Archive | December 25th, 2017

VII: The Balkan Wars of 1912‑13 and the Balkan Federation

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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Introduction

B

Y 1912, the Ottoman Empire, for so long the sick man of Europe, had at last taken to his death-

bed. Following the Young Turk Revolution and the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, the empire increasingly fell victim to enemies both at home and abroad. In the Balkans, the Albanian national question burst into flames with mass uprisings against the pan-Ottoman centralism of the Young Turks in successive years from 1909 to 1912. Elsewhere, Arab insurrections and Armenian troubles steadily sapped the empire’s strength. Externally, the threat of imperialist dismemberment grew alarmingly. In September 1911, Italy’s colonial pretensions led it to declare war over Tripolitania and Cyrenaica (modern Libya), which raged on for almost a year, and resulted in the loss of the last of the Ottoman possessions in North Africa.

The Balkan states seized this golden opportunity with both hands. In the course of 1912, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro and Serbia formed a Balkan League directed against Ottoman Turkey. In October, they attacked, and within six weeks the First Balkan War was all but over.[1] The Bulgarians, who bore the brunt of the fighting, swept eastwards through Ottoman Macedonia into Thrace,[2] to within 20 miles of Constantinople (Istanbul), the Ottoman capital. The Serbs took most of what is today Macedonia and Kosovo, and then occupied northern Albania to secure access to the Adriatic Sea. The Greeks, meanwhile, drove northwards and captured the all-important port of Salonika.

The First Balkan War was immensely popular among the peoples of the participating states and their co-nationals within the empire. They regarded it as a war of national liberation which, after centuries of oppression, would finally free the Slav and Greek peoples of Turkey in Europe from the hated Ottoman yoke. By contrast, the Balkan socialists regarded it as a war of conquest, and flatly opposed it.

At the outbreak of war in October 1912, Christian Rakovsky drafted the first item in this section, the ‘Manifesto of the Socialists of Turkey and the Balkans’, setting out their anti-war position. Rakovsky here argues that the war is one of conquest by the Balkan states, whose partition of the peninsula would not only fail to achieve national unity because of its intermixed demography, but might also lead to new wars. Only a Balkan federation could therefore bring genuine unity for all the nations of the region. Instead, the most likely victors of the war would be the imperialist powers, who would pounce on the dismembered corpse of the Ottoman Empire.

Although they also opposed the war, the Serbian social democrats refused to sign the Manifesto, objecting, it appears, to those passages in which Rakovsky outlined an essentially reformist approach to the Ottoman Empire.[3] Advocating cultural autonomy for the nations of the empire plus a series of political and social reforms, Rakovsky argued that only such a programme would ‘give the Muslim worker and peasant masses the minimum of satisfaction which will attach them to the new [constitutional] regime’ brought to power by the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. Despite its evident shortcomings, which he acknowledged, Rakovsky continued to regard this regime as the basis for progress in the region.[4] For the Serbs, however, this approach opened the door to the re-consolidation of Ottoman Turkey as a reformed power in the Balkans. Instead, they envisaged a revolution of the masses against the new regime as the indispensable stepping-stone to the creation of a Balkan federation.[5] In addition, Rakovsky was more supportive of Ottoman territorial integrity than the Serbs could abide. They refrained both from supporting its integrity, rightly sensing that this would compromise genuine revolutionary opposition to the Ottoman ruling class and state, and from advocating its partition by the Balkan bourgeoisies.

The Serbian refusal to sign may also have reflected wider unease within the party regarding opposition to the war. The next piece in this section, entitled ‘Memoirs of the First Balkan War’, is by Triša Kaclerović, one of two socialist deputies in the Skupština, the Serbian Parliament, when war broke out. This extract from his hitherto unpublished memoirs, written during the Tito years, is of particular interest because Kaclerović, together with the leading editor of the party newspaper, Dušan Popović, disagreed with the official stance on the war, arguing for ‘less active opposition’ to it.[6] Popović had written an article entitled ‘Out with the Turks!’ which the party refused to publish, and he eventually resigned his position as editor. Kaclerović, meanwhile, decided not to attend the Skupština vote on war credits, leaving his colleague, Dragiša Lapčević, to record the only vote in opposition.

In his memoirs, Kaclerović explains that, although he and Popović were resolutely opposed to the war, they disagreed with the party’s failure to stress that ‘the first and greatest evil was the Turkish regime, which could at the time have only been destroyed by a war’, as the Balkan peoples were not strong enough to do so themselves by revolutionary means. What this position in fact recognised was the progressive character of the war, which, regardless of the subjective intentions of the Balkan states, was for national liberation and against Ottoman feudalism. Nevertheless, both Kaclerović and Popović stopped short of what their opponents within the party saw correctly as the logical conclusion of their stance — of supporting the war, albeit critically.

Kaclerović and Popović were not alone in wrestling with a position that would have adequately reflected the dual character of the First Balkan War. For example, Trotsky’s Balkan journalism, on the one hand betrays a profound sympathy for the struggle of the Balkan peoples against oppressive empires, but, on the other hand, a refusal to support any war by the Balkan ruling classes against such empires.[7] Lenin’s Bolsheviks, together with the rest of the Second International, also opposed the war.[8] Nevertheless, Lenin was quick to applaud the victories of the Balkan League states, which he described as ‘tremendous’. He wrote:

Although the alliance which has come into being in the Balkans is an alliance of monarchies and not republics, and although this alliance has come about through war and not through revolution, a great step has nevertheless been taken towards doing away with the survivals of medievalism in Eastern Europe.[9]

It is also worth noting that none other than Dimitrije Tucović, who led the Serbian Party in opposition to the war, later confided to his diary in 1914 that in fact the war had been ‘wholly in accordance with historical development’ as its results promised to bring ‘improved relations, peace and progress’ to the Balkans.[10]

The position of the Balkan socialists and others on the First Balkan War reflected two related factors. The first was the essentially pacifist orientation of the Second International, which opposed wars and supported the status quo for fear that any conflict could lead to a general conflagration. In early 1912, Rakovsky declared: ‘We are against all wars, since even wars of liberation are wars of conquest.’[11] The second factor was the belief that the Balkan states could not act independently of imperialism, and that therefore any conflict in the region threatened to embroil the Great Powers in a cataclysmic world war. Rosa Luxemburg later wrote that the Balkan Wars were ‘objectively only a fragment of the general conflict’ between the imperialist powers, a view held by most leading Balkan socialists at the time.[12]

But in fact the First Balkan War caught the imperialist powers by surprise. While Russia had cultivated a Balkan League as an alliance against Austria-Hun­gary, the Balkan states turned their guns on Turkey instead. In a stunning confirmation of the arguments raised by figures such as Luxemburg herself in the debate in 1896-97 on Russia’s rôle in the Balkans,[13] the concerted alliance of the Balkan states enabled them to escape the embrace of the imperialist powers and strike out in an anti-imperialist direction of their own. Indeed, when Bulgaria’s military successes brought them to within striking distance of Constantinople, the much-coveted goal of Russian foreign policy, the Tsar made it clear that he would not countenance the taking of the Ottoman capital.[14] The transformation of the Balkan League from an instrument of Russian policy into an instrument of Balkan policy was, at best, only partially understood by the Balkan socialists who remained steadfastly loyal to the indiscriminately anti-war straitjacket of the Second International.

The decisive break with this position was made by Lenin during the First World War. Writing in 1915, Lenin reflected on what position socialists should have adopted if the world war had not become a general conflagration, but had instead remained an isolated Balkan conflict between the original combatants of 1914, Austria-Hungary and Serbia. He wrote:

It is only in Serbia and among the Serbs that we can find a national liberation movement of long standing, embracing millions, ‘the masses of the people’, a movement of which the present war of Serbia against Austria is a ‘continuation’. If this war were an isolated one, that is, if it were not connected with the general European war, with the selfish and predatory aims of Britain, Russia, etc, it would have been the duty of all socialists to desire the success of the Serbian bourgeoisie — this is the only correct and absolutely inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the national element in the present war.[15]

It is clear that Lenin had come close to this position during the First Balkan War in 1912, but the Bolsheviks had then remained loyal to the overriding anti-war strategy of the Second International. Following the collapse of the International in 1914, such loyalties could at last be discarded.

The Second Balkan War of June and July 1913, which pitted Bulgaria against Greece, Serbia and Romania starkly demonstrated what the Balkan socialists had understood very well — that steps towards unity from above by the Balkan ruling classes were bound to be as short-lived as they were superficial. Ultimately, therefore, a Balkan federation could only be created by workers and peasants from below in revolutionary struggle against their own ruling classes.

This second conflict arose over the vexed question of liberated Macedonia and how it would be divided. At the insistence of Austria-Hungary and Italy, the London Ambassadors Conference of December 1912, at which the Great Powers sought to regain control over events in the Balkans, forced Serbia to withdraw from northern Albania, which it had occupied in order to gain access to the Adriatic Sea. As a result, Serbia looked to compensate itself with Macedonian territory at Bulgaria’s expense, while Greece was at loggerheads with the Bulgarians over the strategically vital Macedonian port of Salonika on the Aegean Sea. These tensions exploded in June 1913 when Bulgaria launched a pre-emp­tive strike against the Serbs and Greeks, only to be comprehensively defeated at the Battle of Bregalnica. Meanwhile, Romania took the opportunity to occupy the much-contested Dobrudja border region of northern Bulgaria, while Turkey launched an offensive against Bulgarian lines near Constantinople, regaining a toehold in Europe.

The next item in this section is on the Second Balkan War, and is taken from Towards a Balkan Federation, the work of the Bulgarian Narrow socialist, Hristo Kabakchiev, which appeared in 1913. This book is arguably the single most important work by a socialist to appear on the Balkan federal idea before the First World War. In the extracts below, Kabakchiev traces the way in which the Balkan League fell apart once its goal of expelling Ottoman Turkey from Europe had been achieved. Launching a fierce attack on the policies of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie, Kabakchiev also astutely analyses the rôle played by the imperialist powers in fomenting divisions amongst the Balkan states in order to reassert control over events. Of particular interest is his analysis of Russia’s rôle. Kabakchiev recognises that, despite all its defects, the Balkan League had become an autonomous anti-Ottoman force over which the Tsar could only reimpose his control by encouraging Balkan rivalries. Bulgaria’s disastrous defeat in the Second Balkan War, which left it with only a small portion of Macedonia, led to a wave of anti-government feeling. In the elections of November 1913, the Narrow Socialists won 18 seats, while the Broads, who also opposed the war, won 17, marking the breakthrough of socialism into Bulgarian political life.[16]

The final item in this section is an extract from one of the classic works of Serbian Marxism on the national question, Serbia and Albania, by Dimitrije Tucović, published in 1914. In this extract, Tucović provides a powerful critique of the expansionist plans of the Serbian bourgeoisie which, by its brutal occupation of northern Albania in the drive to gain an outlet to the Adriatic Sea, had incurred the wrath of the Albanian population. As a result, the Albanians were driven into the arms of two imperialist powers, Austria-Hungary and Italy, who demanded the creation of an independent Albanian state as a block to Serbia’s access to the sea. Although prepared to defend Albanian independence, Tucović does not however favour the creation of another petty statelet in the peninsula which would cut the Albanians off from sharing in the economic and political advantages of a wider regional union. As a result, they would fall prey to imperialist subjugation, as Austro-Hungarian and Italian intervention for an Albanian state was demonstrating. For Tucović the Albanians can only gain lasting national liberation and unity as an autonomous unit within a Balkan federation.17

Tucović’s central argument, however, is that the enmities between the Balkan peoples, brought about by the competing expansionist goals of the Balkan ruling classes, had had the disastrous consequence of entrenching imperialist control over the Balkans. This has a strong contemporary relevance. The oppression of the Kosovan Albanians by the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević drove them into the arms of the United States, which exploited their plight to bomb Serbia in 1999 and entrench its power in the Balkans as part of Nato’s US-sponsored expansionist drive eastwards into the vacuum created by the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

Tucović’s critique of Serbian nationalism is therefore, simultaneously and inseparably, a powerful anti-imperialist critique. It is extraordinary that in a recent book on the Kosovo question by Stephen Schwartz, with a preface by Christopher Hitchens,[17] Tucović’s attack on the Serbian bourgeoisie’s oppression of the Albanians is misappropriated to provide a ‘socialist’ cover for the bombing of Serbia by US imperialism in 1999. Concentrating exclusively on his critique of Serbian nationalism, Schwartz and Hitchens utterly fail to give expression to the uncompromisingly anti-imperialist tenor of Tucović’s politics. This distortion and truncation of his thought demand that we put the record straight. The extract from Serbia and Albania below demonstrates with irresistible clarity that for Tucović the struggle against nationalism in pursuit of the ideal of a Balkan federation was in practice an integral part of the struggle against imperialism.

Dragan Plavšić

Christian Rakovsky

Manifesto of the Socialists of Turkey and the Balkans [18]

T

O the working people of the Balkans and Asia Minor! — To the workers’ International! — To public opinion!

War is at our door. When these lines appear, it will in all probability be an accomplished fact.

But we, the socialists of the Balkan countries and the Near East, who are more directly affected by the war, will not allow ourselves to be swept away by the chauvinist wave. We raise our voices still more loudly against the war, and we call upon the masses of workers and peasants together with all sincere democrats to unite with us in opposing to the policy of bloody violence, which brings in its train the most disastrous consequences, our conception of international solidarity.

The proletariat of the Balkans has nothing to gain from this adventure, because both the vanquished and the victors will see militarism, bureaucracy, political reaction and financial speculation, with their usual following of heavy taxes and price rises, of exploitation and profound misery, rise ever stronger and more arrogant still on piles of corpses and ruins.

Moreover, for the Balkan countries, the war will have other consequences resulting from their political and geographical situation.

In the event that they emerge victorious from the conflict, and the Ottoman Empire becomes the object of partition, the lion’s share, that is the richest regions economically and the most important points strategically, will become prey to the great capitalist powers, who have been detaching territories in the East limb by limb.

Austria at Salonika, Russia on the Bosphorus and in Eastern Anatolia, Germany occupying the rest of Anatolia, and Italy southern Albania — this will probably be the map of the East after the eventual downfall of the Ottoman Empire.

Thus, on the day they fall into the clutches of the Powers, the independence of the Balkan states will be at an end. The political and public liberty of the people will be destroyed by militarism and monarchical autocracy, which, fortified by their victory over the Turks, will demand new credits for their armies as well as new privileges for their sovereigns. And after these hard trials, the national struggles between the peoples will not be over. They will become even more bitter, each one aspiring to hegemony.

A victorious Turkey will result in the recrudescence of religious fanaticism and Muslim chauvinism — the triumph of political reaction — the loss of the few improvements obtained at the price of so many sacrifices in the internal government of the country. Moreover, it will bring about the triumph of Austrian and Russian imperialisms, who will pose as saviours of the defeated Balkan powers, in order to extend their self-interested protectorate over the devastated peoples.

In order to justify the war, the nationalists of the Balkan states invoke the necessity of realising their national unity, or at least of obtaining political autonomy for their nationals under Turkish domination.

It is not the socialist parties who oppose the realisation of the political unity of the elements of each nation.

The right of nationalities to an autonomous life is the direct consequence of political and social equality and of the suppression of all class, caste, racial or religious privileges, demanded by the Workers’ International. But will this unity be realised by partitioning the populations and territories of Turkey amongst the small Balkan states?

Will the Turks, now under Bulgarian, Serb or Greek domination, have their national unity? Will the Serbs of Novi Pazar and of Old Serbia,[19] the Bulgarians, the Greeks, the Albanians of Macedonia, whom partition would eventually place under the yoke of Austria or Italy, the Armenians and the Kurds of Eastern Anatolia, the Turks, the Greeks and the Bulgarians of the vilayet[20] of Adrianople, who might become Russia’s prey, realise their national unity?

The bourgeoisie and nationalism are powerless to establish true and lasting national unity. What will be created by one war may be destroyed by another war.

National unity, founded on the subjugation of the national elements of other races, bears within it an original sin, which threatens it constantly. Nationalism only changes the names of masters and the degree of oppression, but it does not abolish them. Only political democracy with real equality for every element, regardless of race, religion or class, can create real national unity.

The nationalist argument is, in reality, only a pretext for the Balkan governments.

The real motive of their policy is nothing but the tendency towards economic and territorial expansion, which characterises all countries that undertake capitalist production. Turkey’s neighbours seek from it the same advantages as the Great Powers, who are hidden behind the small states: they want markets for their goods, for the investment of their capital and for the employment of the bureaucratic personnel who are surplus to requirements in the offices of the metropolis.

But if we point out the weighty responsibility of the Balkan states for the coming war, as well as in the past when they obstructed the internal transformation of Turkey, and if we accuse European diplomacy, which has never wanted to see serious reforms in Turkey, of duplicity, we do not in any way wish to diminish the responsibility of the Turkish governments themselves. We denounce them too to the civilised world, to the people of the empire and particularly to the Muslim masses without whose help they would not have been able to maintain their domination.

We reproach the Turkish regime for the complete absence of real liberty and equality for the nationalities — an absolute lack of security and guarantee for life, or for the rights and possessions of the citizen — the non-existence of justice and a well-organised and impartial administration. It has maintained a system of the most heavy and most vexing taxes. It has turned a deaf ear to all the demands for reform for Muslim and non-Muslim workers and peasants. It has supported armed feudal lords and nomadic tribes against defenceless farmers.

By their proverbial inertia, the Turkish governments have done nothing but provoke and sustain misery, ignorance, emigration and brigandage, and numerous massacres in Anatolia and Rumelia, in a word, anarchy which serves today as the pretext for intervention and war.

The hope that the new regime would put an end to the past by inaugurating a new policy has been dashed. Successive Young Turk governments have not only continued the errors of the past; they have used the authority and the prestige of a false parliamentarism granted to Turkey so that a system of denationalisation and oppression, and of excessive bureaucratic centralism could be implemented, which would smother the rights of nationalities and the demands of the labouring masses.

The men of the new regime have also surpassed the old one in certain respects, which had raised systematic assassination of its political adversaries to the heights of a system of government.

But we acknowledge that the people — and only the people — have the right to dispose of their lives. To the war which with all our power we repudiate as the way to solve political and social problems, we oppose the action of the conscious and organised masses.

To the bloody ideal of the nationalists, who would dispose of the lives of their peoples by war and haggle with their rights and their territories, we respond by affirming the imperative necessity, already proclaimed by the Inter-Balkan Socialist Conference of Belgrade in 1909, of closely uniting all the peoples of the Balkans and the Near East without distinction of race or religion.

Without such a federation of the peoples of Eastern Europe, national unity will be neither possible nor lasting for them. There will be no rapid economic and social progress, because their development will be continually threatened by the perpetual return of internal reaction and foreign domination.

As regards the Ottoman Empire in particular, we consider that only radical reform of its internal relations can re-establish peace and normal conditions of life, ward off foreign intervention and the danger of war, and at last render a democratic Balkan federation possible.

It is not by endeavouring to revive projects half a century old, inherited from a short-sighted bureaucracy, that the Turkish regime will be able to solve the problem of nationalities, it is by granting true equality, by granting complete autonomy to the nationalities for their cultural institutions — schools, churches, etc — and by establishing local government (self-government) in districts, cantons and communes, with proportional representation for ethnic groups and for parties, with equality for languages.

Only an administration in which the various ethnic groups of the empire are represented will provide the necessary guarantee of impartiality.

Only agrarian reform, tax reform, social legislation and guarantees for rights of association and assembly will give the Muslim worker and peasant masses the minimum of satisfaction which will attach them to the new regime.

These reforms may annoy the Turkish bureaucracy, that is to say those few thousand individuals attached to their privileges. But they will to the highest degree benefit the Turkish people, whom the present regime reduces to the exclusive rôle of soldier and policeman, rushing to every frontier and every province in order to combat the calamities heaped on this country by Turkish incapacity and oligarchy.

The solution of the great problems that trouble the populations of the Ottoman Empire will guarantee the national security of the Muslims, and will enable them peacefully to turn their attentions to their economic, political and social development.

This is the programme for whose realisation we appeal, not only for the co-operation of the proletariat of the Balkans, but also to that of international socialism.

We, the socialists of the Balkans and the Near East, have a profound consciousness of the double rôle we have to play with regard to the proletariat of the world and to ourselves.

Stemming the belligerent tide unleashed by governments and the chauvinist press, struggling against sentiments implanted and nourished by a warped education predisposed to favour the struggle between nationalities and class domination, we will not fail to fulfil our duty of international solidarity. In fact, we are simply outposts, because the war in the Balkans brings the general peace into imminent danger. By rousing all the capitalist appetites of the great states, and by giving preponderance in political life to imperialist elements, greedy for conquest, it may not only provoke war between nations, but also civil war. And, as the capitalist governments of several countries have been driven into their last strongholds by the successive victories of the proletariat, they will not fail to take the opportunity offered them to drown the masses in blood, or by restrictive legislation to stifle our movement for emancipation, civilisation and human progress.

For weeks and months, we have led a campaign against war. But it is particularly at this moment that we protest the most loudly. We express our firm intention to uphold with all our power the struggle of the world proletariat against the war, against militarism, against capitalist exploitation, and for liberty, for equality, for the emancipation of classes and nationalities, in a word, for peace.

Down with war! Long live the international solidarity of the people!

 

The Socialists of Turkey and the Balkans

Triša Kaclerović

Memoirs of the First Balkan War [21]

H

ERE I want to stress that although this war against Turkey was popular among all Serbs, nevertheless the party took a decisive stand against the war. The entire party leadership of the time agreed with the party’s declaration given to the Skupština. But there were disagreements on one matter which, although not on a point of principle, provoked a rather sharper conflict in the thinking of the party leadership at the time. Later, at the first subsequent party congress, which could not be held until 30 January 1914 and which was also the last party congress, this conflict caused quite an uproar among some delegates, albeit an unnecessary one.

This is what it was all about. When we adopted the text of the Skupština declaration, the party Secretary, Dušan Popović, and I were of the view that the declaration should be made complete by adding a Marxist analysis of the specific historical character of the war. Since it was already stated in our declaration, entirely correctly, that ‘Turkey is a misfortune for all the peoples of the Balkans’, that ‘the feudal system and the caste regime are an evil’ for the Balkans, that we are opponents of the status quo, and that we are not for the maintenance of the feudal and caste empire of the Turks — then we ought also to have said that the Turkish regime, on the one hand, and the status quo policy conducted by the imperialist powers, on the other, had created such an unbearable economic, political and national state of affairs in the Balkans, that it was bound to lead to war and had to be brought to an end by it, in order to create the conditions for modern economic, political and cultural life, for the development of the Balkan peoples as a whole, and for the class struggle of the proletariat. But despite the positive, historical rôle of the war for the Balkans, we social democrats cannot vote for this war for the following reasons.

Wars in the Balkans might provoke a European war and threaten world peace for whose maintenance the international proletariat fights. And this, the maintenance of world peace, above all else takes first place, for the Serbian Social Democratic Party as well.

The agreement on the military league was reached without asking the people, secretly behind their backs and the Skupština.

This agreement envisaged the division of the Balkan territories of Turkey between the Allies, and this will cause military conflicts between them, which will be even more fatal for their future relations.

This division of territory was carried out without the knowledge and the assent of the peoples who live on that territory, and this is against the principle of national self-determination.

We two, Dušan and I, thought that by stating the fact of the historical rôle of the war, the party would not in any way have weakened its principled stand against it, because all the good reasons for being against war were on the party’s side; but that in this way the party’s declaration would have represented a sound Marxist work. But the majority of the party leadership rejected this demand. Dušan Popović had prepared an article for Radničke Novine setting out our thoughts, in which he characterised the war against Turkey as a wholesale revolution of a kind for the Balkans. But not even this article was published. Popović was angry about this — and when, before our vote against extraordinary war credits, we were to give out a statement, and when we again tried in a proper way to insert into our parliamentary speech our earlier thoughts, again without success, then a quarrel, a sharp exchange of words, almost broke out. In anger, Dušan Popović told one of the paper’s contributors, Nikola Bogdanović:[22] ‘Here, take the paper and edit it as you see fit.’ But this was only momentary. This competition in ‘leftism’ also got on my nerves, so I did not attend the sitting of the Skupština at which the vote on war credits was taken! I was then of the opinion, which I hold to this day, that our declaration, by adopting our proposal, would have been a good, complete Marxist document, which would not in any way have weakened our standpoint on the situation in the Balkans as it then was in relation to our principled stand for a federation of the Balkan peoples. War is an evil, and the armed conflict between the Balkan states which we foresaw and which then broke out, is an even greater evil. But in those circumstances in the Balkans, the first and greatest evil was the Turkish regime, which could at the time have only been destroyed by a war, even one carried out in the way it was, because the Balkan peoples were not ready or strong enough then to carry out this task directly themselves, nor was the proletariat, which ought to have been at the head of this great movement.

Hristo Kabakchiev

From Victory to Defeat

The Second Balkan War [23]

T

HE Balkan League, founded in order to destroy Turkey and conquer its European provinces, quickly began to collapse after the accomplishment of its aims. It was not even able to survive past the first decisive victories over Turkey, and serious disagreements already broke out between Greece and Bulgaria during the capture of Salonika. The disagreements soon passed over into open conflicts once Bulgaria attempted to establish its administrative authorities and garrisons in those Macedonian towns and provinces that the Bulgarian government considered belonged to Bulgaria according to the agreements concluded between the allies, but which had been seized by the Serbs and the Greeks.

Already in its address to the Basel Congress of the International of November 1912,[24] Bulgarian Social Democracy had declared that the military-dynastic alliance of the Balkan states would collapse as soon as it had accomplished its immediate task, the overthrow of Turkey, and that this alliance could bring neither national unification nor independence to the Balkan peoples.

Of course, the ruling classes and dynasties of the Balkans dressed up their plans for conquest and aspirations to hegemony in the mantle of ‘national ideals’. The Bulgarian bourgeoisie has first place in this respect. The Bulgarian ministers, diplomats, writers and journalists repeated daily that Bulgaria was warring with Turkey in order to achieve the national unification of the Bulgarian people, and if it demanded the annexation of Macedonia and Salonika, this was only in order to realise and complete the unification of the nation.

Macedonia consists of three former Turkish vilayets, Salonika, Bitola and Skopje. Turkey does not possess official population statistics, and so there is no official data as to the numerical relations between the nationalities in these three vilayets. But according to the (comparatively) most trustworthy data that exists, the total population of the these vilayets numbered three million before the war, of which, according to head of the Bulgarian state statistical service, Kiril Popov, the Bulgarians numbered 1.1 million in 1895 and 870 000 in 1909. In 1912, according to the same source, this figure was even smaller.

Even if we take the latter figure as reliable, the Bulgarians constitute only 29 per cent of the total population of Macedonia. After them in size come the Albanians with around 640 000 or 21 per cent, the Turks with 550 000 or 18 per cent, the Greeks with 240 000 or eight per cent and the Serbs with 210 000 or seven per cent. It can be seen from these data that the Bulgarians are more numerous than the other nations inhabiting the Macedonian vilayets taken separately, but in relation to the total population they make up even less than a third. From the same facts, it can be seen that none of the nations in Macedonia constitutes an absolute majority. Also, the population in Macedonia is so mixed that cities and areas where one nationality predominates are rare. The Bulgarians predominate in some cities and areas of western and central Macedonia, the Greeks in southern Macedonia, and the Serbs in northern Macedonia.

Thus it is clear that the annexation of Macedonia to Bulgaria would signify forcing into its borders a population two-thirds of which consists of foreign national elements, and only a third Bulgarian and not even a full third at that. Such is the national unification to which the Bulgarian bourgeoisie aspires. Together with the unification of the Bulgarian people, this would bring the separation of hundreds of thousands of Greeks, Turks, Albanians and Serbs from their own national entities, and their subjugation to a new national slavery, that of Bulgaria. But national unification is even less the determining factor, or the central goal of Serbian policy. Serbia has conquered western and central Macedonia for itself, where the Serbian population in no instance surpasses 10 per cent of the total population. It is not national, but capitalist interests and dynastic motives that drove Serbia into the new war. Remaining deceived in its hopes of conquering northern Albania and of coming out onto the Adriatic, Serbia wanted compensation in the form of the Macedonian lands it was occupying, and, by means of being next door to a weaker state like Greece, to dispose of the harbour of Salonika on the Aegean.

If Serbia was following a really national policy, its gaze should have been turned to the north, to the South Slav provinces of Austria-Hungary, where the greater part of the Serbian people lives, and in this case Serbia should not have warred with its Balkan neighbours over the conquest of regions made up of other nations, but should have maintained the closest friendship with them in order to be able to achieve its national unification with their support.

And Greece, in order to keep hold of Salonika, aspired to conquer and in this way win a large part of its environs which, however, were principally made up of Bulgarian villages. On the other hand, Greece aspired to part of southern Albania, which was mainly inhabited by Albanians. Thus, like the other Balkan states, Greece also strove above all for the economic, strategic and political ‘consolidation’ of its territory. National unification played only a secondary rôle in the policy of the Balkan states, as a means of achieving their main expansionist aims, and as an ideological disguise for their policy of conquest.

However, the Balkan states were driven to such a policy, which for the sake of the goal of conquest and the striving for hegemony over the Balkans lost sight of national unification, not only by the capitalist interests and aspirations of their ruling classes and dynasties, but also by the big European states encircling them.

Thus, Austria-Hungary already in its secret convention with King Milan[25] of 1882 promised to give Macedonia to Serbia in exchange for an obligation on the part of the latter to renounce all pretensions to Bosnia and Herzegovina. From then on up to this very day, the Habsburg Monarchy has not ceased to direct the gaze of Serbia to the south, to Macedonia, in order to deflect it from its natural aspirations to national unification with the numerous Serbian nation groaning under the Austro-Hungarian yoke. In the recent Balkan crisis, Austria-Hungary continued with the same policy, and is one of the instigators pushing the former Balkan allies to war.

Similarly, the Bulgarians were pushed towards war against their allies by the great capitalist powers. Ever since Russia recognised Ferdinand’s dynasty,[26] Bulgaria has always vacillated between Austria-Hungary and Russia, without being able to exploit their antagonism in the Balkans for an independent national policy. On the contrary, in order to attain the goals of its nationalist, expansionist and dynastic policy, Bulgaria has itself sought now the support of Austria-Hungary, now that of Russia, against its neighbours, and has in this way by its own doing more and more increased its dependence on these two powers. After the overthrow of Turkey with the help of Serbia, Greece and Montenegro, Bulgaria, again with foreign support, that of Russia, sought to grab the lion’s share of the legacy of European Turkey, to destroy the combined pressure of its former allies and to secure hegemony over the Balkans.

But here the entire, fatal short-sightedness of the nationalist and dynastic policy of Bulgaria came to the fore. Bulgaria was faced with two paths; along the first it could come directly to an agreement with its allies, consolidate its alliance with them on broad economic and political foundations, using the authority and influence that it had won in the first war, and inaugurate an independent national policy by wresting itself free of the guardianship of the Great Powers; the second path was that of recklessly following the lust for conquest of the bourgeoisie and monarchism and the ‘advice’ of the big capitalist states, a path that would inevitably lead Bulgaria into catastrophe. Bulgaria chose the second path!

H             H             H

In reality, the defeat of Bulgaria stands in a tight causal relationship with its victory. The victory of Bulgaria is due to the Balkan League, without which it would have been incapable of destroying Turkey, not only because its own forces were insufficient for such a task, but also because without a Balkan alliance Bulgaria in a war with Turkey would have been threatened with attack by the other Balkan states. However, the defeat of Bulgaria is also due to the Balkan League, which was established solely for the overthrow of Turkey, and Bulgaria, occupying the central rôle in this military-dynastic alliance, did nothing to consolidate it and tie it to an economic-political union, a union within whose framework the national antagonisms between the Balkan peoples could be pacified, antagonisms that had inevitably to break out after the victory over Turkey.

The Balkan allies, led by Bulgaria, destroyed Turkey with a few well-aimed blows. The young Balkan states destroyed the status quo in the Balkans, over which European diplomacy had stood guard with such zeal for decades. While the Great Powers held a disintegrating Turkey together because they could not agree over the division of its legacy, the Balkan states expelled Turkey by force of arms from its European vilayets, even up to the walls of Constantinople, and established a new situation in the Balkans.

The Great Powers were forced to reconcile themselves with this situation, firstly because it did not contradict the interests of a majority of them, and secondly because yet again they could not agree on changing it. As always in capitalist society, great contradictions are resolved by force, and this is also the case with those tied to the existence of European Turkey.

After their victory over Turkey, the Balkan states were placed in a very favourable international situation. The great capitalist powers could not decide whether to deprive the Balkan states forcibly of the gains they had made, firstly as an agreement was lacking between them regarding this, and secondly, because any state that tried to do so would run up against the outrage and indignation of the peoples of Europe. If in spite of this advantageous external situation, the Balkan League could not be turned into a healthy bulwark against the plans for conquest of European capitalism and imperialism, this is due to its internal weaknesses, for which the Balkan peoples have to thank above all their ruling classes and dynasties. But the greatest responsibility for the collapse of the Balkan League and for the second war, a new calamity visited on the Balkan peoples, belongs to the Bulgarian bourgeoisie and Bulgarian monarchism.

The great capitalist states left the Balkan allies to overthrow Turkey, but they exploited the first sign of weakness and internal discord of the allies in order to impose their will with regard to the final liquidation of the Turkish legacy in Europe.

Russia, under whose supreme patronage the Balkan League had been established, was never happy with the march to war against Turkey. As is already known today and as P Milyukov[27] confirmed in the Russian Duma (and there was no official denial in response), Russia counted on a Turkish victory and prepared itself once more to enter into the rôle of the ‘saviour’ and ‘liberator’ of the Bulgarian people. In general, the European governments considered the campaign of the Balkan states to be an adventure that was condemned to failure, and that would give them the pretext for even more unscrupulous interference in the life of the Balkan peoples.

Taken aback by the rapid, thunderous victories of the Balkan League, and made especially uneasy by the expansion and strengthening of Bulgaria, Russia began to offer its ‘advice’ and ‘suggestions’ before the Bulgarian army had even reached the Çatalca line.[28] Russia could not tolerate the entry of the Bulgarian Emperor into Constantinople, the centuries-old dream of the Russian Tsars. After the Bulgarian army was stopped before the Çatalca fortifications and peace talks started with Turkey, Russia already set in motion all the means at its disposal once more to turn the Balkan League — which, encouraged and strengthened by its victories, could have turned against Russia itself — into its obedient tool. In order to attain this goal, Russia directed all of its efforts to scupper the creation of a large, powerful ‘Greater Bulgaria’ by expanding and strengthening Serbia at its expense.

In realising this goal, Russia diplomacy found its best mouthpieces and helpers in the person of the bourgeois parties in Bulgaria, and especially the governing Russophile-conservative coalition. In order to remove even the smallest possibility of any kind of independent activity whatsoever on the part of Bulgaria, the Russian government placed at the head of Bulgarian ‘diplomacy’ Dr Stojan Danev,[29] an old, experienced Russian tool, whose entire ‘abilities’ in the field of diplomacy were exhausted by — obeying and fulfilling unquestioningly the orders of Russia.

Having completely taken the talks being conducted by Bulgaria into its hands as well as Bulgaria’s entire foreign policy, Russian diplomacy began to intrigue and scheme with zeal. First of all, it strove to string out the peace talks to gain more time. Then it encouraged the pretensions of Romania in order to make Bulgaria more compliant. And all the time it was pushing Turkey to hold on to as much territory as possible in Thrace in order to distance Bulgaria from Constantinople and preserve the latter for the Russian Tsars.

When Bulgaria stormed Adrianople and transferred its artillery to Çatalca, the Russian government suggested to Bulgaria that it desist from forcing the Çatalca fortifications, in exchange for which Russia promised to force Serbia to concede the whole ‘uncontested zone’ in Macedonia.[30] Two months later the Russian government informed Bulgaria of its desire to exercise ‘its broadest rights to arbitrate over all Serbian-Bulgarian disagreements’, that is, to fulfil the greater part of the Serbian demands. When Bulgaria sought to keep Rodosto,[31] the Russian government categorically opposed this, while promising Bulgaria more land in Macedonia and more ports on the Aegean. But at the same time, the Russian government whispered to Serbia that it should be intransigent, and gave it time to consolidate itself and prepare to oppose Bulgaria. When Turkey was already prepared to yield and conclude peace, the Russian government encouraged Romania to come out with its pretensions to compensation, and in this way encouraged Turkey to haggle. At this time, the Russian government sent Danev to Bucharest to ask what the wishes of the Romanian rulers were, and later compelled him to sign a protocol in London that predetermined the surrender of Silistra, and finally organised the Petersburg Conference which gave Silistra to Romania.[32] In this way, Russia managed to strike a blow at Bulgaria, encourage Turkish intransigence, and turn Romania towards its policy in the Balkans.

All this was accomplished with the submission and close collaboration of the Bulgarian rulers. The latter welcomed the public slap in the face Bulgaria had received as one would the caresses of a lover and being spat on as one would heavenly dew.

The right to arbitrate, which Serbia and Bulgaria had already conceded in their treaty of alliance to the Russian Tsar, gave Russia the possibility of interfering at the most decisive moment in the relations between the allies, namely when they undertook the division of the spoils of war. Russia exploited this right to encourage Serbian pretensions to Macedonia, so that in this way Russia not only reduced Bulgaria in size, but turned Serbia into an even weaker tool of Russia’s policy of conquest in the Balkans and an even greater barrier to Austria-Hungary, Russia’s historic competitor in the Balkans.

While Russia strove to preserve the Balkan League so as to turn it as far as possible into its obedient instrument, Austria-Hungary turned all of its efforts to destroying this league, which was also directed against it. Austria-Hungary pushed Serbia and Bulgaria towards war, long wishing to frustrate their alliance.

Austria-Hungary also encouraged Romania in its criminal attack on Bulgaria. Just as Austria-Hungary pushed Serbia towards the south, towards Macedonia, in order to turn the gaze of the Serbs from the Austrian provinces populated by Serbs, so, in order to turn the gaze of the Romanians from Transylvania and Bukovina, where more than three million Romanians live, Austria-Hungary pushed Romania towards the conquest of Bulgarian territories. And before the second war, the Austro-Hungarian government ‘sincerely’ advised Bulgaria to satisfy the Tutrakan-Balchik border[33] demarcation demanded by Romania. In this way, Austria-Hungary wanted to satisfy Romania, but of course at the expense of Bulgaria, to wrench it from the influence of Russia and once again to win its sympathies.

Turkey’s terrible wounds from the first war were still gaping when the Balkan allies, its conquerors, seized each other by the throat. Bulgaria, Turkey’s dangerous enemy, itself cleared the path to the latter’s invasion by completely withdrawing its army from Turkey’s borders. And here Russia zealously assured the Bulgarian government that it would not allow Turkey to destroy the Peace of London. But as soon as the last regiment of Bulgarian soldiers abandoned their positions at Çatalca, Russia pushed Turkey into the conquest of Thrace. With this Russia completed the defeat of Bulgaria and established a pretext for itself to demand a little while later the right to drive out the Turks from Thrace and once again save Bulgaria, in exchange, of course, for some kind of compensation (the occupation of Armenia or Burgas and Midye).[34] Bulgaria collapsed to defeat and ruin even faster than it had climbed to the heights of victory, before it had come to its senses and realised what was happening to it. Bulgaria was broken under the blows of its fifth enemy. The invasion of the Turkish army into Thrace completed the iron embrace that encircled Bulgaria from all sides, and which in a few weeks forced it into the most difficult and humiliating capitulation. Bulgaria was defeated. However, the defeat of Bulgaria was also the defeat of the dynastic and nationalist policy of conquest of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie.

H             H             H

Before the outbreak of the war amongst the allies, Serbian and Bulgarian Social Democracy raised their voices against the butchery that was being prepared for these sister nations, while Romanian Social Democracy, despite the unbridled chauvinist rage and police vandalism with which the rulers of Romania sought to stifle its protest, organised massive meetings against the criminal attack of Boy­ar[35] and capitalist Romania. Thus did the Balkan proletariat boldly and energetically attack the criminal war with one single voice. It protested right in the face of the propertied classes and dynasties of the Balkans against their policy of mass murder and mutual ruination that led to the conquest and oppression of the Balkan peoples. It raised high the banner of the fraternal solidarity of the workers of all the Balkan countries.

After the wars, the struggle for the Balkan federal republic was taken up with even greater energy by the proletariat in the Balkan countries. The Balkan proletariat, which was blooded in the butchery of the Balkan nations organised by their despots and exploiters, already understood that to fight for the Balkan federal republic meant fighting to prevent a new Balkan war, one to which the ruling classes and dynasties were driving the Balkan states, and which would not only snatch away the lives of hundreds of thousands more workers and ordinary people, but could also bury the independence of the Balkan peoples.

However, the wars gave a powerful push, not only to the struggle of the Balkan proletariat for the Balkan republic. It brought about a profound, radical change in the consciousness of the broad popular masses, ensured their growing sympathy and support for the cause of the Balkan federal republic, and established the conditions for an ever-stronger democratic-republican revolutionary movement, led by Social Democracy, which under its intellectual and political leadership will eliminate all obstacles and realise the Balkan federal republic.

Dimitrije Tucović

Serbia and Albania  [36]

I

N Albania, Austria-Hungary and Italy are conducting a policy of aggression, that is a fact. Is Austria-Hungary, constructed entirely on the denial of national rights, or is Italy, today throttling another nation on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, really defending the national principle? In the age of imperialist policy, such slogans are as ill-suited to these two capitalist states as the Russian slogan of the ‘liberation of the Christians’ in Turkey once was to Tsarist Russia when it was the greatest oppressor of freedom at home and abroad. These political lies no longer fare so well, even among the Balkan peoples, who have learnt through experience that every alliance with one or other ‘protector’ has cost them heavily, the more so as they, in their boundless longing for liberation from the Turkish yoke, abandoned themselves with such devotion to their protectors. In Albania itself, all the elements working for the autonomy of their country are aware of this. One of the most influential men in Elbasan,[37] later chosen as governor of that town, did not hesitate to answer my questions absolutely clearly and openly: Austria-Hungary wants Skadar[38] to stay in Albania so that it can continue to be the northernmost guard on watch against the penetration of Serbia and Montenegro into its sphere of influence, just as Italy is interceding in favour of southern Albania, so that no one else can establish himself on the other side of the Straits of Otranto.[39] The unyielding support of Austria-Hungary and Italy for the autonomy of Albania is about saving the last foot of land with which to protect themselves from the danger of anyone else gaining access to the Adriatic Sea, and from which they can influence the flow of events in the Balkans. Furthermore, Austria-Hungary wants ‘lebensfähige Albanie’, ‘an Albania capable of living’ at the very moment that it sees before it the danger that Serbia may become capable of living. The aim of this policy is as clear as day. No matter what, they want a new pygmy in the Balkans incapable of living, so that another pygmy that has been striving to break its chains does not become capable of living. This is the old method of creating a weak state, the incapable of living, condemned to cling to the coat-tails of European diplomacy, regardless of whether this appears under the false label of ‘national principles’ or ‘balance of power politics’.

But if the concern of Austria’s rulers for the right of all the Balkan peoples to national self-determination is a terrible clowning around with the national principle, the pretensions of Serbia to the conquest of Albania are a crude violation, and a trampling underfoot of that same principle. By proclaiming this policy, the Serbian bourgeoisie has now for the first time removed from the face of the Serbian people the veil of an oppressed nation struggling for its liberation. As their former youthful ideals of freedom, equality and brotherhood have disappeared, they have lost the capacity to respect the desire of nations for freedom. Our bourgeoisie bends under the pressure of its northern neighbours, clings tightly to the coat-tails of Russian diplomacy, and borrows the means by which it rules from foreign capitalist companies. It has acquired the ideology of an exploiter and a proprietor that sees itself at the head of a hungry army, and as the master of several million oppressed subjects; it dreams of greatness and bristles; it appeals only to force and throttles those weaker than itself at the same time that it too is threatened with the danger of being strangled by stronger forces. But as this turnaround in the policy of our bourgeoisie, which had to come sooner or later as the result of capitalist production, appeared before the Serbian people had achieved total national unification, so that Serbia’s rulers have begun to use the political division and enslavement of their own nation to justify their appetites to enslave other nations, this is just proof that the capitalist economy of profit and the bourgeois military-bureaucratic state system give rise to the same appetites among the small as among the great representatives of today’s social order at home and abroad, in domestic as well as in foreign policy.

This new course in the policy of the Serbian bourgeoisie has more than a theoretical significance for Social Democracy. Not only is it confirmation of our viewpoint that the national ideals of the ruling classes are a lie behind which is hidden the desire to exploit their people at home and enslave nations abroad. The national liberation and unification it seeks for its own nation the capitalist bourgeoisie denies to other nations. From its class viewpoint, this is natural and understandable: when my own people find themselves under my class rule, why do you ‘savage’ Albanians resist joining what is according to all the laws of the modern state an organised and ready-made system of submission! The foreign policy of ruling classes is but the continuation of their domestic policy. And just as the proletariat in a certain country represents the one social class which cannot struggle for freedom from class slavery without freeing the whole of society, so Social Democracy cannot advocate freedom for its own people without advocating national freedom for all other nations. In this lies one of the fundamental differences between the viewpoint of Social Democracy and the bourgeois parties on the national question.

But the great practical significance of this question has to interest us all the more because the consequences of the aggressive exertions of our rulers represent an inexhaustible source, not only of new atrocities against the Albanian population, but also of constant danger for the peace and tranquillity of our people, and of endless burdens and sacrifices. Serbia has been pushed into the maelstrom of the struggle of aggressive ambitions which has all manner of foreseeable and unforeseeable obstacles and currents, a maelstrom in which the energy of the people will be exhausted in futile efforts to seize the coast. New and even greater efforts will be made in order to overcome every new obstacle, and the sacrifices which the masses are finding all the heavier to bear will be justified by those that have already been made. The conquering invasion of Albania has given birth to the bitterness of the Albanian people towards Serbia and to revolts, and revolts impose new financial and military pressures; insecurity on the western border of Serbia has appeared as the consequence of the aggressive policy towards the Albanian people, and is the reason for the army’s constant state of readiness; for the same reason we have come into conflict with stronger pretenders to Albania, and in the delirium of creating a great Adriatic state by subjugating other nations, our rulers preach some great future settling of accounts with them. Having mortgaged the country, new state burdens, militarism and other parasitic institutions are seeking from the people still greater sacrifices, the more they are being strangled materially and exhausted economically by perpetual insecurity, by the danger of war and by frequent mobilisations.

That is how the rush of events will finally, by force of the internal logic of things, push our exhausted little country from crisis to crisis, from danger to danger, while all the bourgeois organs of public opinion will try to ensure that the true cause of these misfortunes is forgotten and that the responsibility for them is transferred to others. For this reason, Social Democracy, as the one resolute opponent of the aggressive policy which is the cause of all these misfortunes, cannot allow the moment to pass unrecorded when our ruling class made a grab for other countries and for the freedoms of others, when the former heralds of national liberation took up the banner of national oppression, and when the interests of capital swallowed up the interests of the nation. We must constantly point to the indissoluble causal link between the aggressive policy of the bourgeoisie and the heavy consequences and losses whose end is nowhere in sight.

H             H             H

The Balkan Peninsula is a mixture of nations with intertwined historical memories. Some parts of the peninsula, which in these historical memories represent self-contained regions, have been entangled with one another and lie across each other’s natural paths of cultural and trading links with the world. This is particularly true of its central regions, Old Serbia and Macedonia, the regions that make up the main part of the Turkish inheritance of the Balkan statelets. Thus, when by the efforts of the masses Turkish rule was pushed out of these regions, the ruling circles of the Balkan statelets stepped forward with their fists full of plans for the division of the newly-won regions on the basis of historical and national rights and of economic and political necessities. But here lies the problem: that division was not possible without trampling on the national principle, without endangering the state’s existence and damaging real economic interests as well as imagined and outlived historical rights. For example, as the natural entry point to the Balkans, Salonika is needed by everyone, but Salonika is one and indivisible. The trading and transport axis of the Balkans, without which Salonika would not be what it is, is undoubtedly the Vardar valley,[40] and it too is one and indivisible. In this same way, the borders of the medieval kingdoms often moved and overlapped, and as a result the historical pretensions of the Balkan statelets are also in irreconcilable antagonism. Who is then able to establish at all where the borders of the Serbian and Bulgarian nations start and finish? How is it possible to gather the Macedonian Slavs into one national community without oppressing the Greeks and other nations? How is it possible to gather the Greeks of Thrace into one national state without oppressing the Turks, and without cutting Bulgaria’s links with the Bulgarians around Salonika and further on to Kostur?[41]

These are just a few indications of the great number of real and imagined questions and true and false interests, which have, with the destruction of Turkish power, poured out like water from a broken pot, and which could only have been satisfactorily resolved by the creation of a new union. Opened up by the destruction of one whole, these questions could have been peacefully and satisfactorily resolved only within a new whole of a higher form. This was, incontestably, the only road which would have led not to war, but rather to rapprochement, freedom, strength and general progress in the Balkans, not to mention the great significance of avoiding fratricidal war. In general, a union of nations in the Balkans is the solution to the complex Balkan Question from which all the Balkan peoples would gain the most favourable conditions for peaceful and successful development in the future. Only the creation of a new union in place of the Turkish rule that was overthrown could have protected long-lost national freedoms from once again being drowned in a bloody internecine tug-of-war over the newly-won territories, which is the greatest misfortune for the freedom of the Balkan peoples. With the thieving plunder of the newly-conquered territories, this freedom was throttled before it was born, which gives historical confirmation to the viewpoint of Social Democracy that the national liberation of the Balkan nations is not possible without the unification of the whole Balkans into one general union. Such a union of peoples would, at the same time, liberate all the nations and regions of the Balkan Peninsula from the mutual crowding and obstruction which numerous frontiers tend to create, and would open free access to the sea for all. The Balkans would become one vast economic territory in which modern economic life would receive a boost, and each part of the region would be guaranteed freedom of movement and fulfilment of its economic needs, as well as the means for more rapid economic development in general. The true economic emancipation of the Balkan nations lies in the economic union of the Balkans. And with the unification of political forces and economic progress, the Balkan peoples would be able to resist the aggressive pretensions of the European capitalist states.

If there is a political reality in the Balkans, it is the necessity for a union of the Balkan nations. Belief in that necessity springs from observing the real situation in the Balkan Peninsula, like reading any open book that precisely outlines our future. The only realistic policy of the Balkan statelets is one that takes this idea as its guiding principle.

As an act in the great Balkan drama which is closely linked to preceding and subsequent developments, Serbia’s campaign of aggression in Albania is the crudest deviation from the principle of the union of the Balkan nations, and a deviation paid for with the most striking defeat. In addition to that tangled web of historical, ethnographic and political relations which envelops disputes in Macedonia, the reasons behind such an act express most clearly the tendencies of the Balkan policy of the bourgeoisie. This act nakedly exposes the intolerance of the ruling classes towards other nations, and the aggressive ambitions and the readiness of the bourgeoisie to carry them out with the most brutal crimes, such as have until now only been committed in overseas colonies. The abandonment of the principle of the union of Balkan nations, even when agreement was reached on common action against Turkey, has driven us to batter and crush one another in vain in the ravines of Albania. And driven out of there, we were thrown into a mad and barbaric slaughter with our brothers at Bregalnica.[42] One error attracted another, and one defeat led to another. That is how the ‘realistic’ policy of Mr Pašić[43] has been sealed with two very real defeats: in Albania and at Bregalnica. And while there is the desire to justify the Albanian adventure by the fact that we have been cut off from Salonika, and the crime of Bregalnica by the fact that we were driven out of Albania, then we have to emphasise that the cause of both evils is one and the same, namely, the aggressive ambitions of the bourgeoisie and the ruling cliques and leaders in the Balkans and their inability to replace their limited separatist interests with the principle of union which many of their representatives once used to advocate.

Serbia’s aggressive approach towards the Albanian people in particular has provided yet more experience of the great danger which every conflict between the Balkan nations represents for one side and the other. At the same time, it has also shown how the policy of the ruling classes creates hatred between nations.

Today it has become very risky to advocate the need for collaboration with the Albanians. In a dangerous contest to justify a wrong policy, the bourgeois press has created a whole pack of untrue and tendentious ideas about the Albanians, while Serbia’s policy of conquest, with its barbaric methods, was bound to fill the Albanians with the deepest hatred for us. Yet there has never been such hatred before. The Serbian and Albanian tribes, as can be seen from the accounts of Marko Miljanov,[44] lived in close contact with each other under Turkey. They were linked by very great social kinship, expressed by many common customs, traditions and memories, such as many joint actions against the Turkish authorities; frequently blood kinship also existed. According to what Miljanov noted among the people, the Kuči, Belopavljići, Hoti, Piperi and Klimenti had not always represented two tribal groups, the Albanian and the Montenegrin, divided into two hostile camps, but had often stood on the same side against the invading enemy. As proof that memories of those close relations lived on among the Albanian people, there is an Albanian saying Dositej Obradović recorded during his travels in Albania: ‘We were once one clan and tribe with the Serbs.’[45]

Many factors and events have since led to a situation where, in place of neighbourly relations and feelings of kinship, intolerance and enmity are beginning to spread. What contributed most to this development was the systematic implementation of Constantinople’s policy of divide and rule, and the behaviour of Serbia and Montenegro towards the Albanian population during the wars with Turkey.

If anyone had the right conditions to work in agreement with the Albanians, Montenegro and Serbia did. Not only did they have mixed populations and the kinship of neighbouring tribes, but also their mutual interests pointed these two nations to agreement and friendly relations. Just as the road to the Adriatic Sea runs across modest Albanian settlements, Albanian ties with the interior of the peninsula lead across Serbian borders. Just as we need the sea, they need land even more. If our worries over our exports point us towards the Albanians, their worries over bread point them towards us. If these two sides cannot agree, they will crowd out and throttle one another.

But all hopes of a policy of agreement and friendship were dashed on this occasion much more by one overbearing act of conquest by Serbia than by the crudeness of the Albanian tribes. Serbia did not enter Albania as a brother, but as a conqueror. Moreover, it did not enter as a politician either, but as a brutal soldier. Behind the brutality of military practice, the politician could not be seen. In fact, he had only one thought which was contained in the order: ‘Go and conquer!’ Subjugate or perish! Given a policy that did not cater for human beings, for tribes, for the people, and given the natural desire of Albania to gain its independence, Serbia lost every contact with the representatives of the Albanian people, and pushed them into a terrible hatred for all things Serbian. If the Albanian people have not until now represented one national whole which could take an interest in and give life to one idea, that common idea is today, regrettably, the general national revolt of the Albanian population against the barbaric behaviour of their neighbours, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro, a revolt that is a great step forward in the national awakening of the Albanians.

Relying exclusively on the army, which has no understanding of these questions, the Serbian government, delirious with cravings for conquest and deluded by foreign influence, did not even know how to exploit its half-year rule in northern Albania with a single act which would have left some trace and soothed wounds. It did not know how to do this, even at the final moment when the question of Albanian autonomy had already matured. The masses yearned for liberation from the poverty of the peasant condition, but for such revolutionary acts only Napoleon’s revolutionary army had any understanding. The more educated layers among the Albanians did not hide their uncompromising attachment to the idea of autonomy from Serbia, but what every English Conservative would know how to assess politically was too much by far for the Serbian Radicals.[46] They pushed on towards the sea by force. Serbia entered Albania as an enemy, and it left as an enemy.

The boundless hostility of the Albanian people towards Serbia is the first concrete result of the Albanian policy of the Serbian government. The second, still more dangerous, result is the consolidation in Albania of two of the Great Powers who have the greatest interest in the Balkans. This represents yet more proof that every internecine animosity between the Balkan peoples only benefits their common enemy. The aggressive attitude of Serbia, Greece and Montenegro could not prevent the creation of the autonomy of Albania, but this pushed the youngest pygmy in the Balkans, even prior to its appearance before the world, to deliver itself up to the mercies of Austria-Hungary and Italy. This fact is of great danger for peace and for the free development of Serbia. It is clear that this danger does not come in any way from the fact that an autonomous Albania was created, but rather that it was created in the struggle against the aggressive desires of the neighbouring Balkan statelets, that it was in fact taken from them by the intervention of Austria-Hungary and Italy, and that it has in this way been tied so strongly to these two states. Where friendship was needed, both sides have been overcome by terrible hostility, while friendly contacts are being consolidated between two parties, one of whom is already condemned to be the other’s victim.

The two concrete results of the aggressive policy of Serbia towards the Albanian people have both been felt by the state’s finances and our economic development, but mostly by those tens of thousands of slaves who are perishing in the Albanian mountains. They have been despatched to the border to stop with their lives the wave of bitterness which has been provoked by the policy of aggression of our rulers, and to guard the country from the danger into which on this occasion it has been drawn. The chains with which the bourgeoisie wished to shackle other nations have cramped the freedom of its own country and its own people.

Finally, while there is a desire to justify the campaign of aggression in Albania with false theories about the incapacity of the Albanians for national development. The very real and, regretfully, evil consequences of that campaign have exposed to the whole nation the incapacity of the ruling classes to conduct a policy which is in the national interest. What results will flow from the struggle for autonomy in Albania is a separate question to which only the future can provide an accurate reply, but the comprehensive and costly defeat of the policy of aggression of our bourgeoisie which fought against autonomy stands before us as an accomplished fact and rings out with fine historical irony over the theory of the national ‘incapacity’ of the Albanians. But since the defeat of the policy of aggression has not brought to an end the string of dangers and sacrifices that threaten the freedom of the Serbian people and the future of Serbia, it is at the very least now necessary to look truth in the face and, setting aside all prejudices, recognise that the struggle that the Albanian people are today conducting is a natural, inevitable historical struggle for a different political life from the one they had under Turkey, and different from the one imposed on them by their ruthless neighbours, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro. A free Serbian people must value and respect that struggle as much for the freedoms of the Albanians as for their own, and deny every government the means to carry out a policy of aggression.

As the representative of the proletariat which has never been the lackey of the aggressive policy of the ruling classes, Social Democracy is duty bound to track step by step our rulers’ policy of extermination towards the Albanians, to stigmatise as barbaric a policy carried out on the false pretext of a ‘higher culture’ as the class policy of the bourgeoisie which greatly damages the class interests of the proletariat, and as an anti-national policy of aggression which brings the peace and freedom of the country into danger and which greatly worsens the position of the masses. Against this policy, Social Democracy raises its own slogan: the political and economic union of all the peoples of the Balkans, including the Albanians, on the basis of full democracy and the fullest equality.

 


[1].     War broke out again briefly in January 1913 when a coup in Constantinople brought another Young Turk regime to power. Their attempted counter-offensive was a disaster, and they were swiftly forced back to the negotiating table.

[2].     Thrace (the Ottoman vilayet of Adrianople) lays at the south-easternmost extremity of the Balkans where Europe meets Asia. Today it is divided between Bulgaria, Greece and European Turkey.

[3].     Dimitŭr Blagoev’s Bulgarian Narrow socialists appended their signature only at the very last minute. This is the only declaration they signed with the Menshevik-like Broad socialists, with whom they had split acrimoniously in 1903. The Broad leader, Yanko Sakŭzov, the only socialist deputy in 1912, voted against the war.

[4].     Rakovsky was here partly reflecting the influence of the ‘social-Ottomanist’ wing of the Second International, most commonly associated with the figure of Jean Jaurès (1859-1914), the French socialist leader and defender of the Young Turks.

[5].     The Serbian socialists tended to treat the 1908 Young Turk revolution as more of a military coup than a genuine revolution. When the masses participated in defeating an attempted counter-revolution in 1909, however, Tucović was more enthusiastic, writing of a newly awakened revolutionary Turkey as the potential ‘axle’ of a Balkan federation (Dimitrije Tucović, Sabrana Dela [Collected Works], Volume 2, Belgrade, 1975, p429).

[6].     This is how Trotsky described the position in a footnote to a letter from Popović he published in his Paris newspaper, Nashe Slovo, in 1915, which appears in Section VIII below on the First World War.

[7].     See Leon Trotsky, The Balkan Wars 1912-13 (New York, 1980). It is clear that Trotsky learnt much from the Balkan socialists, particularly Rakovsky and the Serbians, to whom he was politically close. Trotsky recounts that many rank-and-file socialists enthusiastically supported the war despite the official position of their parties (ibid, p157).

[8].     See the Bolshevik manifesto on the war in John Riddell (ed), Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International 1907-16: The Preparatory Years (New York, 1984), p84.

[9].     VI Lenin, ‘A New Chapter of World History’, Collected Works, Volume 18 (Moscow, 1963), p369. In a later article, ‘The Social Significance of the Serbo-Bulgarian Victories’, ibid, pp397-9, Lenin stressed that the victories amounted to a bourgeois revolution against feudalism akin to 1848. He added that liberation would have been far less costly had it been achieved by revolutionary means. But like Kaclerović, Lenin noted that war rather than revolution took place because of the disunity of the peasants and the small size of the working class. Compare this, however, with the German socialist August Bebel (1840-1913) who privately wished for a Turkish victory, presumably for anti-Russian reasons, while blithely conceding that ‘it is not certain that the Balkan problem would thereby be settled’ (quoted in George B Leon, The Greek Socialist Movement and the First World War, New York, 1976, p131).

[10].    Dimitrije Tucović, Sabrana Dela, Volume 8 (Belgrade, 1980), p351.

[11].    Quoted in Francis Conte, Christian Rakovski (1878-1941) (New York, 1989), p62. Trotsky recounts that a Bulgarian bourgeois politician attacked his opposition to the First Balkan War thus: ‘For you, all this is simple: you reject war altogether, at any time and under any circumstances. A war in the Balkans or a war in Patagonia, aggressive or defensive, for liberation or for conquest — you make no distinctions. But we consider it necessary to investigate the real historical content of the war, the given war, the war in the Balkans, and we can’t shut our eyes to the fact that what is involved here is the liberation of the Slav people from Turkish rule.’ It has to be said that this reads like a good Marxist critique of Trotsky’s position (The Balkan Wars, op cit, p325).

[12].    Rosa Luxemburg, ‘The Junius Pamphlet: The Crisis in the German Social Democracy’, Rosa Luxemburg Speaks(New York, 1970), p309.

[13].    See Section II: Marxism and the Eastern Question: Challenging the Orthodoxy 1896-1897 above.

[14].    The French Premier, Raymond Poincaré (1860-1934), commented laconically that Russia ‘is trying to put on the brakes, but it is she who started the motor’ (see LS Stavrianos, The Balkans since 1453, London, 2000, p535).

[15].    VI Lenin, ‘The Collapse of the Second International’, Collected Works, Volume 21 (Moscow, 1964), p235.

[16].    Tsar Ferdinand refused to accept these results, and annulled the elections. Terrified, he asked Serbia for help in the event of a revolution in Bulgaria. Socialist results were cut by almost half in the elections of early 1914 as a result of police repression and the waning of anti-war feeling.

17.    Tucović’s colleague Dragiša Lapčević later wrote that the Serbian socialists were prepared ‘unconditionally [to] respect Albania’s independence and work towards its inclusion as an independent member of a federation of Balkan republics’(Rat i Srpska Socijalna Demokratija [War and Serbian Social Democracy] (Belgrade, 1925), p166. Nevertheless, a tiny, defenceless Albanian state was not the solution they favoured, which is why they never failed to stress the need for Albania to join a Balkan federation to protect itself from foreign imperialist predators and local nationalist aggressors.

[17].    Stephen Schwartz, Kosovo: Background to a War with a preface by Christopher Hitchens (London, 2000). The bibliography reveals that Schwartz does not seem to have even read Tucović’s Serbia and Albania in full. Instead, he consulted a text of selected articles and extracts by Serbian social democrats, including Tucović, published in Slovenia in 1989. This text was compiled for political use by the Slovenians against the Serbs in the bitter, internal dispute that preceded the collapse of Yugoslavia. As such, it focused heavily on the Kosovo question and the anti-nationalist credentials of the Serbian social democrats. It is not therefore a reliable source for a properly rounded view of Tucović.

[18].    Dated 12 October 1912. Translated from the French by Dragan Plavšić. This translation is based on the English translation of the time, for which see Bulletin Periodique du Bureau Socialiste International (3année, N°9), pp5-7.

[19].    Mainly Kosovo, the heartland of the medieval kingdoms of Serbia.

[20].    An Ottoman administrative region.

[21].    From Zbirka Triša Kaclerović, written in 1946, Arhiv Srbije. Translated from the Serbian by Dragan Plavšić.

[22].    Nikola Bogdanović was a lawyer and member of the editorial committee of Radničke Novine. He was later a social-patriot.

[23].    From Towards a Balkan Federation, 1913. Translated from the Bulgarian by Andreja Živković.

[24].    The Second International called the Basel Congress in response to the outbreak of the First Balkan War.

[25].    King Milan Obrenović (1854-1901) was Prince (1868–82) and then King (1882–89) of Serbia, whose reign was characterised by his subservience to Austria-Hungary.

[26].    Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1861-1948) was a German aristocrat who was Prince (1887-1908) and then King (1908-18) of Bulgaria.

[27].    Pavel Milyukov (1859-1943) was a Russian constitutional politician who later served as foreign minister in the first Provisional Government of Prince Lvov in 1917, and a distinguished liberal historian.

[28].    The Çatalca line in Thrace was comprised of antiquated fortifications 20 miles west of Constantinople where the Bulgarians were defeated by the Ottomans in the First Balkan War.

[29].    Stojan Danev (1858-1949) was a Russophile politician who was Bulgarian Prime Minister during the Second Balkan War.

[30].    The uncontested zone refers to that part of Macedonia which Serbia was to receive under the terms of its secret prewar agreement with Bulgaria.

[31].    Today Tekirdağ (then as now in Turkey) on the coast of the Sea of Marmara, which lies between the Bosphorus Straits leading to the Black Sea and the Dardanelles to the Aegean.

[32].    The St Petersburg Conference of March 1913 met for Russia to resolve the territorial dispute between Bulgaria and Romania. Russia awarded the ethnically Bulgarian Danubian port of Silistra (today in Bulgaria) to Romania. This angered the Bulgarians, but did not satisfy the Romanians, who also wanted the southern Dobrudja in north-eastern Bulgaria.

[33].    Romania claimed southern Dobrudja from Bulgaria, specifically territory north of a line between the Danubian city of Tutrakan and the Black Sea port of Balchik, both today in Bulgaria. Located between the bend in the River Danube and the Black Sea, the Dobrudja was very fertile land.

[34].    Burgas and Midye (now Kiyiköy), Bulgarian and Turkish ports respectively on the Black Sea.

[35].    The Romanian nobility.

[36].    Translated from the Serbian by Dragan Plavšić.

[37].    A city in central Albania.

[38].    Also known as Scutari, and now Shkodër in Albania. This city was taken by Montenegrin and Serbian forces during the First Balkan War. At Austro-Hungarian insistence, however, the city was evacuated, as it was essential for the survival of the Albanian state that the Habsburgs wanted to create to hold back Serbia from gaining access to the Adriatic.

[39].    The Straits of Otranto lie between the heel of Italy and Albania.

[40].    Roughly the area of modern Macedonia through which the River Vardar runs.

[41].    Now Kastoria in northern Greece near the border with Albania.

[42].    The Battle of Bregalnica was fought during the Second Balkan War of 1913 when Serbia and Greece defeated Bulgaria and gained the lion’s share of Ottoman Macedonia.

[43].    Nikola Pašić (1845-1926) was Prime Minister several times and the leading Serbian statesman of his day.

[44].    Marko Miljanov Popović (1833-1901) was a Montenegrin political and military leader who learned to read and write in his 50s, producing works on the common tribal life and customs of the Albanians and the Montenegrins.

[45].    Dositej Obradović (1739-1811), one of Serbia’s greatest literary figures, travelled widely and was much influenced by the Enlightenment, and was briefly Minister of Education during the Serbian Revolution of 1804-13. Tucović here quotes from his classic from 1783, Život i priklučenija [Life and Adventures] (Belgrade, 1997 edition), p133.

[46].    The Radical Party, led by Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić, was then the dominant party of the Serbian ruling class.

Posted in SerbiaComments Off on VII: The Balkan Wars of 1912‑13 and the Balkan Federation

Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. Unpleasant Truths No One Wants to Know

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

 

Outrageous: Slobodan Milosevic cleared of charges by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. But no-one is talking about it!

The ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) has discharged Slobodan Milosevic from 1992-95 Bosnian war crimes allegations. This is definitely prime time news, while it holds endless political implications. Oddly enough, though, no major international mainstream media seems to have noticed.

Well, it is understable for everyone to be keeping it quiet: those who with one voice did dub him the “butcher of the Balkans”; those who associated him to Hitler, initiating a pattern which would later be extended to Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, and which many would like to stretch further on to Bashar al-Assad. It is easy to read in the silence of the West’s chancellors, most notably the United States’, who doomed Yugoslavia and willed the end of Milosevic.

They may well do that, since Slobodan Milosevic’s “rehabilitation” is nowhere to be seen yet. The court ruling where to look for is the one which led the same court to issue a 40-years sentence for Radovan Karadzic. Therefore, one is to read through the bulky papers ruling before being able to realize that Milosevic was not guilty for the charges for which he spent the last five years of his life behind bars and encircled by universal shame. That’s the trick. Karadzic’s sentence dates back to 24th March of this year. We’re halfway through August and the worldwide mainstream media are not even remotely showing any sign of awareness. Or they figure it is more convenient not to.

This way, no Western leader is going to have to apologize at all, to Yugoslavia, to Serbia, to the unwitting peoples of Europe. Actually, if we knew better, it would be their turn to be sitting on the stand now. Precisely in that 24th March ruling, the court who tried Milosevic stated that “the Chamber is not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence presented in this case to find that Slobodan Milosevic agreed with the common plan” (ICTY, Karadzic Judgment, 24 March 2016, Para. 3460) demanded by the Serbs to expel Bosnian muslims and Croato-Bosnians out of Bosnian territory.

Yet, the wording here is willingly blurry. The point is not “sufficient evidence”. The same sentence reaffirms more than once, and by quoting documented evidence, the existence of substantial divergences between Milosevic and Karadzic in several crucial turnpoints of that mournful crisis. For instance, the ruling assessed that Milosevic opposed the decision of establishing a Serb Republic.

More than a few other instances have now surfaced, revealing what was already well-known to those who genuinely wished to know: that is, Milosevic had been striving to the end – namely, the set off of NATO bombings over Serbia- to strike an agreement with Western leaders – and it was Mme Albright who decided no-one was to sign that deal.

Five years of prison – the last of his life- were agreed for up in high European and US headquarters, in utter disrespect for any form of justice and in the name of an act of abuse by means of which Yugoslavia has been torn apart and shattered to bits. And his death in prison took place in highly suspicious circumstances and blatantly inhuman conditions. Officially, he died from a heart attack. However, that came two weeks after the Court had denied him permission to be treated in Russia, as he had requested. The former Yugoslavian President died in his cell three days after his lawyer had managed to send a letter to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which he wrote he feared of being poisoned.

We do know now what kind of “justice” was the one that Court was after: the victor’s. They now clear Milosevic’s name, while still concealing their persuasion. It is no act of carelessness. Korean justice O-Gon, who presided Karadzic’s trial, was also to be found in the lot who tried Milosevic, that is until he died. That justice had deep insight in both trials’ works and records. We are but left with wondering on whose payroll he and his honorable colleagues might be. The West is drowning in its own filth, along with those values it shamelessly claims everyday to be willing to protect.

Posted in SerbiaComments Off on Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. Unpleasant Truths No One Wants to Know

Merry Christmas from Shoah ‘Video’

NOVANEWS

Image result for Merry Christmas CARTOON

 

What do Louis Armstong, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, Dinah Washington, Kenny Burrell, and Nancy Wilson have in common?

They’ve all recorded beautiful Christmas music. And they all appear in the Jazz on the Tube Christmas special.

Thanks to everyone for a great year and wishing you and your loved ones the best for the coming one. (Sorry for the darn commercials. You can manually shorten most of them and eliminate others.)

– Ken McCarthy Founder, Jazz on the Tube
– Lester Perkins

Playlist:

1. ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ 1979 – Ray Charles
2. What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder
3. Joy to the world- Nat King Cole
4. White Christmas & Silent Night – Dinah Washington/Ella Fitzgerald
5. Please Come Home For Christmas – Charles Brown
6. Christmas in New Orleans & I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm – Louis Armstrong & Billie Holiday.
7. O Christmas Tree – Aretha Franklin
8. White Christmas – Ella Fitzgerald
9. Merry Christmas Baby & Please Come Home For Christmas – Charles Brown
10. Ole Santa & Christmas Night In Harlem – Dinah Washington/Louis Armstrong
11. The Night Before Christmas – Louis Armstrong
12. Sleigh Ride – Ella Fitzgerald
13. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! – Ella Fitzgerald
14. One Little Christmas Tree – Stevie Wonder
15. White Christmas – Kenny Burrell
16. Let It Snow, let It Snow, Let It Snow – Frank Sinatra
17. Frosty The Snowman – Ella Fitzgerald
18. Have yourself a merry little Christmas – Ella Fitzgerald
19. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve – Nancy Wilson
20. Merry Christmas from JazzontheTubecom

Posted in WorldComments Off on Merry Christmas from Shoah ‘Video’

Early American Christians banned Christmas ‘VIDEO’

NOVANEWS

Image result for Christians CARTOON

“A SINFUL PRACTICE”
COCA COLA TO THE RESCUE

Early American Christians banned Christmas.

They considered it “a sinful practice”

Yes, it’s true.

Those Pilgrims and Puritans we think so highly of thought celebrating Christmas was sin!

The Christmas we know and love today? Thank Coca Cola and 19th Century NYC department stores.

Posted in USAComments Off on Early American Christians banned Christmas ‘VIDEO’

The Biggest Threat to World Peace Is NATO

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

 

On November 8th, Britain’s Daily Mail bannered “NATO tells Europe to prepare for ‘rapid deployment’: and sub-headed “Defence chiefs say roads, bridges and rail links must be improved in case tanks and heavy vehicles need to be quickly mobilised” (to invade Russia, but the newspaper’s slant was instead that this must be done purely defensively: “In October, NATO accused Russia of misleading them, saying that Moscow had deliberately violated international rules of military drills”).

The article continued:

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for the infrastructure update across Europe as NATO is set to overhaul its command structure for the first time since the Cold War

During a press conference in Brussels, Stoltenberg said NATO needs a command structure to ensure ‘we have the right forces, in the right place, with the right equipment at the right time.’

He then added: ‘This is not only about commands. We also need to ensure that roads and bridges are strong enough to take our largest vehicles, and that rail networks are equipped for the rapid deployment of tanks and heavy equipment.

‘NATO has military requirements for civilian infrastructure and we need to update these to ensure that current military needs are taken into account.’ 

The NATO military alliance against Russia has been continuing the Cold War, and is now intensifying it, after the voluntary end of the Cold War in 1991, by the Soviet Union, and by its mirrored military alliance, which was the Warsaw Pact.

With that end of communism, and end of the communist military alliance, all of the constructive reason for NATO likewise ceased, and so NATO should have ended simultaneously when the Soviet Union and its military alliance did; but, instead, certain corporate interests in Western nations have prevailed; and, so, the Cold War is now ratcheting up even further on the U.S.-NATO side. This escalation, which is being done under false pretext (on the basis of lies), is forcing Russia to similarly increase its military budget and military exercises (such as the drills that are the pretext for NATO’s latest aggressive move here) — and Russia’s responses are being called by NATO ‘Russian aggression’, as if NATO hasn’t actually forced Russia to increase its military defenses (including those “drills”).

The need that the NATO-supplying corporations, such as Lockheed Martin and BAE, have — companies whose enormous profits depend heavily upon intensifying the Cold War instead of ending it (such as ought to have happened in 1991) — has become the mass-murdering and land-destroying corporate tail, which is actually wagging the governmental dogs, of Western nations’ (especially of America’s) foreign policies, so as to increase global expenditures into the mass-killing industries (most of which are U.S.-based), in order to keep their war-profits high. Wall Street is heavily involved in this, and most of America’s billionaires have these types of investments.

Economic theory considers all purchases and sales to constitute ‘economic growth’; and, so, expenditures and purchases for mass-killing and bombing, and for defenses against same, are considered just as much ‘economic growth’ as if those expenditures had gone into building things, instead of into destroying things — and neoliberals are therefore just as supportive of the military-industrial complex as are neoconservatives — neoliberals merely view the matter from the perspective of internal domestic policies (‘growth’), instead of from the perspective of external foreign policies (conquest). Both perspectives serve the aristocracy, the billionaires.

This neoliberal-neoconservative consensus, in the West, keeps the profits going for the owners of all sorts of corporations — it’s “the Washington Consensus” that’s sold to vassal nations by promising that this path will allow them to join in the imperial nations’ ‘growth’. The leadership of the Soviet Union was sold a neoliberal bill of goods by the the Harvard economics department in around 1990, and the World Bank and Harvard’s people took the Russians for all they could, which was able to be done because Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was naive and accepted neoliberalism — he didn’t know about its neoconservative side, the aristocracy’s pursuit of conquest. He had rejected Marxist economics, and thought that the only alternative would be capitalist economics.

Back in 1991, when Gorbachev ended the Soviet Union and its military alliances, NATO had 16 member-nations. Later in the decade, in 1999, NATO under U.S. President Bill Clinton, started expanding — taking on as new members, nations that had previously been allied with Russia. 

The Soviet Union had consisted of: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Moldova, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, and Estonia (the last of which was forcibly joined with it in 1940 so as to assist Russia’s fight against the Nazis). NATO has since absorbed, into its anti-Russia ranks: Lithuania (2004), Latvia (2004), and Estonia (2004), and is seeking the additional admissions of Ukraine, and of Moldova.

The Warsaw Pact, of Soviet-allied nations, had included: U.S.S.R., Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Eastern Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. All of those except the Russian portion of the U.S.S.R. have since been absorbed into the anti-Russian military alliance, NATO. In the brainwashed U.S.-allied countries, this growth of the anti-Russia alliance isn’t considered “aggression,” even though it’s being done by NATO’s adding former Russia-allied nations, and though Russia’s former military alliance against NATO, the Warsaw Pact, ended in 1991. Aggression by “the West” is not acknowledged by “the West.” Even the U.S. group’s blatant aggressions that destroyed Russia-friendly nations such as Iraq, Libya and Syria aren’t. The fact that the U.S. is considered overwhelmingly throughout the world to be “the biggest threat to peace” is likewise ignored by the Empire’s ‘news’media.

Thus: 10 formerly Russia-allied nations have now been switched into the anti-Russia military alliance. And NATO accuses Russia of ‘aggression’. Nobody talks about how the U.S. would react if Russia had a military alliance which included both Mexico and Canada, and called upon them to strengthen their bridges so as to be able to carry today’s Russian battle-tanks. But, the people who are doing this, know very well what they are doing, and why, and to whom. They play dumb but they aren’t.

In addition, Yugoslavia was non-alligned, but now most of its parts have joined NATO: Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro. (Montenegro was brought into NATO on 5 June 2017, by U.S. President Donald Trump, who is being investigated by the rabidly anti-Russia U.S. Government, for allegedly being insufficiently hostile against Russia. His response to the accusations has been to try to out-do his domestic opponents’ hostility against Russia — to up their anti-Russia ante, instead of to wage political war against America’s military-industrial complex and its owners.) 

And, the other parts of the former Yugoslavia continue to be courted. On November 15th, Radio Free Europe headlined “Serbia Hosts Joint Military Drills With U.S. As Bosnia Hosts NATO Delegation”. They reported:

“NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels on November 15, said ‘there is no doubt whatsoever that we absolutely respect the decision by Serbia to remain a military neutral country.’”

Were Hitler’s troops being allowed to hold military exercises in neutral Switzerland? Of course not. Obviously, this isn’t any ‘military neutrality’. Instead, it’s those small countries trying to avoid becoming targets of U.S. missiles and bombs.

Most of the 13 new admittees to NATO after the 1991 end of the Cold War (on Russia’s side, but not on America’s), are located to the east of West Germany (closer to Russia than even East Germany was). In the negotiations to end the Cold War, the understanding that George Herbert Walker Bush’s people communicated to Mikhail Gorbachev’s people was that if the Cold War ends and East Germany becomes absorbed into West Germany to become again simply “Germany” and thenceforth a capitalist country (such as all did happen), then NATO would not move “one inch to the east. That’s the basis upon which Gorbachev ended the Cold War. George Herbert Walker Bush lied — via his agents. Gorbachev was incredibly naive, and he didn’t specify that NATO would need to end if the Warsaw Pact would end. He believed in the goodwill, and honesty, of Bush and of his agents. He accepted merely the vague verbal promise that NATO would’t be expanded even “one inch to the east.” He didn’t know that he was dealing with people who were negotiating on behalf of, and who were following the instructions of, a super-scoundrel — U.S. President Bush. Bush’s dream, of encircling Russia with U.S. bombers, missiles. and tanks is now coming true. Would the U.S. tolerate Russia placing its invasion-forces on and near our borders, in Canada and in Mexico? 

If this isn’t the time to end NATO, then when will be? And how much time to do it remains, before there is a WW III? Anyone who is supportive of the formation of a non-profit “End NATO Now” is hereby invited to indicate so, in a reader-comment to this article, at Washingtonsblog; and, if enough people indicate there that they would be willing to donate time or money to such an organization, then I shall establish it. Because: if we don’t end NATO now, then maybe NATO will end us all, surprisingly soon.

Posted in NATO, SerbiaComments Off on The Biggest Threat to World Peace Is NATO

How Long Will Belgrade Seesaw Between NATO and Russia?

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

“We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply.  They need some bombing and that’s what they are going to get.”  This was how then-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described the draft peace agreement during a break at the conference in Rambouillet (February 1999). 

At the time the Yugoslav delegation had stated its willingness to concede many points, with the exception of independence for Kosovo (which was nonnegotiable for the Albanians).  But the Yugoslavs did not see the final draft of the accord until the last day of the talks, and as it turned out, two-thirds of that document was entirely new to them (and they were presented with it literally only a few hours before the signing deadline).  In particular, one of the newly introduced chapters (no. 7, appendix B, p.79) called for NATO troops to be deployed not only in Kosovo but throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Moreover, alliance personnel would, in this case, “be immune from the Parties’ jurisdiction in respect of any civil, administrative, criminal, or disciplinary offenses” and would “enjoy, together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY including associated airspace and territorial waters.” (para.6-8)

Feeling like they were being asked to accept terms of occupation and surrender, the officials from Belgrade refused to sign the agreement.  NATO then treated this rebuff as a casus belli: after the Serbian government definitively rejected the ultimatum thrust upon them in the document, the alliance began missile and bomb strikes in Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999.  It is telling that even Henry Kissinger later called the draft of the Rambouillet agreement “a provocation, an excuse to start bombing.”

165678.pAs a result, NATO’s 78-day Operation Allied Force, which was never approved by the UN Security Council, damaged or destroyed 89 factories and industrial plants, 48 hospitals and infirmaries, 70 schools, 18 kindergartens, 9 university buildings, 4 dormitories, 82 bridges, 35 churches, and 29 monasteries.  At the time the government put a price tag of $100 million on the damages inflicted on the country’s infrastructure and economy.  But the biggest tragedy was that during the bombing campaigns (which employed banned cluster bombs and shells plated with depleted uranium), approximately 2,000 civilians were killed and another 10,000 seriously injured.

Paradoxically, on Feb. 12, 2016, the Serbian parliament ratified a new agreement with NATO that included terms very similar to those demanded in Rambouillet 17 years ago.  In other words, the bar that at the end of the 20th century Belgrade considered to be “set too high” and which they could not stomach even as a cost of war has now been accepted – little by little, unobtrusively, and almost meekly – over the past decade by Serbia’s new leaders.

In particular, the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the NATO Support and Procurement Organisation (NSPO) on Logistical Support Cooperation requires the government in Belgrade to allow NSPO staff: to move freely throughout the country (article 10, paragraph 2), access to public and private facilities (article 11, paragraph 1), and diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention (article 10, paragraph 1), as well as to exempt the alliance’s property and representatives from customs duties and taxes (article 10, paragraphs 4 and 5).

This agreement was signed back in September 2015, but received almost no media coverage, and thus the “alarm bells” only went off for the public after it was ratified in February 2016.  Responding to popular discontent and criticism from his opponents, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić asked, “If we’re going to demand that NATO protect Serbs in northern Kosovo, how can we at the same time not allow it to enter northern Kosovo?”

But in fact, this rhetorical question is nonsensical (and not just because NATO has its own airfields in Kosovo as well as Camp Bondsteel, the second-largest American military base in Europe).  NATO has never played any role in protecting Serbian interests in Kosovo.

Here’s an example.  On Nov. 3, 2013, local elections were held in northern Kosovo for the first time under the authority of the government in Pristina.  By the end of the day, voter turnout in many cities ranged from 5% to 14%.  Because the Serbs did not want to take part in legitimizing the self-proclaimed republic, a campaign was launched to boycott what they called the “Albanian elections” (“šiptarske izbore”).  Violence erupted in the evening: a group of men wielding bats pulled up in a black jeep without a license plate and broke into a polling station in Kosovska Mitrovica, smashing the ballot boxes (it is interesting that the police and OSCE staff had left that station half an hour before the attack).  Although the leaders of the boycott campaign were neither involved nor complicit in that incident, Belgrade, Pristina, and Brussels blamed them for it and even claimed that the low voter turnout was the result of public “intimidation” by opponents of the election.  A new election date was set for Nov. 17.

Nov 17, 2013. Elections in Kosovska Mitrovica held under the gunpoint of KFOR.

Nov 17, 2013. Elections in Kosovska Mitrovica held under the gunpoint of KFOR.

On that day Kosovska Mitrovica was literally inundated with soldiers and police, armed to the teeth and even driving armored vehicles (they included NATO’s KFOR troops, the EU Police Mission, and the Kosovo police force)!  All this is to say that nothing prevented the alliance from interfering in events in northern Kosovo when it had something to gain from doing so.  However, at that time its role was to deter peaceful protests and demonstrations of the strength of the local Serbian population.  This was an example of an election (which had been initiated by the EU) that was literally held at gunpoint.  Despite being pressured and threatened with layoffs and the loss of benefits payments from Belgrade, as well as other dirty little games – only 22.8% of the voters ultimately showed up to the polls.  But that did not stop the EU from recognizing the elections as valid, despite the fact that in February 2012, Brussels had refused to accept the results of a referendum in northern Kosovo in which 75.28% of the voters turned out and 99.74% of them voted against recognizing the government of the “Republic of Kosovo.”

It is a fact that after NATO troops entered Kosovo, approximately 210,000 people were forced to leave (according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), and over 300 Serbs were killed and 455 went missing just during the five-month stay of the international peacekeeping force.  In addition, during the infamous wave of violence that took place March 17-19, 2004, NATO representatives passively allowed Albanian extremists to burn more than 900 Serb homes and to set fire to, severely damage, and desecrate 35 Orthodox monasteries (many of which date back to the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries and some are even under the protection of UNESCO), while also driving over 4,000 Serbs from the region.

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Partnering but not joining

Serb leaders never tire of assuring their citizens that they have no aspirations to join the NATO Alliance.  “Serbia has no plans to enter NATO, it wants to be militarily neutral,” stated Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić once again (on March 2, 2016), commenting on the opposition parties’ demand that a referendum be held on the issue.  The head of the government does not think that there is a need for the public to vote on the matter.  And it’s true that the people’s will would be easy to predict, because according to the latest public surveys, which were conducted in January and February of this year, only 10.5% of Serbian citizens support the idea of NATO membership, while 79.1% are opposed (10.4% declined to answer).  A recent study by IPSOS revealed a similar pattern: only 7% hold a positive opinion of the alliance.

This was precisely why the ratification of the agreement was only covered by the media after the fact, and President Tomislav Nikolić hurriedly signed the ensuing law (confirming the treaty) on Feb. 19, the day before a scheduled protest to demand its veto.  Immediately after many thousands of protesters flocked to an anti-NATO rally in Belgrade on Feb. 20, President Nikolić published an article titled, Why I Signed the NATO Law,” in which he tried to convince the public that the legal underpinnings and prerequisites for the statute had been established ten years earlier when Serbia joined the Partnership for Peace (PFP) program.  Overall, the article resembles an attempt to shift the bulk of the responsibility for the rapprochement with the alliance onto the shoulders of previous administrations.  But let’s look at how this process unfolded, in order to grasp the significance of the agreement and get an idea of what the future realistically holds for Serbia.

2000 "Bulldozer" revolution in Belgrade opened the Pandora box of unconstitutional revolts in target states.

2000 “Bulldozer” revolution in Belgrade opened the Pandora box of unconstitutional revolts in target states.

It all began right after the first-ever “electoral revolution,” which broke out in Belgrade in October 2000 (with Washington’s support).  During this revolution, Slobodan Milošević – the president of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but who had fallen from favor in the West – was deposed.  The new government quickly redirected the country’s foreign policy toward the ideal of European integration – which meant that Serbia was then predestined for assimilation into Europe’s security architecture, which is tightly bound to NATO.

The first turning point was the July 2005 agreement with NATO to allow transit for the purpose of conducting peacekeeping operations (this was primarily needed so that KFOR forces could pass through Serbia).  In a way this was a precursor to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which was a key document that was signed in Washington in near secrecy in January 2014 by Nebojša Rodić, the then-minister of defense, and was just quietly and without public debate ratified by the Serbian Parliament in July 2015.

According to the SOFA, Belgrade will offer the alliance the opportunity to use Serbia’s military infrastructure, to train its soldiers at Serbia’s Jug military base, to bring the legal framework regulating defense into line with EU rules, and to introduce the standards of NATO and the Bologna Process into the military education system for Serbian officers.  The agreement also includes a detailed description of the legal issues affecting the status, powers, and responsibility of both the military personnel arriving from overseas as well as the servicemen in the host country.

The next step was the signing in January 2015 of the operational document known as the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), which dictates a broad spectrum of cooperation between Serbia and the NATO Alliance – not only in regard to security and defense, but also pertaining to the issues of human rights and economic, domestic, and foreign policy, including the prospect of European integration.  It may seem baffling, but Serbia has even pledged to “[i]ntroduce a public information strategy on cooperation with Euro-Atlantic structures through PfP with the aim of gaining public support,” which means that Serbian taxpayers must shell out from their own pockets to pay for the propaganda directed against them. (!)

All of the above documents, in addition to the recent Logistical Support Agreement, so firmly tie Belgrade to the alliance that no particular purpose would be served by officially joining it (which at any rate would be impossible because of the negative opinion of the alliance and the unresolved problem of Kosovo).  As the editor-in-chief of the magazine Nova srpska politička misao (“New Serbian Political Thought”), Đorđe Vukadinović, has aptly stated, “although Serbia has not officially entered NATO, NATO has effectively entered Serbia.”

“Geopolitical split”

Yet at the same time, and despite the escalating Euro-Atlantic propaganda, Russia’s popularity in Serbia is growing, and the idea of “European choice” is gradually losing its devotees.  This is backed up by a study from the company Ipsos: in 2014 54% of the public would have voted in favor of EU membership, but by early 2016 that number had dropped to 48%; and while 46% of respondents expressed a positive opinion of Russia in 2014, this year that number has risen to 72%!

A survey conducted by the weekly Vreme (“Time”) not only came up with an almost identical number – 50.9% – after tabulating the responses about European integration, but the news magazine also included the question “Do you support an alliance with Russia?” to which 67.2% answered affirmatively (18.8% were opposed and 14% declined to answer).

Anti-NATO rally in the centre of Belgrade, Febr 20, 2016

Anti-NATO rally in the centre of Belgrade, Feb 20, 2016

And finally, according to the most recent study conducted by a Serbian NGO, the Center for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID), which is funded by Western foundations and states, on the eve of the snap elections for parliament (scheduled for April 24th), 71.6% of the public is against the idea of  “Serbian membership in the EU and NATO” (with 11.2% “in favor” and 14% “undecided”), and 55.2% of the electorate have indicated their preference for the “traditional affiliation with Russia” (with 19.2% “against” and 21.5% “undecided”).

In this context, the oft-delayed signing of the agreement to grant diplomatic status to the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center in Niš (as was recently granted to the NSPO) looks very suspect.  It’s worth remembering that in May 2014, when Serbia was hit by a devastating flood, Russian rescue teams were the first to arrive and in only two days managed to evacuate more than 2.000 residents (including over 600 children) from the flood zone, while the Russian Ministry of Emergency Management delivered over 140 tons of humanitarian relief to Serbia (as well as to Bosnia and Herzegovina).  According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, the real problem lies in Germany’s desire to prevent any expansion of Russian influence in the Balkans.  The periodical stated that “Merkel telephoned Serbian Prime Minister Vučić, urging him not to sign such an agreement because Berlin is afraid that this center could become a permanent base for Russian espionage.”  At an April 1 press conference hosted by the foreign ministers of Serbia and Russia, Sergey Lavrov made an interesting statement, “Over the years of this center’s operations we have responded to this type of fear and grumbling by inviting the EU and US to visit the center and see for themselves what the staff are doing.  As might be expected, the EU has refused our invitations.  They know that their claims are false.”

Serbian government officials continue to chant the phrase “military neutrality” at every opportunity, like a mantra.  This is because a 2007 parliamentary resolution made reference to NATO’s negative role in recent Serbian history while announcing a “decision to proclaim the Republic of Serbia’s military neutrality toward existing military alliances until such time as a referendum is held that will render a final decision on the matter.”

However, under international law – specifically the Hague Conventions of 1907 – during wartime it is “forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power.”  In other words, in the event of a regional or international conflict, NATO’s Logistical Support Agreement could invalidate Serbia’s neutral status.  In addition, the very idea of EU integration presumes a “common policy toward security and defense” – which is also somewhat inconsistent with euphemisms such as “military neutrality.”

The questionable principle of “balance” has also been turned on its head in regard to military cooperation: in 2015 only two Russian-Serbian joint exercises were conducted, while the Serbian army took part in 22 exercises alongside NATO.  And even this limited cooperation with Moscow was sharply condemned by the EU.  Maja Kocijančič, a spokesperson for the European Commission, denounced Serbia’s consent to Moscow’s proposal to hold two special-forces joint exercises in 2016: “Under the current circumstances, such a joint military exercise [between Serbia and Russia] would send the wrong signal.”

The new government that will be formed after the April 24 elections won’t have it easy: the rapidly growing estrangement between the Euro-Atlantic community and Russia means that Belgrade will eventually emerge as a geostrategic fault line.  When, figuratively speaking, the earth begins to shift under the feet of the Serbian elite, no virtuoso “geopolitical splits” will allow them to avoid answering key question – whose side are they on, anyway?

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Regime Change in Serbia and Poland? Alt-Media’s Biggest Reversal?

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Recent developments in Serbia and Poland have prompted many in the Alt-Media Community to rethink their attitude towards each respective government.

Serbian Surprise

Governments don’t always represent the people, and nowhere is this clearer nowadays than in Serbia. Pro-Western Prime Minister-turned-President Alexander Vucic just appointed a Croatian and former USAID employee, Ana Brnabic, to run the government, pending her expected confirmation by parliament next week. This completely contradicts the conservative values-based and multipolar identity that the majority of Serbs adhere to. In an of itself, Brnabic’s ethnicity, gender, and sexual identity are her personal affairs, with only her political views and work history being most directly relevant to the majority of Serbs due to her proposed leadership position, but nevertheless, the ‘full package’ is concerning to many because of what it represents.

Ana Brnabic (Source: Oriental Review)

Disregarding the dogma of “political correctness”, the fact is that Brnabic’s nomination shocked many Serbs because of how radical it is in the symbolic – and possibly soon, substantial – sense. Some people fear that the alignment of her sexual identity, work history, and political views with the preferences of the ruling EU elite (her gender and ethnicity aren’t an issue to the average person) will lead to the accelerated imposition of neoliberal “values” on Serbia, thereby completing the post-communist transformation of the country into the West’s archetype vassal state. In addition, Serbia has rightly been regarded for a long time as the center of gravity in the region, and Vucic’s nomination of Brnabic as Prime Minister sends the very strong message that she’s the sort of politician who Brussels wants to rule over the rest of the Balkans.

Polish Populism

What’s taking place in Serbia is nothing short of tragic from the perspective of the country’s conservatives, though interestingly enough, individuals of the said ideological-value predisposition are experiencing an unexpected renaissance of sorts in Poland, of all countries. The Law and Justice Party, popularly known by its abbreviation PiS, swept to power in late-2015 in an unprecedented parliamentary landslide and gained full control of the country. The new government swiftly moved to emulate Hungarian Prime Minister’s conservative agenda, which instantly prompted the country’s identity crisis to go international after the emergence of large-scale pro-EU protests and Western liberal condemnation. In defense of PiS, the new government is simply implementing the forgotten will of the people, the very same socio-economic and cultural populism which had been trampled upon by former premier and current EU Council President Donald Tusk’s pro-Brussels Civil Platform (PO) party.

It’s very curious that Poland has risen as a conservative icon in Europe given its historical tutelage as a pro-American military proxy in Eastern Europe, but this just goes to prove how suddenly things are changing in the world. At the time of the party’s reentrance into power, it stood in stark opposition to the Obama-led neoliberal transatlantic order, though following Trump’s inauguration, Warsaw is more in tune with Washington’s socio-cultural wavelength. Poland’s post-communist governments, and especially PiS, have always been heavily in favor of limitless NATO involvement in the country, so that’s certainly a point of variance with most people in the Alt-Media Community. Even so, Warsaw’s tremendous progress in restoring traditional religious-based values, promoting a mild form of economic populism, and resisting the existential transformation of the state via the uncontrollable influx of civilizationally dissimilar “Weapons of Mass Migration” throughout the Immigrant Crisis has earned it loud praise in the very same Alt-Media circles.

Comparing Apples and Oranges?

As for Serbia, the situation is somewhat different. Genuine anti-imperialists all across the world laud the country for its proud history of resisting external dominance and fighting against all odds, and they generally saw Serbia as a pillar of Orthodox values in spite of its pro-Western government. While the wholehearted respect for Serbia’s history and people still remains, their support of the nation’s government has seriously eroded over the past couple of years, with Vucic’s nomination of Brnabic being the last straw.

While it can be said that Serbia isn’t a NATO member like Poland is, and certainly isn’t anywhere near as Russophobic, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Belgrade agreed to a controversial Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the bloc in 2016 which allows for the free movement of troops and vehicles through the country, among other unilateral concessions. Therefore, while Serbia is legally a militarily neutral country, it’s in fact moved to more closely associate itself with NATO.

The difference between Poland and Serbia’s NATO relationships is obvious – Warsaw is much more important for Washington’s military strategies vis-à-vis Moscow because it can more directly threaten Russia’s national security, while Belgrade is nowhere near as significant in this regard because no direct (key word) Russian interests are threatened by SOFA. Moreover, the scale of cooperation is qualitatively different, since Poland is NATO’s frontline launching pad in Eastern Europe and is hosting part of the so-called “missile defense shield’, while Serbia has no such relationship to NATO and could only realistically function at this point as a highway between Croatia & Hungary to Albania & Greece (potentially even the Republic of Macedonia if its de-facto coup government joins the bloc in the coming year or two). Therefore, if one evaluates Poland and Serbia back-to-back, then Belgrade is infinitely more attractive than Warsaw if NATO cooperation is the only form of criteria.

Serbians protest against SOFA (Source: Oriental Review)

Nonetheless, other factors of comparison are certainly in play because socio-cultural principles are now becoming just as important as military posturing to many people, which holds the potential of reversing the status of Poland and Serbia in the Alt-Media Community when it comes to how others assess their governments. In that case, Poland’s authorities are much more appealing than Serbia’s in light of PiS’ defense of traditional socio-cultural values and Vucic’s undeclared opposition to them. Neither country is friendly to civilizationally dissimilar illegal immigrants, but Serbia has been pressured into the position of becoming a temporary “parking lot” for some of them, whereas Poland ardently refused to accept even a single one and is now being sanctioned by Brussels because of it. However, it must be said that the Polish authorities have no qualms about irresponsibly facilitating the massive migration of Ukrainians to their country, which in spite of this group’s civilizational similarity could still pose a looming and very dangerous threat in the long run.

Apart from that, another point of contrast between the two states is that everyone took for granted that Poland’s government will always be pro-Western, which is why it came as a pleasant surprise that its new authorities clashed with Obama and Merkel, although they do admittedly have a lot in common with Trump nowadays. From the other side, it was a disappointment to many that Serbia’s government kowtowed to the West as quislings in spite of their proud national history of resistance, and Brnabic’s nomination is understood by some Serbs as an unforgettable self-inflicted humiliation to the highest degree and even an outright capitulation to the (failing) neoliberal world order.

Comparatively, however, Poland’s government is still much more pro-American than Serbia’s, though this too becomes a matter of moral subjectivity when considering that Belgrade is a lot closer to the EU. From the multipolar perspective, both are undesirable, but Trump’s America is championing conservative values at home (though not necessarily abroad, as Macedonia proves), while the EU is forcing its underlings to submit to neoliberal ones just like Serbia did. If one had to choose, the socio-cultural positions being promoted by Poland are more attractive than those being forced upon Serbia.

Concluding Thoughts

All in all, this thought exercise isn’t meant in any way whatsoever to justify or whitewash either country’s (especially Poland’s) relationship to the unipolar forces of NATO, the US, and the EU, nor to attack Brnabic’s personal affairs or infer anything negative about the nationwide constituency which she’s slated to represent, but just to demonstrate the increasing complexity of International Relations in the present time and show how difficult it is for observers to “support” one actor or another entirely. There’s no such thing as a “perfect government” or “perfect politician”, and there will always be elements in both which clash with one’s principles, but the important thing is to differentiate between the state and the citizenry, and never judge either of them based on the other.

That being said, while the vast majority of sincere anti-imperialists in the Alt-Media Community will always stand with the Serbian people and respect their government’s nominal non-alignment in military affairs, there’s an unmistakable tendency to distance themselves from its present government because of the embarrassment that it’s become and to instead recognize the defense of socio-cultural values undertaken by Poland’s, however unexpected that may sound at first. This doesn’t mean that such individuals “support” PiS in the conventional sense of the word, but just that they are gaining more respect for its principled position against the illegal immigration of civilizationally dissimilar individuals and Brussels’ neoliberal “values”, though of course consistently condemning Warsaw’s frontline position in NATO, Polish society’s widespread Russophobia, and the government’s short-sighted policy towards Ukrainian migration.

Therefore, what it ultimately comes down to then is whether an individual feels more strongly about a given country’s/government’s role in NATO or its position on socio-cultural values and the Immigrant Crisis. If it’s the former, then Serbia and its authorities are rightly heralded as having a much milder position than Poland’s, though if it’s the latter, then Warsaw is regarded as progressive whereas Belgrade is perceived as rapidly moving down the path of regression.

Posted in SerbiaComments Off on Regime Change in Serbia and Poland? Alt-Media’s Biggest Reversal?

The Trump Effect in the Balkans: Serbia’s Third Election in Four Years?

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahe,Sr

Serbia faces a set of regular presidential elections this year – but also the prospect of its third parliamentary election in four years. The latter possibility confirms those analyses that have posited the instability of Serbian politics in spite of the appearance of stability, following the ruling coalition winning almost half the votes cast in both previous elections.

Serbia after Milošević: Between West and East

From the fall of Slobodan Milošević in 2000 to the presidential elections of 2012, Serbian politics was primarily divided geopolitically. Serbia’s governments predominantly took the form of liberal coalitions looking West. The opposition was led by the pro-Russian radicals.

In truth, however, Serbia’s governing coalitions were pacts between pro-Western and pro-Russian elements. This reflected the tensions in the Serbian ruling class. Most wanted to enter the European Union, but most also feared losing popularity if they were seen to give up Serbia’s claim to Kosovo. The latter ambition led every government to rely on the Russian veto in the UN.

What occurred in 2012 on the surface represented a return to the pre-2000 era. The new government was made up of the two ruling parties of the 1990s, Milošević’s socialists and the successor party to Milošević’s coalition partners, the Radicals. This was indeed a break with post-2000 Serbian politics, but the break turned out to be superficial.

Serbia: illiberal but unstable since 2012

Tomislav Nikolic

The victory of former radical Tomislav Nikolić in the presidential election of 2012 led to a new series of governments with pro-Western and pro-Russian elements – with a fundamental orientation still towards the West. So there was little change there. The big change was the acceleration of the creep towards an illiberal democracy.

Moreover, Nikolić remained ironically more pro-Russian than his second in command and soon Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić. The Progressives, as their party was called, remained itself divided, but Vučić took a decisively pro-Western course since becoming PM in 2014. His popularity had to do with his early moves to arrest unpopular tycoons (Serbian oligarchs) in an anti-corruption campaign. He could also count on his nationalist past and his macho style to win adherents in a population eager for a decisive leadership following years of austerity and crisis.

Vučić: more IMF than the IMF

Aleksandar Vučić

Vučić was however committed to neoliberalism. He was more eager to implement IMF reforms than his predecessors and even said he was “more IMF than the IMF” when announcing he would maintain a freeze on public sector jobs and pensions in summer 2015. He also rammed through anti-strike legislation despite vocal trade union opposition. Geopolitically, he continued the EU-sponsored dialogue with the Kosovo authorities which had begun after 2012. Importantly, he undertook more military exercises with NATO than Russia, a clear indication of his preferences.

Despite this, he managed to win another election in 2016 which he called to consolidate his position. The gamble failed: though he won roughly half the votes, his position in parliament was worse, since more parties crossed the threshold than in 2015. Worse, on election day, masked goons demolished buildings which were a key obstacle to his hopes for the gentrification of Belgrade Waterfront in central Belgrade. A security guard in one of the buildings died.

The return of mass protests

His time in power has since been mired by increasing allegations of corruption against his associates like the Belgrade mayor Siniša Mali. Moreover, mass protests have finally hit the streets in Serbia. Serbia was the only country which had not seen mass protests since the 2008 recession in the entire Balkan region. Finally, it seemed this was coming to an end. Groups, suspended between NGO and social movement activism, organised continued mass demonstrations with tens of thousands turning out. Similar protests recently spread in relation to heating problems in the city of Niš.

So why is he risking another election? Partly, it has to do with Nikolić. Nikolić is up for re-election having served out his first five-year term. Though still a winner in the second round, Nikolić is a risk for Progressive domination. Should an opposition candidate cash in on discontent, like Nikolić had done in 2012, then all could be jeopardised. Polls were suggesting Vučić could win in the first round. Certainly, Vučić’s ambitions to have total control, having got rid of his mentor, are another factor.

The Trump effect – and the continued importance of geopolitics

But in truth, there is also the geopolitical question. As a small country with unsettled borders, Serbia still seeks Great Power sponsors. From this vantage point, Nikolić is seen by many as more pro-Russian than Vučić. Tensions on this question have been simmering for a long time between the two men. It seems that the American elections present the possibility of novel global re-alignments, something Vučić is likely to have wanted to exploit.

To back up this claim, we need only perform a swift mental experiment. What would have happened had Trump not won? Serbia might have needed greater support from Russia in the event of a Hilary Clinton victory. Clinton is known as a tough opponent of Serbia’s claim to Kosovo. In these circumstances, maintaining Nikolić as president would have made sense. He could be the nod to Russia that Serbia still saw Moscow as a valued partner, while Vučić could deal with Clinton.

But in reality, things are now different. Donald Trump is certainly an unknown quantity. His team has suggested Serbia would have to recognise Kosovo to enter the EU – this is unprecedentedly frank. Like most things coming from Washington, it is being greeted with little credulity on the ground. Something, surely, is different in the US now. Trump is a pragmatist. The nervousness in palpable in Kosovo, with the “Newborn” independence monument, which changes every year, this year being re-arranged to read “no walls” – a message to Serbia, but also to Trump.

In this context, it seems Vučić thinks he is the better candidate to make the calls and make a deal with the US if needed. The US has also made fewer signs it supports Serbia’s path to the EU – amid a more lukewarm approach to the EU more generally – but it has praised Serbia’s desire to be closer to NATO. With Montenegro also on the verge of joining NATO despite mass opposition, Serbia remains a key link for the US hopes of ousting Russia from the region. Vučić as president could be seen as an asset in Washington.

New elections: a gamble?

Vučić’s decision to run for president has left Nikolić seething. Since the decision became public on Valentine’s Day, news has reached the press that Nikolić is preparing to stand anyway and break with his party, taking 12 MPs with him. Should this take place, Vučić’s coalition would risk its majority and rely even more heavily onDačić’s pro-Russian Socialists. This may suit Vučić – he is known to have compromising materials on the socialist leader’s links with the mafia underworld. So he could still run things as ceremonial president indirectly, and keep Russian happy by having Dačić as PM.

The trouble is that is still risky. Relying on Trump is a gamble. Taking on a ceremonial position and counting on others is not something Vučić could be keen on, though he has seen Putin do it before. With mass protests against his pilot project in Belgrade continuing, however, Vučić faces continued instability and possibly major challenges in the future. So he may risk a parliamentary election now. Who knows, he may lose out ever more in the uncertain future. Serbia’s balancing game between West and East may yet claim its least expected victim.

What should the left do?

For the left, this renewed instability opens up possibilities. Unfortunately, the majority of those organising protests in Serbia have already come out for the main liberal candidate, Saša Janković. The other liberal is ex-UN head of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremić, who may yet be seen as a more credible candidate against Vučić. The liberal opposition remains divided and unstable.

Belgrade protests, February 15, 2017

All the same, the masses on the streets are not all middle class liberals, and many are protesting attacks on public space – in other words, they are defending their social rights. The protests surrounding heating in Niš are even more clearly social in character. Worker discontent is palpable.

The left is still small and attempts at regroupment have so far failed. Nonetheless, possibilities for small groups of leftists exist. Intervening with clear demands placing class issues at the forefront can be a major recruiting ground for the left. The revolutionary group Marks21 has recruited from the demonstrations by intervening with a banner and leaflets.

Intervening can also help shift some of social movement actors to the left, changing the dynamic in the protests. Many are sympathetic and want to believe in alternatives. Building fighting united fronts and shifting the mass mood will encourage them. With local elections on the horizon, opportunities exist on that front of struggle as well, which can be used to strengthen the confidence of the movement on the streets and in workplaces.

Making links between similar movements for defence of public space and social rights in Croatia would be a further move forward, and not just because the Croatian movement is in advance of the movement in Serbia.

Creating such linkages across the region of the former Yugoslavia would be a concrete way of combating nationalism and showing the potential of regional federalism as an alternative to leaning West or East.

Similarly, another important campaign which could put the left in a position of prominence could be be emulation of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro.

With Greece also on the verge of bankruptcy, the Balkans will certainly return to the news in 2017 and 2018. The anti-capitalist left should not be standing on the side-lines. It should be in the thick of the struggle.

Posted in SerbiaComments Off on The Trump Effect in the Balkans: Serbia’s Third Election in Four Years?

The Legacy of Slobodan Milosevic

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Slobodan Milosevic was faced with an extremely serious and deadly situation in the 1990s. Indeed, that applied to all Serbs at that time in the Balkans, and still does to this very day. Mr Milosevic was up against the West, led by America and followed by the European Union. After realising that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia could not be saved, Milosevic did everything he could to safeguard the newly created Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and protect Serbs living in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo and Metohija. And because of that, the West imposed crippling and merciless sanctions on the FR of Yugoslavia.

And to make matters even worse, there was no country in the world which was able to come to the aid of Mr Milosevic and the Serbs. We have to remember that the world at that time was very different to what it is today. In the 1990s, America reigned supreme in the world – it had no challengers. Russia was on its knees as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and of communism, while China was in a developmental stage.

However, despite that perilous situation, Mr Milosevic kept the West out of the FR of Yugoslavia – maintaining its independence and its national industries and resources – and he preserved the territorial unity of Serbia and Montenegro, as well as ensuring that Kosovo and Metohija remained an integral part of Serbia. Like all leaders, Mr Milosevic made serious mistakes. However, he was a true Yugoslav and Serb patriot who ensured that his country and people would not be slaves to the West or, indeed, to anyone else in the world.

When Milosevic was overthrown in an American and European-instigated campaign, in October 2000, the West’s colonisation of Serbia and Montenegro began. Today, Serbia and Montenegro have been separated from each other by the West, have had many of their national industries and resources privatised and then sold off to foreigners, have seen their once mighty militaries decimated on the orders of Washington and Brussels, and are in an appalling economic situation. In short, both Serbia and Montenegro are now colonies and slaves of the US and EU.

The Serbs have been utterly humiliated by the West. That is a deeply upsetting reality. Everything which has happened to Serbia and Montenegro since October 2000 was prophesied by Mr Milosevic – his words were visionary. In concluding, Mr Milosevic was a bulwark against American and European imperialism, Croatian fascism, Bosnian Muslim fundamentalism and Albanian organised crime. Today, the world is suffering terribly from each and every one of those abominable groups – Mr Milosevic’s warnings about them have been vindicated. Furthermore, Mr Milosevic fought for the independence and sovereignty of Serbia, and for Serbs to be free and to have self-respect and self-dignity. I salute President Milosevic.

Why have NATO officials and Western leaders not been prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for war crimes in Yugoslavia?

The ICTY is neither a legitimate nor a proper court. It is financed by the US and EU and exists only to punish Serbs for having resisted the West in the 1990s, and to warn other people in the world of what can happen if America and NATO are resisted. In short, the ICTY is a tentacle of the US and NATO. The people who work for the ICTY are guided only by self-interest: money and publicity. It breaks my heart to see Serbs there. And it breaks my heart even more knowing that Serbs sent Serbs to the ICTY – and I am referring, of course, to Mr MilosevicRadovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic having been sent to that despicable place by treacherous Serbs. History will not be kind with those traitors.

Was the trial of Mr Milosevic “victor’s justice”?

The trial of Mr Milosevic was a farce. If the ICTY had had even the slightest bit of credibility, it would have allowed Mr Milosevic to cross-examine Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, who both have Serb blood up to their necks. If there was any justice in this world, Messrs Clinton and Blair would stand trial in a court in Belgrade for the murders of citizens of the FR of Yugoslavia, for the illegal bombing campaign of an independent and sovereign country (FR of Yugoslavia), and for supporting the KLA, a terrorist and organised crime group.  There was, of course, no judgment in the trial of Mr Milosevic because he died during the proceedings; however, he was the indisputable moral victor of the sham trial. He destroyed the prosecution’s case against both him and the Serbs, demonstrating the case to have been deceitful, political and prejudiced. Mr Milosevic and the Serbs were the victors.

The death of Milosevic leaves unanswered questions

I do not think that we will ever know for certain if  Milosevic did die from natural causes or not. Perhaps it is the case that he simply died from heart failure. But, it is true to say that the trial was not going well for the prosecution. Furthermore, the former Yugoslav president was in a prison and court run, effectively, by the US and NATO. Given that the Americans have no moral compunction in invading and/or bombing other countries, causing the deaths of thousands of people in doing so, it is well within their deprived mindset to have killed someone who was tearing their case to pieces.

How Milosevic will be remembered in Serbia

Today, Serbia is a weak, poor, small and landlocked country. And on top of that, it has lost its independence and sovereignty, together with its economy. There are now NATO supervisory offices in key Serbian institutions, ensuring that the puppet Serbian Government continues on the dangerous road to NATO and EU membership. So, for instance, NATO has a supervisory office in the Serbian Defence Ministry, the very building it bombed in 1999. Many Serbs today mourn for Mr Milosevic and realise that they took for granted what they had under him: jobs, salaries, pensions and national security. Of course, there were many problems in Serbia during Mr Milosevic’s tenure but these were largely because of the collapse of the SFRY, the West’s sanctions on the FR of Yugoslavia, and the West’s constant efforts to undermine him. Mr Milosevic’s legacy is very favourable and is becoming more so as each painful year for Serbia passes.

Why was Milosevic demonised by the west

Initially, Mr Milosevic was demonised by the West because he opposed the breakup of the SFRY. Then he was demonised because he aided Serbs fighting for their freedom and survival in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo and Metohija. Further to that, he was also demonised because he was running a socialist economy which ensured that Serbia’s national industries and resources remained nationalised and free from foreign control. Mr Milosevic stood in the way of the colonial agenda of the US and EU.

Regarding the SFRY, the Americans and the Germans ignited the wars in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, which destroyed everything that the heroic Yugoslav people had toiled away for since 1945. The reasons for that callous interference were numerous, from seeking the destruction of the last communist country in Europe to preventing Russia from having future influence in the new Europe to eliminating Yugoslavia’s military industry, which, by 1991, had accounted for seven percent of the global market.

Zoran Djindjic and his “democratic revolution”

Zoran Djindjic will go down in Serbian history as one of the worst of traitors, similar to Milan Nedic. He – and others – instigated the overthrow of Mr Milosevic and gave Serbia to the US, EU and NATO. He was working for the very people who bombed and massacred Serbs in 1999. How he could have worked with the Americans, the Europeans and NATO against his own country and his own people is, simply, incomprehensible to me.

The Serbs, throughout their history, have only ever wanted peace and freedom. Yet Mr Djindjic helped to turn the great Serbian people into slaves of the West.I only wish he had been tried in a Serbian court for treason. I will never forgive him for what he did to the FR of Yugoslavia and to the Serbian people. The suffering of people in both Serbia and Montenegro today is, in large part, down to him, though, of course, there were many other traitors, too. But, that is history now. Serbs need to reflect on their status today as slaves and rise up to overthrow Western colonial rule and the West’s current puppet in Belgrade, Alexander Vucic.

My affinity for the Serbs (and Yugoslavia) dates back to my childhood, when Serbs (and, indeed, all of the other groups in the SFRY) had freedom, security, stability and peace in their lives, under Josip Broz Tito (how Serbia needs a Tito-like leader today!). I am confident that the Serbs will, one day, rise and regain their freedom. After all, they defied and eventually beat the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians and the Nazis. And they will, hopefully soon, expel the US, the EU and NATO from their country. Serbs stand for peace and freedom. Justice is on their side, as it has been throughout their history.

Posted in SerbiaComments Off on The Legacy of Slobodan Milosevic

The Balkans: Endurance and Endeavour. Resistance to Foreign Oppression

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

I travel frequently to the countries which once made up the now defunct Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, satisfying a passion of mine that stems back to my childhood days. For me, the Balkans’ history, its people and its cultures are both enigmatic and magnetic, as they have been, too, for countless others, of many nationalities, over centuries gone by. 

Accounting for the enchantment of the Balkans, its captivating allure, is a challenge to put into writing. Because no words can truly embellish what is one of the most absorbing parts of the world. To understand and feel what it is to be spellbound by the Balkans requires one to travel extensively across the region, taking in its astounding geographical landscapes and talking, intimately, with its unfathomable inhabitants, whilst indulging in reading about the history of the region – Rebecca West’s classic Black Lamb and Grey Falcon constitutes, in my mind, the Bible of the Balkans, and is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon.

But the pull of the Balkans for individuals like me has also been a pull for empires, both past and present. The problems which have, over centuries, beset the people of the Balkans are overwhelmingly attributable to outsiders who have vied for domination of the region in order to satisfy their lustful self-interests.

This article is not about the empires of the past which sowed the seeds for the pain and suffering of the Balkans and, with this, the deaths of vast numbers of the region’s inhabitants. Nonetheless, it is necessary to cite those malignant empires which inflicted catastrophic damage to the Balkans, the effects, of which, continue to haunt the people of the region to this very day. So the offending empires are the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian, the German and the Nazi ones. To explain what happened between Serbs, Croats and Muslims in the twentieth-century requires a thorough understanding of what those pernicious empires did to the lands of the Balkans after they conquered and subdued them.

But for the purposes of this article, I want to focus on the destructive effects that the West’s colonisation of the Balkans has had on the economies and societies in the region.

During the period of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbs, Croats, Muslims, Slovenes, Montenegrins and Macedonians enjoyed a level of security and stability that they had never enjoyed previously. Under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia had an education system and a health system that were the envy of many countries in the world, while its economy surpassed, in productivity and prosperity, many capitalist countries in the West. In Yugoslavia, everyone had a job, a decent salary, a home, a guaranteed and healthy state pension and welfare benefits. Homelessness was non-existent in the country, and crime was as alien to Yugoslavs as the Renaissance is to Donald Trump; the simple truth was that most houses and apartments across Yugoslavia did not have locks on their front doors, while serious crimes such as murder and rape and organised crime were unheard of by Yugoslavs – they only encountered these crimes when they visited cities in the West, such as New York, Detroit or Los Angeles.

 The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia provided a period of respite for the long suffering South Slavs.  In the words of one Macedonian in conversation with this author: “Yugoslavia was a world within a world.  It was paradise.”

yugoslavia 1966 | foundin_a_attic

However, that paradise was turned into hell when Yugoslavia imploded in 1991-1992 as a result of Germany and America having encouraged and supported armed secessionists movements in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and then having recognised the independence of these Yugoslav republics. The actions of Berlin and Washington utterly contravened international law, severely undermining the United Nations Charter and the sanctity of internationally recognised borders. And why did the Germans and the Americans do what they did to Yugoslavia? Because with the end of communism in Eastern Europe, and with the Soviet Union at death’s door, the US and the European Community, as the European Union was back then, and which Germany is the engine of, firstly, no longer required Yugoslavia (during the Cold War, Yugoslavia had played a balancing act between East and West); secondly, they did not want a socialist country in the new Europe; and thirdly, they wanted to ensure that there would be no future Russian influence in the Balkans (from 1990-1991, there was a view in the West that Yugoslavia could turn to the USSR for support in order to guarantee its survival).

The destruction of Yugoslavia by the West shattered most of what had been achieved during Tito’s time. But that was just the beginning for the people in the former Yugoslavia. What followed has taken the Balkans back to being a colony.

Josip Broz Tito in cesar Haile Selassie v Kopru 1959

The colonisation by the US and the EU of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Macedonia has totally eradicated the security and stability that these countries enjoyed when they comprised Yugoslavia. The once envied health and education systems are now just memories, while the once prosperous economy lies in ruins. Homelessness is now widespread and unemployment is at shockingly high levels. The welfare state has been dismantled and state pensions are totally insufficient for people to live on. And organised crime is now a part of everyday life.

Most of the national industries of the former Yugoslav republics have been privatised and sold off to companies in the West or have simply been closed down. Many of the region’s natural resources are in the hands of foreigners, and the workforce of the former Yugoslavia is used as cheap labour by American, British, German and Italian companies. Furthermore, the markets in the former Yugoslavia have been flooded with foreign goods, resulting in domestic suppliers closing down because they simply cannot compete in prices. Coupled with pro-Western puppet governments in power from Ljubljana to Zagreb to Sarajevo to Belgrade to Podgorica and to Skopje, the Balkans is a brutal case in point of twenty-first century colonialism in practice – colonialism of the two empires which now rule the region: the US and the EU.

Recently, I was in Serbia and Bosnia, where I travelled extensively and spoke candidly with locals about the effects of the Balkans being a colony of Washington and Brussels. Each and every time I am in the former Yugoslavia, my heart bleeds for its people who have suffered terribly throughout their history because of outside interference, which has involved them being played off against each other, a tactic that the West has employed in a masterful way in the Balkans since 1991. Dīvide et īmpera is the foundation upon which the West’s subjugation of the former Yugoslavia is built.

In Serbia, today, most people do not have a contract of employment so they do not even have the most rudimentary of workers’ rights. They can be dismissed by their employer for no reason whatsoever and they are not entitled to statutory sick pay or holiday pay. Bullying at the workplace is rife, while salaries are depressingly low – the average salary is approximately 400 EUR per month. A Serb friend of mine, who has a PhD, told me that:

“All of the Tito-era employment legislation, which safeguarded workers’ rights, and which was subsequently protected by Slobodan Milosevic, is today being repealed by the West’s puppet Government in Serbia. Tito and Milosevic both believed that it was the responsibility of Government to ensure employment, with full rights, for its people. And Milosevic said time and again that to be in employment is a fundamental human right and that the rights of workers must be protected by the state.”

With unemployment standing at approximately 30 per cent, together with extremely low salaries and the cost of living rising, people in Serbia are having their electricity and gas supplies cut off, even in the winter months, when they cannot afford to pay the bills. People, including babies, children, the disabled and the elderly, are, literally speaking, freezing to death in their homes. An elderly Serb commented to this author that:

“Leaving people without electricity and gas was unthinkable in Tito’s time. Even if a household was unable to pay the electricity or gas bill in Yugoslavia, which were both very cheap, supplies to it were never cut off.”

The destruction of the Serbian economy, by the Serbian Government, on the orders of Washington and Brussels, is not only causing Serbs to leave the country, in the hope of finding a better future for themselves and their families elsewhere, but is also causing homelessness to explode to shocking levels. People living rough on the streets, once unheard of in Serbia, is now a common sight and especially in Belgrade. Both the Serbian Government and the Serbian Orthodox Church, both of whom are collaborating with western governments and, in turn, with each other, show little concern for the homeless in Serbia. Indeed, when I was in Belgrade last year, I saw a disabled, homeless woman crawling on her feet close to a bus stop, drinking water from a puddle, and a priest waiting for his bus there did not even bat an eyelid at this destitute woman.

Hospitals in Serbia, which during Yugoslavian times were renowned across the world like how today Cuba’s hospitals are, have become symbolic of Serbian society: decaying. There is little investment by the Serbian Government in the health system, and whilst medical care is still free in Serbia (for now), many Serbs choose to travel to adjacent countries, such as Italy or Hungary, to receive treatment which they know will be to a higher standard compared to that back home. A government which does not provide an excellent level of healthcare to its people should not be in power. But then again, the government of Alexander Vucic, like the governments before it, serves only the interests of its masters in Washington and Brussels – the Serbian people are of no importance.

During my stay in Serbia, I travelled to Bosnia and specifically a city called Zvornik, on the Drina river. Upon entering Zvornik, one is confronted with a symbolic sight of what has befallen the former Yugoslavia. On the Serbian side of the Drina, there is a rusting hulk of a factory plant. Whereas in Yugoslav times, that factory provided local employment and contributed significantly to the local economy and, with it, the national economy, too, today it is as quiet as a cemetery – another victim of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the colonisation of the region by the West.

Zvornik is a majority Serb city but with a significant Muslim minority. Both communities there live side by side with one another in peace, as they did in Yugoslav times. But in Zvornik, the people know about the consequences of the West’s rule of Bosnia. In the centre of the city, I observed just how many people – men and women – of working age were sitting in cafes for hours on end in the middle of the day. But then that is neither surprising nor an aberration in Bosnia and Herzegovina because some estimates place the national unemployment figure at more than 50 per cent in this country. Zvornik is a typical example of a Bosnian city which has not moved on for over 25 years; it is stranded in time. Neglected and left to die by its imperial masters.

Whilst I was in Zvornik, I spoke with two delightful elderly ladies, one who was a Serb and the other who was a Muslim, who both recounted to me their memories of Yugoslavia, saying how it was a country that provided to its people everything which they needed to live happy, secure and stable lives. They then contrasted Yugoslavia with Bosnia and Herzegovina, saying that the latter country is dying and its people with it. The Serbian old lady said that:

“My friend and I are not religious but if through prayer Tito would return, we would be in the church and the mosque all the time!”

Shortly before I returned to the UK from Serbia, I made a visit to Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina. On the outskirts of this city, I saw factories and construction plants closed down, left to rust at the hands of Mother Nature, on the instructions of Washington and Brussels. Accompanying me to and from Novi Sad was, amongst others, a Kosovan Serb, in her early sixties, who was born and brought up in Kosovo and Metohija. Nothing more demonstrates the antagonism and hatred exhibited by the West towards Serbs than the tearing away from Serbia of the cradle of Serbian civilisation – Kosovo and Metohija – by the US, EU and NATO and then declaring it as “independent”. Never, ever, will Serbs forgive or forget what the West did – and rightly so.

Today in Kosovo and Metohija, Serbs have been reduced to a very small presence and who are overwhelmingly located in the northern city of Mitrovica. Since NATO took control of the Serbian province, Serbs have fled in terror as a result of Albanian pogroms, while the Albanian authorities are complicit in the cultural destruction of Serbian sites, with between 120 and 150 churches and monasteries destroyed, vandalised or turned into toilets by rampaging Albanian mobs.

Whilst the plight of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija is miserable, the plight of Albanians there is equally as bad. The province is a NATO colony run by organised crime groups with extensive links to its so-called President, Hashim Thaci, a well-known boss of the drug, gun and sex trafficking trades and a notoriously brutal killer. Indeed, he once headed the infamous Drenica organised crime syndicate, the most powerful mafia in the Balkans. Since NATO’s arrival in the province, in 1999, organised crime has become the de facto economy there, so much so that British narcotics police refer to Kosovo as the “Republic of Heroin”.

Kosovo

With no job prospects, Kosovan Albanians have left the province in huge numbers, taking up jobs in countries such as Britain, France, Germany and Italy. The overall economic situation in the Serbian province is even worse than in the rest of Serbia, with unemployment standing at approximately 40 per cent and with salaries at a dire level – it is believed that 10 per cent of the population are living on less than one dollar per day. On top of that is a, literally speaking, deadly reality facing Kosovo and Metohija’s population: the consequences of NATO aircraft, in 1999, having dropped vast amounts of depleted uranium shells across the entire province, causing a massive increase in cancer rates there (the rest of Serbia is also suffering from this most vile of actions by NATO). So all in all, it is believed that Kosovo and Metohija has incurred a population exodus of approximately 400,000 since the province became a NATO colony.

During my visit to Novi Sad, I asked the Kosovan Serb, whom I was travelling with, about what life was like growing up in Kosovo and Metohija when it was a part of Yugoslavia. She commented that:

“Life was great in Kosovo under Tito, as it was throughout the rest of Yugoslavia. We had super times.  The problems for Serbs in Kosovo began after Tito’s death, when the collective presidency in Yugoslavia proved to be ineffective and the Albanian authorities in Kosovo took advantage of this and started to target us. That was when life became difficult for Serbs in Kosovo.”

When I took my seat on the flight back to London, I had expected to spend the two hour journey reflecting, on my own, about my visit to the Balkans. But what I had not expected was to spend the flight actually talking to my neighbour, in what turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and informative discussions I have had in a long time.

The gentleman seated to my right was a Serb in his early sixties who originally was from Novi Sad but who had emigrated, with his wife and children, to Canada in the late 1990s to build a better life there. We spoke about the appalling and sickening state that not just Serbia is in but that the whole of the former Yugoslavia is in today. And we lamented on how Serbs and everyone else in the Balkans are, once again, under colonial control. My friend, as he now is, spoke fondly and nostalgically of life in Yugoslavia under Tito. He recalled what a wonderfully exciting time it was to be a young Serb in the 1960s and 1970s, with so many opportunities available. Towards the end of our discussion, we pondered whether Serbia and the rest of the Balkans can be saved. We both concurred that the world goes through phases and that history demonstrates anything is possible. Whilst the situation that Serbia, for instance, is in today is absolutely abysmal and getting worse, it will not necessarily always be like this, we said. My new-found friend and I rejoiced in how the Serbian people have, throughout their history, resisted and overcome foreign oppression, from the Ottomans to the Austrians to the Germans and to the Nazis. We agreed that the occupation of Serbia today by the American and EU empires differs from previous empires in the tactics being employed but that the objectives are the same. By the time we touched down in London, I suspect that both of us felt refreshed not just in having spent two hours engaged in a memorable conversation but also in our conviction that the Serbs will, one day, prevail in the face of foreign oppression and, as a result, regain their freedom and independence. Thank you, Milan, for helping to raise my spirits.

So I end this article on an optimistic note: Serbia and the rest of the former Yugoslavia can free themselves from the shackles of Western oppression. The people of this most intriguing and cultured of regions have so much in common and have endured so much together. Today, their lives are extremely painful but by them resisting the policy of divide and rule by the Americans and the Europeans, a better future can lie ahead for them.

I am under no illusions as to how formidable the task is of the Balkans freeing itself from the yoke of Western tyranny. But history has shown that the unthinkable is possible. We must remember that and we must have hope because the alternative for the former Yugoslavia is too horrific to think about.

Posted in SerbiaComments Off on The Balkans: Endurance and Endeavour. Resistance to Foreign Oppression

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