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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Life and Style
The new model would be a “pedal assist” bike in which the rider’s strength is augmented by the engine on hills and when they want to go fast
tech
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
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

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower