks, what has been the assessment of the use of depleted uranium?

The Secretary of State has referred to Hungarian ethnic minorities in Vojvodina. Is there a suggestion that they are subject to the possibility of ethnic cleansing? If so, what can we do about it, other than occupy Serbia? Is there on the agenda an option for the occupation of Serbia?


Madam Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman must understand that others are seeking to ask questions. I realise the seriousness with which we all take this matter, but he must bring his questioning to a conclusion.

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