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Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his remarks. He is right to say that this is a terrible tragedy. The real tragedy is that the terms that the Serb government have just settled for were available to them before any bombing took place. It is the Serb people who have paid a terrible price for Mr Milosevic's intransigence. My noble friend asked whether this was the best way of dealing with the situation. I cannot really answer that question. All I will say to him is that I think it absolutely inconceivable that we shall see scenes of this kind again in Europe. I think that he is possibly a little too pessimistic when he says that the worst is yet to come. In my remarks I was referring to the dangers facing our troops. As far as concerns the Kosovar refugees, particularly the displaced people still hiding

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inside Kosovo, there is an end to the repression, the brutality and the violence and they can return to their homes.

The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, can the noble Lord confirm for the record that the proposed United Nations resolution covers the disbandment and disarmament of the Kosovo Liberation Army?

Lord Gilbert: Yes, my Lords.

Lord Annan: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that historians on the whole do not make very good military commanders when they are in retirement? That is why I have not spoken until now on the Kosovo problem. But there is one thing which I think historians are entitled to do and that is to draw attention to the problems which have existed over centuries in this area. The problem I am thinking of is of the Serb holy places. Have all our British commanders been briefed on the historical background to this problem and the necessity of ensuring that the centres of Orthodox Christianity in Pec, in Pristina and in that north western part of Kosovo are taken into account and that those places will be guarded by NATO troops? I raise this point not out of any sympathy for the barbaric President Milosevic and his accomplices in the Serbian army and his murderers in the Serbian paramilitary forces but because I think that this is a matter which deserves consideration.

There is something to be said for ethnic cleansing. We carried out ethnic cleansing in 1945 when the whole of the Silesian German population and the whole of the Sudeten German population were expelled. In one sense that was sensible and inevitable. But I hope that when NATO troops go into Kosovo it will be understood that there are areas which are specifically holy to the Serbs and other places which are the homeland of the Moslem population.

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I am sure that the House would not expect me to follow the noble Lord in his advocacy of ethnic cleansing, however accomplished. But I will say to him, with regard to the first part of his question, that General Jackson and his officers are fully seized of the importance of the religious monuments in Kosovo and the need for them to be protected. I do not doubt that the officers of the other NATO contingents will be similarly briefed. It may well be the case--I am not sure whether final arrangements have been made--that there will be some Serb presence to protect those monuments in the future.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, as far as concerns the Security Council, is my noble friend able to advance any additional information about the position of the Chinese Government? Secondly, with regard to the position in Kosovo, we have rightly given considerable protection to the innocent Albanian community. Is my noble friend prepared to ensure that we give equal consideration to the innocent Serbian community in Kosovo?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I am not sure whether the Chinese have announced their position on the resolution,

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which is in blue form. I understand that they have no intention of vetoing it, though they may abstain. With regard to my noble friend's second point, NATO forces are going in to make sure that there is no more mayhem or violence in Kosovo against any element of the population there. We can only hope that we are successful in bringing that into effect.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, does the Minister welcome, as I do, the agreement reported this morning between various Kosovar interests; namely, the KLA and Mr Rugova? The noble Lord said earlier that there will be a unified military command. Will that also extend to the civilian component of administration and to economic matters?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I was not aware of the developments with respect to the KLA to which the noble Lord referred. But anything that brings more unity into that strife-torn country is greatly to be welcomed. One of the difficulties we feared was the vociferous nature of the various elements in the KLA in the weeks ahead. What was the noble Lord's second point?

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I asked about Mr Rugova, who was shadow prime minister.

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I was saying that I hope very much that there will be unity among the KLA element. I thought that there was another part to the noble Lord's question.

Lord Biffen: My Lords, if the evacuation of Kosovo leads to conflict between the Albanians and the Serbs who are still in that province, what arrangements exist for the enforcement of peace on the part of NATO, the Russians and the rest, or will the matter be left to be resolved by the warring bands?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I thought that I had already answered the last part of that question. In the early days the responsibility for day-to-day policing will necessarily fall to the military forces as they move into Kosovo. Subsequently--as soon as possible, we hope--that responsibility will pass to the civil administration that will be set up under the United Nations. I believe that that answers the second part of the question from the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. The noble Lord, Lord Burnham, kindly reminded me that it was whether or not we propose to have a unified civilian command. The answer is to start with, yes, under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, will the Minister, first, inform the House what rules of engagement have been issued to our ground forces? Is he satisfied with them? Secondly, is arresting and, therefore, turning over to justice those who have committed the dreadful atrocities and who still remain in Kosovo a priority?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, on the noble Earl's first question, I am sure that your Lordships realise that I will never discuss rules of engagement across the Floor

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of the House. As regards attempts to capture those responsible for some of the atrocities, I believe that the noble Lord will be aware of the brilliant efforts of British forces in Bosnia in that direction. I am sure that our troops will be diligent in that respect in Kosovo--if any war criminals stay in Kosovo and allow themselves to be caught.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, will my noble friend accept that the House and the country owe a debt of gratitude to General Jackson and those who took part in the demanding negotiations? Does not the situation provide vindication of the military and political leadership involved as well as demonstrate the modern relevance of air power? Does my noble friend also accept that the United Kingdom has provided the lion's share of the action taken by Europe, as it did in the Gulf War. Does he feel it appropriate that those eagerly pursuing the question of a foreign security policy in Europe should recognise that Britain cannot always, and should not always, provide that lion's share?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I must point out that NATO already has something like 17,000 troops in Macedonia and this contingent comprises representatives from no fewer than 14 NATO countries. No fewer than 14 NATO air forces took part in the recent campaign and no fewer than eight of those air forces mounted strike missions.

The plan for the immediate future is to build up KFOR to something of the order of 50,000 personnel. Our contribution is intended to be of the order of 13,000. However, it may briefly go as high as 19,000. We expect at least 7,000 troops from the French, a similar number from the Germans and possibly 5,000 or more from the United States. It must be remembered that the United States has contributed of the order of 85 per cent of the air campaign. The French had more fast jets in the air than the United Kingdom, although we had responsibilities elsewhere, of course.

It is a little unhelpful--if I may say so to my noble friend--to try to compare contributions of various NATO allies. The important matter is the solidarity that has been demonstrated by the leaders of all the countries and, in most cases, by the parliaments and by public opinion across NATO. I believe that that has been a truly remarkable aspect of the last three months. As my noble friend pointed out, the United Kingdom has made a major contribution. That is one of the prices that you pay for supplying the headquarters and the leadership in a campaign like this. This country cheerfully makes that contribution.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, I want to follow the question from the noble Lord, Lord Hardy. Does the Minister agree that as there have been huge military costs, and there will be major reconstruction costs, it is fair that those costs should be shared among the NATO countries? That could best be done according to the GDP of each country. Currently, the United States has 48 per cent of NATO GDP; Germany, 13 per cent; France, 9 per cent; the United Kingdom, 8 per cent;

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Italy, 7 per cent; Canada, 4 per cent and Spain, 3 per cent. That comes to 92 per cent. Is it not sensible for us to consider whether all those costs should be put into a pot and allocated according to each country's GDP and not necessarily according to the efforts put in by each country?

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