Yugoslavia: UK warns against use of force: Hurd tells EC that military option is not feasible - Royal Navy may help police embargo against Serbia

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The Independent Online
DOUGLAS HURD, the Foreign Secretary, warned yesterday against hopes that the European Community can impose a military solution to the crisis in the former republic of Yugoslavia.

But British ships may be available to support sanctions against Serbia as part of a multinational force and, tomorrow, European ministers will discuss options for further action, possibly including military action.

Britain continues to warn of the dangers of using military force. 'We have no right, power or appetite to establish protectorates in eastern Europe in the name of European order,' Mr Hurd told the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday. 'We must not exaggerate our power to remove those agonies.'

British officials said last night that HMS Nottingham, a Type 42 destroyer, was already at sea in the Mediterranean and HMS Avenger, a Type 21 frigate, was to join her.

John Major said that the Western European Union (WEU), the defence body linked to the European Community, was considering sending ships to Yugoslavia to help enforce UN-imposed sanctions on Yugoslavia. 'If a naval operation is agreed to monitor sanctions, HMS Nottingham is at sea in the area and is ready to take part in that operation,' the Prime Minister said at the end of the Group of Seven summit.

Mr Major played down suggestions from France and Italy that the WEU might urge sending ground forces. 'There is not a proposition that is remotely agreed by anyone to put in land forces to fight on the ground in Yugoslavia. That is not an option that has been discussed.'

Military action or tighter enforcement of naval sanctions would still need to be backed up by a fresh resolution in the United Nations, Mr Major said. 'If it were to go further and there were to be stop and search, which conceivably it could, that would require a further United Nations resolution,' he added.

Other European countries want to move faster. France's President, Francois Mitterrand, yesterday demanded a ceasefire in Yugoslavia and called for a 'superior power to replace the federal power'. He called again for a wider and more heavyweight forum to replace Lord Carrington's peace conference, to include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. He added that an international conference must be 'accompanied by a cessation of hostilities'. The implication was that without a ceasefire, the parties to the conference would seek a further resolution at the Security Council, possibly including the use of military force.

Lord Carrington is to address the Security Council today as concerns mount that the lives of peacekeepers might be endangered if force is used to bring humanitarian aid into Bosnia.

The latest moves by the G7 summit on the possible use of force has made the UN peacekeeping section particularly nervous. Senior UN officials are concerned that the lives of lightly- armed peacekeepers could be put at risk both in Sarajevo and in the regions of Croatia where the large UN force is deployed.

Foreign ministers of the WEU meet tomorrow at the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Helsinki. European diplomats said yesterday they would discuss plans for armed protection of humanitarian convoys and naval action to ensure that UN sanctions on Serbia are being observed. High on the CSCE's agenda will be a plan to set up its own peacekeeping missions, drawing on the WEU and Nato among other forces.

The conflict in Bosnia will dominate the summit. Yesterday, officials suspended Yugoslavia from the organisation until 14 October, but granted its request for time to stop fighting in Bosnia before expulsion is considered. None the less, Bosnia's President, Alija Izetbegovic, flew out of Sarajevo last night to attend the summit.