Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1992 - Mr Major’s Statement at Redoubt

Below is the text of Mr Major’s statement at Redoubt on Tuesday 22nd December 1992.


QUESTION:

Can we have your first impressions, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the first impression is the impression you get as you drive up from Split, what used to be a tiny mud road is now becoming a perfectly usable road to deliver humanitarian supplies, that has happened because of our engineers and I think we can be very proud of them.

QUESTION:

How concerned are you about the risks as your troops do more and more to try and stop this war?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am concerned and that is one of the reasons I am here, I wanted to be here to assess the risk for myself, talk to the Commanders in the field, examine what is happening, see the terrain so that I am in a far better position to make judgments than before. So yes of course I am concerned about the risk but the prime concern that I must have is to ensure the safety and security of our troops here.

QUESTION:

Are those risks increased by the enforcement of a No Fly Zone?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will have to make sure when the No Fly Zone is enforced, I think there is going to be a No Fly Zone resolution, the nature of it is clearly important, that is still under discussion, and as that happens we will need to ensure the security of our troops here, that is paramount.

QUESTION:

Do you feel that the imposition of that No Fly Zone will make us combatants rather than be able to continue the humanitarian work here?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we are here to help with the humanitarian work, I think there are wider reasons for the No Fly Zone that we have discussed before and will discuss again. I think increasingly it is becoming evident that it is necessary. What is happening across Bosnia is not acceptable, we have seen it, you see it day to day on television, you read about it, we all know of the atrocities that are being committed and I think it has to be made clear that those are not acceptable. There is a Security Council resolution applying a No Fly Zone. I do not think we can allow that to be flouted hence there is a need to enforce it, but there is more than one way of enforcing it and these are the matters under discussion.

QUESTION:

You have talked about reinforcing them?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not going to discuss matters like that, I wanted to see what was happening on the ground itself.

QUESTION:

But it is an option?

PRIME MINISTER:

Of course it is an option, all things are an option, I am determined to look at the security of our troops, that is the paramount concern.

QUESTION:

The paramount concern is surely to save lives here is it not?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are saving lives with the humanitarian delivery, that of course is what our troops are here for, but we must also make absolutely sure that our troops carrying that out are firstly properly protected and secondly not put in unnecessary danger, they are doing a vitally important job and we must make sure that they are able to do it securely.

QUESTION:

But is there not a lack of clarity over whether we are here primarily to save lives?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, there is no lack of clarity about that, the mandate for the British troops here is a humanitarian mandate, that is what they are here for, they are to help assist in the delivery of humanitarian aid into a number of pockets where it is badly needed, that is their job here at the moment.