STANDING COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL
DEFENCE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA DÉFENSE
NATIONALE ET DES ANCIENS COMBATTANTS
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, June 1, 1999
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto
Centre—Rosedale, Lib.)): I'd like to call this joint
meeting of the defence and foreign affairs committees
to order. I'm glad to have Mr. Wright and
General Henault back to brief us.
Members, I would like to remind you that today we
had agreed that those of us who were in Macedonia last
week, that is to say Monsieur Laurin, who is here, Mr.
Martin, and myself, and Mr. Mills if he comes, will be
briefing the committee on our trip. So we'd be
more than pleased to both tell you about what we did
when we were there and what we found out when we were
there, and answer any questions. However, I think
we should have our normal briefing from Mr.
Wright and General Henault first and have any questions
for them. Then we'll have time for our briefing.
Mr. Wright, are you going to go ahead?
Mr. Jim Wright (Director General for Central, East
and South Europe, Department of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade): Thank you very much, Mr.
If it's all right with you, I'd like to discuss very
briefly some of the latest developments with respect to
diplomatic activity, and then talk about the report that
Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
has issued, and leave with the committee some
European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels
yesterday and adopted a declaration on Kosovo.
The foreign affairs ministers of the European Union met in
Brussels yesterday and adopted a joint declaration on Kosovo.
It calls on Yugoslavia to translate its reported
statements into a firm, unambiguous, and verifiable
commitment to accept the G-8 principles and the UN Security
Council resolution. It also reaffirmed European Union
support for the efforts, including a possible mission to
Belgrade in the coming days of Finnish President
Ahtisaari in order to advance the diplomatic process.
The foreign affairs ministers were also very pleased to
receive some solid support from the international community for
their stability pact for southeastern Europe.
Canada welcomes and firmly supports this important European
Union initiative. It participated in the May 27 discussions in
Bonn on this proposal.
We agree with the European Union that priority consideration
must be given to the speedy adoption of the declaration.
Ratification by Euro-Atlantic institutions would give us
continued hope for the future of the Balkans. Canada will
continue to do everything it can to support this process.
On Thursday, May 27, Canada participated in
discussions organized by the European Union on the
“stability pact”. The OSCE, OECD, EBRD,
World Bank, IMF, NATO, and Japan, as well as the United
States, were among the participants.
We discussed at that meeting a blueprint for the
stability pact for the Balkans. The process should
formally be set in motion with a conference at
ministerial level in Germany later this month.
The goal of the stability pact is to coordinate
reconstruction efforts in the Balkans and to ensure
political, economic, and social stability is achieved in
the region through integration in the Euro-Atlantic
dynamic. The pact will further develop existing
economic and trade relations within the Balkans and
provide assistance for democratization, civil society,
education, and institution building.
Canada welcomes the development of the stability pact
as a concrete sign of the kind of future the Balkan
region can enjoy by pursuing the pact of greater
integration into the European-Atlantic mainstream.
Back on the diplomatic track, German Chancellor
Schroeder is meeting this evening with Russian Envoy
Viktor Chernomyrdin, with Finnish President Ahtisaari,
and U.S. Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott. They are
discussing Mr. Chernomyrdin's recent mission to
Yugoslavia and tomorrow's planned Chernomyrdin, and
possibly Ahtisaari, trip to Belgrade.
Mr. Axworthy also spoke today with German Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer. They discussed the way
ahead for the G-8 plan. G-8 political directors—for
Canada that is Mr. Paul Heinbecker—will meet in
Bonn on Thursday of this week, and G-8 foreign ministers
will meet in Cologne next week.
The G-8 political directors' meeting set for this
Thursday is focused on Kosovo only, and the political
directors will be getting a report from the Russian
team that was in Belgrade with Mr. Chernomyrdin.
Concerning the release of Mary Robinson's report on
We have read the report on Kosovo issued yesterday by the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
This report makes it very clear that the crisis has
its roots in the grave and systematic violations of
human rights committed by Serb authorities. I quote:
The grave humanitarian tragedy taking place in
Kosovo... and neighbouring countries has its roots in a
human rights crisis.
The high commissioner and her staff have received
substantial evidence of gross human rights
violations which have been committed in Kosovo,
including summary executions,
forcible displacement, rape, physical abuse, and the
destruction of... identity documents.
The report leaves no doubt whatsoever that an orchestrated,
brutal campaign has been carried out against ethnic Albanians in
Kosovo. The carefully planned, methodically executed campaign
prompted the mass exodus of Kosovars.
Again, I'm quoting from her report:
A high number of corroborating reports from the
field indicate that Serbian military and police forces
and paramilitary units have conducted a well-planned
and implemented programme of forcible expulsion of
ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. This appears to have
affected virtually all areas of Kosovo as well as
villages in southern Serbia, including places never
targeted by NATO air strikes or in which the so-called
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has never been present.
This last fact strengthens indications that refugees
are not fleeing NATO air strikes, as is often alleged by
In the report's conclusion, the high commissioner
calls upon NATO to respect the principles of
international humanitarian law, including the principle
of proportionality in their military actions against
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Mr. Chairman, we
agree that NATO has always and will continue to do
everything it can to avoid civilian casualties.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I'm pleased to leave with the
committee copies of the following documentation on the
Kosovo crisis: one, the report of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, tabled yesterday;
two, the report of the May 31 European Union General
Affairs Council, which addresses both Kosovo and the
southeast Europe stability pact conference;
three, Mr. Chairman, the indictment, by the chief
prosecutor of the international criminal tribunal of
the former Yugoslavia, of Yugoslav President Milosevic
and four others in this regime—they are charged with
crimes against humanity, specifically murder,
deportation, persecutions, and violations of
the laws and customs of war.
That, Mr. Chairman,
concludes my opening remarks.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Thank you, Mr.
Lieutenant-General Raymond R. Henault (Deputy Chief of the
Defence Staff, Department of National
Defence): Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Mr.
As you're all aware, the NATO military campaign, the
air campaign, continues unabated against the federal
forces of the Yugoslav Republic, whether they are
military or paramilitary forces. Today is day 70 of
the air campaign, which has continued and intensified,
quite frankly, once again over the last several days
and is now and continues to be a 24-hour-a-day
Over the past few days the weather has in fact
improved dramatically. The arrival of more aircraft
in theatre, coupled with the better weather, has allowed
NATO to intensify yet again its bombing efforts in
Yugoslavia, and in particular in Kosovo.
As mentioned previously, NATO strikes continue to target
Serb forces and support infrastructure inside Kosovo. Strategic
Serbian targets include, as before, Yugoslav army installations,
munitions depots, bridges, oil storage facilities, command
centers and air fields.
There are now more than 900 NATO aircraft in theatre,
flying an average of 700 sorties a day at this point in
time. The situation for the Yugoslav forces is of
course becoming increasingly difficult and unpleasant
as a result of the air activity and of course the
intensification of the campaign. The Serbian air force
and its air defence system is basically a shadow of its
former self, unable to defend effectively against our
medium and high-level attacks. FRY and MUP
ground forces are losing more equipment every day
that we're able to engage them in Kosovo. The military
infrastructure is becoming more and more degraded by
the day. The forces are in desperate need, of course, of
resupply, reinforcements, and so on.
Furthermore, the FRY and MUP forces cannot move effectively
or conduct operations, whether it's day or night, without
the threat of an aerial attack from NATO aircraft.
Regarding Canada's effort, our CF-18s in Aviano have flown
59 of the 60 sorties assigned to them over the past four days.
Our pilots continue to combine air combat and air patrol
missions. This has been the case since the beginning of the NATO
Canadian aircraft continue to target army barracks,
warehouses, radio transmission towers, traffic tunnels, command
centers and air fields.
I had the good fortune and the great pleasure of
visiting our contingent in Italy last week, not only
the contingent in Aviano, but also the commanders of
the air forces at the combined air operation centre in
Vicenza, and I was not only impressed with the very
high morale of our troops in theatre, the great comfort
they're taking from the good support they are
receiving from Canadians overall, but also much with
the dedication and professionalism with which they're
carrying out this very difficult mission. Both our
men and women are working very hard on a
seven-day-a-week basis to satisfy the objectives of the
international community and of course the Canadian
I also had the opportunity to meet with
Lieutenant-General Mike Short, who is the
commander of Air Forces South, and also the commander of
the air forces in theatre and the overall air campaign,
and Lieutenant-General Vannucchi, who is the
commander of the Fifth Allied Tactical Air Force
stationed primarily and normally in Vicenza.
Both expressed to me their continuing commitment to
the air campaign and their great belief in what the
international community is trying to achieve, and of
course the high regard in which they hold Canadian
airmen, airwomen, and all of the personnel who are
supporting operations in Aviano. It was very
heartfelt, and I can assure you that Canadians are
considered to be amongst the best of the NATO air
forces and air support personnel who are in theatre.
Turning for a moment to Op Kinetic, which is our
land force in the process of deploying to Kosovo for
peacekeeping operations, the deployment of our
800-person-strong contingent to the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, primarily in the area of Skopje,
and as part of an international peace implementation
force, which I know you're well aware of, remains on
schedule. We have now approximately 250 members of
the Canadian Forces in theatre. That number is
increasing daily as we continue to flow in our
advance party and as our equipment continues to be
transported overseas through a combination of air and
primarily sea-lift transport.
I believe you've already been advised that NATO has already
updated its peace implementation plan for Kosovo. The plan calls
for increasing our military strength in theatre from the current
level of 26,000 to either 45,000 or 50,000.
Canada continues to consider its options in support of
this larger force, as mentioned by the minister
Finally, just to give you a feel again for costs, as
I've been reporting to you on a periodic basis, the
total cost since March 24, which is the day the
air campaign started—and I iterate that this is
incremental cost—is approximately $42 million. The
cost of the air campaign, that is Op Echo, our 18
CF-18s, and roughly 300 persons in Aviano and Vicenza,
to date has been in the neighbourhood of $20 million to
$21 million, incremental.
That completes my statement for today, Chairman, and
we now stand ready for your questions.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham):
Now for questions. We have Mr. Martin on the list.
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.):
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much again for coming to educate us.
I have three questions.
First, in the long run, with respect to Kosovo,
it seems to me there are three options: there is
autonomy within Yugoslavia, independence, and partition.
If we look at Bosnia as an example of what may happen
in the future, is partition the only viable long-term
option for Kosovo?
My second question is, with regard to the thousands of
sorties that have taken place, what has been the impact
upon the tanks and artillery of the Yugoslav army?
Lastly, Kosovo has been likened to another Vietnam, and
if we're going to put ground troops in, the nature of
the war will likely be a guerrilla-type war with a lot
of casualties, a bloody war. Can you give us a
sense, General, of what we'll be confronted with if ground
troops go in, what the resistance will be like on the
part of the Yugoslav army? Thank you.
Mr. Jim Wright: Mr. Chairman, I could respond
to the first question.
In the three options you inquired
about—autonomy, independence, partition—the only
option the international community is looking at
That was the agenda for the international community
right from the very beginning. We have stated right
from the outset that independence was not on the table,
that we are not interested in changing borders.
The Rambouillet accords, the statement issued by
the NATO leaders at the end of April in Washington, the G-8
principles issued by the foreign ministers in the beginning
of May in Bonn all emphasize the respect for
Yugoslavia's territorial integrity.
The peace plan that is going to emerge will be one
that respects territorial integrity but tries to give
back to the people of Kosovo the autonomy they
enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s, before it was taken away
in 1989 by President Milosevic.
So independence is not an option; autonomy and
self-government are. Partition is not something
the international community is looking at, particularly
right now. I know there is some discussion out there.
As I say, the option favoured by the
international community, and that includes, I would
add, neighbouring states... My understanding
is that the question of autonomy, the respect for
territorial integrity, the respect for borders is
something neighbouring countries prefer.
Mr. Keith Martin: Sir, may I just interrupt for
one second. The KLA has no interest whatsoever in
autonomy and we know that. We're talking about a
situation where there is no middle ground on autonomy
right now, so how are you going to do this?
Mr. Jim Wright: The KLA was a factor leading up
to the Rambouillet negotiations. When they initially
approached the negotiations, it was very much from the
perspective of independence or nothing. When the Kosovar
team arrived at Rambouillet, it's
fair to say it was quite divided. By the time the
negotiations in Rambouillet concluded in
February or March of this year, the Kosovar team was
fully united behind the Rambouillet plan. They were
the only ones who signed it. There was no
commitment in that plan to independence. There was an
acceptance on the part of the full Kosovar delegation,
including the KLA representative, that
autonomy was what was on offer. And that remains the case
today, Mr. Chairman.
LGen Raymond Henault: In the next two questions
you asked about the impact on tanks and artillery in
Kosovo as a result of the air strikes. I would
probably expand that to include armoured fighting
vehicles and military trucks, transport systems, and so on.
We do know that confirmed losses to the Yugoslav army
in Kosovo were somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15% to
20% of those vehicles. The more likely
losses, which we have some difficulty
in confirming since some of them are inside buildings,
or in other cases difficult to actually see, probably
take that total to around the 30% range at the moment.
So that's the figure I would use—guardedly, mind
you, as there are some anomalies there.
In terms of a ground force point of view, the plan continues to be
to go into Kosovo after a
peace agreement is reached. So we do not intend to go into Kosovo
under a fighting context. Therefore, I wouldn't
want to speculate on what the losses would be.
Losses in this case, in a peacekeeping operation, are
never expected to be zero. When Canadian
forces or other allied forces go into a
peacekeeping operation they go in there with a certain
amount of risk associated. That risk, we know, is a
little bit higher now as a result of the activities of
the last several weeks. That risk is
higher as a result of the destruction to the
infrastructure, the laying of mines in the region, the
unexploded ordnance that's now all over the
countryside, and so on.
So that's where the risk is a little bit higher for
us. And the type of risk we're talking about at the
moment is likely medium from a military point of view,
meaning there is always a risk that you're going
to take a casualty. The casualties we're
talking about are primarily from the specific types of things
I've just talked to you about, not from a combat operation.
I might add that there are always risks in the rogue element, in the
discontent out there, in the terrorist activities, and these are
the same for any peacekeeping mission we're
involved in. So that can't be
discounted, and it becomes part of the risk analysis
we do as well.
So that covers off basically where we see we may be
going in terms of the casualties themselves.
Again, it's very difficult to give you a percentage at
this point in time.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Mrs. Finestone.
Hon. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal, Lib.): Thank
you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, gentlemen, for your
updated report. Each time it's most interesting and
My first question really is to you, General Henault.
Given your statement in response to our other colleague
with respect to the unexploded ordnance, the state of
the roads, just in general the state of the
infrastructure, what is the potential expectation... Let's say
we get good news, that Friday will be good
news day. Then what? What is the timeline and the
planning so that the potential for return of the
Kosovars to their homeland is effected, given the
electrical system, the water system, the road system,
the ordnance there, the landmines, and the
housing that's been destroyed? That would be my first
Secondly, in terms of the planning of mobile homes or
prefabricated homes, how do you plan to handle that
Thirdly, with respect to that, in terms of the support
that will be required to the host country, what are our
obligations? Are they going to be defined in any way?
You have massive amounts of people who have been living
on that land, and it has disrupted the normal daily
lives of people in Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro.
What are foreseen as the obligations for Canada in
Last but not least, with respect to
Madame Arbour's report, was any reference
made to Bosnia, Croatia, or Slovenia? Was that included
in the observations made to arrive at her decision to
declare him a war criminal?
LGen Raymond Henault: Mrs. Finestone, I can't
give you an exact timing as to when the actual refugee
movement back into the country will start because that
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: Sorry, General. In my
mind's eye, I see that winter comes soon in that
area—October. Is there some plan that starts,
let's say, October 15
and backs up so that there is some indication we could
ever get anybody in?
LGen Raymond Henault: I can give you an
indication of what the sequencing would be once a peace
agreement is reached and everybody agrees that we can
go into Kosovo. I would say that, conservatively,
within 48 hours of reaching or signing a peace
agreement, the forces that are currently on the
ground under General Jackson, which are the KFOR
forces that are now in there—and there are in excess
of 15,000 troops on the ground under General Jackson's
command, from a multitude of nations. There are about
17 or 18 nations, to my recollection, that are involved,
including Canada, of course, with forces on the ground
in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Those
forces would go in very quickly after an agreement and
would do, initially, an assessment of the situation
you've just talked about.
As you well
know, the only indications we have are from overhead
imagery and unmanned aerial vehicles and so on that are
giving us an indication of what the damage on the
ground is and so on. We aren't going to be able to do
a clear assessment of that until we're able to actually
go into Kosovo and do an assessment right there.
At that point, the first order of business will be to
do an assessment of what the risk is on the ground in
terms of the mines you've talked about, unexploded
ordnance, and the damage to the infrastructure, especially
the lines of communication. At that point we must do an
assessment of what's required to establish or
re-establish the basic essentials or the essential
needs—water, food, infrastructure, at least a minimum
basic infrastructure that refugees can come back
to—and then to do a bit of an assessment in conjunction
with the NGOs of what type of support can be provided
to the refugees, and the IDPs,
I might add, to come back into their homes. All of
that will take some time.
So there is no
expectation that it will happen very quickly or at
least immediately. I would say it's going to take a
matter of weeks, if not months, given the current state
of the infrastructure as we know it there.
I would only add to this that there is no way for us
to know how soon the refugees will want to return to
their homes, despite the fact that they know that in
several cases those homes have been destroyed and those
homes have been damaged; the infrastructure has been
damaged. But we do know that refugees will go where
they want to go, and they will probably return very
quickly if they possibly can.
We saw that in a different context, if you like, with
the return of the refugees from eastern Zaire back into
Rwanda, for example. When they saw the situation had
become stable again, they made a very quick movement
back into the country. In fact, as we were moving
troops, they were going back into their own home
So it's a little bit unpredictable, but I think
we've all recognized—the international community has
recognized—that there will be a requirement to support
refugees in terms of their basic essentials for some
time, and likely through the winter as well.
Mr. Charles Bassett (Vice-President, Central
and Eastern Europe Branch, Canadian International
Development Agency): Mr. Chairman, I would add
one comment to what General Henault has just said. I was
at the meeting last week on the return of refugees.
Both the OSCE and the UNHCR reported that in their
extensive interviewing of the refugees in Albania, in
Macedonia, the vast majority would prefer to go back as
quickly as possible, notwithstanding the state of their
homes. If they have plastic sheets or tarpaulins,
something to keep them warm in the short term while
they're provided with materials to rebuild their
houses, the expectation of both UNHCR and OSCE is that
they will go back in droves in the first weeks.
Mr. Jim Wright: I would add also that the UN High
Commission for Refugees has already hosted a meeting
in Geneva to discuss the issue of winterization.
Planning is proceeding in that respect. Some supplies
are already being purchased. So as Charles and the
general have indicated, we know that while we hope
always for the best, you have to, in this set of
circumstances, plan for the worst. Our experience in
Bosnia suggests that a lot of people will go back.
Even though their villages may have been largely
destroyed, people will go back to their homes and will
want to rebuild very quickly.
I'm not sure the issue of mobile homes will
necessarily be a factor here. My recollection was we
looked at this pretty carefully in the context of
Bosnia. It just didn't work. But in terms of
providing money for building supplies to help locals,
to help the UNHCR, yes. The international community is
already mobilized to deal with the reality of an early
winter, not only in Kosovo but also in the neighbouring
countries of Macedonia and Albania. In terms of
support for those countries in the region, in
particular Albania and Macedonia, I know the delegation
from these committees was in both of those countries.
They saw for themselves the human face of this tragedy
and the damage the economies have suffered,
especially in the case of Macedonia, where their foreign
trade has been devastated. They have unemployment, I
think, which is running at about 50%. So we are
working very closely with those governments.
I know through the good support of CIDA a package of
economic assistance is on offer to both the Albanian
and Macedonian governments. In addition, the Canadian
government has put forward something in the order of
$35 million in humanitarian assistance since March 24,
which is dedicated in many respects to assisting the
refugees in those countries and to reducing the costs as
much as possible to Albania and Kosovo. But the fact
of the matter remains that both these countries are
going to need a lot of help, not just in the short
term but in the medium term and in the long term. That
means working with them and with international
financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. It means
looking at loan rescheduling to try to assist them as
much as possible.
I mentioned in my introductory remarks this reference
to a south European stability pact process, which is
underway, led by the European Union but essentially
involving all of the major international organizations,
OSCE, World Bank, IMF, European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development, NATO, UNHCR, to go ahead and rebuild
this area. It's also about values, trying to go ahead
and instil in the next generation of political
leadership, especially in Yugoslavia but in Kosovo as
well, the kinds of values... respect for human rights,
the rule of law, democratization, and good
governance, some of the areas, frankly, that we
have not seen practised in the Balkan area, which has
caused so many problems not just for Canada but for
European nations over the course of the last decade.
Finally with respect to—
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: With respect to
the last half of the question, I was curious about
transportation. How are you going to get the people in
there? Do you have sufficient transportation, if you
have all the other things in place?
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Sorry, Mrs.
Finestone. We're trying to keep this to two-minute
periods. You've had nine minutes already.
[Editor's Note: Inaudible]
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: —
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Well, if you
ask five questions, you get more than... it's very
difficult for them to... I'm not saying that
critically. It's just that we had hoped to be able to
move to phase two of this by 4 o'clock, releasing both
General Henault and Mr. Wright, who have other things to
do. We do have five other people on the list. So I'm
wondering if we could cut things down.
Why don't we go to Mr. Mills then? He's the next
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): I have several
questions as well. Mr. Chernomyrdin
has been meeting with the EU ministers and Strobe
Talbott today, and I understand he has a proposal
to carry with the Finnish prime minister to Mr.
Milosevic tomorrow morning. What hopes do you hold out
for that being accepted by Mr. Milosevic?
Mr. Jim Wright: We remain realistic. We are
faced with a very difficult set of circumstances right
now. Mr. Chernomyrdin has been working extremely
constructively, as has the Russian government, with the
G-8, and bilaterally with Mr. Talbott, the deputy
secretary of state for the U.S., and with Mr.
Ahtisaari, the Finnish president. We know they
are working on elements of a package to flesh out the
G-8 principles, to turn it into a peace plan. We also
know that G-8 countries are working very diligently
with a view to come up with a UN Security Council
resolution, as European foreign ministers called for
yesterday at their meeting in Brussels.
We hope the signals we're hearing from Belgrade
in terms of their acceptance of the G-8 principles
prove correct. We will be guided more by their actions
than by their words. In this respect, we are waiting
for a much clearer signal from Belgrade about the
acceptance of the conditions that have been set out by
the international community, and also some demonstrable
and verifiable steps taken by Yugoslav authorities, in
particular a ceasefire and the commencement of a
withdrawal. If those signals are in place, NATO will
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Monsieur Laurin.
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Wright, the World Court
is scheduled to render a judgement tomorrow in the matter pitting
Canada against Yugoslavia. Do we have some contingency plans in
the event the ruling goes against Canada and we are forced to
withdraw our forces? How would this withdrawal proceed?
Secondly, could immunity be requested for Mr. Milosevic as a
Could the Serbian government demand that no retaliatory
action be taken against Milosevic in exchange for his signing a
Mr. Jim Wright: First of all, on the question of
immunity for President Milosevic, that is not on offer
from Canada. It's not on offer from the chief
prosecutor of the international criminal tribunal in
the Hague, and it's not going to be on offer from any
NATO country. I don't see anyone being willing to
negotiate with Yugoslav authorities on the question of
immunity. Mr. Milosevic is obliged under international
law to present himself to the court in the Hague. If
he does not do so, his government is obliged to go
ahead and turn him over to the court in the Hague. So
there will be no deal on the question of immunity.
Secondly, with respect to the International Court of
Justice case, the preliminary judgment will be rendered
tomorrow. Yes, we have given thought to the different
scenarios out there, but this remains a hypothetical
question. We'll be delighted to comment on this
tomorrow when the judgment is rendered by the court.
The Canadian government will be prepared for all
Remember, however, that this is not a legally binding
decision by the court. It's a preliminary judgment. It
is recommendatory in nature, and it will have, frankly,
more of a political angle to it than necessarily a
legal angle. Depending on the judgment of the court
tomorrow, the case will play out over a very extended
period of time.
But the short answer to your question is yes, the
Canadian government has looked at all aspects of this
very carefully, and we will be prepared to speak about
this substantively tomorrow once the judgment is
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Thank you.
Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): Mr.
Chairman, I will be very brief due to the time
constraint you outlined. Let me just say
welcome once again, General, Mr. Wright, and the panel.
Let me start with this comment. I was very
pleased, Mr. Wright, to hear earlier your response to
Mr. Martin in terms of what is being discussed, that is
using the word “autonomy” as opposed to
“independence”, which I think is very crucial if this
peace process indeed is going to have a successful end.
I just want to comment on what Mary Robinson, the
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said earlier.
She spoke about the crimes committed by the Milosevic
regime. I should be very clear that I agree with her
comments. She talked about addressing these war crimes
at the tribunal, but she also condemned the
unfortunate, and I believe unintentional, loss of life
caused by the NATO initiatives.
Could you just comment on how that might be addressed
in the future should it be brought formally to the
Mr. Jim Wright: NATO has in recent weeks made a
very conscious effort to double and triple check the
targeting process, to look carefully at munitions that
are intended to be used in each attack against
legitimate military targets. If the judgment is made
that there is a risk for civilian casualties with respect
to a particular target or given munitions, then NATO
either rejects the target or they go ahead and select
different munitions that can better guarantee that the
risk to civilians is reduced to the absolute minimum
under the circumstances.
I would also add that in terms of Mrs. Robinson
and the UN High Commission for Human Rights, she has
made it very clear from the outset that there is no moral
equivalency between the humanitarian campaign that NATO
is engaged in right now to try to protect the rights of
Kosovo citizens who have been driven from their homes
and Mr. Milosevic and his regime, who are purposely
targeting civilians and driving them from their
country. So she is on record on this issue of moral
equivalency, recognizing full well the just motives
behind what NATO is trying to do.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Thank you.
Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Thank you,
I had several questions, but I'll try to limit them in
respect of the time element here.
First, I noticed a news report a couple of days ago
in which our foreign affairs minister is saying that
there'll be no more talks with Milosevic. He said:
We're not negotiating with Milosevic. The
G-8 foreign ministers set down basic conditions for
ending the activity or the action going on in Kosovo.
And it's simply getting the authorities in Serbia, in
Belgrade, to accept those conditions.
I guess I have a little difficulty understanding how
one can negotiate a settlement or an end to a war with
someone with whom one is fighting if you're not going
to talk to him. Can you perhaps elaborate a bit on
how that process will unfold?
Second, I know, Mr. Wright, you'd probably be a bit
disappointed if I didn't ask you if you have any more
information on the letter I talked to you about before,
on which you undertook to find out more information.
Mr. Jim Wright: As the minister...
Mr. Gordon Earle: I respect the process.
Mr. Jim Wright: The minister was very clear in his
remarks, in terms of saying neither Canada nor NATO
were engaged in a process of negotiating the conditions that
have been set out by the international community. Those
are cast in concrete. What we're looking for from
Belgrade are actions—a specific response accepting
these conditions, as the minister said; getting the
authority from Belgrade and making it very clear that
they accept the G-8 principles and the five NATO
conditions; that they are willing to end the violence,
stop the killing, withdraw their forces, and allow in
an international security force. NATO argues that
there must be a core NATO presence there. Relief
agencies would be facilitated; refugees would be given
the right of return; and political talks would ensue,
based on the principles set out in Rambouillet.
Having said that, what we're engaged in right now is
not a negotiation with Belgrade, with the Yugoslav
leadership. We are not talking about a process whereby
we are negotiating a new set of Rambouillet accords.
We are simply waiting for acceptance from Belgrade of
the conditions that have been put before them. If we
get that acceptance and there is a clear, demonstrable,
verifiable signal of acceptance, then NATO countries
have indicated they are prepared to suspend the
We want the diplomatic track to succeed and end the
bombing as soon as possible. That's the reason why the
G-8 process is continuing and why Mr. Chernomyrdin,
Mr. Ahtisaari, and Mr. Talbott are as
active as they are. But Mr. Axworthy is quite correct.
He is joined in that observation about not negotiating
by all his NATO colleagues. Mr. Chernomyrdin,
Mr. Ahtisaari, if he goes there—it won't
be with a view to negotiate the elements of a security
council resolution or a peace agreement; it will be
simply to get acceptance of the conditions that have
been set out before them.
With respect to the letter you've raised on a number
of occasions, I can confirm that the letter that was
sent by President Milosevic to Mr. Clinton via Mr. Jesse
Jackson, when he went there to secure the release of
the three American soldiers, has not been released. We
checked with American authorities and that has been
confirmed to us. It has also been confirmed that
there is absolutely nothing new in this letter.
It restated Belgrade's conditions for ending the
conflict, which came nowhere near meeting the allies'
basic conditions. To the best of my knowledge, it is
the United States government's communication, it's
privileged communication, and at the present time it
has not been made public. But we have been reassured
that there is nothing new in the letter at all. It
simply reconfirms our own suspicions as to what was in
the letter. Frankly, we saw it as being more of a
publicity gesture on the part of President Milosevic,
as opposed to a substantive signal of willingness to
accept the conditions set out by the international
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Thank you.
Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC): First of all,
I'd like to congratulate Ms. Beaumier, who's just joined the
Conservative Party. We're extremely proud of her.
Some hon. members: Oh! oh!
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): It turned out to
be a thorn in your side.
Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West—Mississauga, Lib.):
Well, that depends. Can I be a cabinet minister?
Mr. André Bachand: Sure. It's because of the
new poll in Ontario.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham): Have you ever
read your ancient history, Mr. Bachand, on the Trojan
Mr. André Bachand: You're blushing, Mr. Chairman. The colour
doesn't become you.
I would simply like to make a comment. I'm not blaming
anyone, but increasingly, we're hearing reports that Canada and
NATO have clearly lost the war. The propaganda machine is in high
gear. The people I meet with say that NATO is responsible for
more deaths than the enemy forces.
Of course, we're told that it's impossible to verify all of
the claims made by journalists since no international observer
has been able to report from inside Kosovo. It's important that
something happen soon on one side or another, that the peace
everyone is hoping for comes to pass and that we prove that
atrocities were in fact committed in Kosovo. Because I have to
say that people are losing interest in the conflict. When a
country is at war, the worst enemy it faces is its own citizens.
I simply wanted to make that point.
I'd like to get back to a subject that we discussed last
week, Mr. Right, namely the indictment issued by the Justice
Louise Arbour. You stated at the time that either Mr. Milosevic
could turn himself in, or the authorities in Belgrade could take
steps to turn Mr. Milosevic over to the International Tribunal.
I'm not an expert in human psychology. While I recognize that you
do have some special qualifications, you're probably not an
expert in this field either. However, I'd like you to explain to
me what role the international force will have in Kosovo, Serbia
or Yugoslavia. We're told that there will be an international
presence beyond even the Kosovo border to monitor military
activities in Serbia. Could this international force receive
orders to apprehend Milosevic?
Mr. Jim Wright: First of all, in terms of your
comment, I would like to make one observation: we all
want this campaign to end sooner rather than later. We
know there are innocent victims there. There have been
right from the very beginning; over a million of
them: Kosovars who called Kosovo home. So we can't
lose sight of that. We cannot become numb to the pain
and suffering that has been inflicted on them that is
recounted in chilling detail by Louise Arbour in her
indictments; by Mr. de Millo, who led the
humanitarian mission into Yugoslavia; and by Mary
Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Their plight cannot be forgotten.
We are there to protect values that Canada and the
international communities stand by. There is one
person who, right from the very beginning, could have
stopped this campaign, and there is still one person who
can go ahead and do that, and that's Slobodan Milosevic.
So he has an opportunity right now. The international
community remains as committed today to the diplomatic
process as we did 70 days ago.
We hope this time, when Mr. Chernomyrdin and possibly
Mr. Ahtisaari are there, this man will finally see reason
and reality, because NATO and the G-8 are not going
away and the military campaign will continue. The
impact on the Yugoslav economy will continue to be
degraded, and others around President Milosevic who
follow his lead will also be held to account by the
international criminal court in the Hague. So
there is a price to pay, and we know that the Yugoslav
leadership are reflecting very carefully on this set of
circumstances they face right now.
Turning specifically to your question with respect to
Louise Arbour and the possible role for an
international security presence in Kosovo, in relation
to Mr. Milosovic's indictment, as you may know, in the
case of Bosnia there is a NATO-led international
security force there with over 40 countries
When NATO representatives come across indicted war
criminals in their activities, when it is safe to go
ahead and try to apprehend these indicted war
criminals, they do so. This is part of the ongoing
activity of the NATO-led mission in Bosnia. I would
add that they have been remarkably successful in
respect of 84 individuals who have been publicly
indicted in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and other
countries. Only 31 remain at large right now.
Mr. Andre Bachand: I apologize, Mr. Wright.
Mr. Jim Wright: That's quite all right.
Mr. André Bachand: You are not Milosevic, not by any stretch
of the imagination, but if you were he, would you agree to the
presence of international force that had received orders to
apprehend you? Haven't we come to an impasse, diplomatically
Mr. Jim Wright: Not at all.
Mr. André Bachand: Milosevic is not such a masochist that he
would allow into the country people who have orders to arrest
Mr. Jim Wright: Quite the contrary. I see this as
the clearest possible signal to all members of the
Yugoslav leadership that they are running into their
own cul-de-sac. Their leadership is taking their
country to ruination and they have to start reflecting
on where they want to see their country go, whether
they stand by Mr. Milosevic, whether they want to run
the risk of facing their own individual indictment. We
hope the nascent forces of democracy—the people who
are committed to the rule of law and good governance in
Yugoslavia—will take heart at the action by the
international community and will start to speak up.
We also know that even within the Yugoslav government
there are those who are not as ideologically
nationalistic as Mr. Milosevic and some of his other
co-indictees. So we'll have to see how the indictment
plays out in the days and weeks to come.
But we feel as though this represents an opportunity
for a sea change in the political environment in
Yugoslavia. The indictment reconfirms—if it was
necessary—the justification for why NATO undertook the
action it has taken right from the very beginning.
With respect to the international security presence in
Kosovo, if this proceeds the way NATO would like it to
proceed, we will have a peacekeeping force on the
ground in Kosovo, whose mandate will be to oversee an
agreed peace process, the return of refugees, and the
establishment of autonomy and self-government for
Kosovars. If the example that has been followed in
Bosnia relates to Kosovo, then there is a possibility
that individuals who have been indicted, who make
themselves available to such an international security
presence in Kosovo—I'm not talking about
Belgrade—could be picked up.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien (London—Fanshawe,
Lib.)): Thank you, Mr. Wright.
Thank you, Mr. Bachand.
I want to thank Mr. Wright and General Henault and the
other staff for attending here again today.
As we announced last week, there is no briefing
scheduled for Thursday. There is a motion from Mr.
Laurin, which we'll deal with.
Thank you very much.
I know you have other functions to attend to, and we
appreciate your attendance here once again.
I will invite our colleagues, Mr. Graham, Mr. Martin,
Mr. Laurin, and Mr. Mills, to assume the witnesses'
places in this case for a briefing on their recent
While they are taking those places, I will refer
members to a notice of motion from Mr. Laurin. As both
committees require a 24-hour notice period, Mr. Laurin
will need unanimous consent to put the motion. So
we'll start with that question. Does Mr. Laurin have
We have to
first get it on the floor, René. It's not on the floor
yet. If it comes on the floor, I can give you a—
Mr. René Laurin: Can I at least read the text of my motion,
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Okay.
Mr. René Laurin: Wouldn't it help if I could explain to my
colleagues why I am seeking their unanimous consent?
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): That's the part I
can't allow. The members can read it themselves, and I
can let you read it for the record, if you want, but I
can't allow you to speak to it until it's on the floor.
That's the part I can't do. You can only read it; you
can't give your reasons, unless it's accepted. You
can't put a—
Mr. René Laurin: No, I don't wish to debate the motion, Mr.
Chairman, but I would simply like to point out that Mr. Wright
has noted that following tomorrow's ruling, he would be in a
position to comment on some of the options being considered.
That's why I think it would be useful for us to discuss them
today. The ruling by the World Court will have a major impact on
Canada's future decisions.
Therefore, I'm seeking the unanimous consent of the
committee to agree to a briefing session to be held on Thursday,
from 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. to discuss the judgement scheduled to be
rendered by the International Court of Justice on June 2 in the
case of Yugoslavia vs. Canada. I think such a briefing is
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you, Mr. Laurin.
You have heard the request. Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: No.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): There is not
unanimous consent. I don't hear unanimous
consent, Mr. Laurin. Thank you.
Before we go to the briefing, I want to refresh
colleagues' memories and tell others who weren't here last
week that in Mr. Graham's absence to this troubled spot
in the world, I conferred with his staff and the
members of the defence committee and a good number of
the foreign affairs committee and found that a good
number cannot or will not be in Ottawa on Thursday.
Therefore, as chair of the defence committee, along with
Mr. Graham, through his staff, I announced that the normal
Thursday briefing would not be held.
At the request of Mr. Bachand, we've reviewed that
decision. I've conferred with Mr. Graham. I've
double-checked with my colleagues on defence, as has
he, and since there will be very few members available on
Thursday, there would be no point to a briefing.
Having said that, I remind all members that the
daily technical briefings continue at DND HQ, at which
all members of Parliament are welcome, and in addition
may ask their questions. You have that
opportunity on Thursday, as you've had now for many
With that reminder, colleagues, I'll turn this over
to Mr. Graham and our other colleagues. Mr. Graham
headed up a delegation to Macedonia. Would you like
Mr. André Bachand: I asked to speak, Mr. Chairman, but you
did not recognize me.
I asked to speak prior to the
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): You asked to speak
when, Mr. Bachand?
Mr. André Bachand: After Mr. Laurin spoke.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Oh, I didn't see
your hand. If you put your hand up nice and high, I'll
guarantee you, Mr. Bachand, I will never deny you a
chance to speak. But I did not see you, sir. Would
you like to speak on the procedural matter?
Mr. André Bachand: Mr. Chairman, I find it absolutely
ridiculous for us to cancel a briefing because of provincial
elections in Ontario, at a time when Canada is at war. There's a
great deal more I could say on the subject. Canada won't halt the
bombing of Yugoslavia just because some members will be absent so
that they can get out the vote on election day. This is
unacceptable. I would have liked us to discuss this issue openly,
but you've nixed that idea. Neither you nor Mr. Graham consulted
me. You only consulted members of the government party. There's
nothing we can do about it now, but I find it totally
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): I find that
a very interesting comment coming from a Conservative
member, Mr. Bachand, because one of the members of my
committee who most insisted she could not be in
attendance and cited an election—not in the province of
Ontario—was Mrs. Wayne. You may wish to take up your
complaint with Mrs. Wayne. But as far as I'm
concerned, Mr. Bachand, there's not enough attendance
indicated, and quite frankly—
Mr. André Bachand: But I—
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): It's my turn now,
Mr. Bachand. Quite frankly, I
think your comment is simply inappropriate and out
of line. The first person who asked me to change the
meeting was Mrs. Wayne, and she does not reside in the
province of Ontario.
Mr. Graham, would you like to begin, sir?
Mr. Bill Graham, M.P. (Toronto-Centre—Rosedale, Lib.): Thank
you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I'm pleased to report to you and our colleagues on the trip
that Mr. Mills, Mr. Laurin, Mr. Martin, and I made to
Macedonia last week. We had an opportunity to visit
several camps where refugees are located. We went to
the border with Kosovo. We met with Canadian and
international NGOs in the camps and with
international organizations, and we met with local
I thought this afternoon I would present a
sort of overview of who we saw
and what we did. Then each one of the members of
the delegation would present their personal views.
Obviously, I will try to tell you what we saw and what
we did and give you some of my personal impressions as
First, I'd like to thank the ministry for their idea
in sending us. I think it was a good idea. When we were
there we certainly learned that many members of
Parliament and many members of Congress are going there
regularly, and that it's a good thing for members of
Parliament to be informed of these issues as well as
government. I think it was an excellent initiative on
behalf of the foreign affairs minister to decide to send four
What did we see and what did we learn?
First, as I said, we went to two refugee camps
and we went to the border. What can we tell you about
the refugee camps? If we were to tell you that we
talked to individuals who'd suffered incredibly and
had been expelled from their homes, you'd begin to understand
a little bit. You see children playing there who used
to play in their own fields, at their own homes, and
they're now in a camp. One camp, for example,
has no hot meals. They haven't seen a hot meal since
they've been there. It's a transition camp, a transit
camp, where there will sometimes be 18,000 or 20,000
people—sometimes there will be 10,000 people—in
conditions that are marginal at best.
To try to understand that, multiplied a million
times when you realize there are a million refugees in
this position, it seems to me to be well beyond
what human imagination can understand and
deal with. But this is what is happening there. We
went up to the border and were able to stand at the
border and see 5,000 anguished people waiting to try
to come across the border, all comprising a huge herd of
people. It was just an extraordinary sight, and you were
powerless to do anything about it.
So what we saw and learned was that there was an
enormous humanitarian tragedy. We know that from
television, but to be there and see it and feel it was
something else. I believe it's fair to say
it may well be that while we were there, some
30,000 people came across that border into Macedonia
alone, in the three days we were in the country. That
just overwhelms the capacity of these camps to deal
with those numbers, and we have to look at that.
Those refugees we talked to were determined to go
home, but they will not go home unless they have
security, and they are not going to have security if Mr.
Milosovich is still in control of Kosovo.
There is a tremendous pressure to resolve this matter
soon. It's more than simply a political pressure. It's
a human pressure. In those camps, within a few weeks,
the temperatures will be around 40 degrees centigrade. Think
of some 20,000 people—children,
women, men—squashed into that small
space at 40 degrees centigrade, with very few facilities—health
facilities, toilet facilities, showers, etc. Worse still, if
this matter continues and drags through the month
of August, we will have to seriously look at the fact
that they will not be back in Kosovo this coming
winter, and we
will have to consider constructing winter accommodation
in countries where the temperatures can go to 30 to 40
degrees centigrade below
zero. This would be for a
million people at a cost that would be astronomical, not
only in monetary terms but in human terms.
Our NGOs are doing heroic work there. We saw MSF;
we saw other Canadian NGOs. We met our officials from the
immigration department who were there and who had put
the final touches on the 5,100 refugees who have
come to Canada. We are the first country to have lived
up to our obligation to take the number of refugees we
took, and the politicians we met were grateful for that.
We also had the opportunity to meet with the UNHCR,
for whom there was quite a bit
of criticism at the beginning about the way in which
they ran the system. I think we would agree, as a
result of our conversations with them, that they have a much
better control of the situation than they did at the
beginning, but there certainly were huge human problems
in running the camps at the beginning, and it still is a
very confused organizational structure. The UNHCR is
the titular head of these organizations, but different
camps are run by different organizations. Then,
within the camps, there are all sorts of different
organizations from different nationalities that must
be coordinated. So it's a sort of Tower of Babel
problem of organization.
We met with the World Food Programme, which is
delivering food to people, and we heard from them the
problem of how much food they buy locally, because the
local authorities would like them to purchase as much
food as they can locally since that's important for
an economy that's been totally devastated. I'll come
back to that later.
We met with the Red Cross.
The financial requirements of these organizations are
that they are only about 70% funded to the end of June.
There is need for more money from the international
community to fund the international obligations of
those things that are there to just keep people alive
and feed them properly.
We then met with political groups. In the evening we
had dinner with Kosovar politicians, and I must say
that whatever you may hear, they approve of the conduct of
what NATO is doing. They
believe this is the only way in which they are going to
go back into their homes. But their description
of the loss of civil society... I mean, it was tragic
to talk to people who had backgrounds
just like ours. They'd done the same
sorts of things we do. They were members of
Parliament. One of them was an anthropologist and
she'd written plays; another was a chemical
engineer. They'd had ordinary lives. They'd been in the
political process. Then, suddenly, their civil society
was completely shut down by Mr. Milosevic.
They were originally driven out of their professions; they
were not allowed to practice their professions.
The plays she wrote were shut down. Gradually, civil
society was shut down, and ultimately the
total consequences were that they were driven completely out
of the country. All this since 1989.
We met with Macedonian politicians. We met with the
Speaker of the House. We met with the health
committee, the economic committee, the foreign affairs
committee, the deputy foreign minister.
would I leave you with as a result of those meetings?
The first point is the total devastation of the
economy of the country of Macedonia. I don't know
how... I could give you an analogy. Members, imagine
that Canada—you know how close we are to the United
States economy—was shut off from the United
States today, as Macedonia has been shut off from
Serbia, that major economy that was beside them and upon which
they were totally dependent because of the previous way
in which Yugoslavia operated. Assume that we were shut
off from the United States and at the same time we had
three million refugees arrive in the country—that is about
in proportion to what they're having to deal with. Can
you imagine what would happen to our health care
services, our ability to cope, our social services?
They are living through an absolutely extraordinary
period. It was a country that had a budget of about $600
million U.S. a year. I'd say $1 billion
Canadian—small economy, small budget. Well, the
refugees alone cost them more than $1 billion Canadian
a year. So the economic adjustments are phenomenal.
We were told by some politicians there that there's
some social tension because there are some Macedonians
who resent the arrival of the Kosovo refugees. In
fact, because of their own socio-economic position,
where they have lost the chance of
having welfare, have no social security and no health
care, there are some who are looking at some of the camps and
saying those people are getting fed and getting
health care in the camps. So you can appreciate the
social tensions within the country. There's an economic
tension that is extraordinary.
Politically, it was clear from all of them who spoke
to us that they would like to join NATO, they would
like to join the EU, but they also don't want to offend
Serbia, which is their closest neighbour, their largest
market, and through which they used to send all their goods
into Europe and deal with. They are in a
very, very difficult position, and they impressed upon
us their concern that maybe some countries were not
living up to the financial promises that have been made
My own personal conclusions would be that... Mr. Bachand's
point, I think, was very good. In the short term this
war must be ended soon by whatever means.
In the long term we are going to need a Marshall Plan
for the Balkans that will have to include Serbia.
We're going to have to rebuild; we're going to have to
spend more money rebuilding than we did on the bombs
we've been dropping on people. I think it's
going to be first to rebuild Kosovo but then rebuild
the whole region.
I was very pleased to hear Mr. Wright talk about the
stability pact, because there's no doubt about it, we
have to be thinking now about the long-term
economic stability in the area. Otherwise, we'll just
create a new tinderbox and we will not escape from this
vicious circle we're in.
I don't know how many of you had the opportunity to see
the National Post on the weekend. It had
a section on Kosovo in it that contained a lot of very
interesting information. Just coming back and reading
it over the weekend, I reflected on the tremendously
difficult issues we had to look at and what we're
trying to wrestle with around this table amongst
ourselves and when we were there.
I'd just like to
read to you the concluding paragraph of Mr.
Michael Ignatieff's article of this
weekend. I think it sums up, for me, something of where we
Kosovo is more than a test of military resolve.
It has become a trial by fire of everything we believe.
We talk about human rights. What are we prepared to do
to defend them? We talk about a right of humanitarian
intervention. Is this nothing more than words? We
talk about “one world”. Do we suppose that there is such
a thing when an entire nation is deported before our
eyes and we do not stop it? We have reached one of
those occasions when we cannot split the difference.
We are in the middle of the dark wood and we must keep
on walking to the end of the road.
Thank you very much.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you, Mr. Graham.
Did the other members of the delegation wish to make some additional
comments before we go to questions? Mr. Mills.
Mr. Bob Mills, M.P. (Red Deer, Ref.): Sure.
We were asked to just make a few comments, and I won't
repeat what Mr. Graham has said. I think all of us
were deeply touched by what we saw, and certainly it
will affect our thinking far into the future.
I should also tell you that I had the rare opportunity
before this trip of going to New York for a day's
briefing, and then to Washington for a briefing from the
State Department and the Pentagon. They presented a
very chilling American approach to this solution.
Then we went to Moscow for four days, where we met with the
foreign affairs minister, a number of committee
members, a number of Duma members, and the Speaker of the
House, and we heard how unhappy they were with NATO
and the unipolar world that they saw being developed
around NATO. Then we went from there to Macedonia.
So in a 10-day period I had an opportunity to
see all sides, and then actually be on the
ground in Macedonia. I consider that a great advantage
to getting a full picture of what's happening.
I'll start with Macedonia,
the crisis there. Certainly if 70% of your
trade was with Yugoslavia, you know your problems.
Then if 30% went to the European Union, and you've
lost your trucking routes... So you know the problem
you have. They have 40% unemployment, a fragile
government, and a real distrust of the Albanian
minority, which was already there at 27% of the
That all leads to 250,000 Albanians coming in, which
is a real concern in terms of destabilization. I think,
going even further, if that destabilization did
happen and it became the next Kosovo, I certainly got
the feeling that Albania would then be drawn in, Greece
would be drawn in, and the potential for a great many
other expansions of this conflict would be there.
I think it's fair to say as well that they want the
refugees out of there as fast as possible. They've
agreed to keeping them there, but they don't want them
there permanently. I think the solution needs to
be found very soon.
I'll talk about the refugees themselves. I heard
about how they've been loaded into trains from deep
into Kosovo and then brought by train to the border and
then thrown off that train. We saw them, 10,000 of
them, lined up and having to come across a no-man's
zone carrying little plastic bags with all of their
possessions. I heard that a lady gave birth to a baby
in the mud in that no-man's zone, and the baby died. I
talked to the guy who owned the shoe store and he told
me that he was forced out of his shoe store with no shoes
on, he and his wife, and forced on to a train and then
across that border. A girl called me over to see her
baby, and when that baby was unwrapped, I saw it was
totally white and motionless. I asked, is it alive? As
far as I could see it wasn't, but she said it was, and
asked me to please help her get some milk for her baby.
And of course, I was frantically asking, where is
someone who can help that person?
Certainly, I think, all of us could feel that emotion
and realize that nobody should be allowed to treat
other people that way. No one should ever be allowed.
And to imagine that this is 1999, going into the
21st century. We started the century off this way.
How can we be ending it this way?
I think of the total hopelessness of all that, and we
can't forget it. I think Mr. Wright said it well
when he said we cannot become numb to those kinds of
I'm a great picture taker. I took 14 rolls of slides
in the camp and I drove these guys crazy with my
camera. But they said, take our picture, because we
want you to tell our story. I do it through pictures
and find that that's a good way to do it.
Finally, I think today, hopefully, there is a
breakthrough. I really have great hopes, having
listened to Mr. Chernomyrdin and the foreign affairs
minister in Moscow. I have great hopes that what's
going to happen tomorrow morning in Belgrade will be a
positive thing, and you will see a ceasefire
and some real movement.
So I think we should all be, I
guess, giving our prayers—and I'm not a religious
person—to Mr. Ahtisaari and Mr. Chernomyrdin tomorrow
when they meet with Milosevic. Hopefully that will be
the end, or the beginning, for these people getting
back to normal.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you, Mr.
Mr. René Laurin, M.P. (Joliette, BQ): I'll try not to repeat
what my colleagues
said because they have given a very good description or overview
of the situation. I would just like to say something about the
emotional state of the people we encountered. I didn't hear any
of the refugees in the camp complaining. I didn't hear anyone
make any threats or talk about revenge. They no longer seem
capable of complaining. I even have to wonder if they were still
able to shed tears.
We're talking about exhausted, defeated people. All of their
hopes and dreams have been destroyed. All they can do is sit
around and wait. They wait for food, for clean drinking water,
for the opportunity to wash themselves. They wait for news of a
son lost in the camp or of a brother or spouse in some other
camp. All they can do is wait.
They are not resigned to their fate, but they seem to be
suffering, and suffering with dignity. I didn't see any signs of
outright rebellion. All I saw were defeated people with traces of
hope remaining. When newcomers arrived in the refugee camps, they
would ask if there was any news. They wondered if our presence
gave them cause for new hope. When we explained why we were
there, they would go back to their daily routine.
Conditions in the camp weren't that bad. No one was living
in squalor. Obviously, it doesn't compare with the comforts of
home, but they have food, conditions are good, and their health
and general hygiene needs are attended to.
My colleague Bob Mills mentioned economic circumstances.
Concerns about the economy were expressed by the politicians we
met, not by the refugees. Politicians seemed far more concerned
about their country's economic situation then about the fate of
the refugees. We can understand why they are concerned, because
the country's economy is on the verge of collapse. In Macedonia,
unemployment has now reached 40 per cent. Refugees, who accounted
for 13 per cent of the country's population last year, now make
up over 30 per cent of the population. Obviously, these are
reasons for the country's leadership to be concerned.
Arrangements have been made to ensure that refugee children
are educated. UNICEF has dispatched several teachers to the
camps, but what will happen when classes resume in the fall? If
the children remain in the refugee camps, they won't be able to
attend classes. The schools in Macedonia are not equipped to take
in a massive influx of new students. There aren't enough schools
or teachers to handle the overflow.
The country is counting a great deal on international
assistance. Many promises have been made. Some countries, like
Canada, have already kept their word. Canada was praised for its
actions, but other countries are dragging their heels and haven't
yet sent all of the money pledged. We were told that if all of
the promises were kept, all commitments could be met.
Officials shared their hopes with us. They hope that
countries will take in even more refugees and increase their
financial support and that G-8 countries in particular will agree
to assist Macedonia's economy as well as the economies of other
neighboring countries. They realize full well that the Serbs will
now view them as enemies and most likely will stop doing business
with the people of Macedonia for several generations to come.
Trade with Serbia accounted for 30 per cent of all trade with
Yugoslavia. They have pretty much given up on any future trade.
They hope to refocus their economic activity on trade with G-7 or
That's all I wanted to say. I would be happy to answer your
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you, Mr. Laurin.
Mr. Martin, did you have some comments as well?
Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): Yes, thank
you, Mr. Chair. I'll be very brief. I'd just like to
thank the committee for the opportunity to be able to
witness first-hand the refugee and humanitarian
crisis over there, and Canada's role, of course, in
providing humanitarian relief.
I'd like to recognize Bill as the leader of our
delegation. He did a wonderful job representing us in
terms of protocol and meeting the Macedonian
dignitaries. I thought that aspect of it went very
Bill's done a very thorough job of outlining most of
the details, so I won't repeat that, other than to say
there was a lull, I believe, in the days leading up to
our arrival at the border crossing. There were few
people actually crossing, for instance, when Svend was
there a couple of days earlier. But when we arrived it
actually coincided with a huge influx—numbers of 5,000
or 8,000 people at the border on the day we
The relief workers and the NGOs we spoke to indicated
that this seemed to indicate some escalation in the
level of clearing or forced deportation in the area
immediately around the border. They also pointed to an
escalation in the level of violence that coincided with
the deportations. We spoke to some who felt that with
regard to the deportations, while a couple of weeks
earlier you might be thrown out of your home, now you'd
be thrown out of your home and beaten, possibly having
a sexual assault take place. This huge influx almost
indicated that there was sort of a rush or hurried
atmosphere to what they may sense as the final days,
trying to get as much done as humanly possible.
We were very heartened by the Canadian NGOs we
met and the amount of work being done by these very
All the issues that were raised with us seemed to fit
into three main categories: the actual camps, which are
bursting at the seams, as people said; the condition
and the safety of those ethnic Albanians who are still
trapped within Kosovar, as many as 400,000 or 500,000
who haven't crossed the border; and the social and
economic stress and pressure on the neighbouring
countries like Macedonia, as was outlined, with the
loss of trade, the loss of their economy, etc., which
could in fact lead to social unrest, which, as Mr.
Mills says, could spread throughout the whole of the
Balkans and we'd be faced with similar situations for
many years to come.
Having said that, it was a real honour to be a part of
this delegation and I appreciated the opportunity.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you, Mr.
I think I can speak for all members here and all
members of the House in thanking you, Mr. Graham, and
your colleagues for taking the time, the
effort, and indeed the risk to go to Macedonia and to
experience what you did. I'm not sure I would have
wanted to experience it, but it's important that we
have Canadian members who do. I think your very
eloquent testimony about that here at this committee
certainly brings it home for me even more graphically
than it already has been brought home. So thank you
for those comments.
I want to go now to questions from members, indicating
first, though, that we have to finish at 5 p.m.
sharp. A number of colleagues have other commitments
before the vote. I have a long list, so I'm going to ask
members to prioritize. Please pick your first
question, ask it briefly, and we'll get the response.
We'll try to get through everyone, and if we have more
time we'll just continue the questions. We'll start
with Mrs. Finestone. We just have 15 minutes, as I'm
trying to spread the time around.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: Thank you very much.
I just want to say thank you. I'm still listening to
what you had to say.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): I'm sorry, I
thought you had your hand up for a question.
Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.): Thank you, Mr.
Did you get any sense when you were there talking to
the refugees about what the prospect may be for healing this
when it's all over,
when you have this accelerated animosity that was
built on ethnic nationalism, if you like, which
precipitated this whole thing? Do you get any sense of
what it's going to be like for the refugees when they
return to their homeland and how they're going to get
along with their neighbours?
Mr. Bill Graham: That's going to be the huge
problem, of course. There's a sense of enormous
mistrust. I can't say we got that from the members we
talked to in the camps, because we didn't have an
opportunity to have long conversations with people. We
met children; we met people. But certainly in talking to
the political figures we met and at the dinner we
had with the political figures, they clearly indicated
there's a mistrust in terms of any administration
that's put in place. It's going to have to be one that
guarantees personal security, and that's going to need
NATO forces or United Nations forces there to do it.
So that level of mistrust will take a long time to go
Look at what we're experiencing in Bosnia-Herzegovina
at this time. It's not just trying to get people to
move back; it's a generation's operation, and as some
people have pointed out, in this area these generations
have been doing this every other generation for a long
Mr. Bob Mills: The Albanian situation has largely
existed about 500 or 600 years in the area, and there is
hatred. It's fair to say it's hatred.
I think I got the best when I was in Bosnia. I went
to the high schools and talked to the people there, and
so on, on the ground for nine days and really got the
feeling of how they're captive of their history. They
hate from another generation, and so you need the UN
force or the NATO force there to keep them apart so
that maybe—maybe—if you could build enough
infrastructure, schooling, education, you could
get over that. But it's a long-term project. It's not
going to happen just because you're there.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Madame Guay.
Ms. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Thank you for your
comments and for your excellent status report. My question is for
all of the members.
You witnessed the situation firsthand. You saw the tents and
the refugee camps. Winter will soon be on its way. It will arrive
quickly and there won't be enough time to rebuild everything.
Even if an agreement were reached today with Milosevic, it would
be impossible to rebuild in time. Have any contingency plans been
made? It's impossible to heat tents. What's going to happen? What
plans have been made? Have you had discussions with the people on
Mr. Bill Graham: Officials with the UN commission are the
ones responsible for this rebuilding effort. For the moment, they
maintain that if the refugees are allowed to return home before
August, they will do everything possible to ensure that homes are
rebuilt in their part of the province. However, if they can't go
home until later, a number of winter shelters will have to be
built. As you said, refugees cannot withstand harsh winter
conditions while living in tents. Some initial planning is
underway. Concrete plans are not yet in place, but people have at
least recognized that they need to do some planning. They told us
that they would be holding a conference shortly to review this
Mr. René Laurin: That's right. They told us that with the
existing infrastructure, they could shelter approximately 60,000
refugees during the winter. They told us that they would use all
of the available buildings to house these people. They are also
appealing to other countries to increase the number of refugees
they are prepared to take in.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you.
Mr. Robert Bertrand (Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, Lib.): I
would like to thank you for your very interesting overview of the
My question is for Mr. Laurin. Usually, you're the one
asking me questions. You stated that none of the refugees you saw
were complaining, that they were defeated people waiting and
living in dignified silence. Were the refugees that you
encountered still supportive of NATO strikes? Did any of them
blame NATO for making them refugees, or were most of them fairly
supportive of NATO's actions to date?
Mr. René Laurin: We only spent half a day in the refugee
camps. For a day and a half, we met with representatives of
government and international agencies. I didn't hear directly
from the refugees, but some of the people accompanying us stated
that the Macedonians disagreed with NATO actions. The
politicians, on the other hand, expressed support for NATO
strikes, but hoped that these weren't inflicting too much damage
on the Serbs, since the Serbs were their neighbors and they would
have to continue living side-by-side with them. On the one hand,
they expressed support for NATO strikes, while on the other hand,
they didn't want the strikes be too effective because this might
alienate the Serbs and make them view the Macedonians as their
enemies. Once the conflict is over, there'll still be a Kosovo, a
Serbia and a Macedonia. Regardless of what happens, these people
will one day have to live as neighbors. It won't be easy. That's
why they seem to be playing both ends against the middle.
I didn't receive any first-hand reports from the refugees
themselves. However, I did hear from other persons living in
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Mr. Graham
commented about that earlier on. Did you want to add
to that, Mr. Graham?
Mr. Bill Graham: I totally agree with Mr. Laurin. The air
strikes are causing the Macedonians much grief, but I got the
impression from the handful of refugees and Kosovar
representatives that we met with that they accepted NATO's policy
and the air strikes because they were the only guarantee they had
that one day they might be able to return to their homeland.
If we call a halt to the air strikes and go home, and if we
tell ourselves that we cannot force Milosevic to let the Kosovars
return to their homeland, then all hope will be lost. A million
persons will remain in the refugee camps for generations, much
like the fate that befell the Palestinians. We can't let that
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you, Sir.
Mr. René Laurin: They oppose Milosevic and support NATO,
but above all, they are hoping for a diplomatic resolution to the
conflict. They support NATO, but are opposed to the air strikes
as well as to the Milosevic regime.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. pat O'Brien): Thank you very much.
Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Thank
you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to share the sentiments of some of the other
members of this committee in thanking the members for
providing this briefing. I think it's very important
for us to hear about your trip and your experiences. I
had a similar experience not too long ago
in terms of visiting refugee camps in Guinea, north of
Sierra Leone. You certainly come away from those
experiences thinking more and more about the big
picture and what's happening in the world and the
hopefully meaningful contribution Canada can make in
terms of dealing with some of these crises.
Of course, the situation in Kosovo is only one
crisis that's taking place in the world today as far as
refugees are concerned.
I don't mean to be cute with
this question, but I would be interested in hearing
the comments of all of the members before us
as far as their big picture impressions as to what
Canada can do. But I'm particularly interested in
hearing Mr. Mills' comments with regard to the amount
of money we're putting into official development
assistance and relief operations, and from Mr. Martin as
well in terms of the amount of money we are putting, and
perhaps could or should put, into our military spending.
Do you have any thoughts, gentlemen?
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): In
answering that, just try to allow time for Ms.
Augustine's question. We have to finish at
5 p.m., and I think Ms. Augustine has the last
question. So perhaps we can answer Mr. Pratt, and then we'll
go to Ms. Augustine.
Mr. Bob Mills: I think that's an important point.
The amount of $71 million has been pledged up till the
end of June for the food aid—$32 million from the
U.S., $10 million from Japan, and then a whole
page of other countries. Our share is obviously
relatively small, but based on our population and so on
it's probably in the ballpark. I think you have to help
these people, and I think that's important.
As far as the military question is concerned, from the
terrain we saw there, I would really have a lot of
questions to be sure that our troops are ready if they
were put in a combat role in a front-line
situation. I'd really want to know that they were
equipped for what they were going into, because that's
rough terrain and it would be very difficult.
I think most Canadians would support what we're doing
at this point. In the big picture, I think Canada, like
Finland, has a really important role to play as a
negotiator for a diplomatic settlement, which would be
far preferable to a military settlement.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Does anyone
else wish to comment? Mr. Martin.
Mr. Pat Martin, M.P. (Winnipeg-Centre, NDP): If I can add just
one thought, in
this modern era of the globalization of capital,
somehow there has to be a globalization of humanitarian
standards as well and a globalization of the rule of
law. If we're going to have that, somebody has to
be the police that are going to enforce it. I'm not
sure that should be NATO, frankly. I'm not sure
any of our international institutions are actually
capable of doing what needs to be done in all the hot
spots around the world.
If we are going to look at the global village, then we
have to have a global police force, and I don't think
any of our international institutions are
capable of performing that role.
In terms of overall development aid, you
know where Canada stands. We're down at 0.25% when
we should be at 0.7%, and Norway and Great Britain
are up at 1.2%. So certainly our position is that we aren't
doing enough globally to pull our weight as one of the
richest and most powerful civilizations in the world.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you.
Mrs. Augustine, the last question goes to you.
Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I also want to add my
compliments to the gentlemen for going into what was a
risky situation at the time and still is.
I want to ask two very brief questions. One has to
do with what we hear in the media around the fact that
there are very few men who have joined families. Did
you see lots of family units, that is, father, mother,
and their children? Did you see lots of disabled
people? Were they able to make it across? Were there
people who might be on medication and other things that
might present a difficulty in a camp situation?
My second question has to do with groups such as CARE,
World Vision, Doctors Without Borders,
and all of those groups my constituents and others
would be giving financial donations to in terms of
whether those moneys are reaching people there. Did
you see any of those groups on the ground while you
Mr. Bill Graham: We did see quite a few Canadian
NGOs. Actually, we didn't see World Vision. One of the
problems is that different ones are located in
different camps. As was pointed out, we went to
Stenkovac, and Blace, I think, was
another, so our chances of seeing a lot of Canadian
NGOs were limited. But we did have an opportunity
to talk to various Canadian NGOs at dinner one
They are very active, and the money is getting
through. I don't think there's any doubt about that.
That is good.
On your first question, Jean, I think there's a
lot of evidence of the lack of family units, but we
did see young people and young men in the camps. I
spoke to one young man, who must have been around 20 or
so, and he said he had a brother in Toronto. So I got
quite excited. I introduced him to the immigration
officer and said, look, he qualifies for the program.
It turned out that it wasn't really his brother.
It was his uncle's cousin or something. Anyway, it
was kind of an exciting moment. So there were some
young people we met.
Mr. Bob Mills: If I can just butt in here, I think
the sad part, Jean, is that when the men come across the
border and ask where their family is, the answer is
they might be here; they might be in Albania; they
might be in any one of seven camps; or they might be in
Canada, Australia, or Germany. That must have just a
terrific impact on you. You've been in prison for a
couple of months and now you're out, and no one
knows where your family is. It's being worked on, but
today they don't know where their family is.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): This will be
the last comment.
Mr. Bill Graham: A very interesting sort of modern
technology thing that was rather fun to see in one of
the camps was a thing called Telephones Without
Borders. An organization actually was making
mobile phones available to people for a few minutes.
They would maybe phone a cousin in Finland,
Toronto, or Switzerland, and they'd say, we learned
that your family is in another camp down the road, or,
we've heard this. It was an extraordinary way
of making use of global communications to solve this
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): We'll have a final comment
from Monsieur Laurin.
Mr. René Laurin: I observed a number of people waiting in
line at a medical clinic run by Doctors Without Borders. Women
were waiting with their children, because generally, the children
are the ones in need of medical attention. I was told that people
had to wait no more than 30 minutes for treatment. I
congratulated the clinic workers and told them that people had to
wait longer than that to see a doctor in Canada. Yet, Canadians
don't live in refugees camps.
I would like to commend these international agencies for the
work they are doing in the region. The level of care they are
providing is excellent.
The Co-Chairman (Mr. Pat O'Brien): Thank you very
These briefings are scheduled to reconvene on
Tuesday, June 8, 1999, at 3.15 p.m.
The meeting is adjourned.