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Western Balkans

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:59 am on 26th February 2008.

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Photo of John Randall John Randall Conservative, Uxbridge 10:59 am, 26th February 2008

My hon. Friend is leading me down paths where it would be treacherous to try to match his knowledge. However, I am sure that he is right that it is de facto and not de jure.

I am thinking back, long before I was even dusting nests of tables, to the unilateral declaration of independence by Rhodesia against which a Labour Prime Minister stood resolutely. I was only a young man when that happened—actually, I was a boy—and I do not know what the mood of the country was then. However, it was resolute. I remember the discussions on HMS Tiger, which sat somewhere off Gibraltar. That has a wonderful resonance. We stood up for the rule of law then, and we have to do something now. I have suggested a few things, including how we can show Serbia that, despite everything, the United Kingdom remains a good friend of Serbia.

Last year, I took a small group from the Inter-Parliamentary Union to Serbia and Kosovo. We met Kosovan politicians as well as Serbian ones. It would be useful if a similar visit could be arranged, perhaps through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, although the IPU might not look so quickly at a repeat visit. However, it is important for parliamentarians to meet others, not just people like me who know the area well. It would be a good idea for people who do not know the area well to go and talk to politicians.

I would like to leave one thing with the Minister and my party's Front-Bench spokesman, because this matter will endure for years.