The criminal dismemberment of Yugoslavia
Capitalist politicians and the mass media portray NATO's latest attacks on Yugoslavia in the same terms used to cloak Western involvement in the earlier assaults on Yugoslavia. They claim that it is some kind of noble response-of-last-resort to yet another outbreak of ethnic massacres and human rights violations. But beneath the stirred up ethnic and religious passions lie real economic, social and political causes of the present conflict. Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and author of The Globalisation of Poverty, wrote in Covert Action Quarterly shortly after the Dayton Accords of 1995 that "multi-ethnic, socialist Yugoslavia was once a regional industrial power and economic success. In the two decades prior to 1980, annual GDP growth averaged 6.1 percent, medical care was free, the literacy rate was of the order of 91 percent, and the life expectancy was 72 years." Yugoslavia, however, figured prominently in US machinations to bring the countries of Eastern Europe back into the global capitalist market economy. Economic pressure As with other small to medium sized economies, the US, through the manipulation of trade, loans and currency speculation, was able to exert pressure on the Yugoslav Government to "reform" their economy. In 1980, Belgrade's "international creditors" (mainly US and European banks) forced the Yugoslav Government to impose the customary cuts in public spending that are identified as "macroeconomic reform" by capitalist economists. In 1982, the Reagan administration issued National Security Decision Directive #54 which advocated "expanded efforts" to promote what it called a "quiet revolution" against the Communists in Eastern Europe. In 1984, two years later the US Government specifically targeted the Yugoslav economy in a document marked "Secret Sensitive" and not made public until 1990, and then only in a heavily censored version. IMF-induced economic crisis The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was used throughout the '80s to force the curtailing of Yugoslavia's industrial production and the gradual dismantling of its social services. Chossudovsky notes that "debt restructuring agreements increased foreign debt, and a mandated currency devaluation also hit hard at Yugoslavs' standard of living. "Industrial production declined to a negative 10 percent growth rate by 1990 — with all its predictable social consequences." In 1989, in the face of mounting political disruption (it was just before the fall of the Berlin Wall), the Yugoslav Government of Ante Markovic was forced by US President George Bush to accept yet another "financial aid package". The terms required Yugoslavia to agree to a new devalued currency, another wage freeze, sharp cuts in government spending, and the elimination of socially-owned, worker-managed companies. Foreign investment had already been "liberalised". In January 1990, the IMF ordered a further wage freeze. "Prices continued to rise unabated, and real wages collapsed by 41 percent in the first six months of 1990." But the US plan required that Yugoslavia be broken up ("Balkanised" into its component parts). The means for this was the IMF's effective control over the country's central bank. The tight fiscal policy imposed by the IMF further robbed the Yugoslav Federal Government of the ability to finance its economic and social programs. Federal Government income that should have been allocated to the republics to finance their state budgets had to be used instead to service the country's Western debt. "The republics", says Chossudovsky, "were largely left to their own devices.... "By cutting the financial arteries between Belgrade and the republics, the reforms fuelled secessionist tendencies that fed on economic factors as well as ethnic divisions and virtually ensured the de facto secession of the republics." "The IMF package unquestionably precipitated the collapse of much of Yugoslavia's well-developed heavy industry.... Some 600,000 Yugoslavs had already lost their jobs by September 1990, and that was only the beginning." Yugoslav President Borisav Jovic warned that the reforms were "having a markedly unfavourable impact on the overall situation in society.... "The further deepening of the economic crisis and the growth of social tensions has had a vital impact on the deterioration of the political- security situation." The macro-economic "reforms" imposed by Belgrade's external creditors since the late 1980s had been carefully synchronised with NATO's military and intelligence operations. Kosovo's fate had already been decided. Through the IMF, the entire Yugoslav economy had been pushed into bankruptcy. Chossudovsky says: "The IMF-induced budgetary crisis created an economic fait accompli that paved the way for Croatia's and Slovenia's formal secession in June 1991." Political consequences In the multi-party elections in 1990, separatist coalitions came to power in Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia. The simultaneous appearance of militias loyal to secessionist leaders hastened the descent into dismemberment. "These militias, with their escalating atrocities, not only split the population along ethnic lines, they also fragmented the workers' movement." Western plans for returning the Balkans to neo-colonial status were well advanced. Germany supported Franjo Tudjman's neo-fascist Democratic Union in the Croatian elections in May 1990. After Tudjman won, Germany's Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher, pressed him to secede and pressured its Western allies to recognise independent Croatia. The former German puppet state of WW2 was to return to the German "sphere of influence". After bloody civil wars financed and armed by the West, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia were separated from the rest of Yugoslavia — Serbia (including its province Kosovo) and Montenegro. Western creditors then divided Yugoslavia's foreign debt among the successor states, strangling them in separate debt rescheduling and structural adjustment agreements. Croatia and Macedonia accepted the IMF's terms for "aid", agreeing to loan packages — to pay off their share of the Yugoslav debt — accompanied by privatisation, de-industrialisation and mass impoverishment. Neo-colonial administration In Bosnia, a neo-colonial administration answerable to Washington, Bonn, and Brussels (EU) — not Sarajevo — was imposed by the Dayton Accords and enforced by 70,000 UN "peacekeeping" troops. Carl Bildt, a former Swedish Prime Minister and European Union representative in the Bosnian peace negotiations was appointed High Representative to head the new administration. He was given full executive powers in all civilian matters with the right to overrule the governments of both Bosnia and Republika Srpska. "The High Representative is the final authority in theater regarding interpretation of the agreements", say the Accords. Bildt initially worked for IFOR's (the 70,000-strong international UN force enforcing the Dayton Accords — now 32,000 troops under NATO Military High Command and the various creditors and donors. The UN Security Council appointed a "Commissioner", working under the High Representative, to run an international civilian police force of some 1,700 police from 15 countries. This administration is chiefly concerned that Bosnia pays its arrears to the IMF and other international banks, without which the IMF will not lend it fresh money. The arrears are paid with further borrowings. Debt piles up, and little new money goes for rebuilding Bosnia's war-torn economy. Western energy companies like Amoco have been preparing to exploit Bosnia's oil and coal resources, which were identified before the hostilities. The NATO troops in Bosnia, who may be used on the ground against Serbia before this article goes to press, have up to now been used to administer the partition of Bosnia in accordance with Western economic interests. The new constitution effectively handed over control of economic policy to the IMF and London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The IMF was given the power to appoint the first governor of the Bosnian Central Bank who, like the High Representative, was not permitted to be a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina or a neighbouring state. The Central Bank is severely restricted in its operations for the first six years — basically forbidden to exercise controls over currency, the issue of money, and other customary practices of a central bank. The EBRD became head of the Commission on Public Corporations, to supervise all public sector corporations, including energy, water, postal services, telecommunications, and transportation. The President of the EBRD appointed the chair of the Commission. The Commission was given responsibility for selling off state and socially- owned assets and procuring long-term investment funds. "As the West trumpets its support for democracy, actual political power rests in the hands of a parallel Bosnian `state' whose executive positions are held by non-citizens", said Michel Chossudovsky. "Western creditors have embedded their interests in a constitution hastily written on their behalf. They have done so without a constitutional assembly, without consultations with Bosnian citizens' organisations and without providing a means of amending this `constitution'. "Their plans to rebuild Bosnia appear more suited to sating creditors than satisfying even the elementary needs of Bosnians." In effect, Yugoslavia lost all of its sovereign rights over Bosnia, but Bosnia did not gain its independence or sovereignty. Instead the Western powers, in the form of the US, the EU, the IMF, the ERBD and NATO, assumed control, acting in the interests of US and German financial institutions and corporations. In the remaining part of Yugoslavia, there was resistance to the IMF/US diktat. Yugoslavia quietly and consistently worked to break the US-imposed economic blockade and to rebuild trade with a number of countries. It is very important to the US transnationals' plans that centres of economic resistance like Yugoslavia should be crushed, which is one reason for the current campaign against "Serbia". Kosovo In Kosovo, the IMF's economic "reforms" were conducive to the concurrent impoverishment of both the Albanian and Serbian populations, contributing to fuelling ethnic tensions. "The deliberate manipulation of market forces destroyed economic activity and people's livelihood creating a situation of social despair ...", says Chossudovsky. The social and economic conditions created the environment for the fostering of ethnic tensions, and the West gave a helping hand training and financing the ethnically based Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). NATO, and the US, British and German Governments in particular, have defended their aggressive and illegal bombing of the sovereign territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on the ground that the Yugoslav Government refused to sign an agreement put forward by NATO powers at Rambouillet in France. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was given the choice: sign as it was presented or be bombed. The US administration and mass media presented the Rambouillet agreement as an even handed "peace plan", which no reasonable government could reject. The outrageous details of the agreement have been carefully buried beneath the stories and pictures of suffering women and children. Rambouillet Agreement — NATO dictatorship The Rambouillet Agreement basically removes all of Yugoslavia's sovereign rights over Kosovo, handing them over to NATO, while pretending to give the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo autonomy. NATO's economic and political agenda bears a remarkable similarity to the treatment already forced on Bosnia. Yugoslav laws would no longer apply in Kosovo. "Kosovo will have a president, prime minister and government, an assembly, its own Supreme Court, constitutional court and other courts and prosecutors", says the agreement. "Kosovo will have the authority to make laws not subject to revision by Serbia or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including levying taxes, instituting programs of economic, scientific, technological, regional and social development, conducting foreign relations within its area of responsibility in the same manner as a Republic." But these laws will be subject to revision by a Civilian Implementation Mission (CIM), "appointed by NATO". This CIM will have overriding powers: "The Chief of the CIM has the authority to issue binding directives to the Parties on all important matters he sees fit, including appointing and removing officials and curtailing institutions." In the military sphere, Yugoslav army forces will withdraw completely from Kosovo, except for a limited border guard force (active only within a 5 kilometers border zone). NATO occupation NATO will be "invited" to deploy a military force (KFOR), which will be authorised to use "necessary force to ensure compliance with the accords". "Three years after the implementation of the Accords, an international meeting will be convened to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo on the basis of the will of the people." There is no promise of a referendum or independence or say by the people of Yugoslavia, but a distinct possibility of annexation by NATO to become part of a Greater Albania under NATO domination. NATO has already used the refugee influx to move into Albania. The Yugoslavian delegation at Rambouillet was prepared to give Kosovo autonomy, but not to hand it over to NATO occupation. Western control Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia Herzegovina have already been torn away from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The present bombing and events that led up to it have the aim of tearing away Kosovo, and may well be extended to "restore democracy" to Montenegro. The bombing of Serbia, the only remaining republic of the Federation, now appears to be aimed at infrastructure — much along the lines of the attacks on Iraq. The destruction of Yugoslavia is part of a much larger process to ensure Western control of the Balkans and to open the way to penetration further eastward of Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Ukraine and even Russia. Albania Albania has also been subjected to some of the same economic treatment as the former republics of Yugoslavia. "... similar macro-economic reforms under IMF auspices were imposed on Albania with devastating economic and social consequences, culminating in the West's military intervention in 1997", writes Michel Chossudovsky. Western-induced neoliberal (economic rationalist) macroeconomic restructuring was used to dismember and destroy Yugoslavia. Yet, western politicians and the mass media dishonestly present cultural, ethnic, and religious divisions as the sole cause of the crisis. In reality, they are the consequence of a much deeper process of economic and political fracturing leading to overall control by the transnational corporations. At stake in the Balkans are the lives of millions of people. "In the name of global capital, borders have been redrawn, legal codes rewritten, industries destroyed, financial and banking systems dismantled, social programs eliminated. No alternative to global capital, be it market socialism or `national' capitalism, will be allowed to exist", said Michel Chossudovsky. "But what happened — and is happening — to Yugoslavia should resonate beyond the Balkans", says Professor Chossudovsky. "Yugoslavia is a mirror for similar economic restructuring programs in not only the developing world but also in the US, Canada and Western Europe."
* * *Alternative sources of information Our press does not tell the truth about the war against Yugoslavia. Call the websites of the people in the front line of the new struggle against war and fascism. http://www.gov.yu/presscvj http://www.beograd.com/NATOnapad.htm http://www.gov.yu/informatics/index.html (appeal) http://www.smip.sv.gov.yu http://www.serbia-info.yu http://www.beocity.com http://www.oaza.co.yu/kosovo http://www.yu