The Foreign Affairs Committee has agreed to the
GOVERNMENT POLICY TOWARDS THE FEDERAL
REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA AND THE WIDER REGION FOLLOWING THE FALL
1. We reported last year on the Kosovo campaign,
the reconstruction of Kosovo, and some of the regional issues
surrounding the crisis.
As part of last year's inquiry we visited Montenegro and Kosovo.
Following the revolution in Belgrade in October 2000, we decided
to launch an inquiry into United Kingdom policy towards Yugoslavia.
We visited Belgrade in February 2001 in connection with this inquiry,
with some of us also travelling to Novi Sad, and others to Kosovo.
In Belgrade, we met with a wide range of politicians, economists,
business-people, journalists, academics and the military. We were
fortunate to meet with both Federal President Vojislav Kostunica
and Zoran Djindjic, the Prime Minister of Serbia. We are grateful
to all those in the region who were kind enough to see us, thereby
giving this inquiry a first-hand perspective.
2. We held oral evidence sessions on 13 February
with Mr Jonathan Steele of The Guardian, with the authors and
journalists Mr Tim Judah and Mr Misha Glenny, and with Dr Karin
von Hippel, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Defence Studies,
King's College London. On 27 February we took evidence from Mr
Keith Vaz MP, Minister of State at the FCO, Mr Alan Charlton,
Director, South Eastern Europe at the FCO, and Mr Jonathan Marshall,
Head of Section, FRY/Serbia, Eastern Adriatic Department at the
FCO. On 1 March we took evidence from the United Kingdom Ambassador
to Yugoslavia, Mr Charles Crawford, and from Mr Chris Patten,
European Commissioner. We also received a large number of written
memoranda, and held a number of private informal meetings at Westminster,
including with Mr Svetorzar Marovic, Speaker of the Montenegro
Parliament and some of his senior parliamentary colleagues, with
Mr Crawford, with the Macedonian Foreign Affairs Committee, with
Mrs Nadezhda Mihailova, the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, with
Mr Goran Svilanovic, Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia (whom we had
previously met in Belgrade) and with the Macedonian Ambassador,
Mr Stevo Crvenkovski. We are most grateful to all those who gave
written and oral evidence, and to those who gave us information
3. We are grateful for the specialist advice of Dr
Richard Caplan of Jesus College, Oxford, whose expertise has been
most helpful. We are of course responsible for the conclusions
which we have reached.
4. We much appreciated the help of FCO staff in the
region, and of the United Kingdom armed forces attached to KFOR,
who assisted us in a visit to a region which is neither easy nor
safe. We are particularly grateful to the staff of the British
Office in Pristina for putting together a very useful programme
at short notice. The FCO has been prompt in the provision of written
answers to our questions, and we appreciate the work of the staff
involved in meeting our often tight deadlines.
5. In two Annexes to the Report, we list all those
that we met during our visit to the region, and give brief details
of individuals mentioned in the Report.
The former policy framework
6. During 1999, a fundamental change occurred in
Western policy towards the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
As we noted in our previous report on Kosovo, for much of the
previous decade Western governments had appeared uncertain as
to whether President Slobodan Milosevic was the problem or part
of the solution to the many crises in the Balkan region.
The decisive turning point came with the Kosovo conflict, the
programme of ethnic cleansing and the subsequent indictment of
Milosevic for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in May 1999developments
that were to place the Yugoslav president beyond the pale internationally.
7. In response to the new situation, British and
EU policy towards Yugoslavia evolved a twin-track approach, aimed
at isolating the Milosevic regime and encouraging democratic and
economic reform in Serbia. The EU sanctions regime was adapted
so as to target the Serbian and Yugoslav governments: in addition
to an arms embargo, a freeze on funds and an oil embargo, the
EU imposed tight financial and visa restrictions on individuals
linked to the Milosevic regime. To minimise the impact of the
sanctions on the general public various humanitarian exemptions
were introduced, most notably through the EU's 'Energy for Democracy'
programme whereby fuel oil was supplied to municipalities under
the control of the democratic opposition. In addition to the practical
benefits, the 'Energy for Democracy' programme had important symbolic
value in demonstrating that the West was anti-Milosevic, as opposed
to anti-Serb. Kosovo and Montenegro were also exempted from the
oil embargo and, where possible, from some of the financial sanctions.
The Montenegrin government of Milo Djukanovic was viewed in the
West as an important democratic counterweight to Milosevic.
We commend the EU and the British Government on both the scale
and the speed with which this aid was disbursed.
8. As an incentive to the Serbian people to embrace
democracy, the EU and US indicated that real democratic change
in Belgrade would bring about the lifting of sanctions and the
end of Serbia's international isolation. While it is impossible
to quantify the impact of Western policy on developments in Serbia,
we concur with the FCO that "one of the motives of the Serbian
people in voting for the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS)
and for Dr Vojislav Kostunica was the desire to return to normality,
to stop living in a country cut off from the international community."
The desire to return to normality was repeatedly and strongly
expressed to us during our visit to Belgrade, and was voiced by
a number of our witnesses.
We also agree with the FCO's view that "the imposition of
a carefully targeted EU sanctions regime...was a significant factor
in convincing the Serbian people that, under Milosevic, there
was no prospect of a European future for Serbia or the FRY."
We conclude that support by the United Kingdom Government for
the targeted nature of the EU sanctions on the Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia was well judged and believe this approach should
be considered fully for any future application of sanctions.
9. The main credit for bringing about the fall of
Milosevic and returning Yugoslavia to the democratic fold must
of course go to those brave representatives of the Yugoslav opposition
who were prepared to challenge Milosevic publicly at great potential
danger to themselves. The role of the international community
was subsidiary, but important nonetheless, particularly in terms
of the provision of financial and organisational assistance to
the democratic opposition in Serbia. The Government financed a
series of initiatives under the Independent Media and Civil Society
Programme, comprising local government co-operation through the
Local Government International Bureau (LGIB),
and workshops and seminars on future policy, organised as part
of the New Serbia Forum.
In addition, funding and training programmes were provided for
the independent media, which came to play a crucial role during
the election campaign in offsetting Milosevic's control of the
10. Zoran Kusovacan analyst and consultant
on south-east Europehas characterised the United Kingdom
role in the downfall of Milosevic as "significant",
saying that: "On the whole the FCO did a much better job
in identifying the organizations and individuals which could provide
practical knowledge and suggest realistic, pragmatic and efficient
policy than did the corresponding ministries of most other Western
countries." He added that: "there is no doubt that the
United Kingdom approach produced results."
Given the level of anti-Western feeling in Serbia after the NATO
bombing campaign, it was vital that the United Kingdom and EU
acted discreetly in the provision of assistance so as not to allow
Milosevic the opportunity to portray the democratic opposition
as disloyal and unpatriotic. We conclude that the support provided
by the United Kingdom Government gave encouragement to the democratic
opposition to Milosevic during both the election campaign and
the subsequent transition period. We recommend that the Government
take account of its successful strategy in Yugoslavia when providing
support in the future to democratic movements in an autocratic
7 Fourth Report, Session 1999-2000, Kosovo,
HC 28. Hereafter "Kosovo report." Back
See for example Kosovo report, para 20. Back
We discuss British policy towards Montenegro in greater depth
below. See paras. 54ff. Back
QQ 18, 197, Ev. pp.94-95. Back
Appendix 3, pp 85-87. Back
See www.NewSerbiaForum.org. Back
See Appendix 5, pp 89-90 for more information on the role of the
BBC World Service. Back
Appendix 9, p.96. Back