standards on Yugoslavia
SIR - Your leading article (March 24)
is a farrago of propaganda half-truths.
The Yugoslav government did not "annexe"
Kosovo in 1989. The province became part
of Serbia in 1913, the international
border with Albania being confirmed in
1926, and reconfirmed in 1945. The
responsible government reimposed central
control in 1989 just as the British
Government did earlier in Northern
Ireland, and for similar reasons.
Serbia and Montenegro were the founder
states of the 1918 "Yugoslavia". They were
the only states in that confederation that
were already independent countries.
Expatriate Serbs constituted one sixth
of the population of Croatia, a quarter of
Macedonia and half that of Bosnia for
centuries. There was no "invasion'" of any
of those territories where civil war broke
out in 1991: the fighting was between
You are ill advised to drag up specific
atrocities. You mention Trnopolje, the
camp where Western television-faked
pictures of barbed wire were shown where
none existed. There was atrocious
behaviour by all sides.
By far the most terrible act of
genocide, aided and abetted by the West,
was the "cleansing" by the Croats in 1995
of the Krajina, where Serbs had
constituted 90 per cent of the population
- just as Albanians do in Kosovo. In view
of these double standards, it is hardly
surprising that the Serbs question Western
motives in the present crisis.
The rebellion in Kosovo was instigated,
armed and supplied by Albania.
G.N. W. LOCKE
SIR - There are five important issues
in relation the the threat of air strikes.
Why is it acceptable to break
international law by threatening air
strikes on a sovereign nation without UN
support? Why is it acceptable for a group
of nations to bomb another nation to "end"
its civil war and force it to the peace
table? Why do you not advocate taking the
same action in other parts of the world
where similar situations exist?
Why, when successive British
governments have refused to allow a UN
presence in Northern Ireland, is it
reasonable to make it a non-negotiable
element of the peace agreement with
Yugoslavia? How do you reconcile the
additional deaths that will result on both
sides in Kosovo - as a result of
retaliation to, or confidence in, the air
strikes - with the objective of ending the
Perhaps this is the peace dividend that
the end of the Cold War delivered, or
maybe it is a redundant defence
organisation creating a new raison
SIR - John Keegan writes about
"Nato's credibility as a peace-making
agency within the former Yugoslavia"
(report, March 24). This is gobbledegook.
Nato was set up as a defensive alliance
against Soviet threats to any or all of
its members. It succeeded. It eschewed any
action outside its borders.
No one asked it to intervene as a
peacemaker in Yugoslavia. In fact, it
fomented a conflict which would not
otherwise have taken place. The American
ambassador in Belgrade intervened
personally to persuade Alija
Izetbegovic to renege on the Lisbon
agreement with Serbs and Croats for
peaceful reshaping of Bosnia brokered by
Lord Carrington. The United States
sabotaged all efforts at peacemaking by
[Cyrus] Vance and
[Lord] Owen when they
neared success, in order to justify
massive intervention followed by military
To call this "peacemaking" is
Embassy of Yugoslavia
SIR - You fail to address the question
whether the British national interest is
engaged in the Kosovo struggle. There are
numerous irredentist groups and
nationalist factions engaged in armed
struggle against their perceived
oppressors at any one time. Upon what
principle does Britain select to sponsor
one group of armed terrorists over
Serbia has been an ally of Britain in
two world wars. This nation has no
interest whatsoever in the unfortunate
squabbles which have arisen following the
break up of the former Yugoslav
Federation. Kosovo, like
Schleswig-Holstein, isn't worth the bones
of either a Pomeranian grenadier or a
This is the second conflict Mr Blair
has got us into in recent months. For
neither has he had endorsement of
Parliament or the Security Council.
He comes down to the House and, with
massive insouciance, commits this country
to a bombing campaign in Europe. But he
cannot keep order on the streets of
Belfast, and is naturally puzzled by the
fact that the government of another state
is unwilling to emulate British policies
of appeasement of terrorism.