Backbench Business - Christmas AdjournmentBackbench Business

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 16th December 2021.

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Photo of Bob Stewart Bob Stewart Conservative, Beckenham 1:50 pm, 16th December 2021

Last week I took part in a Back-Bench debate on Bosnia, and I warned that the situation there was deteriorating sharply. My great concern was that very shortly we would see again conditions like those that started the Bosnian war in the 1990s. But over the past seven days the situation has become even worse. Now the leader of Republika Srpska has set a short timeline of six months before he intends to quit the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Thus I feel I must warn the House again about what could easily happen in Europe, and within two hours’ flying time of London. The situation in Bosnia today is extremely fragile and very dangerous. It could be likened to what happens when you pick up a lemonade bottle. It looks calm. Wriggle it around a bit, put it down; it still looks calm. Undo the top, and everything spews out. Well, in Bosnia the lemonade top is getting very loose. Having been the first British UN battalion group commander in Bosnia in ’92, what happens in Bosnia matters to me. It is not just me. The Army lost 57 soldiers in the last Bosnian crisis, and they died trying to save people’s lives.

At one stage, I witnessed what might happen again if Bosnia is allowed to split up. The Vance-Owen plan of 1993 allocated various regions of Bosnia to the various factions. Cantons were designated primarily as Serb, Croat or Muslim. Immediately the plan was announced, various sides took matters into their own hands. In particular, I watched as Bosnian Croats attacked Bosnian Muslims to take immediately the areas allocated to them by that political plan.