§ 7. Mr. Macdonald
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in the former Yugoslavia.
§ Mr. Hurd
The situation throughout Bosnia remains tense. The immediate priority is to secure a ceasefire as a prelude to a negotiated settlement. The new contact group, which was formed in London a week ago, brings together the negotiating efforts of the European Union, the United Nations, the United States and Russia and it is exploring on the ground prospects for a negotiated settlement with the parties.
§ Mr. Macdonald
Does the Foreign Secretary accept that every declaration on Bosnia to which either he or the Prime Minister have put their names—from the London conference to the Edinburgh summit and even the Washington agreement—has affirmed, as a matter of principle, the recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina within its internationally recognised borders and also the absolute right of refugees to return to the areas from which they have been cleansed?
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm the Government's attachment to those principles and explain how that squares with the reported comments of the Minister of State in Sarajevo yesterday that there would have to be some land given up by the Bosnian Government and some readjustment of borders? Does he accept that any attempt made by the Government to go back on those declarations would be a cynical betrayal of their previous words and would fatally undermine their ability to adjudicate in the crisis and in future border disagreements?
§ Mr. Hurd
We are talking about boundaries inside Bosnia-Herzogovina—what the boundaries should be between areas occupied by Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Moslems. There has been some progress on that through the months, but the matter is not yet finalised. It will have to be negotiated—it cannot be imposed.
§ Mr. Bill Walker
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the attacks against French aircraft and the shooting down of a Royal Navy Sea Harrier are acts of aggression against NATO? Consequently, there is no excuse now for the Germans, for example, not to send troops, and the United 711 States should not be standing on the sidelines. Without the presence of those two nations on the ground, NATO's position is weakened. The bargaining position is weakened, and goodness knows what their absence does to NATO's conventional deterrent capability.
§ Mr. Hurd
The Germans have a legal problem as a result of their constitution. They have a historical problem because of the history of the second world war. The President of the United States has made it clear that the United States would be willing, if Congress agreed, to put in troops on the ground in Bosnia once there was a general settlement which needed to be implemented. That is what we are working on.
§ Mr. Hurd
I do not believe that 18 months ago the circumstances existed in which it would have worked. We cannot be certain of these things, but that was certainly the advice that we received at the time and the advice on which we and many others acted. The threat and the use of air power can be useful for certain specific objectives—the self-defence of United Nations units and in certain instances the protection of safe areas. That has been shown, but I do not believe—and I do not think that the majority of right hon. and hon. Members believe—that air power can in Bosnia, any more than in Iraq or Vietnam, bring a war to an end.