Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280
TUESDAY 13 JULY 1999
COOK, MP, DR
PARRY, CMG AND
280. Are refugees able to return from Montenegro
(Mr Cook) Yes, and it should be said, in praise of
President Djukanovic, that he maintained an open frontier policy
throughout the whole of the conflict. At one stage, there were
90,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees in Montenegro. That may sound
small, compared with the numbers in Macedonia and Albania, but
pro rata to Montenegro's 600,000, it was as high as either of
281. You have just mentioned Albania and Macedonia,
who are obviously in principal need of assistance in the immediate
future. How will the Stability Pact provide for economic reconstruction
in those two areas to help them to cope with the very serious
economic effects of the conflict?
(Mr Cook) Albania and Macedonia?
(Mr Cook) First of all, before I turn to the Stability
Pact, do remember that the European Union has now earmarked 250
million euro precisely to be spent in that sub-region. Most of
it is for the economic impact but 100 million of it is for budgetary
aid, reflecting the additional financial pressure on those countries
from the refugee crisis. The Stability Pact will act as a clearing
house and co-ordinating role and, also, hopefully, will act as
a stimulus to activity by international agencies. Some of them,
like the World Bank and the IMF, are critical to getting the economic
reconstruction of the region going. The Stability Pact's focus
is on the wider South East Europe region, but it fully will recognise
the critical importance within that of Albania and Macedonia and,
in particular, the pressures on both of them of the economic consequences
of the war. In the case of Macedonia, 60 per cent of its exports
before the conflict went through Yugoslavia, and that has been
reduced to virtually zero during the conflict, and that creates
an enormous economic issue which needs to be addressed. So I hope
that both the direct aid that has been provided and, also, the
stimulus of the Stability Pact will make a significant difference.
Finally, if I can just add, bilaterally, the United Kingdom is
now spending £90 million through DfID on tackling the humanitarian
problems within the sub-region. Much of that will now be spent
in Kosovo, but much has already been spent in Macedonia and Albania.
283. One last question, Foreign Secretary: going
back again to Serbia and the differentiation between Serbia and
Montenegro, is there any view that there might be a need for more
immediate aid to increase protection, perhaps, in economic or
in other terms, of the Hungarian population in the area?
(Mr Cook) You touch on what is a very real issue,
and one on which we remain vigilant. There are 300,000 ethnic
Hungarians within Serbia. Their welfare and security, of course,
is a matter of acute concern for the Hungarian Government. At
the present time we have not seen overt moves against them, but,
as I myself have warned, Milosevic is a serial nationalist and
we must be on guard against the next attempt to try and exploit
nationalist sentiment by identifying another threat to Serbian
nationalism. At the present time, on the basis of those reports
we are receiving, which the Committee will have read, in the open
media, Milosevic does seem to rather have his hands full and it
may well be that, at the present time, he is not in position to
make such a move. However, we are watching with great care.
284. Just pursuing for one moment one point
arising from the Montenegro question Mr Heath raised. I think,
if I caught you, you said that if Milosevic interfered it would
be against the spirit of the arrangement. If there was any attempt
to destabilise and, in fact, overthrow the President of Montenegro,
would it actually not just be a matter of the spirit, and, in
fact, direct intervention would follow on behalf of NATO in defence
of the Presidency?
(Mr Cook) I am not quite sure of my ground on the
legal nicety of itand perhaps Dr Jones Parry might keep
me right on the legality of the issuebut, leaving aside
the legal niceties, we have repeatedly said that if there was
any move against the democratic government of Montenegro it would
be followed by grave consequences. We have deliberately left Milosevic
guessing as to quite what those grave consequences might be, but
we are, of course, militarily, in a much better position to make
sure consequences are indeed grave. Dr Jones Parry, is there any
legal agreement we have that would regard it as a breach if Milosevic
was to move on Montenegro?
(Dr Jones Parry) In a strict legal sense, Mr Chairman,
one would need to look at that, but I do not think it would be
sensible, in the sense the Foreign Secretary has just said, to
preclude options, at this stage. So, in that sense, I do not think
a precise legal answer would actually be useful.
285. Has he made any specific undertakings in
respect of Montenegro?
(Dr Jones Parry) No.
(Mr Cook) No, and let us be objective here: the G8
principles, the Security Council Resolution and the Military Technical
Agreement were focused on Kosovo. That said, NATO, the European
Union, have already repeatedly made expressions of their commitment
to Montenegro, and he is in no doubt about that commitment to
Montenegro. It was particularly drawn to the attention of his
negotiators during the Military Technical Agreement, when we insisted
that the withdrawal must be to Serbia. I would add one other point
here, Chair, and that is that the current evidence of the state
of the VJ army is such that whilst one cannot preclude Milosevic
seeking to embark upon another adventure, we do not get the impression
that the foot soldiers are enthusiastic about being conscripted
to such an adventure.
286. Who patrols the external borders with Montenegro?
Is it the Federal Republican Army at the moment? Who actually
controls the border with Montenegro?
(Mr Cook) First of all, there is a significant VJ
Army within Montenegro, yes, and that, of course, is accountable
to Belgrade. There is also, of course, a police force in Montenegro,
which is accountable to the Government of Montenegro, and in the
context of Yugoslavia, "police force" is a broad term
which embraces people who, in our culture, we would be more inclined
to recognise as troops, or police troops. At one stage during
the conflict, if I recall rightly, the VJ Army tried to take over
border posts from the Montenegro Police, and I think that was
reversed. Yes, it was reversed. So, at the moment, one would expect
those border posts to be in the hands of police accountable to
287. May I turn, Foreign Secretary, to the issue
of what we have found out since the bombing has stopped? In the
memorandum the Office has submitted to us, the lowest estimate
of the amount of killing which went on in Kosovo was 10,000 deaths,
according to the memorandum, and was, possibly, much larger. Is
it the assessment from all the evidence you have received that
the vast majority of those 10,000 deaths occurred after the bombing
began? In other words, was the slaughter really post- or pre-bombing?
(Mr Cook) The estimate that is commonly used, Ted,
is that in the year preceding the conflict, 2,000 people were
killed in Kosovo. The massacres that we have been uncovering as
KFOR have gone through Kosovo are massacres which occurred during
the period that followed the Serb offensive that was launched
on 23 March.
288. That is after the bombing, in effect. I
think the bombing began on the 25th.
(Mr Cook) Remember, there were a very large number
of people made refugees in the first two days, because the Serb
offensive commenced before the bombingthat was what triggered
289. I suppose one of the most curious images
to the average member of the public after all the bombing that
did take place, is the sight of a very large Serb Army relatively,
seemingly, unscathed from all bombing, actually rolling out of
Kosovo back into Serbia. Does that mean that, in effect, on the
ground, the Serb military forces maintained and controlled most
of Kosovo during the whole of the bombing period?
(Mr Cook) First of all, we have never made any bones
about the fact that the Serb Army was present throughout Kosovo
and remained very active throughout Kosovo. There were parts of
Kosovo, for instance in the western region, where it never really
successfully eradicated the UCK resistance, which tended to grow
during the period of the conflict. The main impact of the bombing
campaign on the effectiveness of the VJ forces within Kosovo was
three-fold: first of all, we blew up a large part of their fuel
supply, and we knowand I think I reported this to the Committeeupon
occasions the Serb Army exercises were called off because of the
shortage of fuel. Secondly, we hit a number of ammunition dumps,
and the conventional accepted estimate we are giving of the amount
of ammunition we destroyed was almost two-thirds of their ammunition
storage facilities. Third, in operational terms, the biggest single
impact was that they could not move around in daylight on open
days without cloud cover. Of course, as the year progressed the
absence of cloud cover meant that was a bigger inhibition on them.
In my conversations with Hashim Thaqi, on satellite phone during
the conflict, he was repeatedly reporting that as the main impact
on operational effectiveness on the Serb Army, that they could
not manoeuvre and they could not concentrate their forces and
they were less able to mount an offensive.
290. But the large army that was on the ground
in Kosovo was in a position to go round terrorising?
(Mr Cook) Undoubtedly terror continued in Kosovo right
up until the last day, yes.
291. May I turn to the immediate future. What
about law and order, and the courts? Presumably it is, basically,
a NATO military government at the moment
(Mr Cook) No.
292. A NATO military government is actually
conducting the basic maintenance of civil law order in Kosovo?
(Mr Cook) I think I would have to resist the description
of Kosovo, at present, being under martial law. The mandate for
the administration in Kosovo springs from the Security Council
Resolution, which quite clearly puts civilian law and order, and
all elements of civilian administration, in the hands of the UN
interim administration. Now, it is a matter of fact that the first
people into Kosovo were the Army, and I am pleased to say we now
have 33,000 members of KFOR deployed in Kosovo, so we are making
good progress towards the target of some 50,000. As the first
people thereindeed as the only people there for some timeit
is indeed the case that they have been obliged to try and maintain
law and order on the streets of the towns and in the countryside.
However, that is, strictly speaking, the business of the interim
293. The interim administration does not exist
at the moment, just 39 UN police officers
(Mr Cook) It is not present on the ground. The United
Nations has called for, effectively, approaching 3,000 police
from member states to provide an international police force, which,
over a period of time (and it is hoped a rapid period of time)
would be replaced by a locally recruited and trained police force.
294. In the meantime and until that is put in
place, what happens if there is a dispute? Let us say there was
a husband and wife incident and the husband might have assaulted
his wife, it is the military that would actually arrest that person
in this situation and lock him up.
(Mr Cook) If there was an episode of violence, particularly
if there was gunfire involved
295. I am not talking about gunfire, I am talking
about criminal behaviour by civilians.
(Mr Cook) Yes, I think, Ted, we have to be realistic
about what our troops can actually do. They are not civilian police,
let us be frank about it, and I do not want to suggest that our
troops can replicate for the presence of civilian police. That
has undoubtedly created a problem over the last few weeks, and
one of which the military themselves are acutely aware. They have
focused on serious crime and, indeed, have arrested those who
are suspects of very serious crime, and they now do have judges
who have been appointed from the Albanian community.
296. There are judges?
(Mr Cook) One should remember that Kosovo had its
own indigenous administration up until 1989 when autonomy was
suspended and, effectively, the whole of that governing elite
were dismissed. One of the ways of trying to immediately kick-start
a civil administration in Kosovo is to trace and reinstate those
who were providing the administration of 1989. Sr de Mello, the
Acting Special Representative for the Secretary General, has reappointed
a number of those judges who were dismissed in 1989 to administer
law and order in the interim position.
297. I am interested in that, because, in fact,
in the memorandum you say that UNMIK will need to draw up, interpret
and apply law across the board. In fact, a UN organisation is
actually going to rewrite the legislation, the laws of Kosovo
and actually re-establish civil order?
(Mr Cook) Dr Jones Parry will put me right on this,
but I think it would be false to put it in terms of UNMIK rewriting
the law; we would not regard ourselves as necessarily having the
competence to do that even if we, on a strict reading of the Security
Council resolution, may have some kind of mandate for it. We would
much rather see the laws and customs of Kosovo as they were in
1989 being applied by people who understood them.
298. I am only reading your own memorandum which
describes it in those terms. "UNMIK will need to draw up,
interpret and apply law across the board".
(Mr Cook) But we are not going to draw it up unilaterally,
Ted. We are only going to do it in consultation with those who
(Dr Jones Parry) I think, Mr Rowlands, you have to
take all three of those. "Interpret" means, actually,
that there are laws of the FRY which are quite sensible laws and
which should be applied. What UNMIK will have to do is specify
and give an indication to the population what laws in totality
should apply until there is some form of interim administration
capable of actually enacting the law.
299. A final point, if I may. In your memorandum
you are quite encouraging about the demilitarisation of the KLA.
The memorandum states that, in fact, the guns have been handed
in at these checkpoints and the agreement is sticking. You are
not complacent on that matter, are you? Is the situation as good
as the memorandum describes, in terms of the KLA?
(Mr Cook) I would like to think that I am not guilty
of complacency in any dimension of KosovoI have had too
much familiarity with the Balkans to take anything for grantedbut
the word we generally use is the word that is used also by KFOR,
which is "satisfactory". First of all, a large number
of the KLAwe believe the majority of those who were in
full-time service with themhave registered at assembly
sites. The fact that not all have registered is not necessarily
sinister; indeed, one could well say that this is actually encouraging
evidence of their rapid assimilation back into civilian life.
A very large volume of weapons was surrendered in the initial
week. Indeed, there was a feeling that we were actually ahead
of where we might have expected to be in terms of the surrendering
of weapons. So, at the present time, whilst nobody would seek
to claim that there is 100 per cent compliance, the compliance
is satisfactory, the agreement is working and there are not armed
bands of the KLA active within Kosovo.