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26 Feb 2008 : Column 211WH—continued

The Foreign Office, its civil servants and Ministers, as a poodle of the American Administration, have pursued American foreign policy. The Prime Minister may like to appear uncomfortable when President Bush drives him around Camp David in his little golf buggy, but that is just more spin from the Labour Government. If one peels off the surface, how is British foreign policy any different from what it was under the former Prime Minister? Will the Minister explain the difference between United Kingdom and American foreign policy on Kosovo?
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It is important that we, as a major military power in Europe, show a different stance from that of America.

The United States of America, of course, can easily dictate that Kosovo should be independent, because, luckily, it has no problems with any part of the US wanting to become independent. The United States is lucky to be in that homogeneous situation, and that it is far enough away from Europe that it can make demands and interfere in what is happening in Europe’s back yard.

I concur with my hon. Friend who said that a dangerous precedent has been set. The Government have opened up a Pandora’s box of huge potential conflicts throughout Europe. We have only to look at another part of the Balkans—Romania—and the long, festering sore of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Who is to say that there will not be agitation among the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, and a demand for independence or annexation of that territory by Hungary? Corsicans in France may agitate for independence, and my hon. Friend mentioned the Basques in Spain.

What really worries me is that I heard for the first time yesterday that an organisation is going round the House of Commons lobbying MPs for Gdansk to become a German city again. Being of Polish origin, my sensitivities on that point can be imagined. The outbreak of the second world war was in Gdansk when German boats opened fire—

Andrew Mackinlay: On a good-will visit.

Daniel Kawczynski: They were on a good-will visit to Gdansk, yet they opened fire in the early hours of 1 September 1939. However, just last night I heard from an organisation that is actively conspiring for Gdansk to be returned to Germany. Many parts of western Poland—the area was given to Poland after the second world war—have large concentrations of Germans who want to become part of Germany. The Government’s actions are deplorable.

Andrew Mackinlay: I share the hon. Gentleman’s anxieties and fears, but surely the difference, which creates a greater danger, is that all the areas to which he referred—Transylvania, western Silesia, Pomerania and so on—are at least in the European Union, and have free mobility of labour with the right to purchase property and ways of resolving title. Two weekends ago, we allowed the division of Kosovo from Serbia without their being in the European Union. If the energies of the United Kingdom and the United States had been devoted to getting them into the EU first, we would at least have diminished the scale of the problem. In the areas that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, the problem is diminished because of the consequences of European Union membership, free mobility of labour, the right to buy and own property, and so on.

Daniel Kawczynski: I wholly concur with the hon. Gentleman, and later in my speech I shall come to some of the points that he raised.

It is not politically correct to be antagonistic towards the Kosovans, because we all remember the crowds cheering the former Prime Minister in Kosovo and we
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all saw on camera how Kosovans suffered, but I shall be critical of them. They started the killing in their revolt against the sovereign country, and drove out between 150,000 and 200,000 Serbs. During the past eight years, 1,248 non-Albanians have been killed with many more kidnapped, now presumed dead; 151 spiritual and cultural monuments in Kosovo have been destroyed by Albanians, and 230 mosques have been built; and 80 per cent. of Christian graveyards have been destroyed or desecrated with no response from the international community. The Albanians have turned Christian graveyards into car parks, playgrounds and rubbish dumps. Anything relating to Serbia or Christianity in public records, books and the names of places and even towns has been wiped out. That is ethnic cleansing on a huge scale.

Mr. Chope: All that ethnic cleansing has taken place when there was supposedly an international force to prevent it.

Daniel Kawczynski: Absolutely, and we have apparently sent 1,000 troops to the borders of Kosovo recently, so the situation is outrageous. I hope that the Minister listened carefully to my points about the sheer scale of ethnic cleansing against the Serbian people.

I want to make another controversial point before winding up—I know that colleagues are keen to speak. It has been reported in the press that the BND, the German intelligence service, has confirmed that the 2005 terrorist bombings in Britain were organised in Kosovo. That is apparently something that the German intelligence service is putting out. Has the Minister had any discussions with his German counterpart about that?

I want some assurances from the Minister. What protection will the Serbs in Mitrovica receive now that they are cocooned in an artificial statelet? What rights will they have, and what will the Minister do personally to ensure that the thousands of Serbs living in Mitrovica will be protected? I have heard worrying reports in the media that as a result of some of the riots outside the American embassy, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge referred, the wheels might come off Serbia’s application to join the European Union, and that we might do less to help the country to join. Will the Minister give me a guarantee that he will do everything possible to help Serbia to join the European Union?

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): Does the hon. Gentleman accept that although such violence should not be condoned, it should not, in itself, necessarily be a stumbling block to Serbia joining the EU? The biggest difficulty at the moment is surely the refusal to deal with Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. That is perhaps one issue that the Government should be pursuing for a quick resolution to Serbia’s entry into the EU.

Daniel Kawczynski: I am sure that the hon. Lady will want to put that matter to the Minister herself. I am dealing purely with the issue of Kosovo.

Finally, how will Serbia be compensated for the loss of 14 per cent. of her territory? Normally, if there is a divorce, there is some sort of settlement. Even in international disputes, there is arbitration. I remember when Czechoslovakia split apart, decisions were made about assets—who was going to have what, and how
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much of the national debt each side was going to take. How is Britain helping the Serbian nation in its divorce proceedings?

I will end on a personal note about the Serbian people, whom I greatly admire. They are a truly wonderful race. I remember participating in my first ever political demonstration in 1999. I stood outside Downing street in the cold with my Serbian friends, demonstrating against the bombing of Belgrade. I thought that the Government’s participation in such a bombing was a heinous crime. Why was the crime so heinous? It was simply because the Serbian people had the misfortune of being led by a dictator. Milosevic was the last communist remnant of the iron curtain age, when the countries of eastern Europe had communist dictators. He came to power in 1989 under a communist system and held on to power through various methods of intimidation and ballot-rigging; yet because of the actions of one man, a demagogue and communist, the Serbian people suffered much as a result of our own Government and the bombing that took place.

Many Serbs have lost their homes in Kosovo—as my hon. Friend said, they are living in camper vans. I cannot imagine losing my home or having someone take it away. It happened to my grandfather’s generation in Poland, but I cannot imagine coming back to Shropshire and finding that somebody had taken away my home from me and that I had nowhere to live. People face that reality today; it is all very nice for us in the House of Commons, but they have lost everything as a result of an arbitrary move by the Americans and our Government. I repeat that the liberal elite in the Foreign Office and among civil servants and Ministers have come up with a solution, but the ramifications of their mistakes will long outlast them.

11.42 am

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): The starting point for my contribution to the debate is very simple. I personally do not feel inclined to take sides between Kosovo and Serbia because we all recognise that a considerable dilemma exists at the heart of this. My position rests on the fact that I believe very strongly that we have to act in accordance with the rule of law. The problems that we had in Iraq, and that we have had periodically over the past 75 years—even going back to the origins of the first world war—have all been associated with problems that have arisen from a failure to recognise the rule of law. I am quite sure that sooner or later, as my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) said in relation to Northern Ireland, if a decision is taken in a responsible manner over an extended period against a background of extreme opinions, it is possible to arrive at a solution. The solution may not be perfect even when the final settlement is struck. What is certain is that nobody believes with any certainty—whether they are from the UN, the European Union, the United Kingdom, or the United Kingdom Parliament—that what has been decided in the past few days and weeks represents a settlement of any description.

[Mr. David Marshall in the Chair]

At best, it is a de facto recognition. Nobody could say that it was a de jure recognition. It would be extremely unwise of anybody to make that assumption because that in itself would lock the whole of the future of the
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Balkans, not to mention Serbia and the recognition of Kosovo, into an impossible situation. It would make the dilemma even worse. I would strongly counsel caution in relation to precipitate assumptions about what various declarations so far amount to in practice. Underpinning de facto recognitions is the question whether there are de facto resolutions, solutions and results. I remember Sir John Harrington’s famous observation:

Against that background, we need to be extremely careful about what we do.

In specific terms, I would say that when bombs were being dropped on Sarajevo from the hills above, I was one of very few people who went on record to condemn the actions. Furthermore, I strongly urged that we should take military action to stop that bombing, which seemed to be wholly unnecessary and contrary to any kind of humane behaviour. I also believed strongly that it was important that the people in Serbia should be entitled to a proper understanding and recognition of the rule of law. Therefore, I hope that I have an understanding of what the situation is on both sides of the equation. I am not merely trying to sit in the middle and not make a decision.

My ultimate question is about the rule of international law. I find it rather ironic that on 16 February the EU launched EULEX Kosovo, which is

Its objective is

It is also expected to assist the Kosovo institutions, judicial authorities and law-enforcement agencies on a range of other matters. The EU fact sheet goes on to state:

which, of course, is enormously important—

The fact sheet also states:

When I see the European Union, through this organisation, apparently assuming powers to investigate and prosecute serious and sensitive crimes, I have to ask myself by what authority? There is no such EU power, as I pointed out earlier. The EU is divided over this question. There is no certainty of any UN Security Council power. I will explain in a moment why that is almost certainly ultra vires. I know that there is a dispute about this, but to jump from a disputed situation to apparently having—I use the words of the European Union fact sheet—

is to make assumptions that there is a rule of law that lies behind the creation of the rule of law mission.

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Mr. Chope: Does my hon. Friend think that that extends to the fraud, corruption and misapplication of EU funds that are so rife in Kosovo at the moment? For example, when I was there as part of a delegation of the Council of Europe looking at the constitutional referendum in Novi Pazar, it was well known that substantial EU funds had been put into a power project in Kosovo. The power project had never been produced, but the funds had been expended.

Mr. Cash: I do not know about that particular case, but it reinforces my concerns. In relation to the European Union, as we know and as I mentioned yesterday in the debate on international development, the European Court of Auditors stands accused of not being able to balance its books properly. That could be yet another example of that, and from what my hon. Friend says, there appears to be substantial evidence to support that view. Indeed, in relation to the EULEX Kosovo organisation, the European Union fact sheet states:

I simply make the point that the whole of the structure has been set up as though there were a legitimate authority for doing so. It goes without saying that I question whether British taxpayers’ money is being legitimately spent in this sort of context. In a parliamentary context, one cannot go through life calling for democracy and for the rule of law, on which the constitutional arrangements of this country are supposed to be based, and then simply say that this case is sui generis, as the United Kingdom representative did in the Security Council. The Security Council minutes state that the United Kingdom representative made the following comments:

Did the fact that this was a difficult case make it inevitable that recognition would follow? The short answer is no. That is not to say that I do not want the Kosovan or Serbian people to have an entirely fair and peaceful society. Frankly, I recognise that there is a dilemma, but I do not want either the Kosovan or Serbian people to face a repetition of past difficulties. It troubles me when Mr. John Sawers says on behalf of the Government that

I have mentioned that the recognition of Croatia was a precipitate and fatal move, which Herr Genscher said at the time was the greatest victory for German foreign policy since 1945. Despite hopes that there would eventually be a peaceful situation in Croatia, what happened was a mistake that precipitated the most awful situation. When I see that the centre of gravity of the problem lies in the
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fact that the Government of Serbia changed their constitution, the question that comes to mind is this: which country determines the constitution of another country? If the Government of Serbia changed their constitution, is it possible, legal or legitimate for any other nation to step in and say that it is not possible for that constitution to be sustainable? I go further on that. John Sawers says that it would be

the United Kingdom’s—

I put the problem as simply as this: will it uphold peace and security to precipitate what could be a serious consequence? That is part of the problem. John Sawers goes on to say:

and that

Any responsible person wants to ensure that there is peace and security in the area, but from what I have seen, it is extremely difficult to envisage that the spokesmen for those who recognise Kosovo will be able to justify their arguments. I notice that Belgium spoke up in the Security Council meeting and said that realities on the ground could not be ignored. There are those who are uncertain about the stability of Belgium with respect to international law in terms of its internal arrangements.

Andrew Mackinlay: Except that they need each other.

Mr. Cash: As the hon. Gentleman says, it may well be that they need one another, as we all do in an interdependent world. I am striving not to be in any way unfair to those on both sides of the equation, but I strongly counsel that we must remember that might is not right. Forcing a situation does not produce the best results and de facto solutions do not solve problems, as we have found internationally. There is a range of other consequential circumstances in other states. For example, there are difficulties in relation to Cyprus and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge said, Timor. All over the world it is vital that we stick to the rule of law and if in doubt, stick to the rule of law and do not make assumptions, as the European Union and the Government are doing about the direction in which they must go. I recognise the dilemma, but I also say unequivocally that the European Union itself does not to my understanding have any legitimacy or legal right to recognise Kosovo at this stage. In the case of Croatia, the consequences of recognition led to a very serious situation.

With regard to the acquisition of legal personality by the European Union under the Lisbon treaty, the European Union seems to be operating on that basis irrespective of the fact that, first, it has not gone through yet and, secondly, several member states of the European Union are vigorously opposed, for extremely good reasons within their own countries, to recognising Kosovo. That is critical to the questions that arise in this case. Europe is not, as we are told, a state. The bottom line is, therefore, that the European Union should not be recognising Kosovo and making assertions that it cannot justify.

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