Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fourth Report


The Foreign Affairs Committee has agreed to the following Report:—



1.  The death of Tito in 1980, a growing desire for change in the constituent parts of Yugoslavia and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe led after 1990 to the implosion of the Yugoslav Federation. With the restraints of the Cold War removed, a spasm of war convulsed the area over the 1990s. A state simply disintegrated. Rioting in 1981 in Kosovo, and the removal in 1989 of the previous Kosovan autonomy, had presaged the conflicts to come, and it was war in Kosovo, and NATO's bombing campaign against the residue of Yugoslavia, which ended the millennium. This report looks at the events leading up to the engagement of NATO forces over Kosovo, concentrating on events in the period since May 1997 for which the current Administration has responsibility; at developments in Kosovo since Milosevic's forces withdrew; and at the future for Kosovo and the rest of the region, and in particular for Montenegro which many identify as the next potential flashpoint.

2.  This report does not aim to provide a comprehensive history of the crisis—there are a number of academic and other works available which do this.[6] Our aim is to make political recommendations to the British Government on the lessons of the crisis and on the future.

3.  Throughout the crisis in Kosovo, the Foreign Affairs Committee has held regular sessions of oral evidence with Ministers. On 19 March 1998 and 26 January 1999, we took evidence from Mr Tony Lloyd MP, then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The Foreign Secretary appeared before the Committee on three occasions while the NATO campaign was taking place—on 14 April, 28 April and 19 May—and once immediately after the conclusion of the campaign—on 13 July 1999. We published this evidence, together with several memoranda we had received from the FCO, with an interim report.[7] The Committee then decided that it should build upon the evidence it had received, and undertake a wider and deeper inquiry. It announced the following terms of reference in July 1999:

    "To inquire into the foreign policy lessons of the Kosovo crisis and how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office might best promote peace and stability in the region."

4.  Further evidence was taken in Autumn 1999 and Spring 2000. First we heard from Dr Emyr Jones Parry, Political Director at the FCO, Sir John Goulden, Permanent Representative at the United Kingdom Delegation to NATO and Mr Brian Donnelly, Director, Regional Crisis, in the FCO and former Ambassador in Belgrade. In January we took evidence from the journalists Mr Jonathan Steele of The Guardian, and Mr John Sweeney of The Observer, together with Mr Tim Judah the author of Kosovo: War and Revenge, along with two academic experts, Jane Sharp of King's College London and Professor Adam Roberts of Oxford University. On 1 February Dr Susan Woodward of King's College London, Mrs Elizabeth Roberts of Trinity College, Dublin and Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former Political Director of the FCO, appeared. Later in February, we took evidence from three international lawyers: Professor Christopher Greenwood QC of the London School of Economics, Mr Mark Littman QC (author of Kosovo: Law and Diplomacy) and Professor Vaughan Lowe of Oxford University. On 16 March, at our final oral evidence session, we heard again from the Foreign Secretary, together with Dr Jones Parry and Mr Donnelly. We also received a large number of written memoranda, and held a number of private informal meetings, including ones with President Djukanovic of Montenegro, Mr Paskal Milo, Foreign Minister of Albania, and Mr Bodo Hombach, Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. We are most grateful to all those who gave written and oral evidence, and who briefed us in other ways.

5.  We also visited the area from 6 to 11 March, travelling first to Montenegro, then overland to Kosovo. Our original intention to return directly from Pristina was thwarted by the cancellation of our flight, but that gave us the opportunity to travel to Skopje and to hold brief discussions with the British Ambassador to Macedonia. In Montenegro we met President Djukanovic and several of his ministers, as well as politicians of all parties. In Kosovo, we met a number of representatives of the international civil and military authorities, the principal Kosovo Albanian leaders, and many representatives of Kosovo Albanian society. It was not possible to meet Kosovo Serbs, other than in the monastery at Gracanica. We regret this. The full details of those whom we met are set out in an Annex to the Report.[8] We also visited the municipality of Glogovac in the Drenica valley. The evidence of violence, cruelty and destruction which we saw there, and elsewhere in Kosovo, was profoundly moving and affected us all. In this report we will come back to Glogovac from time to time to exemplify points which we make.[9]

6.  Our inquiry is not the only parliamentary inquiry into the events of Kosovo. The Defence Committee is at present undertaking an inquiry into The Lessons of Kosovo, and the International Development Committee reported in May 1999 on Kosovo: The Humanitarian Crisis.[10] We have shared evidence with our colleagues on the Defence Committee as our two inquiries have run in parallel.

7.  Both the Defence Committee and ourselves encountered one problem in assembling the evidence on which to base our report. The Chairmen of both Committees wrote jointly to the Prime Minister to ask for separate but sequential evidence sessions for the two Committees with a representation of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), who would appear together. The request to take evidence from the JIC was refused by the Prime Minister,[11] and the Defence Secretary was willing for CDI to appear only before the Defence Committee.[12] We regret this restriction on our work, which we shall take up with the Liaison Committee in their forthcoming inquiry into the accountability of the intelligence and security services.[13]

8.  We are grateful for the specialist advice of Dr Richard Caplan of Jesus College, Oxford, and Ms Miranda Vickers of the International Crisis Group, in this inquiry. The expertise of both advisers has been most helpful. We are of course responsible for the conclusions which we have reached.

9.  We are also most grateful for the help of FCO staff in the region, and for British armed forces attached to KFOR, who assisted us in a visit to a region which is neither easy or safe. We are particularly grateful to the Royal Air Force for transporting us at short notice to Skopje, and for the British Embassy staff there for looking after us.

10.  In two Annexes to the Report,[14] we list all the abbreviations we use as well as a list of all the individuals mentioned, together with a brief description of their role.


11.  The two main ethnic groups in Kosovo are referred to in this report as "Kosovo Albanians", and "Kosovo Serbs." The use in quotations of the term "Kosovar" is taken to mean Kosovo Albanian. "Kosovan" refers here to the whole population of Kosovo. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is referred to as "Macedonia", and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) is referred to as "Yugoslavia". Yugoslavia consists now of two republics—Serbia and Montenegro. Yugoslavia before its break-up is described as "former Yugoslavia". Serb versions of place names in Kosovo are used (e.g. Glogovac rather than Gllogoc). Bosnia Herzegovina is referred to as "Bosnia".

6   For example: Misha Glenny, The Balkans, 1804-1999, London, Granta Books, 1999. From here on "Glenny." Tim Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge, Yale University Press, 2000. From here on "Judah." Noel Malcolm, Kosovo: A Short History, London, Macmillan, 1998. From here on "Malcolm." Miranda Vickers, The Albanians-a modern history, London I.B. Taurus 2nd ed. 1999. From here on "Vickers." Marc Weller, The Crisis in Kosovo 1989-1999, International Documents and Analysis, Vol I, Documents and Analysis Publishing Ltd, Cambridge 1999. From here on "Weller." Back

7   Seventh Report, Session 1998-99, HC 188. Website: Back

8   Annex 1. Back

9  A report by the OSCE on the current situation in Glogovac is available at: Back

10   Third Report, Session 1998-99, on Back

11   Ev. p. 372. Back

12   Ev. p. 373. Back

13  First Report from the Liaison Committee, Session 1999-2000, HC 300, para 92. Available on Back

14   Annexes 2 and 3. Back

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Prepared 7 June 2000