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The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, before he leaves that matter, will the Minister say whether there are any plans to attempt an oil embargo?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I was coming to just that point. If the noble Earl will be patient, I shall certainly deal with it.

As regards an integrated air defence, it is fair to say that the Serbs still have elements of an integrated air defence. One reason for that is that they have used it so infrequently. The people manning their radars have been extremely reluctant to switch them on except for very short periods of time. As a consequence our strike aircraft, because they have been so brilliantly escorted by air defence aircraft capable of what is called SEAD, suppression of enemy air defence, have been able to roam the skies above Serbia and Kosovo with almost total impunity.

However, we recognise that the Serbs have a very considerable and dangerous capability in manned portable surface-to-air systems which could be very dangerous to our aircraft if they were to engage in the sort of low-flying tactics that have been recommended to us by some people who, frankly, do not understand some of these matters.

I said that I would not deal in statistics, but I will say that at least nine of the military airfields in Serbia and Kosovo have been damaged, most of them severely. At least 10 surface-to-air missile sites have been destroyed and many bridges have been damaged or destroyed. Your Lordships will have seen vivid testimony to that on your television screens and in the newspapers from time to time.

The other military issue that I wanted to touch on--and I come immediately to the point that the noble Earl raised--is the question of stop and search. This is still being debated in the North Atlantic Council, and no decision has yet been taken, but I can say that very little in the way of petrol, oil or lubricants is getting through Montenegro into Serbia now, or, to the best of our information, has done so at any time over the past six weeks. We have an active programme of attacking the bridges outside Montenegro on the roads leading from Montenegro into Serbia and into Kosovo.

We have, as I am sure your Lordships will appreciate, been extremely sensitive to the vulnerability of Montenegro, which has an entire Yugoslav army camped in its territory. There are frictions between the police force in Montenegro and the Serb 2nd Army, and of course we fully realise that Mr. Milosevic thinks that it might very well be in his interest to try to destabilise the government of Mr. Djukanovic. However, Mr. Djukanovic has so far survived, I am glad to say. He is, I know, extremely anxious that we do not attack the port of Bar, and so far there have been no NATO attacks on any installations there. The only installations that I am aware of that we have attacked on any regular basis in Montenegro have been some

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radio relay stations, Podgorica airfield, which has suffered severe repeated attacks, and some radar installations. I was invited recently to approve a radar target right on the coast of Montenegro, but we eventually did not attack it, for tactical reasons.

The next matter that I should like to discuss is the state of Serbian morale, a matter in which we in the Ministry of Defence are extremely interested. Of course, it is a subject on which it is very difficult to get absolutely unambiguous and non-contradictory evidence.

When we are considering the state of morale of the Serbs, we have to start with Mr. Milosevic himself. It is very difficult for us to assess the state of his morale, because on any normal basis that we would understand the man is behaving totally irrationally. It is possible that he thought that we were not going to attack, or that we would not sustain our attacks, but how he can possibly sit in his bunker and contemplate the damage that is being done to his country, from one end to the other, and think that the game is still worth the candle, completely defeats me. One of the matters that concern us for the future is whether or not he will try to lay waste to Kosovo, if he is forced out of there, in the same way as Saddam Hussein laid waste to Kuwait.

Moving on from Mr. Milosevic to the business men and politicians who are close to him, I have to say that I think their morale is showing considerable signs of cracking. Certainly, the business men who see factory after factory destroyed are very unhappy about what is going on. Your Lordships will have seen remarks in the media by Serb politicians who have demurred from Mr. Milosevic's policies in only the last few days or so.

The citizens of Belgrade and other cities have suddenly realised that, as Mr. Jamie Shea, the NATO spokesman, has said, we can turn the switch on and off in their cities at will at any time. That must be demoralising. We have reports that food rationing has been introduced. We have reports that cigarettes are in extremely short supply, which is a matter of no small importance to citizens of that country. I do not know whether they are yet starting to blame Mr. Milosevic for their condition, but I would be very surprised if, as the NATO campaign progresses, they did not come to do so.

But most interesting of all is the state of morale of the army. Here I think we need to divide our assessment into three parts, starting with the generals.

The generals know how much damage is being done. The generals know that they are impotent to do anything about it. The generals are quite amazed at the precision of our attacks. And the generals, above all else, are startled at the quality of our intelligence, which enables us to go into a huge barracks area or an airfield and bomb precisely the buildings that matter to them. This must be a cause of increasing concern for them as the weeks go by and they see no let-up in a campaign which they never thought would go on so long.

The middle-ranking officers must be even more concerned. They are the men who thought they had a career in the Serbian Armed Forces. They thought they were important representatives of the state, part of the cement that held the state together. They now see the

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assets which they were going to command being relentlessly destroyed, day after day, night after night--and not only being destroyed; these officers know perfectly well that they will never get them back again, because Serbia's economy is now back to that of 1945, at the very best, and there will be no money at all for rebuilding barracks, getting new fast jets, getting new surface-to-air missiles. These middle-ranking officers, whose careers depended on the welfare of their Armed Forces, must be feeling very sick indeed.

As regards the troops on the ground, I have no figures for the number of casualties that they have suffered so far. It is quite possible that their morale is being maintained if they believe what their authorities tell them is the number of NATO aircraft shot down. They are told that Serbia has shot down over 70 NATO aircraft. Your Lordships know perfectly well that it would not be possible for NATO to conceal the loss of seven aircraft, let alone 70. It is quite possible that stories of this sort are having an invigorating effect on the troops in the field. But when we move to that stage of the campaign when the weather gets better and better, and more and more often are we able to bomb in daylight, when we attack Serb assembly areas and concentrations of Serb troops in woods, and they realise there is nothing whatever they can do about it, their morale will also inevitably suffer before very long.

I am sure that your Lordships appreciate that we in NATO owe a very great deal in the current circumstances to the assistance of non-NATO states, particularly in south-eastern Europe. In many cases the governments of these countries are being extremely brave in supporting our activities, against political opposition, and obviously with a population which is suffering severely from the effects of NATO activities, the kind of matters referred to in the amendment to be moved by the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale. They have lost a great deal of their export markets. They have lost the use of the Danube. They have lost their tourist trade and yet they have been extremely helpful to us. Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria have been staunch friends in the present circumstances.

I believe that your Lordships will agree, echoing what the Prime Minister has been saying recently, that all of us in the West must appreciate the need to assimilate the countries of south eastern Europe, including the Serbs, into our wider European family as soon as possible so that we can put these terrible events behind us.

Lastly, I want to touch on the question of the refugees. As your Lordships know, the numbers are quite horrific. The figures that I have, as of yesterday, from DfID is that 400,000 have entered Albania; another 200,000 or more into Macedonia; 62,000 into Montenegro; and 48,000 into Bosnia. We have no reliable estimates of the numbers moving around, homeless, inside Kosovo. I am reluctant to give the estimates as they vary so widely. The figure varies around half a million.

It behoves those of us who live in a fairly comfortable country to recognise the scale of such a movement of people, first, on the host governments. People have been

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critical of the Government of Macedonia. In a very few weeks they have had to accept an increase in their population of over 10 per cent. That is the equivalent of 5.5 million people coming into this country. Not only is Macedonia a poor country, but the refugees affect the racial balance of the country to which the Macedonian people are very sensitive. Macedonia has been a tolerant country. There have been no problems with racial matters in Macedonia. We should salute them. It is not only in our interests, but it is our duty to see that we make things as easy as we can for them. I am very proud of the contribution that British troops have already made to the setting up of the refugee camps in Macedonia.

One can easily be numbed by the numbers of refugees. My research shows that some 400,000 people have entered Albania. That is roughly the equivalent, I am told, of the population of Manchester, Bristol or Edinburgh; 200,000 people into Macedonia is roughly the equivalent of the population of Swansea; 48,000 into Bosnia is roughly the size of the city of Antrim.

The nature of the evil that is being carried out in that part of the world comes home to us more vividly if one considers the impact on one family. So many terrible stories have been told to our troops, to British Ministers and to visiting parliamentarians. Consider what it means when a man comes into your house and points a gun at you and tells you to get out immediately. Your first instinct is to pick up those things most valuable to you, things that you treasure the most, and you put them in a little bag and walk out and the man with the gun steals them from you. He takes your wedding photographs; he takes them because they have silver frames. You offer him money. He takes the money, but he still kicks you out.

What is taking place in Kosovo is not just a piece of obscene political dogma; they are the most vulgar criminal activities that one can imagine. Most of all, I think of the children who have lost their toys, their pets, their friends and who are in a strange country. They may be separated from their parents; they may have lost fathers; they may have lost uncles; they may have lost brothers. They have very little hope. In fact, they are seriously traumatised. Occasionally, it is wonderful to see how life returns to them when somebody gives them new toys to play with.

The events in Kosovo are terrible. I understand that the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, feels strongly about the effects that NATO forces have had on Serbia. My noble friend Lady Symons will talk about his amendment at the end of the debate. I hope that the noble Earl will not find it necessary, having registered his view, to press his opinions to the vote. However, he is perfectly entitled to do so if he chooses. I also hope that noble Lords will not follow the noble Earl in his lonely position and that noble Lords will support the Government in the Lobby, not least to demonstrate our support for our brave young men and women out there, to let them know that we are proud of them and to make it clear to them that we are confident that their cause is just and that it will prevail.

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