Nato chief favours action on Bosnia: Manfred Worner tells Andrew Marshall in Brussels the UN should consider air strikes against Serbian forces

THE United Nations should consider air strikes in Bosnia, according to Manfred Worner, Nato's secretary general. In an interview with the Independent, Mr Worner said that 'more decisive measures' are needed than the no-fly zone over Bosnia which Nato is policing. 'We have gone as far as the United Nations authorised us to go,' he said.

Mr Worner did not specify what action should be taken, saying that was a matter for the UN Security Council, but noted that 'Lord Owen proposes even air strikes. If a man like him requests that it deserves serious consideration by the United Nations.'

Today Mr Worner meets Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary-General, in Brussels. Nato sources said the former Yugoslavia was top of the agenda. So far Nato has enforced the naval embargo on Serbia and Montenegro and the no-fly zone over Bosnia. On Tuesday it reported the first breach of the no-fly zone, a helicopter spotted south of Banja Luka, the main Serbian air base.

Nato is preparing plans to police the Vance-Owen plan for Bosnia, but this has been hampered by disagreements over its command structure and a lack of forces. Mr Worner feels that Western Europe is in danger of making excessively deep cuts in its forces, and should not ignore the residual threat from the former Soviet Union.

'We are very close to the threshold below which our main defence forces will not be able to do the job, to leave Nato as the main factor of stability in the European-Atlantic community,' he said.

The end of the Cold War has spurred a bout of defence cuts in pursuit of an elusive 'peace dividend'. Nato sources said that the overall cut in forces was likely to be 25 per cent between 1990 and 1997. But in the central region, which embraces Germany, both ground combat units and air forces were to be cut by 45 per cent. The biggest cuts, proportionately, have been made by Belgium and the Netherlands, according to Philip Mitchell of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Both are working to cut their budget deficits to enable them to hit the convergence criteria specified by the European Community in its Maastricht treaty.

Instead, more countries are now offering mobile units, which Mr Worner regarded as a worrying trend. 'Some of our member states seem to neglect main defence forces and concentrate just on rapid reaction forces,' he said. Although such forces had a key role to play in the future, in Nato and elsewhere, 'once you have lost the possibility of reconstitution of forces, you can't reconstruct such a capacity very quickly'.

The renewed emphasis on the possibility of a threat from the former Soviet Union reflects both Western Europe's rush to disarm and fears over stability to the east of Nato. There are still more than 100,000 troops from the former Soviet Union in Germany, and troop withdrawals from the Baltics have stalled. Russia and Ukraine remain important military powers.

Mr Worner said he had been reassured personally by President Bill Clinton that United States troop numbers in Europe would not fall below 100,000. He emphasised that 'the classical role of Nato' - to provide security in Europe - remained of prime importance. Beyond this, Nato now also had a responsibility 'to project stability to the countries of central and eastern Europe'.

The third role of Nato, he said was 'to participate in crisis management, peace-keeping and even peace-making'. This will be done under the auspices of both the UN and the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. Relations with the UN are now 'quite good', Mr Worner said, though a lot remained to be done at a more senior level. 'There may be certain misperceptions as to the character of this new alliance,' he said.

Relations with the Western European Union, the embryonic defence arm of the EC, were also good, he said, though he emphasised that it is 'part of our European pillar'. Despite the proximity of the two organisations, there is 'practically no co-operation' with the EC, and none was needed since the Community did not yet deal with defence or security questions, he said.

He added: 'There is neither the intention nor the means to establish a second independent or autonomous military structure in Europe by the Western European Union. I do not see where the cash would come from.'

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz