Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:04 pm on 3rd July 1991.

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Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:04 pm, 3rd July 1991

I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and welcome the actions that he has been taking to try to help to resolve this serious crisis.

The Opposition welcome the action being taken to ensure the safe departure of United Kingdom holidaymakers and other nationals from Yugoslavia and we ask if the House could be kept informed on those actions.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that any solution to the crisis and any long-term solution for the aspirations of the peoples and nationalities of Yugoslavia should be based on negotiation and consent and not on unilateral action on anyone's part? There can be no justification for the Yugoslav army to take action unless in response to a clear and immediate military threat, which plainly does not exist. In any event, the army must always act under the orders of the civilian power, and not unilaterally. Unilateral action amounts to a military putsch, and cannot be labelled a restoration of order. As the right hon. Gentleman has said, it is essential that the positive proposals of the Yugoslav President, and the efforts of the Prime Minister, be given a chance to work.

I welcomed what the right hon. Gentleman said about the possibility of a meeting of the Security Council. In the light of any such meeting, would the Government consider proposing the invocation of article 34 of the United Nations charter, under which the Security Council can investigate a dispute which might lead to international friction … in order to determine whether the continuance of the situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security"? We also hope that continual efforts will be made by the European Community troika, and that something may result from the meeting in Prague today of the officials of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe.

This crisis could not only engulf Yugoslavia, but threaten the stability of the Balkans and areas well beyond that. We must stand ready to do all that we can to help to resolve it. Peaceful reform, not violence, must determine the future of Yugoslavia.