The Serbian government, led by Slobodan Milosevic, has been thegovernment in the region least willing to co-operate with the work ofthe Tribunal and with the international community throughout theBalkan conflict.

The Rt Hon Douglas Hurd MP was until 1995 the Foreign Secretaryof the British government, and as such he was directly responsible forBritish policy on the Balkan war. Soon after he resigned, Mr Hurd gota job with a private company... His new employer's name? NatWestBank.

Now, guess which British bank is preparing the privatization of theSerbian post and telephone system, PTT -- a contract which will earnthe bank a $10 million profit. Yes, you got it: NatWest Bank!

NatWest Bank, Douglas Hurd's new employers, are now profiting from hisappeasement of Milosevic during the Serbian war of aggression in theBalkans. Please help us call them to account.



If you have an account with NatWest, please consider writing toyour bank manager expressing your concern at Hurd's conduct. Ifpossible, transfer your account to another bank.

Even if you don't have an account with NatWest, please send aletter to the NatWest head office on the lines of the examplebelow. Click here tosend an email to NatWest. If you get a reply, please tell us!


Lord Alexander of Weedon,
Chairman, National Westminster Bank plc,
Head Office,
21, Lothbury,
London EC2P 2BP
United Kingdom.

Dear Lord Alexander,

Douglas Hurd and Pauline Neville-Jones

The individuals above, when they were in the British government,blocked all attempts to oppose the genocidal aggression of theMilosevic regime in Belgrade. The Serbian government is still refusingto comply with the Dayton agreement on arresting war criminals. Ienclose a copy newspaper article which states that these individualsare now negotiating for business from Milosevic for NatWest Bank.

I will not open an account with NatWest Bank, will not do any businesswith NatWest Bank and will try to ensure that all companies andorganisations with which I am involved do likewise, until NatWestpublicly withdraws from all business activity in former Yugoslavia, onthe grounds of these individuals' evident conflict of interest.

Yours sincerely,

[your name]

cc: Rt Hon Douglas R Hurd, Director, National Westminster Bank plc


by Francis Wheen

The Guardian, London, 4 September 1996

When Douglas Hurd took up a job with the National Westminster Banklast year, only three months after retiring as Foreign Secretary, Iwas rather puzzled. Not by the indecent haste with which he scamperedoff into a City boardroom -- that's par for the course these days --but by his apparent lack of qualifications. In his long andundistinguished career he had been a cane-wielding prefect at Eton, asuave Foreign Office mandarin, an even suaver Foreign Office ministerand an author of fair-to-middling political thrillers. But hisexperience of high finance was precisely nil. What, then, could heoffer his new employers that would justify a salary of £250,000?

Now we know. On July 24, in his capacity as deputy chairman ofNatWest Markets, hurd enjoyed a "discreet breakfast" in Belgrade withSlobodan Milosevic, the president of Serbia. NatWest has been hiredto prepare the Serbian post and telephone system, PTT, forprivatisation -- which should earn the bank a fee of more than $10million. For good measure, it has also won a contract to adviseMilosevic9s government on debt management.

"Hurd came to thank Milosevic personally for the business," a sourcein Belgrade told the Sunday Telegraph, "and he did this becauseNatWest wants to scoop up forthcoming privatisations in theelectricity and oil sectors which will be worth millions."Accompanying Hurd on the trip was another newly-recruited NatWestexecutive, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones -- who was, until very recently,political director of the Foreign Office and attended last November'speace talks in Dayton, Ohio, as the senior British representative fromthe so-called Contact Group. Balkan experts remember her from Daytonas a "very tough" negotiator who was continually pushing the Bosniansto accept the de facto partition of their nation.

Now, only a few months later, she turns up in Belgrade as a client ofMilosevic. The Belgrade breakfast was, by all accounts, a convivialaffair -- a gathering of old chums quietly neglecting the past whiletoasting the future, rather like the characters in James Fenton'spoem, A German Requiem: "It is not what they built. It is whatthey knocked down./It is not the houses. It is the spaces between thehouses.../It is not what you have written down./It is what you haveforgotten, what you must forget./What you must go on forgetting allyour life." How comforting it is, Fenton concludes, "to get togetherand forget the old times.../Grief must have its term? Guilt too,then./And it seems there is no limit to the resourcefulness ofrecollection."

Hurd is certainly a resourceful chap. While breaking bread withMilosevic, he probably managed to suppress any recollection of hisvisit to Belgrade two years earlier -- when he claimed to havedelivered a "very frank" ultimatum to the president, warning him of"disastrous consequences" if he failed to persuade the Bosnian Serbsto accept the latest peace plan. No doubt Hurd had also expunged anymemory of his confident prediction, as long ago as January 1993, thatsanctions would soon force Milosevic from power; and I'm sure his hostwas far too polite to mention it.

Besides, the Serbian leader knows better than most that politiciansare not on oath when issuing official statements. For publicconsumption, Britain and its allies had to pretend they were taking ahard line against Milosevic: they could hardly do otherwise, since itwas he who started the war and sponsored the ethnic cleansing. But inprivate, as the American envoy Lawrence Eagleburger has admitted,Western governments understood perfectly well that the Serbianpresident's position would be strengthened, not weakened, bysanctions.

Hurd himself came close to a similar confession in April 1993, when hewrote an extraordinary letter to the Daily Telegraph explainingwhy the arms embargo against Bosnia should not be lifted. Although"at first sight it seems an act of justice", he argued, in practice itwould merely create a "level killing field". The only possibleinference to be drawn was that he preferred an uneven killing field,on which Milosevic provided the Bosnian Serbs with troops and weaponswhile the Bosnian government had to make do with whatever equipment itcould buy on the black market or grab from captured enemy soldiers.Confirming this interpretation, Hurd said that allowing the Bosniansto defend themselves would "only prolong the fighting". Moretellingly still, he adopted the Serb lexicon of cant -- referring tothe Bosnians as "the Muslims" and describing the fighting as a "civilwar".

It was nothing of the kind: the Bosnians were defending theirsovereign state from an invasion masterminded by a genocidal andexpansionist neighbour -- a Balkan version of Saddam Hussein, if youlike. The main difference is that the Butcher of Baghdad can scarcelyblow his nose without incurring the threat of a retaliatory air-strikefrom the Western allies, whereas the Butcher of the Balkans wastreated as a responsible statesman who should be indulged andflattered at every turn.

Still, I expect that even Saddam has his redeming features. When thepresent fuss has died down, perhaps the super-salesman from NatWestmarkets should try touting for business in Baghdad. If so, he oughtto take along someone who knows a thing or two about trading withIraq. The ideal candidate would be the senior civil servant whoprepared John Major's evidence to the Scott inquiry. Her name? DamePauline Neville-Jones.

© The Guardian 1996





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