HC Deb 18 November 1987 vol 122 cc1051-2
6. Mr. Janner

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he is satisfied with the present state of relations between the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Mellor)

Relations with Yugoslavia reflect close ties over the years, and there remain many shared interests. A regrettable problem is the failure of the Yugoslav authorities to settle British claims arising out of the Zagreb air disaster in 1976.

Mr. Janner

Have the Government had conversations with the Yugoslav Government regarding documents that the British Government have in their possession and are refusing to reveal about the activities of the German Group E— which is alleged to have been involved not only in the mass killings of Yugoslav civilians but in complicity in the deaths of British prisoners of war— particularly regarding the charge laid by the Yugoslavs to the United Nations, which placed in category A of wanted war criminals for murder and putting hostages to death the man who was then Lieutenant Kurt Waldheim?

Mr. Mellor

The hon. and learned Gentleman has pursued this matter with customary perseverence and courtesy. He knows that we are always ready to engage with him on the detail of this matter, which evokes widespread concern and interest among hon. Members. We regard the complaints laid by the Yugoslav authorities in 1947, which were not followed up by them, as a matter for the Yugoslav Government and not for us. A matter that would concern us is any mistreatment of British service men. As a result of the allegations that were made, the Ministry of Defence made a thorough search of the files, and the hon. and learned Gentleman received a detailed letter from my right hon. and learned Friend on that matter. I am ready to reply to any further inquiries, but I know of no document relevant to that matter that has not been properly considered during the investigations about which I have told the House.

Mr. Allason

Will my hon. and learned Friend give consideration to the release of the retained file on Klaus Barbie? The file has been retained by the Foreign Office.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Does the hon. Gentleman's question have anything to do with Yugoslavia?

Mr. Skinner

The hon. Gentleman is a double agent; let him carry on.

Mr. Allason

With regard to the many files relating to Yugoslavia and war criminals, particularly Klaus Barbie, will my hon. and learned Friend consider releasing them as soon as possible, because some of those individuals have been convicted?

Mr. Mellor

I was getting the wrong impression from the trainer's hints that I was receiving.

The rules about the disclosure of documents have been clearly put forward in the House. I have nothing to add. The files that my hon. Friend mentioned will not be released.

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