Letter: Border disputes

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THE "new world order" seems to rest on a dogma never openly proclaimed - that borders must never be changed, even if the states defined by them have proved unviable. Thus condemnation of the Serb use of force is followed by a request in Parliament for an assurance that the Government will not support independence for Kosovo, or its union with Albania. Robin Cook offers instant assurance: "There is no map for a greater Croatia, a greater Serbia, or a greater Albania."

In other words, the Kosovo Albanians, like the Serbs and Croats of Bosnia, must for ever remain part of a state they detest. There must be an "end to violence" and a "negotiated settlement".

The policy of all borders being externally sacred is an artificial and doomed attempt to freeze the course of history. It is particularly absurd in the case of Yugoslavia, since the borders concerned were those of provinces, not independent states.

I believe this policy rests principally on the experience of the 1938 Munich agreement, where borders were redrawn in order to prevent war, and this did not prevent war. For all this government's obsession with being modern, we appear to be going into the next century with a foreign policy stance conditioned by the experience of the Second World War, as the recent spate of rhetoric over Iraq showed.

Those people denied self-determination in the post-war settlements will not go away. Neither repression nor negotiation solves ethnic problems; they are solved only by moving populations or changing borders. Since the latter is obviously the more humane, why must it never even be discussed?