Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 19:37 GMT


UK

Blair: 'The right thing to do'

Mr Blair spoke of the "agonising" wait for service families

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that the reasons for committing British servicemen and women to air strikes against Yugoslavia are "crystal clear".

Kosovo: Special Report
In an address to the nation, the prime minister appealed to the whole country to back the action, saying "barbarity cannot be allowed to defeat justice".

"It's simply the right thing to do," he said.

To fail to intervene would, he said, "show unpardonable weakness and dereliction - that is not the tradition of Britain".


[ image: Tony Blair:
Tony Blair: "We must act for the sake of humanity"
Mr Blair began by laying the blame for the Nato bombing raids against Yugoslav forces squarely at the door of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

He dismissed arguments that it was an illegal attack on a sovereign nation, saying that Mr Milosevic had "scrapped Kosovo's autonomy" when "90% of the people are not Serbs".

He said Nato had been forced to step in to protect the Kosovo Albanians - "our fellow human beings" - who "now have no rights, no justice, no protection".

'Spiralling' conflict

He quoted figures of 250,000 homeless and 2,000 killed "since last spring".


Tony Blair: "This is simply the right thing to do"
"If we do nothing, Milosevic will feel free to do what he likes with the civilian population. They will be ground under his heel," he said.

And Mr Blair raised the spectre of a "spiralling" conflict with "hundreds of thousands of refugees" that would not stop at the borders of Kosovo if Nato failed to stop him "killing innocent people and driving them from their homes".

He pointed out that World War I had started in the Balkans, in Sarajevo, and that "we only just averted war again" during the Bosnian conflict five years ago.

'Kosovo is part of Europe'

The prime minister's address was a point-by-point rehearsal of the arguments used by Nato leaders since the decision was taken to use force to make Mr Milosevic stop the Serb forces' brutal "counter-insurgency" operation in Kosovo.

But in a subtle departure he spoke of Kosovo as "part of Europe ... a short sea journey from Italy. A short drive from Greece."

"We must act for the sake of humanity and the future safety of our region and the world," he said.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

26 Mar 99|Europe
Yugoslav fighters shot down

26 Mar 99|UK
Blair's TV address - Full text

25 Mar 99|UK
History in the making





Internet Links


UK Ministry of Defence

Royal Navy

Nato

Foreign Office

RAF Harrier GR7

RAF Kosovo news


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online