Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
MS2: Bosnia-Herzegovina
#1
Madame Speaker,

I rise to update the House on the actions this government is taking, in concert with our European partners, concerning the present situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Yugoslavia in general. As many across the breadth of politics, the press and indeed the country, we are concerned about recent events in Bosnia. Especially given the openly ethnic rhetoric being used by Serbian forces, we believe there is a valid reason to be concerned not just for international peace, but for the maintenance of international law. Quite apart from that, it is not in Britain's interests to have war break out on the doorstep of Europe.

That these concerns are shared by our fellow European nations should not be a surprise. Earlier this week, I attended an emergency meeting of the European Community's foreign ministers where we discussed a common approach to the crisis. Among this approach is the immediate withdrawal of our ambassadors from the Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in protest at the actions of their government.

One of the matters at issue here is the dispute about the legitimacy of the claims to independence of Bosnia and Croatia. If it was not perfectly clear from the action we will be undertaking to protest the breaches of peace and international law by the Yugoslav government: we believe that the former Soviet Federative Republic of Yugoslavia has dissolved into its constituent parts, and that international relations should reflect this. Therefore, we will shortly be moving ahead at the United Nations to get the membership of those two new nations approved, and to clarify that the international  community sees both these states as legitimate successor states.

Suffice it to say, Madame Speaker, the situation is evolving rapidly and remains extremely delicate. I will update the House as developments arise.
The Right Honourable James Mercer MP | Labour
MP for Sedgefield (1983-present)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1992-present)
Shadow Secretary of State for Education (1988-1992)

"And getting our politics right means that in the attacks we make on Toryism, in the policies we put to the people, in the way we conduct ourselves as a Party inside and outside Parliament, we have to have a constant, unremitting, unswerving dedication to defeating the Tories. From time to time I have heard that view described as 'electoralism'. I plead guilty."
- Neil Kinnock to the PLP
Reply
Thanks given by:
#2
Madam Speaker,

I thank the Foreign Secretary for his statement to the House, and for his commitment to working within the European Community in respect of the turmoil unfolding in the former Yugoslavia.

Madam Speaker, will the Foreign Secretary confirm:

One - what is the best available estimate of the number of civilian casualties that have occurred in the region?

Two - what steps are the United Kingdom taking in order to ensure the safety of British expats, including journalists and diplomats, in the affected regions?

Three - will the government present to the United Nations a case for peacekeeping forces to be deployed?

Four - does the Foreign Secretary agree with me that any evidence of targetted killing of civilians should trigger an immediate military response from NATO countries?
[Image: 2ez3gwn.png]
Rt Hon. James Yates PC, MP
Member of Parliament for Ryedale

Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
Reply
Thanks given by:
#3
Madam Speaker,

I also wish to thank the Foreign Secretary for his statements on the evolving situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And while I applaud the first step of withdrawing our ambassador I have some questions:

One, does the Foreign Ministry believe that this conflict could slide into a ethnic cleansing or genocidal situation?
Two, if they do not believe that will happen why not?
Three, if they do will the Foreign Minister and this Government keep promises we made after the Holocaust to prevent any such horrendous situation from happening again?
Four, what other steps is the Foreign Secretary and the Government considering? Are they working with NATO allies towards a possible peacekeeping mission? Are they working with the U.N. to deploy a peacekeeping force in a timely manner?
Philip Porter
MP for Orkney and Shetlands (1983-Present)
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats (1992-Present)
Liberal Democrats Spokesman for the Treasury (1992-Present)



Reply
Thanks given by:
#4
Madame Speaker,

With regard to some of the questions of the honourable member for Ryedale, I am still awaiting the precise information from the civil service, but will update the House as it becomes available.

Now, regarding the need for a peacekeeping force. As the gentleman for Orkney and the Shetlands must have observed, we are very concerned by the ethnic rhetoric being used. While that is not enough on the strength of it to immediately answer the question of whether it might devolve into ethnic cleansing, I would be lying if I said that that is not part of our concerns. As a matter of fact, we have been monitoring the situation and the large movement of refugees and civilians in areas of Bosnia has given us reason to move towards a humanitarian mission designed to keep them safe. I am therefore pleased to announce that we will be building a coalition at the United Nations to extend UNPROFOR's mandate to Bosnia. This is quite apart from the action we expect from the Yugoslav Government, which is to cease its aggression against Bosnia, and to which end we withdrew the ambassador.

As to the further questions by the member for Ryedale, while the situation is not an Article 5 situation because Bosnia is not a member of NATO, I believe that as this is happening right on the doorstep of members of the alliance, NATO would be a key partner in any effort at peacekeeping or intervention in the area, and this is the position I will be taking at the North Atlantic Council.
The Right Honourable James Mercer MP | Labour
MP for Sedgefield (1983-present)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1992-present)
Shadow Secretary of State for Education (1988-1992)

"And getting our politics right means that in the attacks we make on Toryism, in the policies we put to the people, in the way we conduct ourselves as a Party inside and outside Parliament, we have to have a constant, unremitting, unswerving dedication to defeating the Tories. From time to time I have heard that view described as 'electoralism'. I plead guilty."
- Neil Kinnock to the PLP
Reply
Thanks given by:
#5
Madame Speaker,

I rise today to thank the Foreign Minister for making clear and answering the questions posed to him. It appears from his comments that the Government is keep apprised of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also clear that they have taken the first diplomatic steps to confront the rise of ethnic tension and potential ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. However, we must do more. We must be prepared to intervene in a muscular and timely manner. The lives of tens of thousands of civilians depend upon it. Great Britain cannot shirk her duty now in their time of need.

Our nation has a long history of standing beside nations and peoples on the Continent who were marginalised or threatened by stronger foes. We now see before us a group of civilian men, women, and children under the gun in the Balkans not because they are soldiers, not because they are guerrillas, not because they are partisans, but because they are people who exist. Right now in Europe tens of thousands face the threat of annihilation and extermination for the high crime of being born where they were and living their lives as the people they are. Bosniaks are being threatened with violence and death by a small group of megalomaniacs bent upon power and hypernationalism. Great Britain has long stood up for the powerless before and it is time that we do so again.

I applaud the Government for seeking to extend UNPROFOR's mandate in Bosnia. That is a positive second step. But we must include in that mandate extension the ability for peacekeepers to actively protect civilian populations. It would be a grave misstep to extend the mandate without extending the power to protect. Without the vital duty and charge to protect civilians UNPROFOR may as well not exist. Britain must lead the way in asking for this extension of power for the UN mission. We cannot simply content ourselves on tentative steps or half measures.

We also must seek to bring NATO into this as well. The integrity and security of Europe is the fundamental mission of NATO and ethnic conflict anywhere threatens that security. We should seek the utilization of NATO forces to defend and protect civilian forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The might is there and we must not shy away from it to put down bullies and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Again the Government has taken the correct first few steps, but Britain must be bolder. Not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing to do for the security of Europe and the protection of civilians.
Philip Porter
MP for Orkney and Shetlands (1983-Present)
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats (1992-Present)
Liberal Democrats Spokesman for the Treasury (1992-Present)



Reply
Thanks given by:


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)