The Guardian October 11, 2000


Yugoslavia: Is it a revolution or a coup?

by Mati English

"Yugoslav revolution" was how the media presented the latest events in 
Yugoslavia. Masses of people in the streets of Belgrade were cheered by the 
Western media around the world. The mindless acts of vandalism such as the 
burning of the Parliamentary building, were presented as justified 
outpourings against the Milosevic Government. None of the reporters stopped 
to think and ask a simple question: "When did the US and NATO countries 
change their spots and turn into champions of ordinary people? How come 
that after years of brutal suppression of progressive movements around the 
world they suddenly become champions of `people's power'?" The answer is 
that they have not and they are not.

The name of the game continues to be the total dismantling of Yugoslavia 
and the installation of a system which suits global marketeers.

There have been promises of lifting sanctions against Yugoslavia once the 
Western powers are sure that Milosevic has "no control". It is 
understandable that a lot of people want to see the sanctions that have 
been crippling Yugoslav economy for 10 years lifted. 

There will also be strings attached to the lifting of sanctions and they 
will be there to open the door to the demands of the IMF and the World Bank 
as have been imposed on other countries.

Nonetheless, the most urgent task of the coup plotters is still unresolved.

Yugoslavia has a parliamentary system with two national leaders. Mr 
Kostunica has been confirmed as President of the Republic. The President's 
position is mainly ceremonial and has no real power. There is also a Prime 
Minister chosen by the parliament.

The real question in the Yugoslav elections was always whether the 
opposition could get enough votes to gain a parliamentary majority and they 
did not.

In the elections on September 24, the Socialist Party of Mr Milosevic and 
its allies won an absolute majority of seats in both the upper and lower 
houses of parliament.

Prior to the elections, the Government held only 64 out of 138 seats in the 
lower house. Now they have added eight in the lower house to gain a three-
vote majority: 72 out of 138 seats.

The Milosevic Government parties scored a bigger victory in the Yugoslav 
Senate  the upper house. They won seven out of 20 Senate seats in Serbia 
and 19 of 20 Senate seats in Montenegro. The Opposition won just 10 of 40 
Senate seats. The former government parties are just short of a two thirds 
majority.

It is precisely this result, a majority in both the upper and lower houses, 
that the Western backers of the Yugoslav opposition are determined to undo 
at any cost.

When Mr Kostunica objected to a run-off ballot it was not immediately clear 
why. His first round vote was about 10 per cent higher than that for Mr 
Milosevic and it was quite possible that he could pick up the necessary 
votes to gain an outright majority to be elected President.

A Kostunica win in the second round would, however, have left in place the 
left majority in both houses of parliament which would severely limited his 
ability to dismantle the social sector and turn the country over to NATO, 
the IMF and the WB.

The establishment of a "crisis committee" to govern the country can be seen 
as a first step in overcoming the results of the parliamentary vote.

Kostunica pledged in his swearing-in speech that he would uphold the 
Constitution but will this "democrat" actually do that?

It is not yet clear what role Yugoslavia's parliament will be allowed to 
play by Kostunica and his international financiers.

Will parliament be disbanded or turned into a meaningless and powerless 
body while all the decisions are taken by the "crisis committee"?

Western style "media freedom" has already been installed in Belgrade. The 
Serbian Television station RTS has been destroyed, (the same station that 
had been destroyed by NATO), the Tanjug news agency and the 
publication Politica and all other left media have been seized.

Considering the vast amounts of money being channelled into the coffers of 
the Democratic Opposition Party and the so-called "independent" newspapers, 
it will be extremely difficult for the left to counter-balance the twisted 
tales and lies that are bound to flourish.

The CIA-funded coups in Latin American countries are well known. The dirty 
tricks used by British and US intelligence organisations to overthrow the 
Suharto regime in Indonesia in 1965 have also been revealed.

Irrespective of "people on the streets", the Yugoslav events are nothing 
less than a coup and not a "victory for democracy".

Yugoslavia is about to suffer the fate of other Balkan countries and become 
a colonial possession of the imperialist powers.

The Yugoslav people earned deep respect for their struggle against the 
German occupation during WW2 and during last year's NATO aggression.

They are going through another tough period now and the least we can do is 
to understand what is at stake and demand that people have a right to live 
their lives without outside interference.

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