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From: The Socialist issue 213, 6 July 2001: Strike Back At School Sell-Offs

Search site for keywords: Macedonia - War - Milosevic - Serbia - Capitalism - Balkans - Working class - Kosova - Yugoslavia

Put All The Warmongers On Trial

THE EXTRADITION of former dictator Slobodan Milosevic from Serbia to face war crimes charges in the Hague, Holland, and the drift toward civil war in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, have once again thrust the region into the headlines. As the following article shows, under capitalism, there can be no peaceful nor just solution to this ongoing Balkans crisis.

LIKE MODERN-day bounty hunters Serbia's rulers have handed over Slobodan Milosevic, NATO's most wanted 'war criminal', for $1.3 billion (900 million) of Western money.

Dave Carr

Yugoslavia's deputy Prime Minister, Miroljub Labus, attending an international donors conference in Brussels, said: "We did it. Now it's your turn."

Not that many Serbs will be shedding a tear for the former dictator whose regime embezzled state funds, politically assassinated opponents, ethnically cleansed Kosovar Albanians, and whose nationalism led to the break-up of former Yugoslavia and to war.

It is these crimes that the working class of Serbia should try Milosevic for in Serbia itself. That would also serve to expose the rotten, corrupt officials, businessmen and armed forces chiefs who collaborated with Milosevic.

Although the nationalist Yugoslav federal president, Kostunica, opposed the extradition (and was excluded from the cabinet meeting which met to discuss Milosevic's fate), the pro-Western Serbian prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, had no such qualms in booking Milosevic's one-way flight aboard an RAF plane.

Ironically, Djindjic used powers inherited from Milosevic to over-ride an earlier decision of the Yugoslavian Constitutional Court (still stuffed with Milosevic-appointed judges) to suspend the extradition process.

It seems that Milosevic's departure had been carefully prepared. Was it an accident that the interior ministry discovered the bodies of ethnic Albanians, which had laid buried for two years, in a Belgrade suburb just before Milosevic's extradition?

However, the whisking away of Milosevic has triggered a collapse of Kostunica's fragile Yugoslav Federal government (made up of the coalition of anti-Milosevic parties of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia 'reformers' and the pro-Milosevic Socialist Nationalist Party) and has pitched Djindjic into a power struggle with Kostunica.

Djindjic wants to speed up market economy 'reforms' and the process of integration with the European Union.

New federal elections could result in Montenegrin nationalists (who boycotted the last election) winning a majority of seats in the junior republic and attempting to split away from the rump Yugoslav federation. This in turn could provoke a military response from the large Serbian population in Montenegro leading to civil war with all the consequences for the region as a whole.


DJINDJIC DESPERATELY needs Western cash. The economy is bankrupt, with a huge foreign debt of $12.2 billion. Industry is only operating at 50% of capacity and inflation has increased to 80%.

But $1.3 billion represents a drop in the ocean compared to the estimated $29.4 billion economic damage from NATO bombing and the Kosova war.

The Serbian government is privatising $150 million of state assets to reduce its foreign debt and to compensate the pre-1945 owners of companies nationalised by Tito's 'Communists'!

The first to go will be the Boecin cement factory to French construction group Lafarge. Other tantalising morsels for foreign capitalists will be the arms manufacturer Zastava (makers of the Yugo car) and JAT, the national airline.

Western crimes

THE HYPOCRISY of the Western leaders over Milosevic's war crimes reeks to high heaven.

These are the people, including Tony Blair, who sanctioned the 57 days of air attacks in the 1999 Kosova war which killed hundreds of Serbian civilians and Kosovan Albanian refugees. They also backed the late Croatian nationalist dictator Franjo Tudjman and Bosnia's Alija Izetbegovic whose militias also committed war crimes.

And then of course there's 'Mr Hypocrisy' himself - new Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw (who's having a 'local difficulty' in Macedonia right now - see opposite).

As Home Secretary, Straw prevented the extradition of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from Britain to Spain to face 'crimes against humanity' charges. Instead, he allowed the instigator of Chile's 1973 'Caravan of Death' to return home on health grounds.

Milosevic is threatening to spill the beans at his trial on the secret deals between the West and himself to halt the civil war in Bosnia and which kept him in power. According to The Sunday Telegraph his lawyers will implicate the former foreign secretaries Douglas (now Lord) Hurd, Lord Carrington and Lord Owen.

Tory foreign secretary Douglas Hurd, who went on to become deputy chairman of NatWest Markets, acted to secure a deal with Milosevic to privatise Serbia's telecoms service.

With US money and 'advisers' the Bosnian Moslem army drove out Serbs from Krajina, committing many war crimes. Richard Holbrooke the US diplomat then brokered the Dayton Accord with Milosevic to end the fighting in Bosnia.

During the 1990s French governments also continued behind the scenes negotiations with Milosevic.

Workers in Serbia and the West should demand the publication of all the secret deals and treaties for which the people of the Balkans paid for dearly.

Workers' solution

THE SERBIAN working class demonstrated its potential power to change society in its own interests last October when it overthrew Milosevic after five days of strikes and demonstrations.

To escape the current crisis it once again should apply this power to sweep aside the 'market reformers' of Kostunica and Djindjic. The working class urgently needs to build a mass party armed with a socialist programme.

Such a movement, raising the task of overthrowing capitalism, could sweep aside the profiteers and nationalists and unite the whole of the Balkans working class and rebuild the shattered economies.

A democratic socialist society would provide the material basis to peaceably resolve the outstanding national antagonisms throughout the region.

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