29 OCTOBER 1988, Page 30

LETTERS The Yugoslav handover

Sir: As one who has researched for 14 years on Anglo-Yugoslav wartime rela- tions, particularly on the 'Klagenfurt Affair' of May and June 1945, I found interesting three letters on the theme in your issue of 8 October, together with the article of Alistair Home, 'Klagenfurt Calumnies'.

Although Messrs N. Marcetic, M. Alex- ander and A. Home correctly pointed out the sensitivity of the much befogged Yugoslav handover, none of them, includ- ing Brigadier Anthony Cowgill and his colleagues in their Interim Report, have included in their evidence a very vital document: 'The Allied Political Confer- ence' of 20 March 1945, held at AFHQ in Italy. At this conference, it was decided not to hand over to Tito Yugoslav royalists, at the time situated in Venetia Giulia, but to treat them as war prisoners (according to international conventions) and their ultimate disposal to be decided by the governments concerned (Anglo-USA gov- ernments).

This conference — deciding a political issue — must have been held under the authority of the Minister Resident, Harold Macmillan, with his opposite American colleague (W. 0. 204/1523 — XM 8412). For this reason the view of Alistair Horne and the authors of the Interim Report that the Yugoslav question in Austria, in the territory of V Corps, became a military issue is indefensible and does not hold water, as the decision of the Political Conference of 20 March had been passed down the military chain of command, by the Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Allied Commander, Major General Daniel Noce.

I wonder if Mr Michael Alexander apart from witnessing the conference chaired by Hector Macneill at the Foreign Office, assisted by Guy Burgess — is aware of Macneill's misleading the House of Commons (Hansard, pp. 1463-66, 13 May 1946 at question time, on the issue of forced repatriation of Yugoslays from Austria, when he told the House that so far `only one Yugoslav has been handed over [instead of 34 thousands] and he has been proven a collaborator'. One wonders if it was not Guy Burgess who wrote the brief for Minister Hector Macneill?

Stanisa R. Vlahovic 7 Clarence Road, Moseley, Birmingham