HL Deb 01 February 1999 vol 596 cc1298-309

3.37 p.m.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement on Kosovo which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend, the Foreign Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

  • "With permission, I should like to make a Statement about recent developments on Kosovo.
  • "The situation on the ground remains tense. On Friday, over 20 Kosovar Albanians were shot in Rugovo. On Saturday, a hand grenade was lobbed into a cafe in Pristina frequented by Serbs, injuring eight, including one Albanian. Yesterday, two Serb policemen were injured when a grenade was fired into their van while they were returning from the funeral of a casualty of earlier conflict. Over 200 people have been killed since the Holbrooke agreement last October provided for a cease-fire.
  • "At its meeting in London last Friday, the Contact Group called on both sides to end hostilities now. They insisted on full compliance by Belgrade with its undertakings of last October and real co-operation with both the Verification Mission and the War Crimes Tribunal.
  • "The main focus of the meeting was on the urgent need to instil momentum into the political process. Since last October, Ambassadors Hill and Petritsch have developed the Contact Group's framework document for a political settlement. It reflects extensive consultation with both sides.
  • "Their detailed document provides for an interim accord for three years. That period would provide the opportunity for the creation of democratic self-government in Kosovo through free and fair elections supervised by the OSCE. The new institutions of Kosovo would enjoy a wide range of self-government, including control of its own police and internal security.
  • "The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would retain competence only for foreign policy, external defence, monetary policy, single market, customs and federal taxation. Both Serb and Albanian communities would be fully protected with the right to elected institutions preserving their national culture, language and education.
  • "The framework document provides that at the end of three years the future status of Kosovo would be reviewed under international auspices.
  • "Despite the extensive consultation and detailed work which has gone into the framework document by representatives of the Contact Group, in three months there has not been one negotiating meeting on it between Belgrade and the Kosovo Albanians.
  • "On Friday the Contact Group resolved on a programme of action to break that stalemate. We agreed to summon both sides to negotiations on the basis of the framework document. We set a tight timetable which requires both sides to attend talks by this Saturday and to conclude negotiations within less 1299 than two further weeks. France has offered to provide a venue for the talks which will take place under the joint chairmanship of myself and Hubert Vedrine, the French Foreign Minister. Later on Friday the United Nations Security Council welcomed the strategy of the Contact Group and demanded that both parties should comply with it.
  • "On Saturday the North Atlantic Council also gave its full support to the strategy of the Contact Group and warned that NATO is ready to take whatever measures are necessary to avert the humanitarian catastrophe by compelling compliance with the demands of the international community. In the meantime the North Atlantic Council delegated to its Secretary-General, Javier Solana, authority to order military action in the light of the responses of both parties. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister discussed Kosovo with President Chirac during his visit last Thursday. They agreed that both Britain and France would be willing to consider the deployment, with their Allies, of ground troops in Kosovo to provide a period of stability and peace during which a political settlement could take root.
  • "I was instructed by the Contact Group to convey our demands to both parties and on Saturday I visited Belgrade and Skopje. I was accompanied throughout by Bill Walker, chief of the Verification Mission. The visit increased my respect for the valuable work of the Verification Mission. It has provided instant and reliable information on the atrocities which have invariably occurred in places where it is absent, and has undoubtedly deterred further atrocities where it is present. In Belgrade I met jointly with President Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and President Milutinovic of the Republic of Serbia. I stressed to them that I came with the mandate of the united Contact Group and also backed by the authority of the North Atlantic Council. Our requirement of them to take part in negotiations under international chairmanship is the best opportunity Belgrade will get to extricate itself from a conflict that it cannot win. President Milosevic undertook to study the Contact Group proposals and to reply within a few days.
  • "In Skopje I met with Dr. Rugova, Mr. Demaqi and Mr. Qosja who between them represent a broad spectrum of Kosovar opinion. I stressed in all my conversations with the Kosovar Albanians that the proposals of the Contact Group offered a democratic, self-governing Kosovo free from the bloodshed of recent months. Dr. Rugova, who was elected overwhelmingly last year as leader of the Kosovar Albanians, welcomed the opportunity for talks and committed his party to participate fully in them. I also spoke by phone to Mr. Surroi, an independent publisher and a leading political figure in Pristina, who gave his full support to the proposals and expressed his willingness to participate. Mr. Demaqi who acts as political spokesman for the Kosovo Liberation Army and Mr. Qosja, leader of the third largest Kosovo Albanian party, both undertook to consult their colleagues and to let me have their response within days.
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  • "Madam Speaker, I cannot confirm that the talks which we seek will take place. Nor can I guarantee that if they take place they will succeed. There remain serious issues of difference between the two sides which it will take hard negotiation to resolve, such as the nature of the review to take place in three years' time and the relationship between a self-governing Kosova and Serbia. But I can confirm that the meeting of the Contact Group showed real unity and a common determination to provide for progress towards a political settlement of the conflict. It is now for both parties to show the same commitment to finding a political solution. Neither of them can win the conflict by military means. Both of them would benefit from a political settlement. The offer of these talks, brokered by the Contact Group and backed by the Security Council and NATO, provides the best opportunity they will ever get to achieve a political settlement through dialogue. I urge both of them now to seize that opportunity and give the people of Kosovo hope for their future in place of their fear of the present bloodshed".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

3.44 p.m.

Lord Burnham

My Lords, I extend to the House my most sincere and deep apologies that my noble friend Lord Moynihan was informed by a government office that the Statement would not be made until 4.15 p.m. He is therefore not present at the moment. I crave the indulgence of the House in making my noble friend's speech (a copy of which has been faxed to me) on his behalf. My noble friend would have said that he is very grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement made in another place and for updating your Lordships' House on the results of the Foreign Secretary's mission to Belgrade and Skopje at the weekend. From these Benches, the Government have our full support as they actively seek a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Kosovo under the auspices of the Contact Group. We welcome the Contact Group's most recent action in summoning both sides to talks in France by the 6th February and the setting of a clear deadline for the conclusion of those talks, action which has been endorsed by both the UN Security Council and by NATO. Given that their participation in these proposed talks is not yet confirmed, when does the Minister anticipate that a response will be received from President Milosevic and the Kosovo Liberation Army respectively with regard to the demands of the Contact Group and the detailed plans which have been submitted to each party as a basis for negotiations to settle the future status of the province?

We also support the decision by NATO to authorise the use of force if deemed necessary, provided that any military action is predicated on clearly defined objectives. Can the Minister confirm that NATO forces are on 48 hours' notice, as has been reported? Is the Minister in a position to give any further details on the British preparations for the possible use of force and the likely time-scale of events should one or both sides fail to comply with the Contact Group's ultimatum by the given date? Should military strikes be authorised, what plans exist for the extraction of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission prior to such action? In the light of the possible deployment of ground troops in Kosovo to monitor any peace settlement, which has been referred to by the Foreign Secretary, can the Minister provide any further details as to what this would entail? Given the failure last October to get the NATO partners to agree to such action in principle as part of an overall settlement, has consensus now been reached, and is it the case that all leading NATO nations would now take part in such a deployment? What discussions have been held with the United States on this question, given that the Foreign Secretary himself said on Friday that there is an interesting debate going on within America with regard to the deployment of ground troops?

From these Benches we share the Government's horror at the butchery which has taken place, and continues to take place, in Kosovo and we join the Government in unreservedly condemning such atrocities. Indeed, even as the countries of the Contact Group were finalising their ultimatum on Friday the bodies of 24 ethnic Albanians were found in the village of Rogovo. Most of the victims were reported to have been wearing civilian clothes. Can the Minister tell the House what progress has been made, by British verifiers and others, in investigating the cause of these deaths? Does the Minister agree that there should be a role for international war crimes investigators in this work, just as she did in the case of the massacre at Racak last month?

William Walker, the head of the Kosovo Verification Mission, has confirmed his belief that he has "absolutely no doubt" that the Serbs were behind the outrage at Racak. What discussions did the Foreign Secretary have with President Milosevic regarding access for war crime investigators to the area? Can the Minister comment on reports last week that US surveillance teams uncovered evidence of direct involvement by senior Serb politicians and military representatives, both in the massacre itself and the attempted cover-up which followed? Furthermore, can the Minister give the House any further information on the investigation being carried out by the Finnish forensic team, given that Helena Ranta, who is leading that team, has said that there is a possibility that the bodies had been tampered with during the period they were not under international supervision and that the truth about how they died may never be known?

From these Benches, we support the Government in their belief that the international community cannot simply stand by and watch as the ceasefire agreed in October day by day melts away with the onset of spring, and the brutal murders of innocent civilians become a tragically regular occurrence.

We support the use of a clear ultimatum, backed by a credible alternative course of action, to break the cycle of violence in Kosovo and to bring both sides to the negotiating tables. Nevertheless, the Minister will be well aware that it is now eight months since the Foreign Secretary issued the first of a series of final warnings to President Milosevic. As a result of last summer's policy, driven by the puff of rhetoric but devoid of any real action, the response of the international community was even described as "dithering and disunited" by the Prime Minister's own press secretary. Can the Minister give an assurance that those days of dithering are over and that on this occasion, the Government's deeds will prove as resolute as their words?

That concludes the reply of my noble friend Lord Moynihan to the Statement. I again give my apologies to the House for the fact that he is not here in person to deliver it.

Baroness Williams of Crosby

My Lords, I, too, apologise for missing, I believe, the first two sentences of the Minister's Statement for the reasons already given by the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. We had the impression that the Statement would be a little later.

First, I warmly welcome and support the action taken by Her Majesty's Government. We on these Benches have pleaded for a long time for a stronger position to be taken by the Contact Group; and we recognise the work of the Foreign Secretary in gaining support among his colleagues on that Contact Group. We are extremely grateful and very pleased to hear that at long last strong and determined action is to be taken. We praise the Foreign Secretary for his part in that.

Secondly, it is important to remind the House that the decision to start on a very short timetable the negotiations between the Government of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and the Albanian/Kosovan delegation only reflects the more rapid timetable written into the Holbrooke Milosevic agreement which Mr. Milosevic had signed. That agreement indicated that talks would start in October and would be completed no later than November. Those who say that it is a sudden rush to negotiation have not read sufficiently carefully the Holbrooke Milosevic agreement.

As regards, decision to make ground troops available in order to support the peace negotiations, should that be necessary, have other European countries which are members of NATO, in addition to France, been willing to commit their troops? We on these Benches congratulate France on agreeing with the British Government to make troops available.

In the Minister's view, will it be possible to bring pressure to bear on the Yugoslav army and Serbian police to ensure that no further action of any type is taken against civilians in the Kosovo area while the negotiations continue, in the light of the appalling massacres which have occurred over the past few days?

Will the Minister consider again the possibility of offering to the Government of Albania the support they need, in logistical and other terms, to police that border so as to prevent the steady flow of sophisticated arms across it, given that the OSCE and NATO support the concept of sanctions against Yugoslavia? Might that also be a useful card to play in ensuring that all sides are present at a negotiating table where, if any significant interest is not present, it might be possible later to denounce any agreement reached?

I conclude by again congratulating Her Majesty's Government on taking the first step towards what we on these Benches hope will be a genuine European response to the problems that beset our Continent around the edges but not within the European Union.

3.56 p.m.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, I start by offering apologies (if there are apologies to be offered). I am not clear what has happened as regards the timing. If anything on our side has gone wrong, I apologise, but I am not sure that it has. I hope that we can look at the matter through the usual channels. For my part, I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, delivered his noble friend's points extremely well. As always, I shall do my best to answer those points.

I am extremely grateful for the support of the official Opposition on the issue. As the Statement makes clear, it is a tense and difficult time. I thank, too, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, for her support. The noble Lord asked about the response from Mr. Milosevic. We are hoping for a response as quickly as possible. Mr. Milosevic said that he would consider the points put to him, as did Mr. Qosja and Mr. Dimaqi. We have said that we expect to see them this coming Saturday. Therefore for arrangements to be made one would expect that response to come very quickly indeed.

The noble Lord, Lord Burnham, put a number of detailed points to me on military action. I am sure that he will understand that, while we would all sympathise with his questions on detailed military planning, it is not sensible to go into such detailed planning at present. We are in very close touch with our allies—with the United States and others. But at present the sensible action is for us to concentrate upon the need to get the parties round the negotiating table as quickly as possible. That is what we have been concentrating on with our partners in the Contact Group. That is why my right honourable friend spent the weekend in Belgrade and Skopje.

The noble Lord asked about the extraction force. As noble Lords know, the extraction force of some 2,400 strong is based at present in Macedonia. It is French led and there are 350 British personnel there. We are confident that the extraction force can do the job that we hope it will do if it were ever to come to real necessity. I stress to all noble Lords that we must concentrate on this as a set of negotiations and provide the best possible atmosphere for those consultations to take place in a constructive way.

The noble Lord also asked about the war crimes. Of course we believe that the war crimes investigator, the International Criminal Tribunal, should have access to all possible areas where war crimes have been committed. The problem has been that when the investigators cannot go to where alleged atrocities have taken place, they are unable to carry out the investigations so necessary to their work. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that UNSCR 1207, which was adopted in November last year, is a mandatory Chapter VII resolution which reiterates the need for the federal republic to fully honour its obligations towards the international tribunal. It sends a clear message that the FRY must not be allowed to flout its legal obligations for co-operation. The will of the international community has been expressed in that Security Council resolution.

We do not believe that it is a matter for the federal republic to judge whether the ICTY has the necessary jurisdiction to investigate any possible crimes in Kosovo. We believe that it has a clear obligation to comply and we shall be pursuing that. I am sure that all noble Lords would wish to join with me in the views of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, as expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, as regards the horror at the crimes which have taken place. The horror of what has happened in individual terms has been all too appallingly apparent, alas, on our television screens. I am sure that many of us have been very moved and grieved by what we have seen.

I point out to noble Lords that in all of this Her Majesty's Government have not been dithering. Whatever has been happening internationally, Her Majesty's Government have been determined to secure progress. I believe that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has shown great determination and leadership in this matter—hence the meeting over the weekend and the feeling of the Contact Group in London that my right honourable friend should be its emissary to Skopje and Belgrade during the weekend.

I reiterate to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, that France has not committed itself to ground troops any more than Her Majesty's Government have done. We have committed ourselves to being willing to consider putting in ground troops. I agree that that is quite a positive statement, but I would not like the noble Baroness to think that there was a complete commitment on this issue. We are talking to our allies elsewhere. We shall need to take considerable soundings as regards the views of our allies over the provision of ground troops. We very much hope that no side will take action against civilians during this period. That is what we have hoped throughout. We have a ceasefire which has not been honoured. From the position at the moment, it is hard to know how much non-compliance with this ceasefire has in any way been sanctioned by political leadership. That is the problem which we have to address here.

We shall continue to reiterate to all the participants in this very unhappy conflict the absolute need not to use military force on the unfortunate and unarmed civilians who have very obviously been the unhappy victims of some of the dreadful atrocities that we have seen. I agree with the noble Baroness that it is enormously important that the OSCE continues to do what it can to monitor what is happening on the borders. I must refer again to a particular passage in my right honourable friend's Statement that the OSCE has been very effective in stopping some of the atrocities where it has had a presence. It is where it has not had a presence that the atrocities have continued. I agree with the noble Baroness that it is important to monitor the movements of weaponry in this situation. I also agree that the European dimension is a very important part of the way forward in trying to sort out this conflict.

4.1 p.m.

Lord Avebury

My Lords, can the noble Baroness say whether the transitional period of three years will allow the people of Kosovo, at the end of that time, either through their elected representatives or through a referendum, to declare total independence if that is their will? Does the noble Baroness appreciate that it is an important condition to get the KLA representative to the conference table and that the option for complete independence is not totally closed off? Will she also deal with the point raised in an article in Der Spiegel this morning by one of the KLA leaders that they are about to elect their own representatives who will be in office from 10th February onwards? If that poses a difficulty for the timetable, bearing in mind that the proceedings at Rambouillet are supposed to start on the 6th, is there to be any flexibility? Would the Contact Group be prepared to extend the period of negotiations by starting, say, a week later if that were a condition which allowed the KLA to take part?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, as regards the first question about the three-year period, the framework document, which has been the subject already of so much discussion, provides that the future status of Kosovo would be reviewed under international auspices. That might be through an international conference or there may a number of different ways in which that can be done. To determine at this stage what is meant exactly by the future status of Kosovo would be a mistake. I believe that that is exactly the kind of issue that should be considered in the discussions between representatives of Belgrade and the other individuals whom my right honourable friend met in Skopje over the weekend. I believe that is one of the things that the discussions in Rambouillet should be concentrated upon.

The noble Lord makes the point about possible elections making a difference and the possibility of postponement. I am bound to say to the noble Lord that I believe that not only my right honourable friend but other members of the Contact Group are very well seized of the political situation. There has always been a reason for a little more delay on this matter. The international community is now pretty determined that discussions should go ahead at the weekend. If good and sound reasons arise during the week I am not in a position to judge what might be decided. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, that most of the international commentators and those who know more about the situation than I do recognise that this is a very urgent situation, which needs a very urgent solution.

Lord Craig of Radley

My Lords, the Minister mentioned that Her Majesty's Government and the French would be willing to consider the commitment of ground forces. Can she clear up the position as regards the use of air power? I believe there was some suggestion in the media over the weekend that the Secretary-General of NATO had already been authorised by North Atlantic Council members to undertake air attacks in the event that the Serbians and the Kosovans do not come to the negotiating table. Perhaps the noble Baroness can clear up the position in relation to the use of air power.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, I refer the noble and gallant Lord to the Statement that I read out on behalf of my right honourable friend a few moments ago. It states that the North Atlantic Council had delegated to its Secretary-General, Javier Solana, authority to order military action in the light of the responses of those parties.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that at the Council of Europe held last Thursday I attended a meeting with Mr. Westerdorp, the High Commissioner for Bosnia? He was asked how long he expected the civilian monitors to be in place in Bosnia. He said that it would be for at least a generation. The current cost is at least 1.5 billion dollars a year, which does not include any of the military forces. Does my noble friend agree that, whatever the success of the current initiative, we, through NATO, will be making a substantial commitment to this region for many years to come?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, the cost of peace is never cheap. The fact is that it costs a great deal to keep troops in readiness on the one hand and international monitors on the other; and also, of course, to have an extraction force standing by. The points that my noble friend makes serve only to emphasise the very robust Statement of my right honourable friend, which is that no part of this dreadful situation in Kosovo can be resolved through military action. It has to be resolved through negotiation. That is why my right honourable friend has taken the lead over this issue and why all members of the Contact Group are four square in support that the discussions go ahead in Rambouillet next weekend with maximum participation from those who have the right to speak on behalf of all sides of the people of Kosovo.

Lord Merlyn-Rees

My Lords, the Minister was careful to advise us to concentrate on political negotiations. She is absolutely right about that. But as regards military preparations, military thinking and the involvement of ground forces, I hope that the Government will put into the discussions a warning by way of what happened in Yugoslavia in the last war. The involvement of large numbers of military forces against guerrilla forces did not work at all. We must be extremely careful as to what our ground forces will do in that area, if indeed they go in there.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, I very much take to heart what my noble friend said. I do not believe that anything I have said on behalf of my right honourable friend implies that there will be a situation in which large numbers of Her Majesty's Government's forces would be involved in fighting their way into Kosovo. That is not a point in question here. I stress to my noble friend the point which I made to my noble friend Lord Ponsonby a moment or two ago. No side—not the combatants on the ground and certainly no forces from outside Kosovo—can resolve the issue through fighting. All that can be achieved will be achieved through negotiations. That is what makes the next few days so crucial. All people of good will—not only in the contact group but also elsewhere—should bring whatever influence they can to bear upon the combatants to meet in Rambouillet; to sit round the table; and to discuss a way through this dreadful and appalling conflict.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, in answer to previous questions, the noble Baroness was careful in her use of words. I believe that she was making the point that the United Kingdom and France would consider using ground troops if that were requested. What is the American position?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, I hope that I am always careful in my use of words, particularly when such serious matters are at stake. I was repeating what my right honourable friend said about the Prime Minister's discussions on Kosovo with President Chirac during last Thursday's visit. Both Britain and France agreed that they would be willing to consider deployment with their allies of ground troops in Kosovo in order to provide a period of stability and peace during which a political settlement could take root. It is the whole context of those remarks which is so important.

As far as I know, our allies, the United States, are still considering the matter.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire

My Lords, will the Minister confirm that, if it is necessary to have a deployment of ground troops, which clearly must be a combined force from a substantial number of countries, to provide a period of stability and peace, that may well be a lengthy engagement? We must recognise that that is the sort of commitment into which we and others may be entering.

Will the Minister say a little more about the situation in northern Albania and the control of the Albanian border? As we understand it, one of the problems that has led to the recent fighting in Kosovo is the provision of heavy and advanced weaponry across the Albanian border and the state of disorder in northern Albania. If we are to impose sanctions on all the participants, is that not something which the western allies will have to take on board rather more firmly?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, the noble Lord says that a lengthy engagement may be involved. Until we get people together round a table to discuss the way forward, it is extremely difficult to judge for how long such a deployment would be necessary. Will it be for the three-year period that is being discussed at present? Quite honestly, that is not a question which can be answered at the moment. If we reach that situation, the allies will have to monitor the position closely, in the same way as we shall monitor the need to keep the OSCE monitors on the ground.

While I understand the noble Lord's question and what motivates it, it is virtually impossible to answer at the moment. If we do put in ground troops, we shall not do that with a view to taking them away the following week. There would have to be a clear commitment to sustain them for the period which they were needed.

The noble Lord asked some detailed questions on the situation in northern Albania. I shall have to write to him with details about the position there. The noble Lord referred to heavy weaponry. I do not wish to give an answer from the Dispatch Box which I have to correct in writing tomorrow. Therefore, I shall write to the noble Lord and, as I imagine that many noble Lords will be interested, I shall place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, can the contact group be summoned again at short notice? There appears to be a probability, or at least a possibility, that President Milosevic will not say yes or no—he rarely says yes or no—but will suggest an alternative framework for negotiation. According to some press reports, he may suggest looking again at the decisions which have been taken in relation to Bosnia. If some proposals come from President Milosevic, is it possible for the contact group to consider them almost immediately or is it wholly bound by the timetable which the Minister indicated to us?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, from this Dispatch Box I should hate to say anything which might give anybody an excuse to think that they could buy more time. As the noble Lord pointed out, President Milosevic has a history of skilfully buying more time when he believes that that is what his interests dictate. The contact group has been fairly clear about that. In the Statement my right honourable friend used the word "summoned". The contact group believes that time has run out. There is a definite date for the meeting in Rambouillet, which is next Saturday. We expect President Milosevic to be there.

The Earl of Sandwich

My Lords, what is the Government's assessment of public opinion in the former Yugoslavia? What proportion of the public does she believe is behind a negotiated settlement?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, in a war-torn country I do not believe that public opinion polls and focus groups are necessarily foremost in people's minds. One can imagine what public opinion must be in a country which must witness on an almost weekly basis the most appalling atrocities involving unarmed civilians, the elderly and children. Very often, there is not a man of fighting age in sight. Whether we are government Ministers or watching these appalling events unfolding in our own living rooms on the television, if we look at the faces of those involved, we can know fairly well what public opinion is at the moment.

Baroness Strange

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. Does she agree that violence begets violence; it breeds violence? Does she agree also that everybody in this House has their breath held and fingers crossed that the talks at Rambouillet will work?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, we all know that on occasions, sadly, military action is necessary. But military action by itself rarely solves the world's difficulties and wrongs. There is a particular difficulty when it involves a single country and an internal conflict. I am sure that the noble Baroness speaks for the whole House when she says that she wishes to see the discussions at Rambouillet going ahead on the most constructive basis possible.