Parliament and Politics: Pressure grows for direct military action in Bosnia

Click to follow
PRESSURE mounted in the Commons yesterday for direct military intervention to protect Sarajevo and other Muslim communities in Bosnia. One senior Conservative said he was 'rather ashamed' of Britain's stance and warned the Government it could not reply on his support unless action was taken.

'We have got to do something now. If we don't, we could all be parties to a great crime,' Patrick Cormack, MP for Staffordshire South, told the House.

Earlier, reporting on the Edinburgh summit, John Major said a political settlement was the right way forward in former Yugoslavia. Tony Newton, Leader of the Commons, replying to a debate on the Christmas adjournment motion, quoted the summit declaration that the EC would 'continue to give priority to political means to resolve the crisis'.

He emphasised that it went on: 'But given the gravity of the situation, it (the Community) has no choice but to promote and participate in further initiatives which the international community might be obliged to undertake.'

Mr Newton said: 'That is a very clear statement of the fact that neither the British government nor the Community as a whole is in any sense ignoring this problem or refusing to look at other action that should be considered if the difficulties are not resolved.'

But Mr Cormack said the Government made 'a serious mistake' when it ruled out the use of force. 'I feel rather ashamed of my country and the faint-hearted view that seems to prevail.'

Relating an account by Haris Silajdzic, the Bosnian foreign minister, of children being tortured and women being killed in rape camps, he said a reported 128,000 people had been killed in Bosnia between May and 23 November.

'It is an indictment of those of us who have stood by while it happened,' Mr Cormack said. 'Unless firmer action is taken during the next three or four weeks, we could be moving towards a European Armageddon. The Government cannot be sure about my vote on anything if something is not done.'

Sir Russell Johnston, Liberal Democrat spokesman on Europe, repeated his call for air strikes on gun positions around Sarajevo and Bosnian-Serb military concentrations in the north of Bosnia.

'This would not only have a military effect, there would be an enormous pyschological effect on the Bosnian Serbs if the 'West' demonstrated they were not going to allow this to go on any longer.'