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Lord Owen, Former EU Chief Negotiator in Yugoslavia
"I think the main charge against him in Kosovo will be upheld"
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Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
No secret Balkan deals - Owen
Lord Owen
Lord Owen: "I made no secret deals"
Former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen has dismissed as "absolute nonsense" claims he made secret deals with Slobodan Milosevic.

There have been reports that the deposed Serbian president may claim that Lord Owen, as well as two other former Foreign Secretaries, Lord Hurd and Lord Carrington, were involved in peace deals designed to keep him in power.

We have had to negotiate to bring about peace and end wars with many very evil people and that has been done throughout history

Lord Owen
But Lord Owen, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, said he was involved in no secret deals and knew of none made by others.

His comments came as Mr Milosevic was making his first appearance before the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague on Tuesday.

Keep negotiating

Lord Owen was the EU's special negotiator in Yugoslavia between 1992 and 1995.

He said he did not think the practice of conducting peace negotiations should stop.

It was put to him that negotiations with Mr Milosevic, at a time when the world knew about earlier massacres, meant the former president might claim he was being given a green light for later action in Kosovo.

Lord Owen replied: "I don't think that would be upheld.

Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic refuses to recognise the War Crimes Tribunal
"After all, we have had to negotiate to bring about peace and end wars with many very evil people - and that has been done throughout history.

"I don't think we should stop."

Lord Owen dismissed suggestions that he had made any secret deals.

"How could I?

"I was representing the European Union - the 12 or 15 member nations would never have accepted it, nor would the United Nations."

Possible hostage deals

The former diplomat said individual governments might have made some deals over hostages taken by Bosnian Serbs.

But he had no concrete proof of such agreements and knew of none during his time in the Balkans.

"I very much doubt that any significant deals were done between governments at all."

Lord Owen said he did not expect to be called as a witness at the trial in the Hague.

In the past, he had given formal evidence to the War Crimes Tribunal because he wanted to preserve the concept of international negotiators who could talk to both sides.

"Under some circumstances, I might consider going, I don't know," he continued.

Lord Owen said it was very important that Mr Milosevic's trial was fair and was seen to be fair by everyone in the Balkans.

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02 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Milosevic will target Britain
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