HC Deb 20 November 1991 vol 199 cc254-6
4. Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now recognise the Government of Croatia.

Mr. Hurd

This question is constantly reviewed. Those Yugoslav republics which want independence will get it, but recognition now would not stop the fighting. We have to judge whether recognition of two republics now would increase the very real danger of civil war in other republics.

Mr. Alton

Now that the German Government have signalled their intention in the foreseeable future to recognise Croatia, would not it be a morally important statement for the British Government to do likewise and stand alongside this cruelly treated people? Now that humanitarian sea lanes are to be open, does the Foreign Secretary accept that there may also be merit in the British Government promoting the idea of an internationally enforced sky protection zone over Croatia to prevent incursions and the further bombardment of Croatian cities? Such a sky shield would protect people from further massacre and the destruction of Croatia's heritage.

Mr. Hurd

European Community Governments will probably continue to act together on this matter. As I have said before, my worry is that if we recognise the two republics that the hon. Gentleman mentions, we may force the pace and create an explosion in Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia, where there are tensions and possibilities of bloodshed and civil war that go beyond anything that we have seen even in Croatia.

There is another possibility, to which the hon. Gentleman alluded. There is now a chance of progress via measures such as those that the EC has taken, and via the possibility of a United Nations peacekeeping force. We are pressing forward examination of those in the Security Council. The new element is that both the Serbs and the Croats have, for the first time, shown a general willingness to accept such a force.

Mr. Aitken

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear whether his answer, which displayed an understandable degree of elegant procrastination, will lead to the Government saying that the Yugoslav federation as we know it has no diplomatic future?

Mr. Hurd

I think that Yugoslavia as we know it has come to an end. It is not yet clear what kind of agreements the six republics might be able to reach about future co-operation, but they will certainly not be on the old basis.

Mr. Kaufman

As the right hon. Gentleman referred to action in the Security Council, and in the light of the fall of Vukovar and the continuing horrendous threat to Dubrovnik, will he seek to obtain agreement for a Security Council resolution imposing comprehensive sanctions, including an international oil ban, on the whole area, as a way of exerting pressure to bring the fighting to an end?

Mr. Hurd

The three EC members of the Security Council—Britain, France and Belgium—have reached agreement on what we want the Security Council to do. Our representatives are now canvassing support for that. I am not sure whether we shall get the support, but the plan includes the elements mentioned by the right hon.

Gentleman, and encouragement for the concept of a United Nations peacekeeping force once the appropriate conditions exist.

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