Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) MP
Sometimes - not very often - a colleague makes a speech in this Chamber that states a problem more eloquently than one could have done oneself. As one who raised the issue of Kosovo and was granted a private notice question on the subject on Monday, I can only say that the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mike Gapes) should be read by all who have to make decisions on that desperately difficult problem in the Balkans. I am glad that he referred to the nickel factory.
I shall simply relate a personal experience, and I hope to be forgiven for crudity. I went to stay for four days in Kosovo with my national service regiment, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, which was on duty there. In the presence of the then colonel, David Allfrey, and the then second in command, now colonel of the regiment, Ben Edwards, I was able to talk at length with some of the local Albanian leaders. I would not have had that conversation had not the guns of the British Army been behind me, because they were pretty rough customers. They were truculent, saying, to put it crudely, "Of course we're going to winwe have the power of the penis." By that, they meant that they were going to use population to achieve their objectivegreater Albania. Some of us who opposed involvement in Kosovo from the beginning thought that we were being taken for a ridetwisted around the little finger of people whose agenda was very different from what Britain and the United States thought they wanted. The way in which we were manipulated by the Albanians must teach us a lesson.
Last week, with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, some hon. Members had long and serious discussions with the incoming Serbian delegation. My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South was present and my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) chaired the meeting, and they will bear out my account. The Serbs said, among other things, that it was all very well to talk about rebuilding Belgrade, but the old buildings were constructed under the Austro-Hungarian empire, so the centre of their capital city could not be rebuilt unless every stone was taken down and construction started again. Bitterness is mounting, and my impression, which my colleagues might share, was of a highly dangerous and explosive situation. People say that it will take between $30 billion and $100 billion to improve the position.
Alice Mahon (Halifax) MP
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax) (Lab): I, too, will try to cut my speech down and keep it brief.
We had to deploy an extra 750 troops to Kosovo last week. The entire violent episode exposed the character of the Albanian separatists, some with terrorist and criminal links, who are now in leading positions of power in that province. The Kosovo Liberation Army never disbanded. It simply became the Kosovo Protection Corps. Agim CekuI name him againthe man who ethnically cleansed the Krajina, is in charge of the Kosovo Protection Corps.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mike Gapes) that what we saw last week was a flagrant example of ethnic cleansing: 3,500 Serbs were burned out of their homes by well organised gangs and joined the 200,000 who have been expelled from the province during the past five years. Those people are scattered all around Serbia and Montenegro in camps. The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) and I, as officers of the joint group on Yugoslavia, visited some of those camps. I wish other hon. Members would take the trouble to do so. I am pleased that the spotlight is again on those forgotten ethnically cleansed people. Maybe now note will be taken of them.
The violent attacks against the Serbs and other minorities have gone on under the UN, KFOR and so-called protection force administration since the military campaign ended. It is inconceivable to me and many others in the House that thousands of troops from 30 countries are unable to protect the Serbs and other minorities living in the province. Between June 1999 and last week there were 6,923 attacks on the minorities by the Albanian separatists. I make a distinction between them, and people like Dr. Rugova and the men and women of peace in the Albanian community, but the separatists are in charge and they want an ethnically pure state and a greater Albania. Why else would they destroy 154 churches and monasteries? Why else would they want to wipe out a whole culture and eliminate diversity? Their aim is a greater Albania. I am old enough to remember another regime in Europe that sought to eliminate other races and cultures. The consequences for Europe and the world were disastrous.
The latest outbreak of ethnic cleansing was well organised. The Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, accused the Kosovo Albanians and said:
"What happened last week, orchestrated and organised by the extremist factions in the Albanian community, is unacceptableit should be condemned and it's a shame."
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The UN spokesman said that more than 50,000 people took part in the violence. Only 163 have been arrested. The mob also turned against KFOR and the UN. We know, too, of the tragic killing of two UN policemen.
KFOR must take immediate steps to provide effective protection for the minority communities living under siege. The war criminals such as Agim Ceku and Hashim Thaci who give the Albanian community such a bad name should be arrested and taken to The Hague. UNMIK, which on several occasions has tried to overturn warrants and criminal proceedings against Ceku, should stop doing that.
Let me say something about the links between the separatists and other extremist Islamic groups. On 15 October 2003, a GIS/Defence and Foreign Affairs reportthere have been regular reports since the 1970sindicated that Ceku was directly engaged in support of Albanian-trained Islamic terrorists, and noted:
"During the first half of August 2003 300 Albanian-trained guerrillas including approximately 10 mujahedin (non-Balkan Muslims) were infiltrated across the Albanian border into Kosovo, where many have subsequently been seen in the company (and homes) of members of the so-called Kosovo Protection Corps. The guerrillas were trained in three camps inside the Albanian border at the towns Bajram Curi, Tropoja and Kuks where camps have been in operation since 1997".
From visits to Interpol as a representative on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, I know that some extremists in Albania and the Kosovo Liberation Army have links with al-Qaeda. Kosovo is in the hands of mafia extremists, organised crime is the main economic activity, and the sinister link to terrorism is definite. I agree with my hon. Friends, and, in particular, with my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short), that we must have a serious discussion about the final settlement in Kosovo, because the issue will not go away.