Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200-219)|
30 NOVEMBER 2004
MP AND MS
Q200 Andrew Mackinlay: Precisely the
issue I have been talking about, about Kosovans being returned
from the United Kingdom and other Western European countries such
Mr MacShane: Forgive me, Mr Chairman,
this is way beyond my competence. I hate to duck an issue. Obviously
the Home Office, as a responsible Minister, was invited.
Andrew Mackinlay: We have a joined-up
Q201 Chairman: Can you give Mr Mackinlay
Mr MacShane: An official attended.
No, a Minister did not.
Q202 Andrew Mackinlay: I chose my words
deliberately and with precisionit was a Ministerial meeting.
Mr MacShane: I will find out a
list of all the attendees there.
Q203 Andrew Mackinlay: And why I ask
you, Minister, is this: it is wilful ignorance. You have indicated
that what I have put to you is the first time you have heard it,
et cetera. If you, as a politician, as a Minister, or Des Browne,
somebody of that ilk, are not going to these meetings, you are
going to be insulated from the naked truth, are you not? That
is what is happening here. You are not facing up to the responsibility.
You are not being told what is the situation there on meetings
Mr MacShane: Mr Chairman, with
respect, I wonder if I could offer an alternative perspective,
which is that obviously this is a matter for the Home Office.
There are many meetings all over Europe concerning many government
Ministries and under British parliamentary rules our Ministers
are not free five days a week to travel and attend every meeting.
But I will send a full list of participants.
Q204 Chairman: Minister, you have given
an undertaking to give us the background of who attended and why
no Minister attended.
Mr MacShane: I am happy to do
Q205 Andrew Mackinlay: The question of
the Police Service. The PSNIwere
highly regarded and valued. There have been, I think, Ministry
of Defence police officers in both Kosovo and other parts of the
Balkans that we are going to address. But why has not the Foreign
Office done a deal with chief constables, allowing the professional
police officer, as a police officer, to be maintained in Kosovo?
As you know, the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland felt that
he had to withdraw for reasons which one could fully understand,
but basically it was absence of sitting down and doing a deal,
was it not?
Mr MacShane: Not at all. The invitation,
the request was sent out to all police forces and we were very
grateful that the Northern Ireland Police Service was able to
respond so quickly. At the time alsoI am not sure, not
being a police expert, if that is still true todaythey
were more used to wearing side arms as a norm and all had regular
arms training, which was not the case for every serving police
officer in the mainland British police services. But we are in
the hands of chief constables; I cannot oblige them.
Q206 Andrew Mackinlay: They have to be
funded, do they not? I put it to you that that is where the Foreign
Office has shirked its responsibilities, unless you can go to
Chief Constables and offer a reasonable deal, like people who
are about to retire they extend their service.
Mr MacShane: The deal was on offer;
we offered to fund it. They were not having to pay this out of
their own taxpayers' or Home Office Grant. The plain fact was
that there were not officers for the funding.
Q207 Andrew Mackinlay: Could we have
a note on that?
Ms Pierce: May I interject on
that? We do go out to the chief constables and there is a scheme
run by one particular part of the Foreign Officethough
not minethat deals with this. The problem is that chief
constables would like to help in principle, but find their own
resources very stretched in terms of manpower. So, as the Minister
said, it is more a manpower issue rather than a funding one, which
is why we do have retired officers in those places.
Mr MacShane: I am happy to send
Q208 Andrew Mackinlay: But in that note
will you explain why you cannot have a deal where people who are
about to retired, you extend their service so that there is no
loss to the Chief Constable? On the final status you ducked and
dived with all my colleagues' questions. The fact is that you
rightly said that you wanted to see more competences given to
the Kosovan government and to the legislature, and everyone will
agree with that. But you and others in Western Europe do not seem
to be able to spell out to Belgradeand this is what came
over to us when we were therethat the naked truth is that
there is not going to be Kosovo ever again as part of the state
of Serbia. Wecertainly myselffelt profoundly worried
that very intelligent people, not a million miles from the Prime
Minister of Serbia and the Foreign Minister for the rump federation,
seemed to still believe that there was never going to be a challenge
to the ownership, the sovereignty of Kosovo by Serbia. What I
came back with, and I put it to you, is that there are occasions
when you have to tell friends things that which they do not want
to hear. You would not bring yourself to say, "I think there
will have to be an independent sovereign at some stage down the
road," and it just seems to me wholly unrealistic and also
a mistake not to start addressing that fact.
Mr MacShane: Mr Chairman, even
on occasion one has to tell distinguished friends that sit in
House of Commons Committees what they do not want to hear, but
I am happy to say that all the press cuttingsif I can find
themand all the interviews I have done on Belgrade Serbian
TV and radio, making exactly the points that my honourable friend
has just made. I have said again and again in Belgrade, that Kosovo
is not going to fall under their sovereignty and will return to
be Kosovo. The language I use usually is that there is no return
to 1999, "let Kosovo be Kosovo". I cannot say to youbecause
it is a UN decision, we are operating under a UN Security Council
resolutionwhat the end status will be, and I do not use
that word "independence" because I prefer the word "interdependence".
So on the contrary, I think probably of all European Ministers,
I expectand I do not control what every one of my colleagues
saysI have been the most explicit and upfront face-to-face,
in private and in public saying people have to work out a new
status for Kosovo and I think the best people to work that out
are the Kosovans and the Serbs themselves.
Q209 Chairman: Minister, I am going to
ask Sir John Stanley to ask the last question in this section
and then, Sir John, if you would, to move into Serbia and Montenegro
as well. Just one question from me on this. At the moment, Minister,
Kosovo could be characterised as a UN protectorate, under a UN
Security Council resolution. Is it the vision of the Foreign Office
that we move step by step to an EU protectorate?
Mr MacShane: I do not think that
it is where anybody wants to be, and the EU in particular does
not want to be there because although obviously Kosovo is part
of European soil, the European continent, this is an international
responsibility, we are there under UN law. Other countries have
a stake and involvement. The United States troops are based in
Kosovo, for example; there is a longstanding Serb/Russia connection,
so I think we need to keep this with the UN.
Q210 Sir John Stanley: Minister, I want
to raise one very key point of policy of the international community
and of Britain, and that is the policy towards the KPC, the Kosovo
Protection Corps, which of course is the renamed disarmed KLAThe
point that was put to us by, again, somebody to whom we were speaking
privately, but somebody of real weight, substance and authority
and knowledge in this area, is that the international community
in the UK were basically wrong in the policy they were following
towards the KPC, the present policy of sidelining the KPC, neutralising
it, almost pretending that it does not exist. It was put to us
that the danger of this policy is that this could well encourage
members of the KPC to covertly start re-arming, and was likely
to encourage increased militancy within the ranks of the KPC with
potential serious destabilisation or worse within Kosovo. It was
put to us that an alternative policy would be very, very much
more in the interests of the international community and indeed
the Kosovans themselves, which is the policy of recognising the
reality which is that the KPC is the bedrock or certainly the
first building block of the new Kosovan defence force/Army, and
that the right thing was to recognise this, to take a grip on
the KPC and to adopt positive policies towards it, cleanse it
of undesirables, start to train it properly, training it not least
in modern democratic attitudes towards handling the civilian population,
and, indeed, trying to do what we are assisting the Iraqis to
do in Iraq, which is to create a modern, responsible armed force
for that country. How do you respond to the argument that was
put very persuasively to us that instead of the present policy,
of the kind that we have spoken, we should be adopting quite a
different policy, one of a positive policy of building up the
KPC as a modern defence force with proper democratic attitudes?
Mr MacShane: I think that is the
approach now certainly of the Secretary-General's Special Representative,
Mr Petersen. There is a review of how to provide security for
all Kosovans, Albanians and Serbs alike, after the March events.
We want to see what the security review proposes. Certainly the
Kosovo Protection Corps, in my judgment, should be part of that
review. It is rather large and it is very hierarchal and it certainly
does not have adequate funds. We want to see it become more professional;
we certainly want to see it develop its ethnic base, and the Kosovo
Police Service has a better record in this regard. Mr Peterson
adopts that point of view and so does the Commander of KFor. Some
of our other partners there do not, and one of the difficulties
I have to put to the Committee is that this is a not British-led
or British-controlled operation; we have to get agreement in New
York, we obviously have to get agreement from our partners in
Europe and we have to bear in mind the position in Belgrade. But
the general thrust of the points you are making, Sir John, are
ones that I would not dissent from.
Q211 Sir John Stanley: Before moving
on to Serbia and Montenegro I would just make the point that of
course I accept that this is not a sole British responsibility
and it is not chain of policy that could be adopted solely by
the UK, but I would just make the point that you do happen to
have in post at the moment a British General who is the KPC coordinator,
and in a very significant role, and with the excellent and outstanding
capabilities that we have within the British Army, at all levels,
we have a unique ability to start bringing about the sort of change
that I have been referring to.
Mr MacShane: I have had very pleasant
conversations with Major General Freer both in my office and in
Pristina. He is a superb professional. As I say, we would like
to see the Kosovo Protection Corps assume responsibility for more
of its security problems inside the country, and in due course
become a fully professional military unit. That is our desire,
but I would respectfully say to the Committee that we would have
to bring other allies and partners along with it, and I cannot
simply click my fingers and see something happening just because
of Britain's interest and involvement.
Chairman: Now we will turn to Serbia.
Q212 Sir John Stanley: Turning to Serbia
and Montenegro as they are at the moment, I want to start with
what was a very, very frank and disturbing report by Carla del
Ponte, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for
the former Yugoslavia and what she said in her address to the
United Nations Security Council a few days ago on 23 November.
Talking about those indicted for war crimes in this region she
said to the UN Security Council, "The vast majority of them,
probably more than a dozen, live freely in Serbia. Prime Minister
Kostunica has made it clear that he is not willing to arrest fugitives
but only to try to convince them to surrender voluntarily."
I have to say that was not the policy which was expressed to us
when we saw Prime Minister Kostunica ourselves, but first of all
just for the record, do you agree with Carla del Ponte that is
indeed Mr Kostunica's policy, that he has explicitly stated that
he is not willing to arrest those who have been indicted for war
crimes and he is only prepared to try to get them to give themselves
up voluntarily? Do you agree that is a fair statement of his policy?
Mr MacShane: I think that is a
fair statement of the general approach in Belgrade. I found it
almost unbelievable to be in Belgrade a few weeks ago where I
had a cup of coffee or something to eat with the Presidents and
Prime Ministers I met and, had I chosen to, I could have taken
a car and gone into a hotel or wherever and sat down with General
Pavkovic and General Lazarevic and taken coffee with them when
these men are indicted war criminals. I do not think in post-war
Germany I could have taken schnapps with Eichmann. I am not making
any comparison directly but I find it offensive in the extreme
that indicted war criminalsthey are accused, they are not
found guilty, I stress that point, innocent until proved guiltyare
walking free in the streets of a European capital city. Yes, I
completely endorse what Carla del Ponte said.
Q213 Sir John Stanley: Thank you. That
policy is significantly worse than, for example, the policy which
is expressed in the Republika Srpska, when we come to Bosnia and
Herzegovina later, where, though the record is a record so far
within the Republika Srpska of nil arrests of those indicted for
war crimes, at least there Government ministers say quite clearly,
"Our policy is to try and find indicted war criminals and
bring them to arrest." So the situation in Serbia is very
much more serious and very much more worrying. The question I
must put to you, given the extreme seriousness of this, the deplorable
failure of the governments in Serbia even to accept a policy of
making efforts to try and arrest those responsible and indicted
for war crimes, why is the British Government not taking sterner
measures against the Serbian Government in order to bring home
to the Government of Serbia that this policy is intolerable, unacceptable,
and if adhered to holds out absolutely zero prospect of Serbia
ever making progress towards international acceptance and acceptance
within international organisations?
Mr MacShane: Again, Sir John,
and I do not want to quote you what I have said on the record
in much of the Serb media, these are the points I have been making
consistently for three years. I entirely agree with you. I say
it out en clair not just in private discussions in Serbia.
The Serbs say they want to enter the Partnership for Peace, the
waiting room, if you like, for joining NATO and of course they
see themselves, and rightly so, as a great European nation. Belgrade
undoubtedly, with a brilliant population and a clever, educated
people, has the potential to be one of the great capital cities
of South Eastern Europe, but this wilful refusal to comply with
international law and the obligations of the Tribunal in The Hague
represents an absolute concrete wall between them and their very
reasonable EU ambitions. Just as similarly in Croatia we have
the other alleged war criminal Gotovina also accusedand
I stress accusedof very serious illegal activities not
connected with the military fighting period who is at large. I
have been told again and again by top level Croatian politicians
in this Government and the previous one, "We are on the point
of getting him, we will try and get him", yet nothing ever
happens. Even in Croatia there is not a clear, express announcement
that he is a wanted man, "We will arrest him, we are sending
our best people to find him" and that order goes right through
the military and intelligence and security apparatus. As Carla
del Ponte said to the United Nations a couple of weeks ago, there
are networks linked to the Government in Croatia protecting Gotovina.
That too is unacceptable. We are nine months from the tenth anniversary
of Srebrenica, 8,000 European citizens killed in cold blood because
they were the wrong religion; far worse than the numbers killed
in the slaughters in Lidici in Czechoslovakia or Oradour-sur-Glane
in France, nearly as many killed in Khatyn, crimes that every
European knows about, and yet those accused of having some connection
or responsibility for those crimes are not being hunted down by
the authorities, not being given up for arrest by those supporting
them. In the case of Croatia with Gotovina, of course he is not
involved in the Muslim massacres but if we do not say, "Gotovina
must be in The Hague" we take the pressure off Croatia, and
if we ignore Gotovina naturally the Serbs in Serbia will say,
"You let Gotovina go, don't talk to us about finding Karadzic
and Mladic", and that will mean the entire Muslim world saying,
"Europe does not give a damn about the mass slaughter of
Muslims if it is carried out by Christian generals". I find
that wholly unacceptable and something the British Government
I hope will never ever easily countenance.
Q214 Chairman: Minister, how do you explain
the apparent contradiction between what Carla del Ponte says about
Croatia and the level of co-operation in this report to the UN
and what she said earlier in respect of the degree of co-operation
which led to the UK lifting its veto on the progress of Croatia
in the European Union?
Mr MacShane: I express the view
we are guided by what the ICTY Tribunal says. This is also the
view the European Union agreed at its council statement in June.
I am not setting up the British Government position, and what
I said earlier about Srebrenica and massacres was a strongly-held
personal view. What I assume, and it is not for me to discuss
these matters with the Prosecutor, Mrs del Ponte, is that, like
me, she talked to the newly elected government in Croatia and
accepted their assurances they were doing everything they could
to find Gotovina. Those assurances, by the way, were on the record
and were public, so I am not accusing anybody of bad faith. Since
she made that statement in the spring the momentum seems to have
stopped, there have been reports of Mr Gotovina being seen in
Croatia in the summer, there is one town in the country, Zadar,
which openly walks around with his picture on their t-shirts and
so on, and I think Mrs del Ponte has exactly the same disappointment
Q215 Ms Stuart: Minister, you give a
very good analytical, pessimistic view of the world out there
but this is the British Government. If you have been on record
for three years saying it is unacceptable and Serbia is falling
increasingly behind in both the SAAgreement
and Partnership for Peaceand incidentally also Milosevic
is playing the stage which makes Serbia feel even more of a victimsurely
there must come a point when we review our policy and decide talking
is not going to get us anywhere and consider whether there is
any kind of incentive which would help this compliance? For the
Committee, and given we have to write a report which analyses
the UK Government policy and not give an historical narrative
of what is going on out therewe have done all thatwhat
can be done other than more hand-wringing and doing it collectively?
Mr MacShane: I do not think we
hand-wring. I was asked what my position was on compliance with
The Hague and I had to give the Committee my best and most honest
answer. I would report to the Committee, I see in Serbia, and
with the election of the current generation of leadership, certainly,
a much more outward looking and a more European-orientated leadership
collectively. I think the mood is changing in certain political
circles in Serbia. Equally, there are always those who want to
return to the past, but the contacts I have with Serbian interlocutors
is more positive. I used to knock on doors, go in and see people
three years ago, frankly, just to be received with stony faces
and I assume deaf ears. Now, people understand there is a problem.
They are not quite sure how to get to it and there are quite strong
divisionsas you probably know from your visitsbetween
different elected leaders holding ministerial office there. That
is precisely why we are seeking to offer incentives. It is carrot
as well as stick.
Q216 Ms Stuart: What are those incentives?
Mr MacShane: Clearly, the most
important ones remain agreements with the EU that allow the Serb
economy to develop. We have had a British army officer working
in the Serb Ministry of Defence, to try and say: "Look, this
is the way you can get closer to Partnership for Peace" and
to encourage our very high level of contact. I can report to the
Committee, for what it is worth, I have spent far more time in
Western Balkan capitals than I have in most other capitals of
European Union Member States. As Minister for Europe, Belgrade
and Pristina have seen a lot more of me than Lisbon or Helsinki,
whether that is good or bad I do not know, but we have been very
active, hands-on, trying to work our way through this. Now we
are focusing on the key indictees. We are not saying every sergeant
or lieutenant accused of some bad behaviour needs to be in The
Hague, those can be dealt with locally. We have considerably narrowed
down, in the three years I have been Minister, what we are asking
of the Serbs, but I think there is an irreducible minimum on the
question of the indictees and it is the principal blockage at
the moment. It is felt very strongly in other European capitals.
It is not just London, it is felt very strongly in Washington,
at the UN and in New York.
Q217 Ms Stuart: Is there anything you
can say specifically on this Stabilisation and Association progress,
where they have fallen behind and where we can give some positive
support to allow them to go on their journey? I still do not understand
what it is we are doing.
Mr MacShane: We are seeking to
negotiate agreements, protocols on trade, customs and other sectorial
policies particularly to allow Serbia and Montenegro to grow together.
Do not forget the relationship that Serbia and Montenegro have
is a product of very strong EU engagement down there. The European
Union has put in about 10 million euros-worth of EU funds from
have given them a preferential trading agreement on sugar, which
is sensitive in bits of the sugar producing industry elsewhere
in Europe. We, as the British Government, are funding different
projects. We are helping out with the independent media. The British
Council is extremely active in Belgrade and I pay tribute to their
work. Believe me, I have hunted high and low in the toolbox that
I have for something that unlocks this because I want this part
of Europe to grow to its economic potential, and certainly the
full rights as European citizens we all enjoy for very a clever,
highly educated and, I think, profoundly constructive and peaceful
10 billion to the whole of the Western Balkans through
CARDS funding. Of this, the EU provided approximately
230 million to Serbia and Montenegro in 2004.
Q218 Ms Stuart: It is helpful to have
that on the record.
Mr MacShane: We still have these
terrible political blockages there and I am afraid with the best
will and a lot of energy and, frankly, probably more presence
from a British Minister in the last three years than any minister
from any other European capital, we cannot get those blockages
simply removed from the piping, so that the good Serbia and the
good Croatiaand I believe the leaders I meet want the good
Croatia and the good Serbiacan start to flow freely in
the direction of European integration.
Ms Pierce: Chairman, if I may
add one point to that. I think, picking up on the Minister's irreducible
minimum, once that irreducible minimum is pastand it is
chiefly Karadzic, Mladic and a constructive regional approachwe,
as the British Government, would be prepared to try and fast-track
Serbia through some of the EU and NATO mechanisms.
Mr MacShane: I can see Serbia
and Croatia in the EU by the end of this decade.
Q219 Chairman: Croatia will come in anyway.
Mr MacShane: Croatia is waiting
for a date to start negotiations which is linked to ICTY. Even
if negotiations on Croatia were to start soonish, it still requires
the normal negotiating period.
11 Police Service of Northern Ireland. Back
Ev 93 Back
Kosovo Liberation Army. Back
Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Back
Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stability. Back
Note by witness: Between 1991 and 2006 the EU will have
provided nearly Back