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The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for giving way. He referred to Croatian ethnic cleansing. Is he not aware that the Serbs who were recently in Kosovo were resettled there, having been driven out of Croatia two years ago from an area known as Krajina by a Croatian Army trained by the Americans and supported by the Moslems? I stress that point.

Lord Kennet: My Lords, that was the episode to which I referred when I mentioned that Croatians had also practised ethnic cleansing.

So we now have an American president as usual hamstrung by the polls and a Congress looking to the next election. They have given us a war of bombardment which has not prevented our international military chief, the outstandingly intelligent General Naumann, from effectively disowning it the day before his retirement. We hear military voices in this country, voices which we have grown to respect and trust over decades, stating more quietly the same truths as General Naumann did: wars cannot be half-waged.

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As one American defence official is quoted as saying in Aviation Week:

    "We thought this could be done with a drive-by shooting off a few cruise missiles, and we grossly underestimated". But this is not supposed to be war; this is supposed to be the prevention of "humanitarian catastrophe". We are supposed to be doing good.

One good thing has possibly come out of it. It is a little refined, but perhaps I may mention it. It concerns the Rambouillet conference. What happened there is not very well known by the general public. The proceedings were unusual, to say the least. It may be that part of the harm was sown there, but also something good was achieved.

The Cambridge international lawyer, Marc Weller, has provided an extremely interesting account of much of this in the current issue of the Chatham House journal, International Affairs. He concluded with the words:

    "The connection of the legal justification of humanitarian action with the aim of achieving FRY/Serb acceptance of the Rambouillet package in its entirely, if it is maintained, would represent an innovative but justifiable extension of international law". "Innovative", certainly, but after the horrors that have been triggered by NATO's "humanitarian" efforts, which have presumably happened since Mr. Weller completed his article, not, perhaps, "justified".

The requirements of this may-be desirable extension of international law--averting humanitarian catastrophe--may be in need of assent from the international community, as it is not enough to have the limited membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation decide what catastrophes shall be averted.

5.43 p.m.

Lord Inge: My Lords, much of what I wish to say has already been said by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, and that is not surprising as he was my commander on many occasions. The Armed Forces will welcome the strong support spoken of in the House today.

I begin by commenting briefly on the key factors that we must consider. First, I should have been surprised if the Chiefs of Staff had not said that the Kosova crisis was much more complicated than anything we have faced in the Gulf, the Falkland Islands or in Bosnia; and that if Milosevic were not prepared to give way quickly we should be faced with a situation which would require considerable resilience and political will and be likely to continue for a long time. We have been reminded of some of the realities of war which the Gulf War in particular, and the Falkland Islands and Bosnian wars to an extent, allowed us to forget.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, spoke of the need for some ground force operation. I am concerned that although we understand the importance of that I do not see as much support for it as I would wish from across the Atlantic and from some of our European allies. Unless we can get a ground force there which is truly militarily capable and commanded in a

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way described by the noble and gallant Lord, it will not be effective. I believe that it is a major priority to put that force in place.

I also pay tribute to the air campaign because we could not have assembled a force sufficiently quickly to respond to the atrocities that President Milosevic was committing. We had to begin the air campaign whether we liked it or not, but I should have liked to see the ground force build up more rapidly than appears to be the case.

I strongly emphasise the importance of getting right the command and control of that ground force and not only in theatre. There must be a proper commander-in-chief, properly supported with proper authority. I sense that some nations may not be prepared to give a multinational force commander that responsibility, which would be a mistake. We must also give it a proper, responsive and robust chain of command which is able to give proper strategic political military direction. I believe that NATO is the only organisation which is capable of providing that. If we try to do what we did in Bosnia and leave it to the United Nations, although it has an important role to play, we shall find that it cannot produce such command and control.

The debate has also brought out what I call "the realities of alliance warfare". Obtaining consensus among 19 nations, as we must, to run a complex and difficult operation, particularly when the vital strategic interests of those nations are not involved, is a remarkable achievement. It is remarkable that we have got as far as we have. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, referred to what was indicated by General Naumann, but I read the general in a different way. I argue that his comments about going for the lowest common denominator undoubtedly had some impact on the effectiveness of the military campaign.

I also believe that it raises questions, because in a successful multinational operation a lead nation is necessary not only in terms of command and control but in order to provide such military capability that it has the right to be that lead nation. Of course, at the moment only one nation can begin to produce that capability; that is, America. However, that raises questions about the military capability which Europe is able to put into the field and sustain on operations, and that raises questions about a European security and defence identity.

I turn to what it means for our own Armed Forces, and this is perhaps the most important point that I wish to make today. We are extremely lucky to have such Armed Forces and they are an example to many. But we all know that they are grossly overstretched. Kosovo, which will require a strong major contribution from us, will increase the problem. The trouble is that the word "overstretch" means different things to different people. Individual overstretch is considerable, but there is an overstretch of matching capabilities to responsibilities, as mentioned by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall. I too hope that the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, will take away the very important message that we need to revisit not only the Strategic Defence Review but also

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the cuts which have taken place in the Armed Forces since 1989. Unless we do that, they will not be able to provide the support that I believe is necessary to sustain our foreign policy. If we do not do that, I also believe that we shall have considerable problems retaining top quality servicemen and service women right across the rank structure. If that happens, and it is already beginning to happen, it will have an effect on the quality of our Armed Forces, which will in turn have an effect on the effectiveness of their operation.

Finally, although I have talked about the military aspects of this campaign, the military forces are in a way a very small part of this. Only the political and diplomatic efforts will truly produce a solution to the problems of Kosovo and the neighbouring countries. One of the lessons of Bosnia was that although there was a military capability when NATO was deployed, the civil structure in support of that military effort, which should to an extent have led the way, was a long way behind the power curve.

I hope that the Government and others will seriously address the problem of what they are going to do if we are militarily successful in Kosovo, supporting it with the right, strong military civil organisation.

5.51 p.m.

Lord Blaker: My Lords, I wish to pay tribute to our Armed Forces. I was the Army Minister in the 1970s and the Armed Forces Minister in the 1980s, including during the Falklands War. Therefore, I have seen our Armed Forces at work at close quarters. I believe that they are unsurpassed in their military skills and courage and in the more frequent humanitarian role that they now have to play.

I agree with the noble and gallant Lord who has just spoken that the present situation in Kosovo is more complicated than it was in the Gulf War or the Falklands War. I support NATO's aims. I believe, as the noble Lord the Minister said in opening, that our cause is just.

I would like to make a criticism of governments, including our own Government. The criticism is that I believe they have failed to think far enough ahead. I will give the House a number of examples.

The first example relates to the recently announced proposal for an embargo on oil. On 29th April, I asked the noble Baroness the Minister a question about why the legality of this embargo had not been considered well beforehand. I asked why, instead of being considered after the decision in principle was taken by the NATO Heads of Government meeting at the end of April, this matter was not considered a long time ahead. The noble Baroness replied as follows:

    "as I told the noble Lord last week, as situations develop so does the planning".--[Official Report, 29/4/99; col. 437.] I do not know whether the noble Baroness meant that. In my view, that is not the way that planning should be done. There should be contingency plans which are put in place not as the situation develops, but months ahead. Perhaps the noble Baroness would therefore like to

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    reconsider her statement. However, if it is the way that planning has been done, it will help to explain some of the problems that I am about to mention.

The second example is one that has been frequently mentioned; namely, that the bombing was threatened for about a year before it began. The NATO activation order was made last autumn--not recently but months ago--and we could have been bombing at any time after that order was made. Milosevic has therefore called our bluff many times, and that cannot be good.

The third example is that the NATO Ministers failed to perceive that, instead of there being a crumbling of Serb morale as a result of the bombing, the Serb morale would be reinforced and the determination of the Serb people to support Mr. Milosevic would be increased. Two years ago there were demonstrations in the streets of Belgrade against Mr. Milosevic. We do not see anything like that now. I have a feeling that there was a belief on the part of NATO that we would continue to see opposition to Mr. Milosevic.

The fourth example is that we seem to have expected that the bombing campaign would be successful in a short time. I believe that that has been denied by the Government. Mr. Solana, the Secretary-General of NATO, said early in April that he believed that the bombing would be over well before the NATO 50th anniversary meeting to be held on 23rd April. I suspect that he was reflecting the general view of NATO at that time.

I believe that another failure has been to foresee that Mr. Milosevic would use the bombing as a pretext for stepping up ethnic cleansing. I agree that ethnic cleansing had taken place before the bombing began. There were 200,000 refugees created before the bombing began. The moral responsibility for the ethnic cleansing lies with Mr. Milosevic, but he has used the bombing as a smoke-screen to confuse the world about why all the refugees have been created.

I also believe that the fact that the bombing started in a phased manner has helped Mr. Milosevic to achieve his objective of cleansing virtually the whole of the Albanian population out of Kosovo while the bombing was going on, so that he could present the West with a fait accompli when we came to the negotiating table.

The sixth failure is one that was highlighted by the International Institute of Strategic Studies only two days ago. I believe that the statement made by NATO at the beginning of the bombing campaign that we were not going to use ground troops in an offensive role was a grave error. It was said by the institute that it broke two of the cardinal principles of war: first, that the element of surprise was lost; secondly, that we should keep our opponent in doubt about our next step.

Seventhly, there does not seem to be any agreement on the part of NATO about what should happen if the bombing campaign does not succeed. It is a very difficult question. I understand that it is very difficult to achieve agreement about what should be done. Nevertheless, it seems to me that it weakens our situation.

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Finally, as an example, there was no plan to deal with the refugees. It is still a matter of dispute whether the policy should be that the refugees should remain in South-East Europe or should be removed to other countries in North America and Western Europe.

Our troops have done wonderful work in looking after the refugees both in Albania and in Macedonia. The Government have now responded to some extent by saying that we will take 1,000 refugees per week. However, ethnic cleansing has now been going on in this enhanced way for six weeks. It is significant that a Foreign Office spokesman said, as reported on 4th April:

    "We did not expect Slobodan Milosevic to move the levels of population that he is moving--perhaps that was a failure of imagination".

Some of the examples that I have given may be the result of the inability of NATO governments to agree. The noble Lord the Minister referred to that problem; it is a real problem. However, they are not all examples of failure of NATO Ministers to agree. Quite a number of them are failures of imagination, as referred to by the Foreign Office spokesman. I hope that NATO will work out, as a result of the lessons it is learning, better methods to deal with situations of this kind. Governments do not get things 100 per cent right. That is impossible in war. But I do not believe that the record which I have described--and I could give other examples--is good enough.

I conclude by raising another point about which I hope there is very serious and careful planning. The noble and gallant Lord who has just spoken referred briefly to this issue. We want the refugees to return to Kosovo. In order to persuade them to do so, we need to achieve much more than the five basic NATO objectives. If one puts oneself into the mind of a refugee, wherever that refugee may be, whose family has been shot, women raped, home burned, children beaten and livelihood lost, he will need a great deal of convincing to return. It will not be enough simply to have an international force with NATO at its core, which I support because it is essential. We need a lot more than that.

Such a refugee, whom we are trying to persuade to go home, will ask, "What about the police force? Will there be a Serbian-dominated police force, as we have had in the past? Can I be sure that I can rely on the police force? Will there be hospitals and schools? What about housing? My house was burnt down when I was forced to leave it. What about electricity? What about food because there will not be much of a harvest in Kosovo in 1999? What about government structure?" We need to be ready to answer all those questions.

The military exercise is vast enough, but I am talking about the situation after the military action ends. This is bigger than Bosnia and certainly bigger than Cyprus. We have had troops in Cyprus since 1964. When the protectorate is established, I believe that we shall have troops in Kosovo for a very long time.

In the Second World War, when we were considering the future civilian reconstruction of Germany, there was a planning group involving many departments in

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Whitehall which worked for years on the civilian management of the problems of Germany after the war. That group was brilliantly successful. Do we have such a unit now? How big is it? What is its budget? How fast is it working? Unless we get the civilian reconstruction right, we may win the fighting but lose the peace.

6.3 p.m.

Lord Sandberg: My Lords, in the debate on Kosovo about six weeks ago, I said then, inter alia, that I had no constructive alternatives to suggest. That remains my position today. I support the Government in what they are doing.

Therefore, over the past few weeks, I have listened with some surprise to some of your Lordships criticising what we are doing and saying that we should be talking to Milosevic instead of bombing him. We should all like that to happen, but we tried that and it was a failure. It did not work. I am delighted that the Russians are involved and I hope that they become more involved. Even they have found it impossible to reach any sort of terms with Milosevic. Any sort of talks initiated at this stage by NATO are absolutely bound to fail. Until the Serbs seek talks with real intent for peace, I hope to hear no more of that defeatist talk here.

Talks continue--we have heard a lot about them today--on the question of land forces. Those can take two forms: offensive or defensive. By offensive forces, I mean those who may be used to invade Serbia. I do not believe that we have reached that point yet; I hope that we have not. By defensive forces, I mean soldiers who would be there to protect the refugee camps and, perhaps, the borders. Many troops are in the area. They should be reinforced, primarily in a defensive role, but in a position to take an alternative role, if that becomes necessary.

We must be prepared. We must face the unpalatable fact that troops may be needed to bring about peace. A build-up will take another message to Milosevic, who must have got the wrong message in the past, of our determination to bring about an acceptable solution. In other words, as we have heard from other noble Lords today, we must have a realistic plan B if plan A, to bomb Milosevic into submission, does not work. A publicly established plan B would suggest again to Milosevic a determination to get on with it.

I agree very much with the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, that it would be a good idea to bring in the Gurkhas. That would mean less pressure on our own forces and would be of great interest and support to the Nepalese Government who have found that, with the disestablishment of the many Gurkha regiments in the past, their income has decreased enormously.

I welcome, as do most of us, the announcement by Her Majesty's Government to allow entry to the UK to a growing number of refugees. But we must face the fact that, once here, it will become increasingly likely that they will remain here permanently. That will apply also to other western countries which give them hospitality. The original NATO demand for return to their villages must be in increasing jeopardy. After all, one must wonder whether the refugees will want to

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return to destroyed houses; whether families will wish to return to places where their most vivid memories will be of husbands, fathers and brothers being murdered. We must sympathise with the women, both young and old, who cannot stand the thought of return to a place where their memories are not only of murdered relatives, but also of personal humiliation, rape and violence.

On that point, in the previous debate on Kosovo, the question was raised as to what steps could be taken to make sure that the Serbian people are aware of the appalling atrocities taking place in Kosovo. We know only too well that Milosevic's propaganda machine puts the blame for the misery of the refugees on NATO. Will the Minister tell us what is being done in that regard and how effective it is, or can be?

Lastly, we must give an absolute assurance to Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania that there will be real and generous aid if those countries are to continue accepting refugees without devastating results to their economies. We now have the spectacle, as we heard yesterday, of refugees being turned back and forced back into Kosovo. Although that shocks us, we can hardly blame the authorities there who realise that they simply cannot cope with the influx of people which threatens to overwhelm them. We may have to make promises to neighbouring countries--for example, Bulgaria--which see a continuing conflict which is affecting them adversely. In the meantime, I seek assurances from the Minister regarding real and effective aid for Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania.

The noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, spoke briefly of the possible morale of the Serb forces. Under the noble Lord's leadership, a small number of your Lordships went to north Italy to visit the RAF there. It was with some pride and pleasure that we could see that the morale of the RAF there was extremely high. We also took pride and pleasure in the fact that many of the senior US air force officers there spoke of the high regard they had for the RAF.

6.9 p.m.

Lord Hacking: My Lords, like many of my generation, I was conscripted into national service, and I clearly remember that day in October 1956 when I reported to the Royal Navy Barracks in Portsmouth. I was already in uniform, having done pre-national service training, and after reporting to the guards at the gate I was directed across the parade ground. I put my large and heavy kitbag on to my shoulder and walked across the parade ground.

I can remember my thoughts to this day. First, I was worried about small matters, such as my uniform: Were the creases in my bell bottoms smart enough? Were my boots sufficiently polished? Did I have the lanyard--the white cord worn around the sailor's neck--in the right position?

I was also wondering--and worrying--because it was a long walk across the parade ground, about events in the Middle East. As I was to learn very shortly, it was two weeks before Suez. Nasser had seized the canal to

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finance the Aswan Dam, and that region of the world was clearly turbulent. I was worried about what I was going to do. Would I go to war, as senior boys from my school had gone to war in Korea? Would I take part in military action--in Malaya, for example, under General Templar?

As it happens, I never went to war. I took part in interminable NATO exercises in the north Atlantic, but I never fired a gun at an enemy, and rarely fired live ammunition. But that experience created a great impression on me. I developed close friendships with fellow members of the lower deck. I learnt discipline. I learnt to make decisions in difficult circumstances.

But then events moved on. I left national service and went to university. I started practising at the Bar. Therefore, when I came here in 1972, for what I thought was going to be a very short spell, my interest and, more important, my expertise lay in the law and the functioning of the criminal code. Therefore, in 27 years in this House, until today, I have never spoken upon military or defence matters. Today I break that 27 years' silence because I passionately believe that the Government's policy, together with the policy of our NATO allies, is right. I passionately believe that that policy should be supported by all quarters of the House and the country as a whole.

On any view, a very serious human catastrophe has unfolded yet again in the Balkans, and in Kosovo there have been perpetrated the gravest breaches of human rights. We cannot stand by and watch these awful events and do nothing. As in the biblical story, we cannot walk by on the other side of the road.

Air strikes may have accelerated the so-called ethnic cleansing. But we should remind ourselves, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, reminded us, that ethnic cleansing started a long time ago--10 years or more--and by October 1998 250,000 Kosovars had been displaced by the military activity then taking place in Kosovo. And I remind your Lordships of one other event that clearly took place before the air strikes started: the murder of 45 Albanians in the village of Racak on 15 January this year.

Moreover, nobody can pretend that the massive expulsion of Albanian people from their homes, the scorching of villages and the widespread genocide was somehow dreamt up after the commencement of air strikes. It had long been planned, albeit it may have been accelerated by the air strikes.

In participating in this debate I have not altogether shed my expertise as a lawyer. I have been pondering hard during the last 24 hours about how international law properly applies to current military action in Kosovo. What is international law, and how is it breached? I decided this morning that the only thing I could do was to dust down from my library a text book that I had used 40 years ago at university, a text book written by Mr. J. L. Brierly and entitled The Law of Nations. I read from the first chapter, as follows:

    "The Law of Nations, or International Law, may be defined as the body of rules and principles of action which are binding upon civilized states in their relations with one another. Rules which may be described as rules of international law are to be found in the history both of the ancient and medieval worlds; for ever since men

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    began to organise their common life in political communities they have felt the need of some system of rules, however rudimentary, to regulate their inter-community relations." The learned author goes on to identify the more recent development of international law, saying that it dates

    "from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for its special character has been determined by that of the modern European state system, which was itself shaped in the ferment of the Renaissance and the Reformation." It follows, therefore, that the development of international law well preceded the formation of the United Nations in 1945, and that United Nations resolutions, important though they are, are not the sole depositories of international law. There are treaties, there are conventions and, most important of all, there is the progressive development of a law of nations which is respected and honoured by nation states.

That is very important, because hitherto it has largely been unnecessary to identify separately acts of genocide within a state to give grounds for other nations to take military action into that state. That is because states which have carried out genocide within their own territory have almost invariably invaded neighbouring countries, which gave those countries the right to declare war on the grounds of territorial invasion, against the invading country.

Let me cite a few examples. Let me start with the commencement of the Second World War. At that time genocide was already contemplated in Nazi Germany and certainly there were grave deprivations of human rights. However, Nazi Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia, followed by the invasion of Poland, was the right under which we declared war on Germany. There is a second example in Africa. The overthrow in 1979 of Idi Amin by Tanzania--and the anti-humanitarian policies that his government had perpetrated in Uganda--was in response to Uganda's invasion of Tanzania. We might also cite the Gulf War as an example. This was brought about by Iraq's invasion of the Gulf States although it must be said, alas, that we did not succeed in overturning the anti-humanitarian policies of Saddam Hussein.

It follows, therefore, that international law in no way impedes what the Government are doing and that they are in no way in breach of international law by the actions that they have taken with their NATO allies. Moreover, in acting in the way that the Government and their NATO allies have acted so far, they are in the vanguard--and should be praised for it--of the development of international law and the law of nations. How could we possibly have allowed in Kosovo the atrocious genocide and expulsion, now of over half a million people, to go on unrestrained by other nations of the world?

I return briefly to my memories of the commencement of my national service so long ago in October 1956. It so happens that I recently interviewed six young former Army officers. They had all taken short service commissions and were now back in civilian life. Although the reason for my interviewing them was not to trace their military career, they told me about their service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and the Gulf. From these conversations I have no doubt that all Army

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personnel--officers, warrant officers and other ranks--know the risks to which they are exposing themselves in joining and serving in the military. They are aware of the dangers and the possibility of the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives.

I do not believe that it is for this House to propose the correct military strategy. I believe that should be based entirely on the military advice given to the Government and our NATO allies. Therefore, a decision on whether there should be an invasion into Kosovo of ground troops should rest exclusively on that military advice.

However, I should like to observe, as other speakers, including the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, have done, that I know of no war that has been won exclusively by attacking the enemy from the air. While bombing may be accurate, it must also be scaring the living daylights out of the civilian population, and hence giving support to Milosevic where previously there was not support.

So far I do not believe that the name of Slavko Curuvija has been mentioned in this debate, but one cannot pass from this point without remembering him. He was the brave editor of the Belgrade daily newspaper who wrote an open letter to the president. In that letter he concluded with the words:

    "Your excellency, your country, your people and your compatriots have been living for years in a state of fear, of psychosis, with nothing but death, misery, terror and despair around them. Serbia is being stripped of territories and riches as if she were dead already. Serbia has fewer and fewer children, and gives them up too easily".

We must remember the civilian population of Serbia; we must remember those who are suffering under Milosevic.

Having said that, I go back to the main point, that the decision of a military invasion must be based on military advice. From my conversations with young Army officers and former Army officers, I know that the young service men and women will give all, and risk all, to achieve the necessary military objectives. Neither they nor their families are deterred by the awful thought of the military bags bringing back the dead. Therefore, if we have to ask them to enter into combat in Kosovo, they and their families have the right to ask of us, nay demand of us, complete support and a just cause. Clearly, we have already provided them with the just cause. We must also, unhesitatingly, from this debate, from this House, from this Parliament, from the words on the Scroll in the Royal Gallery, from the nation of England, from the action of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, give that unhesitating support.

6.23 p.m.

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, when the country is at war there is a proper reluctance to be even mildly critical of the Government or to say anything that may make matters more difficult for our men and women who may be engaged in the conflict.

On the occasion of the last short debate on Kosovo in this House, it was just such a reluctance that held me back from expressing my anxieties about the way in which I thought matters were developing. At the end of that debate, I leant forward, over the shoulder of my

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noble friend Lord Carrington, and thanked him for saying all the things that I would have wished to say, but with much greater authority than I could have achieved.

From the outset, it seems to me, first, that for entirely noble motives we had stumbled into a war in which there was no clearly definable end-game; secondly, that it was extremely improbable that we could achieve our declared objectives by means of an air war alone; and that, thirdly, far from helping the unfortunate people of Kosovo, there was a grave risk that, at least in the short term, we could make things worse for them. All such fears and predictions have proved correct, but we cannot stop. We now have to see it through.

It is the cruellest of delusions to imagine that time is on our side. It is certainly not on the side of the suffering hundreds of thousands who are fleeing, or the slaughtered relations whom they leave behind.

The Minister's remarks about the timing of future events seemed to be dreadfully casual against that background. I found his remarks about the "brilliant planning" of the conflict or the original intentions about the use of ground troops less than convincing. The Minister's "I don't know what happens next" replies to his own questions hardly fill one with confidence.

The alliance made foreign policy commitments without adequate preparations--that now seems clear--apparently in the belief that the war would be brief. It underestimated the scale of the refugee crisis and initially it deployed inadequate resources. NATO appears to have acted in the belief that it was possible to win a war from 15,000 feet, without incurring significant casualties on either side. I find it hard to believe that the service chiefs shared those illusions and did not warn their political bosses about the realities.

Of course, I do not challenge the need to use airpower, but we have to recognise that the kind of war that has developed, with its widespread destruction of the economic infrastructure--destruction which is damaging the economies of much of middle Europe as well as Yugoslavia--may bring down the regime in time. However, it is not the sort of war that brings speedy relief to the Albanians; nor is it the kind of war likely to permit the building of a stable settlement. Now it gravely threatens the stability of several neighbouring countries.

Our longer-term objectives still remain uncertain. To denounce Milosevic is not enough. It is by no means clear that our troubles will be at an end if he is removed. There are probably others, even more extreme--hard though that may be to contemplate in the face of the evils that Milosevic has perpetrated--to take his place. There is a danger that the Serb people will seek revenge, in their own way, against NATO.

The history of the Balkans suggests that the period of revenge will be long-lasting and its nature vicious. Equally, it may be difficult to prevent the revenge of the Albanian people against the Serbs. The experience of Bosnia and Croatia does not give us much ground for optimism at the present time.

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Surely it should have been obvious, from the outset, that we would need to involve Russia in a search for a settlement. Our treatment of Russia in the early stages of the conflict was an astonishing error. The remarks of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London about the importance of the Russian contribution cannot be overestimated.

Now we need a hard-headed reassessment of objectives and actions to match our rhetoric. The most immediate need--there are welcome signs that it is happening--is to change the character of the war so that it concentrates on the job of destroying the Serb army, rather than the economy of the region. We need to make it clear that Rambouillet, with its now unacceptable concept of ultimate Serb control over Kosovo, has been abandoned.

The case argued by Noel Malcolm in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, that we must go for an independent Kosovo, is powerful. Whatever the limitations of the previous status of Kosovo, the events of recent weeks have surely destroyed the possibility of a return to past constitutional arrangements. My noble friend Lord Moynihan was right to ask where the Government stand on those questions.

Whether Kosovo is partitioned or made independent, it will have to be protected by an international force prepared and ready to fight. It will be no good having blue-helmeted police who withdraw when the going gets rough. As Bogdan Bogdanovich, once Serbia's leading architect and a former mayor of Belgrade, observed in a remarkable article written as long ago as 1991 and recently republished in this country,

    "The people of the Balkans have become addicted to guns, in the same way that we have drug addicts in other parts of the world ... This is true not only of Serbs, Croats, Albanians or Moslems, but of all the Balkan peoples". That reinforces the comments on the same lines made earlier in this debate by the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees. We can be certain therefore that the difficulties of maintaining peace after the war will be formidable. History suggests that order can be maintained between warring peoples in the Balkans and places like it only by the exercise of imperial power. But I know of no example in history of imperial power exercised effectively by an alliance of many nations.

In the short term, to win the war, we are dependent on the United States; in the longer term, I do not believe that we can leave them to shoulder the major burden of what is likely to be a long and unpleasant job. European nations which have painful experience of trying to maintain imperial order over hostile populations will have to commit very large resources. That means that the British Government, if they mean what they say, will have to undertake yet another reassessment of defence policy and reinforce our now desperately over-stretched forces, as the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Bramall and Lord Inge, so cogently argued.

Surely there will also have to be a major reconstruction programme. In the article to which I referred, in looking back to the independence of Serbia from Turkey since 1819, Bogdan Bogdanovich comments that

    "A feeling of failure lies at the very heart of Serb nationalism".

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    It arises from their economic failure to match the successes of their neighbouring countries. We can be certain that after the destruction that has taken place there will be a need for major reconstruction if we are even to undermine that deep-seated sense of inadequacy and failure that is one of the root causes of the situation in which we are now involved.

The price of the kind of policies to which we have committed ourselves is going to be very heavy. Like events in Kosovo, time is not on our side and we must hear from the Government what their longer-term plans are as well as their immediate objectives in Kosovo.

6.33 p.m.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, one of the many surprising things about the Kosovo operation has been the almost complete absence of aircraft losses. In over 15,000 sorties and more than 5,000 strike missions over hostile territory, NATO has only lost two (as it happens United States Air Force) aircraft over the past six weeks. Given that the Serb air defences were assessed to be potentially effective, that is truly remarkable. It would be surprising in any peacetime exercise of such a scale and with live ordnance if there had not been some failure of flight safety. Given the pressure of operating in a hostile environment, this achievement marks a very professional standard of aviation by the Royal Air Force and the other nations involved.

For many of us, the fact that our aircrew were embarked on active service inhibited questions about the proposed campaign and what our military objectives might be. We did not have information on which to make our own judgments. I accepted that those who did, in government and in the Ministry of Defence, were reaching the right conclusions. Now that we seem to be able to operate without loss and with the benefit of hindsight, we can start to examine the judgments made at the outset.

I argued, when we debated Kosovo on 25th March, that we had to assume that the intention to use only air power and no ground forces meant that NATO's military objectives were judged to be achievable in that way and, in achieving them, the Serbian Government would accede to the political objectives. The military objectives, we were told, were to degrade their fighting capability and to avert Milosevic's ability to inflict horror on Kosovo. But as General Naumann said only last week, an air campaign is always a race between destruction and reconstruction or resupply.

What we have seen in the past six weeks has been an air campaign dogged by poor weather and by early weakness in NATO's direction of it. Indeed, there are still weaknesses; for example, what has been happening over the intention to impose an oil embargo. Weather problems should have been foreseen and factored in. More significantly, NATO has not practised such a major offensive operation ever before. Commanders and nations have been learning on the job and that too should have been allowed for. Whether Milosevic's reluctance to agree to NATO's political demands is entirely due to the inadequacies of the early days of the air campaign or to Serbian determination not to give in is far from clear.

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The assessment of the ease with which Milosevic might back down has clearly been misplaced. Serbs may not have shown the grit and determination in earlier fighting with Croatians and in Bosnia, and I listened with interest to the Minister's assessment of Serbian morale. But there is a wealth of evidence of Serbian toughness going back over centuries. Kosovo is the very cradle of Serbian culture. In 1389 Sultan Murad massacred the Serbian army on the Field of the Blackbirds in the heart of Kosovo. Over 500 years later, in 1911, a Serbian army marching south to engage the Turks paused at the border of Kosovo and removed their boots. They would only cross Kosovo barefoot so as not to disturb the souls of their slain ancestors. Anecdotal maybe, but memories are long in the Balkans and we would be wise to factor those attitudes in as well.

Meanwhile, as we see increasing numbers of aircraft being added to NATO's operation and at long last targeting more directly the Serbian units in Kosovo itself, it seems evident that NATO still believes that it should be possible to bomb Milosevic into submission. But I am not clear why marginal increases in the weight of attack, the better weather and the greater concentration on Kosovo-located targets will guarantee that.

The Prime Minister has spoken of the only exit strategy being to get Milosevic to agree to NATO's demands. But we are not there yet, even though the solidarity which NATO nations have sustained is impressive. Moreover, in press briefings we seem to judge and publish our successes by measuring the degradation of Milosevic's ability to wage war. But ethnic cleansing and the other atrocities in Kosovo do not really equate to the waging of war. As the Minister said, they are criminal atrocities; they are barbaric. So I ask: are we now after military victory? Will we use ground forces? What are our military objectives? What are we at? Where is the consistency in all of this? With every passing day we are becoming embroiled in there being an increasing number of civilian non-combatants being killed by NATO weapons. There are still civilian trains and buses in Kosovo with fuel available to move around and they are getting hit.

Ministers repeatedly say, "We are confident in the accuracy of our ordnance and we would not use them unless we were confident". Then, when a munition goes astray, they say that they regret the loss of life, that this is war and that anyway it is all Milosevic's fault; he has deliberately killed far more in Kosovo than NATO has killed by accident. Am I alone in finding this particular spin, which is so sickeningly mirrored by IRA apologies for killing and maiming with their own bombs, unhelpful and unworthy of our Ministers? We must find a better way to deal with this situation. A score pad of non-combatant deaths on the one side and on the other is not edifying.

When the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, wrote to a number of noble Lords on 12th March about the Government's goals and the possible outcome at Rambouillet she stated:

    "Belgrade may choose to reject the agreement and/or launch a major offensive, leading to an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe".

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    Please note the use of "and/or". She went on to say that Britain was prepared to take the necessary action to avert that catastrophe. Therefore, not only were the Government aware some two weeks or more before NATO air forces attacked that the catastrophe which we have now seen was going to happen but we now know that our plans to forestall or avert it have been ineffective. The humanitarian catastrophe is still with us two months or more after we had intelligence about it.

The original statement on Kosovo by the Prime Minister said that NATO action would be in the form of air strikes. He stated that it would have the minimum objective of curbing continued Serbian repression in Kosovo in order to avert a humanitarian disaster and it would therefore target the military capability of the Serb dictatorship. Sadly, we have not averted that which we feared and expected; the Government and NATO got this very wrong.

What is important now is to look to the future. How do we move forward? We now promise the return home for the displaced. Two points about that promise are of particular importance, as other noble Lords have indicated. What future status do the Government wish to see achieved in Kosovo when the bombing ends? Are we still seeking a semi-autonomous region within Serbia? Are we now looking to a partitioned Kosovo or planning to establish a protected and ultimately independent state? If it were the first, would we be prepared to negotiate with Milosevic and his government in Belgrade? Ministers have veered in their language about Milosevic from talking about degrading his war machine to saying that we are attacking key elements such as television stations which keep him in power.

The second point is this: do we expect to see him still in power, or will it be essential that he is gone before we strike a negotiated future for Kosovo? The lack of political clarity is a weakness in the otherwise robust, if over-ambitious, position which NATO and Her Majesty's Government have adopted about the future for the Kosovars. We lacked clarity about the future for Saddam Hussein at the end of the Gulf War: look where that got us. We should learn the lessons from that.

If we are to persuade displaced Kosovars and presumably Serbs and others who have fled to return to their homes in Kosovo, they too must know their future status and what sort of government they will enjoy. The noble Lord, Lord Blaker, made some telling points in this regard.

The protection force, while initially essential, is not a lasting answer. I hope that the Minister will be able to help us about the future status of Kosovo.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Crickhowell, I feel inhibited to some extent in the debate by avoiding saying anything that might make more difficult the tasks of the alliance's servicemen now engaged in operations or give the impression that those operations, or future ones, do not have our support. Also, the Government have to

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preserve secrecy about military operations and intentions, and I would not wish them to reveal anything about military plans or sensitive information that could be helpful to Milosevic.

I was encouraged to take part in the debate because of an association with, and interest in, former Yugoslavia. As a professional diplomat I spent three years in the Foreign Office department dealing with the Balkans, and two of those, 1947-49, were at the Yugoslavia and Albania desk. That was a long time ago, but during that period Tito had his quarrel with the Soviet Union, in June 1948, and we did our best to prevent him and his country from becoming part of the Soviet Empire. He had very bad relations with the United States because of the trigger-happy shooting down of the two American aircraft that were referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees.

I received informal and valuable advice at the time from my friend Fitzroy Maclean, who was then a Member of Parliament.

If one has been engrossed in a country, as I was for two years, one follows its fortunes for years afterwards. It should be remembered that the Soviet army did not occupy Yugoslavia, as it did other eastern European countries. Tito ruled Yugoslavia before and after 1948 with, it must be said, police state methods. That was one way in which he kept together the several disparate parts of Yugoslavia, stretching from Slovenia to Macedonia. I would add that his personality and skill also counted. It was predictable after he died that the components of Yugoslavia would seek to go their separate ways.

For reasons that I have given, I will not criticise the handling of the Kosovo crisis so far. I understand the problems of consulting 18 NATO partners and taking them with us on decisions.

I will comment that, as the Kosovo saga has unfolded, the stages and results of decisions were predictable but that British Ministers seem to have been taken by surprise. I suggest that the Prime Minister missed an opportunity two years ago when he was appointing the Cabinet because he could have made as Foreign Secretary someone who had great experience of foreign affairs and military matters, the noble Lord, Lord Healey. He would have been Foreign Secretary when Tony Crosland died in harness if he had not been indispensable as Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, dealing with serious economic problems. Whether he describes himself as old Labour or New Labour, he has been saying very sensible things on television and radio about the Balkan situation now. I remember when he was secretary of the Labour Party International Department, before he entered Parliament, at the time when I was in the Foreign Office's Balkans department; Mr. Ernest Bevin and his Foreign Office Ministers valued his sound advice.

Now I turn to the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Lauderdale. I, too, regret the destruction of the transport system and communications in Serbia and Kosovo and the loss of life, made necessary by Milosevic's genocide and ethnic cleansing. Many times more lives have been deliberately ended by

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his army and police--I add to what the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, said--the unleashing of brutality, including rape, and the shooting of men of military age.

The wording of my noble friend's amendment speaks of a sanction "either in international law" or,

    "by resolution of the United Nations Security Council". That raises two vital issues of recent times. The first is intervention in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state; and the second is the veto in the Security Council. On the first, paragraph seven of Article 2 of the charter prohibits the intervention of the United Nations in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state. If that had been scrupulously observed, the world would have had to stand by helpless and inactive when genocide and appalling atrocities were being committed inside a single country.

A consensus has been forming that those who framed the charter did not intend humanitarian horrors to be perpetrated unchallenged, especially when huge quantities of refugees create problems for neighbouring countries and destabilise a whole region of the world. On the second point--namely, the veto--NATO members would have risked meeting vetoes in the Security Council by Russia and China if they had raised the matter there.

My memory goes back to June 1950 when I was a member of the small British Mission at the United Nations in New York which was called to the emergency meeting of the Security Council on a Sunday morning when North Korea had invaded South Korea on the previous afternoon. By a fortuitous and still unexplained lack of co-ordination, the Soviet Union was absent, boycotting meetings of the council over the issue of Chinese representation. Had a Soviet representative been there, the inevitable veto would have made the UN operation in Korea appear contrary to the charter. The Soviet Union had disintegrated by the time of Kuwait and Russia acquiesced in the action against Saddam Hussein. I wish the present negotiations involving Russia which I understand are taking place today well, and I hope that the shape of a settlement can emerge soon.

We are not now involved in total war as in World War II, but in a limited punitive and liberating expedition. Delicate decisions are needed in these circumstances. Our chief ally, the United States, will have the shadows of Vietnam and Somalia foremost in its mind.

I shall end my remarks with another reminiscence. The noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, told us that the bombing programme had been curtailed by bad weather, despite all the modern technology. The noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, spoke about air/army co-operation in World War II. I am still invited to speak at staff colleges and in Normandy on "Operation Epsom" which happened in June 1944, the reason being that the first part of it was successful, even though there were crippling casualties. I am still a survivor of that operation, despite those casualties.

I had to record that during "Operation Epsom" the whole first stage of the offensive was cancelled--namely, the preliminary air bombing in the early

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morning. It was cancelled because of fog over the airfields in southern England. On two occasions after I had been speaking, senior RAF officers have come up to me and said, "You know, that could still happen today". Indeed, despite all the modern technology, we now find that this has happened. I believe that the Government and the services were absolutely right not to proceed if they could not carry out accurate bombing. So my sympathy goes to the present Chiefs of Staff and those working for them, some of whom may have had to study "Operation Epsom" in past years.

6.54 p.m.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, I believe that the Kosovo crisis is an unprecedented catastrophe. I also believe that President Milosevic is solely responsible for it and that the NATO campaign is both honourable in its inception but dangerous in its potential. I further believe that the amendment which has been tabled tonight is misconceived. It is easy to regret bombing, but I believe that the amendment can only lend sustenance to President Milosevic.

Tonight I want to talk about the institutions involved, both in the war and afterwards in building the peace. Yesterday in this House we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe. During lunch yesterday in the Foreign Office, I sat next to the ambassador to Slovakia and the leader of the parliamentary delegation of Slovakia. As noble Lords will know, Slovakia is a small country which has recently been through a happy divorce. Indeed, it is a new member of the Council of Europe.

Both the ambassador and the politician with whom I had lunch were young men. They were both in their early to mid-30s. All their political life they had seen tremendous changes in their own country, spanning the events in 1989 to the huge changes of recent times. The point which they made to me was that what they see as stability is the involvement of the institutions of the West and of the leading countries within those institutions. Of course, the main debate today has been about NATO, but they also aspire to join the European Union; they were members of the OSCE; and they were very proud of their membership of the Council of Europe. However, it was made very clear to me that they looked for leadership to the established countries of the West within those institutions. They looked for firmness and resolve in the action that is currently under way.

It is important that we do not support only the institutions which are currently conducting the war; we should also support the institutions which will be used to build the peace. Perhaps I may repeat a statistic which the noble Lord, Lord Russell-Johnston, gave to the House yesterday. I have not had time to check the information, but it appears that the annual budget of the Council of Europe--about £104 million--is equivalent to the cost of two hours of the Kosovar war. I found that to be a startling statistic.

The other people whom I had the privilege to meet yesterday were the representatives of Bosnia- Herzegovina. That state wants to join the Council of

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Europe. It sees its future as lying within the international family. Those people were very proud of their ethnically balanced delegation and were doing their best to ensure that they were meeting the standards set down by international institutions.

Winning the peace is about pulling the Balkans back into the mainstream. I was extremely glad that the Prime Minister spoke about a Balkans "Marshall Plan". Indeed, I believe that to be of immense importance. However, I should like to add one note of caution; namely, the excellent reports made in this House about the lack of effectiveness of both the PHARE and TACIS programmes due to excessive bureaucracy. Nevertheless, it is a very noble and right ambition.

Last Friday in Strasbourg we had a youth parliament of the Council of Europe: 36 nations were represented and 250 young people attended. Those young people insisted on debating Kosovo with passion and commitment. Resolutions were moved by the Russian delegates and by those who might be described as supporting NATO. The vote indicated support for the NATO actions. However, what is much more important than the result of that vote is the fact that almost every single one of the young people made the same point; namely, that their future as young people within a wider Europe lay within the institutions of the family of the Council of Europe and that that was the only future for Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro. That point was reiterated by the two young Kosovo delegates who took part in the debate.

Today we have had a serious debate. I believe that most noble Lords have expressed doubts about what the future holds. However, one question has not been asked. It has not been asked because its consequences are beyond imagination; namely, what happens if NATO fails? It is quite right that that question has not been asked. The consequences are beyond contemplation and it is right that no one has gone down that road.

This debate has been not only about winning the war, but also about winning the peace. That point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Blaker. I have one final point for my noble friend on the Front Bench. We are all talking about the importance of NATO, but many other international institutions must also properly be used to build the peace once the war is over.

7.1 p.m.

Lord Selsdon: My Lords, the mention of the Council of Europe makes me realise that we have had 50 years of peace in Europe. I rise to speak in the debate today because I have a passionate fear of war. All the troubles and the local difficulties of the past 20 years have begun because of a lack of understanding, foresight and knowledge of what the end-game should or could be.

This is one of those occasions when I feel a ghost passing over my grave. I refer to 1st April 1993. I remember a debate in this House initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, in which the noble Lords, Lord McNair and Lord Hylton, and the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, took part. The noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, spoke of his experience in a gentlemen's harem in Albania--

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although I have never come across a female harem in Albania! We talked about Kosovo and the fear of a war and ethnic cleansing. We asked what the then government intended to do about that. They did nothing. I feel a sense of shame that I did not do anything.

I want to try to convey to your Lordships the feelings of people outside this closed shop. I fear the spread of tribalism. I fear the break-up of the Union as tribes fight against tribes in new elections. I am a Scot and I still somehow remember Glencoe. As your Lordships will know well, the original name for Scotland was Albania. That was what first led me to Albania in 1993. I was encouraged to go there by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe who had popped over there to see whether there was any sugar which might be of interest to Tate & Lyle. My noble friend on the Front Bench who spoke earlier may remember that. In his typical fashion my noble friend Lord Jellicoe returned from that trip and patted me on the shoulder. Two years later I noticed that my arm had gone!

I went to Albania to try to help that country because it is a part of Europe. I also went to the Ukraine. Albania and Ukraine are the alpha and the omega of Europe. I wondered where Europe began and where it ended. I was not sure. There was a fear that if we extended the interests of Europe without those institutions mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, we would experience the same problems that confronted Fitzroy Maclean in Eastern Approaches. I commend that book to your Lordships.

We in this country are lucky in that we have not been "beaten up" like some people in eastern Europe. We should remember that, in the Ukraine, Stalin wiped out 6 million people by starving them and that 6 million were lost during the war. Albania held out against the Ottoman Empire for 30 years with only 300 people. As I have said on previous occasions, 200 Albanians became top generals in the Ottoman Empire.

Albania is a strange country. I believe that I have been there 20 times. I first went there on a trade mission. I discovered that there was chrome in Albania. By mistake, I obtained support from the Know-How Fund. Her Majesty's Government sent someone from the Department of Trade and Industry down the mines with me. I led a British mining expedition. I also wanted to save a mine in South Crofty, Cornwall. In Albania, everyone has been down a chrome mine. Chrome is, or was, the lifeblood of Albania. As your Lordships know, stainless steel cannot be made without chrome. No country in Europe has any viable reserves of chrome and the last chrome producer in the United States has closed down. Chrome is, however, a strategic material.

I have travelled throughout Albania. Your Lordships may find my next remark rather trite. The Albanians are highly intelligent people. I speak of the whole Albanian race. They have a high level of literacy and a thirst for information. They had experienced problems with their dictator leader who believed that in order to unite a nation you must create fear of the leadership in a totalitarian state. If a leader wants to stay in power, he must create an enemy. The Albanians created an enemy, the United States of America. Black and white television

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photographs were shown of the Anzio landings and of American troops beating everyone up. This was all part of the propaganda of that time. Some 600,000 bunkers were built in villages, on hillsides and in orchards. They looked like daleks out of "Dr. Who". They were about six feet high. Every Albanian was given a Chinese Kalashnikov which probably did not work. They told me that a baseball bat would be a more effective weapon as they had no ammunition. The weapons were pointed towards the sea to meet any American invasion.

Although the Albanians were a persecuted people, they had a great sense of humour. They had a strange hero in Norman Wisdom. I did not realise this until I went to meet the president one day and was told that he had gone to the airport to meet a VIP. That VIP turned out to be Norman Wisdom. Norman Wisdom's films were shown throughout Albania and the Albanians identified themselves with that slapstick humour of a door slamming in one's face or slipping on a banana skin. As I say, the Albanians had a sense of humour. They told me that it was always Buggins' turn in Albania. We discussed who Buggins was. When one is swapping whisky for raki in Albania, one has nothing to do but to listen to people's conversation. If noble Lords think that Irish jokes are bad, they should listen to Albanian jokes for 11 hours non-stop.

I asked my Albanian friends about the situation in Kosovo and Macedonia. They said that they both belonged to Albania. The Serbs have now found religion again. They had forgotten it for a long period. Albanians do not necessarily follow the Orthodox or Moslem religions. As the Albanians explained the situation to me, the Serbs want more room and that is why they want all ethnic Albanians to return to Albania. The Serbs tell the Albanians that they want peace and that the Albanians should hand over their weapons.

However, if the Serbs encounter an Albanian who has no weapons, they tell him that they will be back in the morning and that he had better get some weapons. They return and then they search the house; they pull everything out and take what they can. The next time round, they take the women and children out and search them; they strip them, if necessary, in the street. Then, after the pressure mounts, they are given a way out, 30 or 40 kilometres away--and so, with their luggage and with their families, into the buses they go. Half-way down they may stop, and the young men are taken out and never seen again; sometimes they are even shot in public. As the bus gets near the border, some of the young girls are taken out; then all the furniture; and then everything else, even the gold out of people's teeth. This is not me speaking; this is my Albanian friends telling me of the horrors that they were facing years ago. Some of the horrors that we now see on the faces of people as they appear on television are even worse.

These people are from the Balkans; they are tough, they are resilient. There is hope that they will want to return; they will not want to come over here. They even suggested to me at one time, "If you can help us a bit more, we might get back many of the Albanians who have escaped". I said, "What do you mean?" They said,

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"Those who have gone to Italy. Give us a bit of money and we will get them back. We know where they all are".

Albania is full of information and knowledge. I have received many Albanian delegations over here; they have to go to London, they have to go to various places. I said, "But really you are meant to be seeing our industry". However, when they return to their villages and their families, they describe what they saw. They were starved of knowledge and information for a long period of time. They are now receiving their cousins, families and kinsmen and, with hardly any resources, looking after them. But they have a strange kind of resource.

We must remember what happened to the Chinese in 1978, but they have hydro-electric power. They can make do even under the most incredible difficulties. They can turn seven broken-up cars into a lorry. That is the way they work.

If an Albanian does not have any bread, he will get an old lorry and go off and get some corn from somewhere, which he will swap for something else, come back and set up a bakery. The same man will then go off in the van to see whether he can get some chocolate. If he forgets to look at the weather forecast and all the chocolate melts in the back of the van on the way back, he will use it in the bakery to make chocolate cake. These are strange thoughts. But these people have had a tough time and they are resilient.

In the past, the Serbs have had a tough time; the Balkans have had a tough time. These people will not be quashed by military force. I have listened to young noble Lords and to those who speak about aeroplanes. Aeroplanes are far, far removed from life on the ground in what could become a guerrilla war of immense proportions.

When we were looking at the mines and wondering how we could make the mines more productive--each miner carried up every day only as much as he could put in his pocket; he went into the mines because it was warm--the miners themselves made a suggestion. As they had had their little troubles, there were guns hidden in the mines. They read about the Bill in your Lordships' House and the other place to get rid of handguns and that the Government were prepared to hand over money for them. They suggested to me that they should hand over all the Kalashnikovs--we had a debate about whether they were handguns because they were held in the hand--and asked whether they would then be able to use the money to buy mining equipment.

They are great people from a great nation. We shall not quash anyone in that area by force of arms. We know that eight attack-helicopters can take out 100 tanks; that the tanks have a range of 2,000 yards and the helicopters have a range of 3,000 yards. But one might down even a helicopter with a catapult.

When we tried to get rid of the miners, they said, "Please, what did you do when you had your problems in the empire?" I said, "We went out and we built an infrastructure. We built roads, bridges and railways and we raised regiments". They said, "Ah! Why do you not raise a regiment? You can call it the Selsdon Light Foot

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or, if necessary, the Light Horse, because horses and men on the ground are worth far more than tanks or anything else".

The problem will not be easily ended. The way we are going is possibly the right way to begin--but the people of the Balkans will never be crushed only by force of arms.

7.14 p.m.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I follow the consensus of the debate by supporting NATO's stated war aims. I do so strongly and wholeheartedly; I could not possibly bring myself to support the amendment to be moved by the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale.

I object only to the sixth of NATO's aims; namely, that a political framework for the future of Kosovo should be based on the Rambouillet accords. In my view, Rambouillet is now obsolete. Kosovo should be independent in the same way as Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia are independent. Those are the successor states that have emerged since the almost total break-up of a federation that began in 1989 when Mr. Milosevic revoked the autonomy previously enjoyed by Kosovo. Independence is, therefore, the conclusion of a process that Mr. Milosevic precipitated, but yet has throughout violently resisted. He has failed so far and I think that he will fail again. Independence should not be seen as a precedent for ethnic splits throughout the rest of the world but as something which was overlooked at the time of the agreement made at Dayton, Ohio.

Above all, in my view, the partitioning of Kosovo should be resisted. Why should Mr. Milosevic be rewarded for his fourth war in a row? Why should he be given the mines, the power stations and the better land that lie in northern Kosovo? To do so would prevent many Kosovars who are now displaced or refugees returning home.

I come now to the issue of self-defence for the Kosovars. After what they have suffered, I do not think it reasonable or right to deny them the means to defend their families and neighbours. Denial of arms was perhaps right when negotiations were still going on; now, the negotiations have failed. Your Lordships will recall that both the Croats and Bosnians received arms for their own defence once the moment had come. In my view, now is the moment to arm the KLA.

Having said that, I want to look forward to the time after the Kosovars have been enabled to go home--and here I follow the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Blaker. Of course, there must be arrangements enabling Serbs to visit their historic sites and revered monasteries in Kosovo. Similarly, Montenegrins must be able to visit Macedonia in safety.

However, far more important is the need to consider the future of south-east Europe as a whole. We need a coherent, democratic plan for the entire region along the lines mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. I should like to stop calling the whole region "the Balkans"--a name which refers to a single mountain range in Bulgaria. To my mind, that name has

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unpleasant overtones of Ottoman, fascist and communist misrule. Instead, let us think of "the south-east of Europe".

Let us now consider communications. As has been mentioned, the Danube bridges will obviously need rebuilding. Not altogether unlike the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, a few years ago I stood on the shores of Lake Ochrid and saw the need to reconnect Turkey with Albania by rail. Indeed, most of the tracks are still in place. Road connections will also be essential. Frontier crossings will have to be made user-friendly. That was my main thought in the early hours of the morning when last year I was travelling by coach from Bulgaria to Moldova via Romania.

Democracy requires an economic base. The region cries out for internal and mutual development, supported by judicious inward investment. Free but regulated trade and markets are essential. They will have to be buttressed by honest civil and police services, providing justice for all.

Some may say that that is a tall order. I reply that if states based on the rule of law are possible in such places as Slovenia, Hungary or Greece, why cannot the same be done throughout the region? Countries such as those I have mentioned on the fringes of the region are beginning to prosper. Their development needs widening, and we have the international organisations to assist the process. The challenge will lie with the OECD, the OSCE, PHARE, and the Council of Europe, which was debated only yesterday in this House. Here I strongly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede. Will the Government strive to ensure that all those bodies are adequately funded to meet the likely calls that will be made on them?

Perhaps I may refer to experience gained over the past seven years in Moldova. That country was formerly in the Soviet Union. It experienced a civil war in 1992. In that same year, a cease-fire came into being and has been effectively maintained by a joint peace-keeping force. Russia and the Ukraine acted as mediators, and were soon joined by an OSCE peace mission. Nevertheless, there is still no overall agreement between the two sides, which remain divided. The governments I have just mentioned and the mediators have been assisted by a voluntary partnership between the United Kingdom and a joint Moldovan committee, using both community development and conflict resolution methods. Those means have reached all levels of society in that country and have on occasion helped to "unstick" the official negotiations. There have been good relations between the official and unofficial processes, and some modest movement has been achieved in the direction of conflict resolution. Community development has provided valuable information into the real economic and social situation.

I conclude that that experience could prove useful rather more widely in south-east Europe. It indicates how different methods and tracks can work together, and how the rebuilding of civil society depends on co-operation between governments and NGOs. I trust that these ideas may be helpful to the reconstruction of Kosovo, to the re-integration of Serbia into Europe, and

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to positive developments throughout the whole region. Written agreements such as we have seen at Oslo, Belfast and Wye River, show that almost infinite, skilled patience and hard work are necessary if full implementation is to follow on from agreement. I suggest that the underlying needs, problems and identity questions will have to be analysed with the participants both before and after any agreements have been reached.

7.23 p.m.

Lord Judd: My Lords, in a powerful conclusion to his speech, my noble friend Lord Gilbert described in graphic terms exactly what is happening to men, women and children. Against that background, the Government were of course right to take action. Their courageous decision deserves support from all of us. Anything that I say this evening is in the context of wanting to see that brave action brought to a successful conclusion.

History will judge everything that is done in terms of how it protects those at risk, how it contributes to viable long-term stability in the region as a whole and how it enables an alternative, decent leadership to emerge in Serb Yugoslavia itself. We have to win the war. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, wisely said, the even greater challenge is to win the peace.

The gravity of the situation demands the language of sober moderation and humanitarian resolve. We may decide that it is necessary to bomb party headquarters and broadcasting centres, but we have to win the battle of ideas, values and integrity. Reason and honesty have to be the underlying disciplines at all times.

As those of us who are concerned about the situation debate this issue today, our thoughts must go out to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people within Kosovo itself. I hope that my noble friend the Minister, in replying, will be able to tell us specifically how all minds are being bent to bring relief and assistance to those people in their plight. I have been told that there is a danger in, for example, parachuting aid to people in such a situation. As we have seen, there are dangers and mistakes in bombing. We are not always totally accurate. I have been told that people might be injured in trying to collect supplies as they are parachuted. But this is a life and death situation for many hundreds of thousands of people. It is important to know how the Government are concentrating on trying to bring relief.

However, no more than will the bombing, will humanitarian assistance alone build a viable future. It is essential to engage the positive commitment of all those with a stake in the future to a convincing political strategy. It must be one that recognises the historical, religious, cultural and ethnic realities of the Balkans as a whole. It will need to involve all of former Yugoslavia, as well as Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Romania, and more besides. And it will obviously need to involve Russia. The issues are central to her own internal politics and stability. Russia has a vital part to play, not merely as a messenger but as an architect and guarantor of the solution. There are no quick, managerial, easy fixes. The demands on statesmanship and vision are immense.

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That brings me to the issue of refugees. They present a huge humanitarian challenge. But they present a far greater challenge than one that is humanitarian alone. The dangers of destabilisation are there. I recently visited Macedonia and Albania with a mission from the Council of Europe. I was deeply struck by the reality that in Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro in less than a month there has been more than a 10 per cent increase in population. As has already been asked during this debate, what would happen in this country if, suddenly, between 5 and 6 million people arrived on our doorstep destitute in less than a month. Let us compare the economic well-being of this country with the economic fragility of Albania and Macedonia.

It has been said that it would be psychologically damaging to move refugees too far from their home countries. But that is said by people who have not been to look at the reality. I draw on personal experience as a former director of Oxfam. I have seen many refugee situations in the world, but few worse than this. When you see the plight of the people in this situation, simply to say that to move them might be psychologically damaging is just not to face the reality of the plight in which they presently find themselves.

It has also been said--and this disturbs me more--that to move them might send the wrong message to Milosevic in Belgrade. I become concerned because we could be slipping into the error of reflecting his fault in beginning to use the refugees as a political weapon. These are men, women and children with immediate social needs. We should be concerned with them as human beings.

Meanwhile, the plight of the refugees is appalling. It is difficult to imagine, when the summer heat comes, how they will cope. If they are still there in those conditions in the winter, it will be a tragedy unequalled in recent human history. The dangers of disease are ever-present.

Each day I was there the United Nations High Commission for Refugees issued a checklist of what was being done about the refugees. Imagine how I felt in the presence of other European colleagues on the mission when I saw that on the checklist that recorded movements, scheduled movements and quotas to which countries were committed the only nation to score a blank under all three headings was the United Kingdom.

Of course we are concerned about the closure of the border by Macedonia, but what credibility do we have when we lecture Macedonia on its responsibilities if we do not shoulder our own? For that reason, I am glad that in the past few days the Government have changed their position from an unjustifiably negative reaction to a highly positive plan as to how we should play our part and more. That is to be welcomed. I hope that this debate will send out a message of encouragement and endorsement of that position and that the Government will have support from all parts of the House in taking that line.

In the meantime, we must recognise that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees is barely coping, despite valiant work by its staff, NGOs and the

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armed services that work closely with it. One of the specific issues that needs to be addressed is registration. Many people are without papers of any kind and there are insufficient arrangements on the ground to ensure that they can be properly registered. UNHCR has an urgent need for more support.

But if our resolve is measured in history by how we respond to the refugee crisis, the Prime Minister is certainly right to recognise that it will also be measured by how we respond to the economic needs of the region as of now and in the post-war period, especially in Kosovo itself, Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. We must also recognise that there will be tremendous challenges in Serb Yugoslavia. Even before these events unemployment in Macedonia stood at 40 per cent. Now Macedonia has lost the markets for her agricultural produce and trade routes out of the country. Surprisingly, few questions have been asked about the expense of the bombing. I hope that we shall see the same Treasury solidarity in building the peace.

Inevitably in this debate reference has been made to a military presence in Kosovo to protect people when they return to their homes and to the need to take the necessary action. In such an operation Russian involvement is indispensable. Whether or not there is UN endorsement is not just a nice theoretical notion; a very important principle is at stake here. It must be demonstrably clear that any military presence in Kosovo is there because of certain universally applicable principles, not just those identified as a priority by any one military-political alliance. That is the importance of UN endorsement.

However, I am a realist. If we do not get that endorsement we shall have to face that situation, but we should strain every sinew to ensure that we obtain it not only for the sake of Kosovo and the region itself but for the future of humanity. What will be the lesson of the future order of world affairs if the message begins to go out that if there is no UN endorsement one can invent one's own authority for taking action in one's own region? I do not believe that that would be a good development for the future of humanity. The United States may not always enjoy the paramount position that it now enjoys. China may become a much more significant nation than it is even now.

Yesterday in the Guardian there was a very interesting article by the Foreign Secretary in which he spoke of two Europes. I was impressed by the theme of his article. As a member of the delegation of the Council of Europe I was glad that he underlined the relevance and significance of that body in this context. My noble friend Lord Ponsonby has rightly taken that as his main theme in the debate.

But we must take a very hard look at ourselves. The credibility of our unqualified condemnation of Milosevic's sinister and evil ethnic cleansing will inevitably be related to the effectiveness with which we combat racism and prejudice in society in the United

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Kingdom and apply humanitarian principles in asylum and immigration policy. The clear message that must go out is, "Do as we do", not simply, "Do as we say".

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