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Western Balkans

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:28 am on 26th February 2008.

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Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham 11:28 am, 26th February 2008

I congratulate my hon. Friend Mr. Randall on securing this important debate. One of the most powerful points that he made during the course of his speech was his analysis of the British Government's stance on Iraq and how they have ignored the United Nations mandate and its views in their illegal war against Iraq. As I have said many times in the past, my hon. Friend took a great principled stand on that by resigning from the Front Bench.

I agree with my hon. Friend when he talks, in a mild-mannered and polite way, about the sheer hypocrisy of the Government's stance. On one hand, they act against the United Nations mandate yet, on the other, they think that they can somehow impose their own will on Kosovo and Serbia.

I have a few questions. First, why has the matter been resolved so quickly? It has been resolved in the blink of an eye by comparison with some of the major disputes around the world. We talk every day about the problems in Israel and Palestine that have continued for decades. We talk about Cyprus and the terrible problems between the north and the south. Even in Africa—for example, Western Sahara, Morocco and the dispute in Polisario—the difficulties, like many others around the world, have continued for decades, so why have the Government chosen to speed up the process of resolving the conflict in the Balkans, but not other conflicts? Why have the Government selected this conflict over and above all the others?

I believe that one reason is that the Americans have been pushing hard for Kosovan independence. I remember the images of President Bush touring the streets of Tirana a few months ago, when he was waved at and cheered in adulation by Tirana Albanians because of his strong stance on independence for Kosovo. That is one reason why, when Kosovo was celebrating independence two weeks ago, there were almost as many American flags on the streets of Pristina as Kosovan flags.

The Foreign Office, its civil servants and Ministers, as a poodle of the American Administration, have pursued American foreign policy. The Prime Minister may like to appear uncomfortable when President Bush drives him around Camp David in his little golf buggy, but that is just more spin from the Labour Government. If one peels off the surface, how is British foreign policy any different from what it was under the former Prime Minister? Will the Minister explain the difference between United Kingdom and American foreign policy on Kosovo? It is important that we, as a major military power in Europe, show a different stance from that of America.

The United States of America, of course, can easily dictate that Kosovo should be independent, because, luckily, it has no problems with any part of the US wanting to become independent. The United States is lucky to be in that homogeneous situation, and that it is far enough away from Europe that it can make demands and interfere in what is happening in Europe's back yard.

I concur with my hon. Friend who said that a dangerous precedent has been set. The Government have opened up a Pandora's box of huge potential conflicts throughout Europe. We have only to look at another part of the Balkans—Romania—and the long, festering sore of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Who is to say that there will not be agitation among the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, and a demand for independence or annexation of that territory by Hungary? Corsicans in France may agitate for independence, and my hon. Friend mentioned the Basques in Spain.

What really worries me is that I heard for the first time yesterday that an organisation is going round the House of Commons lobbying MPs for Gdansk to become a German city again. Being of Polish origin, my sensitivities on that point can be imagined. The outbreak of the second world war was in Gdansk when German boats opened fire—