HL Deb 22 November 1995 vol 567 cc295-6

Lord Hooson asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to encourage NATO, in particular, and the western powers generally, to work as closely as possible with the Russians to search for an eventual solution to the problems of former Yugoslavia.

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

My Lords, we have supported efforts to involve Russia in a NATO-led peace implementation force. Provided command and control questions are resolved, we look forward to working alongside Russian troops in implementing the Dayton agreement.

Lord Hooson

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is it not clear that, although to a degree the Question has been overtaken by events, the long-term solution to Yugoslavia must depend to a very great degree on the co-operation of the Russians? To what extent is the Minister convinced that the Russians are not only co-operating as regards the present agreement but that they have an intention to enforce any arms embargo; otherwise one might have a repeat of the previous history of Yugoslavia, with one side supplying arms to a participant and another supplying arms to the other?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. I believe that he had some perception when he put this Question on the Order Paper. I shall be repeating a Statement from the other place later this afternoon. As regards the Russians, not only have we had good co-operation, particularly latterly, with them in the UN missions in both Bosnia and Croatia, but the Russians have agreed to play a continuing role in the implementation of the agreement reached at Dayton. We already have discussions well advanced with them on the NATO-led implementation force with whom they will work.

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, can the noble Baroness elaborate a little about command and control? As I understand it, the force which is going to move into the former Yugoslavia is under NATO command. That is one of the stipulations in the Dayton agreement. Without wishing to pre-empt the discussion which will come later on the Statement, can the Minister say whether the Russians are prepared to accept NATO command and control; and, if so, will not the Russians have to be instructed on NATO identification and command codes; and is that a very good idea?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, the noble Lord anticipates the Statement and some of its detail.

For the time being I can assure him that IFOR—the implementation force—will be NATO-led. It will be under NATO command and control and the details are being worked out.

Lord Finsberg

My Lords, can my noble friend say whether the discussions with the Russians are with people like Mr. Kosirov, the Defence Minister, and Mr. Yeltsin, or in fact with people who may disappear in a month's time when the new Duma is elected?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, Mr. Ivanov, the Deputy Foreign Minister, has been leading the Russian delegation in Dayton. It has played a constructive political role throughout. I have every confidence that both he and others with whom he has been working will remain.

Lord Avebury

My Lords, have the Russians agreed to co-operate fully with the work of the war crimes tribunal and in particular to extradite any person charged with offences before that tribunal like Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, we are getting rather deep into this subject. I ask your Lordships to await the Statement.

Lord Mowbray and Stourton

My Lords, bearing in mind the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, is my noble friend somewhat in agreement with it? Bearing in mind the Russian attitude to this problem over the past 140 years, is it realistic to expect them to do a complete volte-face, because leopards do not change their spots that deep?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I know that it will be difficult to accept, but the agreement arrived at over 21 days at Dayton has been so difficult to achieve that I do not believe that the Russians would not have given their commitment. While I understand the anxiety of the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, we have to find a way to go forward. We cannot keep looking back 140 years.

Back to