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 Posted Thursday, March 25, 1999

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London, Thursday, March 25, 1999

More letters on this outrage

Tomahawk missileReader's Letters

Double 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 indigenous peoples,

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.

Poole, Dorset


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 humanitarian disaster?

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 d'être.

London N16

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 occupation.

To call this "peacemaking" is Orwellian.

Embassy of Yugoslavia
London W8

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 another?

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 Harrier pilot.

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.

London N15

Our opinion
NOT one published letter backs this outrage. OUR own fury at this latest bloody adventure by President Clinton and his willing accomplice Tony Blair, always to be found frisking at his side, knows no bounds. The hypocrisy of bombing a country for humanitarian reasons needs no comment from right-thinking people. We recall that after World War II a German (Austrian) general, Alexander Lohr, was hanged as a Nazi war criminal. His principle crime? His Air Corps had bombed Belgrade on Hitler's orders, to enforce an ultimatum, in April 1941. Perhaps Lohr should have pleaded "humanitarian reasons" in his defence.

If you write to a newspaper don't forget: 1. keep it short; 2. add your mail address and a daytime telephone number; they will not print it otherwise.

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