HL Deb 07 June 1993 vol 546 cc539-41

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will liaise with the Government of the United States of America to bring an end to the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)

My Lords, we remain in closest contact with the United States Government and with our other allies in an effort to achieve peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On 22nd May foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Spain agreed the Joint Action Programme on the next steps as part of the process of achieving a lasting settlement.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply but do the Government accept that the Serbs have acquired 70 per cent. of land belonging to other people by brute force, ethnic cleansing and the slaughter of the Moslems? That is a disgrace to humanity. The only hope is that the United Kingdom, acting in liaison with the United States of America, will hold urgent talks designed to end the violence in Bosnia and to guarantee that the United Nations will survive, as it is at risk at present.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, no one would like more than I to be able to ensure that the consultations, of which there is an extensive network taking place all the time, could bring to an end the slaughter and the terrible happenings in Bosnia-Herzegovina. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary will, in the Foreign Affairs Council held tomorrow, in the North Atlantic Council held on Thursday and in the meeting of the North Atlantic Co-operation Committee this week, do everything possible to find a way forward. He is in regular touch with Secretary Christopher and with the noble Lord, Lord Owen. He was in touch with both of them this weekend. We can only hope that a way can now be found to implement in full Security Council Resolution No. 836.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, when did the Military Staffs Committee of the UN, as set up in the original charter, last meet? Who is the British representative on the Military Staffs Committee?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, much as I like to try to please the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, I am afraid that without notice I cannot answer that question specifically. However, in my discussions last week in New York with the Under-Secretary at the United Nations who is responsible for peace-keeping, I formed the view that the UN is well aware of just how difficult it will be to implement Security Council Resolution No. 836. We should all be aware of that.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, does the Minister agree that so far the UN policy of safe havens in Bosnia is a tragic failure as Moslems continue to be slaughtered? When will additional UN troops be sent to Bosnia to safeguard the safe havens? Where will those UN troops come from?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, as the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution No. 836 only last Friday, I am afraid that the noble Baroness is asking me to make announcements on events that have not yet happened. The safe areas covered by this Security Council Resolution are different from the safe havens of Northern Iraq which were set up two years ago. All those safe areas are under serious threat. The humanitarian conditions are appalling and the situation is very difficult as the Serbs are not allowing UN monitors or relief convoys into Gorazde and the surrounding areas in particular. It will be for the Secretary General of the United Nations to invite the extra troop contributions and those will be in addition to our contribution. We have already made the largest troop contribution, with 2,400 troops in Bosnia. We shall not add to that contribution.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare

My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that humanitarian aid is still the most important aspect of the role Britain plays and that Britain is leading the world in this field?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I can tell my noble friend Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare that we have indeed led the field. Not only has the UK contributed more troops but we have more directly-employed people than any other nation working on the ground in Bosnia. In the work that we have been doing we have involved not only logisticians but also technicians, whom we very much want to put to work; for instance, trying to restore the water supply in Srebrenica. We have nothing but praise for those who work there, but other nations must also contribute. Britain alone cannot continue to carry those areas with the French, who are the other major contributors.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, while I acknowledge the tremendous efforts made by the British—which are greater than those made by any other country—in this terrible situation, does the noble Baroness agree that we must make very sure that the vile activities taking place in that part of the former Yugoslavia must not be rewarded with success? Does she agree, therefore, that Britain and the United States of America should work together to persuade the entire free world to make a contribution to ensure that foul aggression will never be rewarded?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, that foul aggression should never be rewarded. However, there is more to be done than outside nations can do. Because Resolution 836, which has now been adopted, goes a long way, two further elements are needed apart from any outside help which may be given. One is local agreements for implementation, with the co-operation of the parties involved, because there is no question of UN forces fighting their way in. That just would not work. Secondly, there is a need for reinforcement of the United Nation's presence. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary will be urging our partners to make a contribution to that presence at the Foreign Affairs Council on 8th June.

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