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Yugoslavia

Volume 227: debated on Wednesday 23 June 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what plans he has to raise the threat of military action by Croatian armed forces against the Serbs of Krajina with European Foreign Ministers with a view to planning a swift and common response in the event of such aggression;(2) further to his answer of 19 May to the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Faber),

Official Report, column 165,

what diplomatic and economic measures against the republic of Croatia are under consideration in the event of continuing Croat aggression in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Krajina; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what representations have been made to General Tudjman regarding the threat of military action by his forces against Serbs in Croatia; and if he will make a statement.

The conflict in Croatia has been discussed on several occasions by EC Foreign Ministers. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs sent a message to President Tudjman on 15 June expressing our concern that the Croatian Government should not resort to force in order to resolve the situation in the Krajinas, which the international community recognises as Croatian sovereign territory. We welcome a similar message sent on the same day by Chancellor Kohl of Germany.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of whether the explosion in the Bosnian town of Sifluk on 17 June was a deliberate or targeted assault against British personnel; and if he will make a statement;(2) If he will make a statement on the injury of United Kingdom citizens by a remote-controlled mine in the village of Sifluk, Bosnia-Herzegovina on 17 June; and if he will make representations to the Croatian authorities.

British Forces serving under UNPROFOR auspices in central Bosnia have reported this incident to the Ministry of Defence in London. Three people in a routine patrol were injured by a mine which exploded in a tree at a Bosnian Croat checkpoint near Vitez; one of those injured was a British journalist. There is no evidence to suggest that this was a premeditated attack by Bosnian Croat HVO forces. We condemn the deliberate targeting of any UN personnel. The safety of our troops is a prime concern and we shall continue to monitor the situation closely. It was announced on 10 June that we have made reinforcements available if necessary to protect British troops already in central Bosnia. We have made it clear to the Croatian Government that we expect them to use their influence with the Bosnian Croat forces to prevent such attacks.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of State on the latter's assessment of the effect of the recognition by Germany of Croatia on the situation in the former Yugoslavia; and if he will convey Her Majesty's Government's opinion on this to the Government of Germany.

There have been no specific discussions between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the United States Secretary of State on this matter. The decision to recognise Croatia was taken by the EC and its member states in the light of a report submitted by the International Conference Arbitration Commission.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to oppose, in the United Nations Security Council, moves to call a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly with the purpose of rejecting the latest proposals made by Bosnian-Serbs and Bosnian-Croats for the future Government of their country; and if a policy of self-determination by majority consensus will be applied to all former Yugoslav republics.

We are unaware of any moves in the United Nations to call such a meeting of the General Assembly. The Copenhagen European Council in its declaration of 22 June reaffirmed its conviction that a negotiated settlement in Bosnia has to be based on the principles of the London conference.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what report he has received from the co-chairman of the conference on the former Yugoslavia of progress made during talks in Geneva on 16 and 17 June; and if he will make a statement.

The right hon. and noble Lord Owen briefed European Community Foreign Ministers on 20 June on the eve of the Copenhagen European Council on 21 and 22 June. He outlined proposals on Bosnia put forward by Presidents Milosevic and Tudjman on 16 June at talks between the parties in Geneva and President Izetbegovic's reaction, and reported that a further round of talks would take place in Geneva on 23 June.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to discuss with the United States Administration issues raised during the meeting of the conference on the former Yugoslavia in Geneva on 16 and 17 June.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs spoke to United States Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, on 18 and 20 June to brief him on European Community thinking on the conflict in Bosnia following the latest round of negotiations in Geneva on 16 June. We shall continue to maintain close contact on this question with the United States Administration.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Bosnian-Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegovic in respect of fighting in Kakanj between 13 and 16 June; and what is his estimate of the numbers of civilians who have been displaced by Bosnian-Muslim forces.

During his meeting with President Izetbegovic on 14 June, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs expressed concern about reports of Muslim atrocities against Bosnian Croats in central Bosnia. Large numbers of civilians have been displaced by military action taken by all three parties in Bosnia; we have no reliable estimates of the numbers displaced by recent fighting in the Kakanj area.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to President Izetbegovic regarding targeting of civilians by Muslim forces active in Bosnia-Herzegovina;(2) if he will make a statement following his talks with President Izetbegovic on 14 June.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) on 16 June, at column 642.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Secretary-General of the United Nations about the deployment of United Nations monitors along the border between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On 11 June, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 838 which calls on the Secretary-General to submit a report on options for the deployment of international observers on the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made no separate representations to the Secretary-General on this subject.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to oppose the division of Bosnia-Herzegovina into three ethnic entities; and if he will make a statement.

In its declaration of 22 June, the Copenhagen European Council stated that it would encourage the co-chairmen of the international conference for the former Yugoslavia to promote a fair and viable settlement acceptable to all three constituent people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that it would not accept a territorial solution dictated by the Serbs and Croats at the expense of the Bosnian Muslims.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what positive steps the Government of Serbia have taken since the beginning of June to assist the international community to find a solution to the Bosnian civil war; and if he will make a statement.

During discussions in Geneva on 16 June, President Milosevic of Serbia, together with President Tudjman of Croatia, proposed new territorial arrangements within the existing borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina. A political settlement between the parties will require Bosnian Serb withdrawal from territories seized by force and we call on the Government of Serbia to press for this. The Copenhagen European Council stated in its declaration of 22 June that we would not accept a territorial solution dictated by the Serbs and Croats at the expense of the Bosnian Muslims.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed the possible use of air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions with the United States Administration.

We remain in close contact with the United States on the situation in Bosnia. Recent discussions on the use of air power, notably at the North Atlantic Council in Athens on 10 June, have focused on support for UNPROFOR in the performance of its overall mandate in Bosnia. Both we and the United States have offered aircraft for this purpose.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the note Verbale S-24900-Add.27 of 16 March from the United Nations Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have received from (a) the Secretary-General of the United Nations and (b) the President of the Security Council about another meeting of the London conference; and if he will make a statement.

The United Nations Secretary-General has on a number of occasions, including in contacts with Her Majesty's Government, suggested that the international community should consider whether to convene the international conference for the former Yugoslavia. No proposals of this kind have been received from the President of the Security Council.