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Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome): Although I understand that this would not form part of the military technical agreement, is there any sign that Yugoslav army troop concentrations will also be withdrawn from

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Montenegro? Is there any way of monitoring the extent to which the Yugoslav forces remain in Montenegro in the next few months?

Mr. Robertson: No, because this agreement is about Kosovo and the campaign was about Kosovo. It has been agreed that the Serbian forces inside Kosovo will be withdrawn into other parts of Serbia, not into Montenegro. The hon. Gentleman's point about the importance of Montenegro is well taken. President Djukanovic, the elected President of Montenegro, is an individual of some character: he expressed several views during the conflict that clearly mark him as a man for the future.

We are very sensitive to the prevailing circumstances in that part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. If, by some mischance, Milosevic had won and if alliance unity had not held strong, he would certainly have turned his attention from Kosovo--where he had succeeded in expelling a dissident population--to Montenegro and tried to subjugate it to the same form of dictatorship as appears to be his only ambition.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood): The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) made an important point. Will the NATO alliance monitor extremely carefully the possibility that Serb forces within Serbia--which can now be replaced by those withdrawing from Kosovo--will, as a consequence of the withdrawal from Kosovo, augment the Serbian military presence in Montenegro, thereby putting pressure on its civil democratic Government and potentially destabilising a fragile political situation?

Mr. Robertson: Yes, of course, we shall monitor the situation as it develops. As I have said, Montenegro is relevant to the future of the Balkans. We made it absolutely clear that, if Milosevic attempted to destabilise the Government of Montenegro, the NATO alliance and the wider international community would consider that of the utmost seriousness.

Kosovo is a tragedy. British soldiers, sailors, aircrew and ground crew have helped to prevent it from becoming a permanent disaster. They are bringing hope to hundreds of thousands of victims of this last great act of 20th century barbarity at the heart of our continent. Kosovo contains major lessons for the international community, and in analysing them we must beware of preparing to refight the last war. That process of analysis will be helped by the fact that, in most respects, Kosovo is an operation of the kind that we have been preparing to conduct since the strategic defence review. All the main themes of the review have applied in one form or another.

How can defence help to ensure that the next century is different, and that it is a century of dialogue rather than one of destruction? Our starting point must be a realistic assessment of the world in which we live and with which we have to deal.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Before the Secretary of State leaves the subject of Kosovo, I want to ask a question. He knows very well that an enormous problem faces any military personnel who have to distinguish between civilians and guerrillas. That will be particularly difficult in the case of the ethnic Albanian community and the Kosovo Liberation Army. What are the Secretary of

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State's views on the disarming of the KLA? Will he tell the House what undertakings have been given by the KLA's chain of command?

Mr. Robertson: Of course there will be problems for the implementation force and KFOR, one of which is the problem that my hon. Friend has identified. If any of the Serb paramilitaries decide to stay out of uniform or if other irregulars do not obey their central command, the difficulty of identifying them and dealing with them will be formidable. However, I know that General Jackson has already faced up to that problem and I have absolutely no doubt that he has made plans.

The KLA will be part and parcel of the UN Security Council resolution, and its demilitarisation is a fundamental part of rebuilding the security of the area. The KLA's leadership have publicly made it clear that they will co-operate with the terms of the UN Security Council resolution and, having signed up to Rambouillet and the strictures applied by that agreement, they will take on themselves another obligation in the new circumstances.

As I said, we must have a realistic assessment of the world in which we live and with which we have to deal. We do not need rose-coloured spectacles that mislead us about the risks and challenges or comments of despair that leave us wringing our hands on the sidelines. There are those who have said, "We can do nothing. This is a civil war. Let the blood flow and eventually the situation will stabilise." We have conclusively proved those people wrong. I hope that, at some point, they will apologise for the situation that they would have created if we had been so foolish as to take their advice.

Two years on from the analysis of Britain's security priorities in the changing world that underpinned the strategic defence review, it gives me no pleasure or satisfaction to say that events have borne out our assessment. At the most strategic level, we still face no threat to our national survival, and the prospect of such a threat emerging in the foreseeable future looks, if anything, even more remote.

Instability, however, continues to bring human suffering on an almost unimaginable scale in its wake. In Europe, Kosovo is the starkest example of the consequences of the break-up of states and the ethnic and religious conflict that follows it. Further from home--in successive crises in central Africa, for example--the lesson that international peace and stability is about the lives of ordinary people has been repeated time and again.

The strategic defence review concluded that Britain had a clear national interest in working to deal with such problems and an equally clear responsibility to do so. The Government committed themselves to a security and defence policy based on engagement and not isolation. We pledged ourselves to use the armed forces as a force for good in the world and to play a leadership role that would enable us to make a difference. Our policy was not an easy option. With the benefit of hindsight, however, I am more firmly convinced than ever that it was the right option for the UK.

Today's challenge is to make the post-cold war institutional framework work more effectively. There has never been a single institutional answer to Britain's security requirements. Too often, however, we have sacrificed operational effectiveness for political

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symbolism. Our European defence initiative, which was developed in close partnership with France and has been embraced by allies and partners on both sides of the Atlantic, is designed to redress that balance.

At last week's European Council in Cologne, European Union Heads of State and Government endorsed progress so far on that initiative, and pointed the way forward. We are all determined that the EU should play a full role on the international stage. The in-coming Finnish presidency has been invited to take forward the work that is necessary to develop, in the EU, the means to take decisions on crisis-management tasks and political control of military operations.

I draw the House's attention in this context to the sterling contribution to resolving the Kosovo crisis made by the President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari. We were all hugely impressed not just by his brilliant and eloquent English on our television screens but by the superb and elegant diplomacy that led to President Milosevic accepting the inevitable.

The agreement at last week's European summit in Cologne builds on NATO's Washington summit, where the allies stated their willingness to adopt arrangements for ready access by the EU to the collective assets and capabilities of the alliance. It is also fully consistent with the UK's approach to the European security and defence debate. We have argued for developing capabilities for defence decision making in the EU, while drawing the bulk of military capability from the forces which we and our allies contribute to NATO.

We have also consistently made it clear that this debate must address the shortfalls in European military capability. At Cologne, the EU member states committed themselves to developing more effective European military capabilities. That will--I say "will" and not "would" because I believe that there is a determination across our continent--allow us to make a stronger and more coherent contribution to NATO and to take action when the alliance as a whole is not engaged.

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): On capabilities, many people are concerned--I am sure that the Secretary of State is much concerned as well--that, given the stretching of our commitments and, perhaps, an unending commitment in Kosovo, we will not have the number of men required. Is he going to cover that subject, and say whether he intends to increase the number of soldiers in the armed forces?

Mr. Robertson: I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are increasing the size of the Army. By contrast with the previous drift downwards in numbers, the strategic defence review proposed an increase of 3,000 personnel. That is probably the first time that the Army has been increased by a peacetime defence review. The extra people will be used for the enhancements requested by the Army, which we believe are necessary.

Of course the present crisis, and the handling of the existing crises elsewhere, whether in Northern Ireland or Bosnia, will impose a strain, especially on human beings. Although recruitment has increased dramatically in some arms of the services since last year, because of the degree of overstretch, retention is becoming a bigger problem. That is a matter of concern for the House as a whole, especially for Ministers, and we are addressing it. I might

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point out to the hon. Gentleman that our objective is to increase the size of the Army beyond simply filling the gap in recruitment that we inherited, so as to make our forces stronger and more usable.

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