Results 141–160 of 2497 for speaker:Lord Robertson of Port Ellen

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: European Security (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: I have recently written to Marshal Sergeyev, the Russian Defence Minister, to reinforce a long-standing invitation to visit the United Kingdom. I very much hope that we will soon be able to discuss European security issues face to face. Meanwhile, NATO and Russian troops co-operate closely in Kosovo.

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: European Security (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: I am grateful for my hon. Friend's interpretation. I agree that it is important to build Russia into the crucial future relationships in our continent. Contacts at the highest level may be temporarily on the wane, but I hope that they will shortly recover. Thanks to your initiative, Madam Speaker, we had the International Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma here, and its members visited me...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: European Security (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: We are not talking about amalgamation. The EU, through a strengthened common foreign and security policy, will be better suited to the present climate if it has a better military capability that allows it to take effective decisions with a military connection. That may mean that the WEU's political elements are brought more within the orbit of the EU. In the military sphere, NATO will retain...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Iraq (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: We currently have just over 1,000 British service personnel involved in the mission in support of United Nations Security Council resolution 688 to prevent Saddam' s air force from persecuting the Kurds and Shi'a Muslims of northern and southern Iraq.

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Iraq (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: I can give that assurance. British and American responses to attacks on alliance planes are strictly limited to proportionate defensive action against Iraqi weapons and facilities that pose a threat to our aircraft. Let me be blunt: Saddam is out to kill our pilots and navigators. That has been his relentless intention since the end of Operation Desert Fox. More than 190 Iraqi aircraft have...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Iraq (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We have no intention of giving up what is an essentially humanitarian mission to protect people who have been relentlessly attacked by Saddam in the past and who would be attacked again in the future if we were to leave the area. Our aircrews patrol the no-fly zones daily in the humanitarian interests of the people on the ground and, day by day, our...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Iraq (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: We take great care over the targeting that is involved in these missions. We would regret any loss of civilian lives, but we should treat with great caution reports emanating at any time from Saddam's propaganda machine about possible civilian casualties. In fact, Saddam has resorted recently to indiscriminate fire using surface-to-surface rockets as improvised antiaircraft weapons and is...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Iraq (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: The campaign in Kosovo showed the potential of air power and the potential of the precision attacks that took place there. In many ways, those precision attacks were modelled on what we had to do in the no-fly zones when allied aircraft came under attack. We have to combine the policing of the no-fly zones with a robust diplomatic offensive. That is why Britain has tabled a draft resolution...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: Throughout the campaign, European defence co-operation was excellent and Europeans are now providing 85 per cent. of KFOR personnel. However, Kosovo has highlighted areas where European collective capabilities can and should be improved. The European defence initiative that we launched last autumn foresaw those requirements and is intended to address them.

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: It was not only Jamie Shea who knew about the bunkers and the deceptions practised by the Yugoslav troops: it had been known for many years that they were part and parcel of Tito's tactics against any potential Warsaw pact invasion, so it was hardly news that they were in use. However, the fact is that, if the tanks were hidden and only decoys were on the surface, there would be much less...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: The answer to the second question is the answer to the first one. I hope that we would not need the Americans to supply more than 80 per cent. of our air power in such a situation. They were generous and we should give them appropriate credit for their presence and willingness to take on the expense and risks. That is clearly one of the lessons that we must learn in considering how Europe...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: The UN guidelines make it clear that they apply only to conscripts and not volunteers. We seek parental permission for those under the age of 18 who might be deployed as peacekeepers. The British armed forces recruit at that age because we hope to train the youngsters and give them the professionalism and skills for which our troops are known, although we are very sensitive to possible...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: Increasingly, they are being fulfilled. Not all of them are in place, but very large numbers of troops are moving into position and, as times goes on, I have no doubt that they will replace British troops. A wide range of countries, inside and outside NATO, are offering troops. We will gradually build the force to 50,000 by autumn, which was the KFOR-plus target established by NATO.

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: Yes, of course. The component parts believe that they will be able to do so, and with renewed strength. Of course I pay tribute to the 5th Airborne Brigade and the headquarters, which were present for the initial search inside Kosovo, but are now back home. I pay tribute particularly to Brigadier Adrian Freer, who attracted international attention with his discussion with Russian troops at...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: The 19 countries of NATO took military action because there was no other alternative in stopping the systemic genocidal killing being perpetrated by the Serb military inside Kosovo—which had led to the expulsion of almost 1 million people of Kosovar extraction from Kosovo itself. I regret it if some of the Kosovar Serbs are being intimidated into leaving their country. I understand that...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: We were aware of possible techniques that might be used by Serb forces inside Kosovo. However, from the very beginning, we spoke about NATO's objectives being very precisely to disrupt the violence going on inside Kosovo and to weaken the military machine that was causing that violence. From day one of the conflict, and throughout it, that is what we sought to do. Ultimately, as a consequence...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Kosovo (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: The hon. Gentleman takes the conspiracy theory to a ludicrous extent if he suggests that Mr. Alastair Campbell was single-handedly in charge of the achievement levels inside Kosovo. We shall see in due course what damage was done to the Serb army. I can only tell the hon. Gentleman, as General Jackson would tell him, that we did sufficient damage, whether inside Kosovo or inside Yugoslavia...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Bosnia (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: The UK contributes about 4,500 personnel to SFOR, of whom about 3,500 are based in Bosnia.

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Bosnia (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: My hon. Friend is right to point to the success in Bosnia, which I hope will allow us to draw down some of our troops later this year. That will have an impact on the present strain on our armed forces. My hon. Friend is right also to say that we must examine carefully our commitments to Kosovo. The improvements in the security situation there and the continuing arrival in theatre of troops...

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence: Bosnia (19 Jul 1999)

Mr George Robertson: I confirm that there are more troops in the Balkans now than there were 18 months ago. That is pretty well self-evident. Troop numbers were quite high in Bosnia and we have put extra troops into Kosovo. I do not think that anybody among our armed forces or anyone in the House would suggest that because we had a degree of over-commitment before we should not have risen to the challenge that...


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