Archive | Yugoslavia

Workers in eastern Europe and former Soviet states prefer socialism

As the dystopian reality of bourgeois exploitation and ‘democracy’ hits home, Stalin and communism are viewed with respect and longing.

Proletarian writers

Hundreds of supporters gather to mark Josef Stalin’s 139th birthday in Moscow’s Red Square, 21 December 2018.

Former Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s approval rating has hit a record high of 70 percent amongst Russians, according to a study published by the Levada polling centre. (Stalin’s approval rating among Russians hits record high, The Moscow Times, 16 April 2019)

We are used to reading opinion polls, and being justifiably sceptical about their findings. Very often, a tiny proportion of the public is polled, and the methodology is key to determining the responses and therefore the outcomes. In ‘the west’, so-called ‘opinion polling’ is in general a technique of population manipulation, rather than one of enquiring science.

In this case, however, we note the general hostility of those conducting such polls – as evidenced by the liberal sprinkling of their reporting with the terms ‘regime’ and ‘dictator’ in relation to the socialist and workers’ states, while they refer to the corrupt capitalist kleptocracies now installed as having brought the great benefits of ‘freedom, jeans, open borders and coca-cola’. Understanding that bourgeois biases were stacked against an accurate recording of the people’s hatred of their present exploitation, we can begin to glimpse a greater truth that lies beneath.

With this in mind, it is worth examining some of the opinion polls of the peoples of the former socialist countries, 30 years on from the counter-revolution.

Over the past decade, polls have been conducted in each of the former democratic republics, allowing us to gauge their experience of the wonders of free-market (ie, monopoly) capitalism. A number of well-known western-European capitalist journals seem to be shocked at their reported results. Bourgeois journalists couch their own surprise in customary cynicism and dismiss the longing of eastern European workers for the return of the decency and optimism of their lost socialist systems as ‘nostalgia’. In Germany, they have even coined the term ‘Ostalgia’ – a longing for the return of the socialist (east) German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Subtly twisting words to suit their agenda, these reporters attempt to cover up the truth when discussing the reality of working-class power and actual opinions of east European workers, derived from the lived experience of workers from the former socialist states. This kind of con game has long existed when discussing any country that doesn’t have a system of government of which western capitalism approves.

The full articles are linked to, and we invite you to read them – bearing in mind that every piece of data is used as a pretext for a subjective and irrelevant conclusion in order to launch an unwarranted attack on socialism. If the youth want socialism, they are ‘young and naive and not experienced enough in life’. If the old that lived under socialism want their socialist systems back, they are ‘nostalgic’ fossils, lamenting for their lost youth.

If we ignore the commentary and listen instead to the source, we will find that our old comrades – who have lived and experienced both socialism and the capitalist reaction, counter-revolution and restoration – themselves provide detailed and nuanced reasons for preferring socialism.

This is all the more remarkable given that most of those old enough to have lived under socialist systems in Europe did so when revisionism was already busy uprooting the gains of the planned economy and preparing the necessary conditions for the counter-revolution. In many cases, the years they experienced were the years of relative stagnation and decline (although the socialist countries never experienced absolute recession before capitalist restoration) that paved the way for full counter-revolution.

Russia and the former Soviet union

“The majority of Russians polled in a 2016 study said they would prefer living under the old Soviet Union and would like to see the socialist system and the Soviet state restored.” (Most Russians prefer return of Soviet Union and socialism, Telesur, 19 August 2017)

Ex-Soviet bloc

“Reflecting back on the break-up of the Soviet Union that happened 22 years ago next week, residents in seven out of 11 countries that were part of the union are more likely to believe its collapse harmed their countries than benefited them. Only Azerbaijanis, Kazakhstanis, and Turkmens are more likely to see benefit than harm from the break-up. Georgians are divided.” (Former Soviet countries see more harm from break-up, Gallup, 19 December 2013)

East Germany

“Today, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 57 percent, or an absolute majority, of east Germans defend the former east Germany … ‘life was good there’, say 49 percent of those polled. Eight percent of east Germans flatly oppose all criticism of their former home.” (Majority of east Germans feel life better under communism by Julia Bonstein, Spiegel, 3 July 2009)

Hungary

“A remarkable 72 percent of Hungarians say that most people in their country are actually worse off today economically than they were under communism … This is the result of almost universal displeasure with the economy. Fully 94 percent describe the country’s economy as bad, the highest level of economic discontent in the hard hit region of central and eastern Europe … The public is even more negative toward Hungary’s integration into Europe; 71 percent say their country has been weakened by the process.” (Hungary: Better off under communism? Pew Research, 28 April 2010)

Czech Republic

“Roughly 28 percent of Czechs say they were better off under the communist regime … Only 23 percent said they had a better life now.

“More goods in shops, open borders and better cultural offer are considered the biggest successes of the system that was installed after 1989.

“On the other hand, the voucher privatisation, the worsening of human relations and work of the civil service are its biggest flaws, most Czechs said.” (Many Czechs say they had better life under communism, Prague Daily Monitor, 21 November 2011)

The former Yugoslavia

“A poll shows that as many as 81 percent of Serbians believe they lived best in the former Yugoslavia ‘during the time of socialism’ …

“Forty-five percent said they trusted social institutions most under communism with 23 percent choosing the 2001-03 period when Zoran Djinđic was prime minister. Only 19 percent selected present-day institutions.” (Serbia poll: Life was better under Tito, Balkan Insight, 24 December 2010)

People in other parts of the former Yugoslavis, scarred by the ethnic wars from the 1990s and still outside the EU, are nostalgic for the socialist era of Josip Broz Tito when, unlike now, they travelled across Europe without visas.

“Everything was better then. There was no street crime, jobs were safe and salaries were enough for decent living,” said Belgrade pensioner Koviljka Markovic, 70. “Today I can hardly survive with my pension of 250 euros ($370 a month).” (In eastern Europe , people pine for socialism by Anna Muderva Reuters, 8 November 2009)

Romania

A 2010 poll found that 41 percent of the respondents would have voted for Ceausescu, had he run for the position of president. And 63 percent of the survey participants said their life was better during communism, while only 23 percent attested that their life was worse then.

Some 68 percent declared that communism was a good idea, just one that had been poorly applied. (In Romania, opinion polls show nostalgia for communism by Elena Dragomir, Balkan Analysis, 2011)

Ukraine, Lithuania and Bulgaria

“The poll showed 30 percent of Ukrainians approved of the change to democracy in 2009, down from 72 percent in 1991.

“In Bulgaria and Lithuania the slide was to just over half the population from nearer three-quarters in 1991.” (In eastern Europe, people pine for socialism, Reuters, 8 November 2009)

“In Bulgaria, the 33-year rule of the late dictator Todor Zhivkov [1954-89] begins to seem a golden era to some in comparison with the raging corruption and crime that followed his demise.

“Over 60 percent say they lived better in the past, even though shopping queues were routine, social connections were the only way to obtain more valuable goods, jeans and coca-cola were off-limits and it took up to 10 years’ waiting to buy a car.

“‘For part of the Bulgarians (social) security turned out to be more precious than freedom,’ wrote historians Andrei Pantev and Bozhidar Gavrilov.” (Reuters, op cit)

Why people miss socialism

It’s seemingly easy for the bourgeois press, who have to report these unfavourable findings to dismiss them as mere nostalgia. “Oh everyone loved their youth,” they clamour, “it is their youth they are nostalgic for, not socialism!”

It’s therefore worth taking a look at what people themselves have to say about their lived realities.

“Most east German citizens had a nice life,” says one former citizen, Mr Birger. “I certainly don’t think that it’s better here [reunified Germany] … The people who live on the poverty line today also lack the freedom to travel.” [We note that the ‘freedom to travel’ was denied not by the eastern republics but by the aggressive encircling imperialist powers, who put the entire existence of the socialist nations on a war footing, as they continue to do with the citizens of north Korea and Cuba, among others, today.]

“From today’s perspective, I believe that we were driven out of paradise when the wall came down,” one person writes, and a 38-year-old man “thanks God” that he was able to experience living in the GDR, noting that it wasn’t until after German reunification that he witnessed people who feared for their existence, beggars or homeless people. (Spiegel, op cit)

In the case of the GDR, it doesn’t seem to be mere nostalgia talking. It is far better to have a secure life and dignified existence without poverty than to have the ‘freedom’ to wander from town to town, half starving and homeless, or be forced to journey to a foreign land to offer your life and labour for cheap exploitation as your domestic economy has collapsed under the direction of the local kleptocrats and imperialist financiers. In any event, travel within the socialist world was possible and every worker had the right to long and well-paid holidays, maternity leave, carer and sick leave, and more.

What is important here is that an average worker interviewed does not go along with the propaganda narrative of the author. Political scientist Klaus Schroeder, director of an institute at Berlin’s Free university that studies the former communist state is cited in the Spiegel article, admitting: “I am afraid that a majority of eastern Germans do not identify with the current [capitalist and imperialist] sociopolitical system.”

Another point of attack we often see in the bourgeois press is that those who miss their socialist system do so because they were the lazy and untalented elements who therefore enjoyed the security of the state. In fact, a successful businessman interviewed in the article says that although he has personally done well, he is unhappy with unequal wages and pensions, and misses “that feeling of companionship and solidarity”.

Succinctly summing up bourgeois democracy, he says: “As far as I’m concerned, what we had in those days was less of a dictatorship than what we have today.” And he concludes that, as one of the fortunate ones: “I’m better off today than I was before, but I am not more satisfied.”

Speaking of Romania, the Balkan Analysis article concludes that it is not some nostalgia for their communist past that makes people long for socialism, but the fact that “people have felt increasing social and economic pressures and therefore their desire for social security guarantees has increased, regardless of education levels, age or social status”. In other words, economic insecurity has worsened under capitalism, bringing with it an increase in social dislocation, poverty, crime and unhappiness.

For the Russians, the case is simple: in 2017, Russians were spending more than half their income on food. The return of capitalism has meant a complete stripping away of any security for the vast majority and incredible enrichment for a miniscule minority.

Bulgarians are now also enjoying the ‘freedom’ to spend the bulk of their income on food: “We lived better in the past,” says 31-year-old Anelia Beeva. “We went on holidays to the coast and the mountains, there were plenty of clothes, shoes, food. And now the biggest chunk of our incomes is spent on food. People with university degrees are unemployed and many go abroad.” (Reuters, op cit)

“Looking on the surface, I see new buildings, shops, shiny cars. But people have become sadder, more aggressive and unhappy,” says renowned Bulgarian artist Nikola Manev.

Disillusionment with bourgeois democracy

This exponential rise in poverty and disempowerment has gone hand in glove with a disillusionment with bourgeois democracy. Just two countries polled out of the eight countries here were barely ‘satisfied’ with their democracy. (Hungary dissatisfied with democracy, but not its ideals, Pew, 7 April 2010)

Another common myth the bourgeois press propagated before the overthrow of socialism in 1989 was that eastern Europe was somehow imprisoned by its political and economic links with the USSR. The term ‘captive nations’ was ubiquitous in the bourgeois press. The president of the US was required every year to declare something called ‘Captive Nations Week’.

The bourgeois press and its propagandists continue to turn reality on its head, maintaining that eastern Europe was ‘free’ before the Red Army liberated it from Nazi occupation at the end of WW2, and that the new people’s democracies that later united in a security alliance (the Warsaw Pact) to defend themselves from the belligerent imperialist Nato bloc (whose bloodstained record is well known to our readers) was a prison of nations. In fact, before WW1, all of those states (with the exception of Czechoslovakia, which was so nonchalantly ceded to fascist Germany in 1939 under the Nazi-British pact sealed by British prime minister Neville Chamberlain) were ruled by oppressive and dictatorial monarchs or despots of one kind or another.

This disillusionment with bourgeois democracy can be seen in Hungary, for example. Seventy percent of Hungarians think it is very important to live in a country with honest multi-party elections, but only 17 percent believe this describes ‘democratic’ Hungary well. This also shows how, that despite their anger, the Hungarian proletariat have not quite seen off the fraud of the ‘multi-party’ bourgeois system, which provides a cover for the fact that behind the parties lies one ruling class that cannot be voted out of power.

Liberals who read this worry about a ‘disillusionment with democracy’, missing the point that bourgeois democracy is an illusion of democracy. In the west, you can change the ruling party or president but you can’t change the policies. Democracy in the former socialist republics has meant the policies of privatisation of public industry and services – the seizure of wealth that had been built up by the people and was formerly used only to benefit the people, but which are now being asset-stripped and turned into vehicles for profit-making. Capitalist restoration has brought a parasitic outgrowth of rentier cliques, whose only interest is in exploiting the national economy and leeching from its citizenry whatever they can get their blood-soaked hands on.

The capitalist counter-revolution: a modern imperialist holocaust

Those intellectuals and counter-revolutionaries who assisted in the dismantling socialism in Europe and the USSR had hopes of joining the parasitic imperialist club and living like the millionaire class of the USABritain and Germany. Instead, their people have become like those of capitalist Mexico – a source of cheap labour for western European and North American capital to exploit for superprofits, whether utilised in situ, or transported abroad.

After the counter-revolution, eastern Europe was systematically de-industrialised. Its formerly free states became new colonies – places to dump western goods, giving a much-needed shot-in the arm to global capitalism, which was just then heading into deepening recession. And with the de-industrialisation of eastern Europe’s economies, jobs were destroyed, forcing much of the young and able-bodied workforce to pack their bags and head for Germany, Britain and France, migrating to the centres of imperialism to find work.

The dire economic situation in many of the former socialist countries was accompanied by a historically unprecedented demographic decline. The return of the ills of unemployment, classical capitalist poverty and the desperation they bring have dragged all the ugly features of capitalist exploitation in their wake: mass drug-addiction, tuberculosis, HIV, prostitution, violence, crime and mental illness.

The birth rate has plummeted while life expectancy has declined by seven years in the territories of the former USSR and abortion rates have soared. This is rarely talked about, but represents a real capitalist holocaust and the deaths of unknown millions of European workers.

As mass privatisation and de-industrialisation were forced on the former German Democratic Republic, that once prosperous and proud nation required west-German subsidies of €130bn annually. Without employment prospects and with their society in ruins, east Germans migrated en masse. What freedom! A stunning population decrease of 2.2 million people from 16.7 million in mid-1989 to 14.5 million in 2005. (Communist nostalgia in eastern Europe: longing for the past by Kurt Biray, Open Democracy, 10 November 2015)

In Bulgaria, the devastating ramifications of economic privatisation and ‘democratic transition’ translated into the loss of jobs and professional occupations in the country’s villages. Mike Donkin, a BBC reporter and journalist, said in 2006 that Bulgaria had the fastest rate of population decline in all of Europe, “and the sense of abandonment is even greater in the countryside … Scattered across the landscape now are dozens of deserted or almost deserted villages.” (Maria Todorova and Zsuzsa Gille, Post-Communist Nostalgia, 2010)

The liquidation of collective farms reduced workers who remained in the countryside to subsistence farming and 19th-century production techniques, leading the young to leave not only the countryside but also the country. No wonder Bulgarians long to return to their lost socialist paradise.

A similar decline has been suffered in Poland. “As people leave, the economy is suppressed which encourages yet more people to up sticks and seek better opportunities abroad.

“And of course it tends to be the most entrepreneurial who leave, while more conservative-minded workers stay behind. Job-creating businesses which might have been set up in Warsaw or Krakow end up being established in London or Berlin.” (Poland asking workers to come home is shocking indictment of EU membership says Ross Clark, The Express, 24 August 2019)

The author claims this is an indictment of the European Union. In fact, it is an indictment of capitalism.

The Polish economy was hit particularly hard by the 2008/9 crisis, yet for the economy to be smaller in 2015 than it was in 2008 is an indication of the extent of the plundering of east Europe’s economies since the fall of socialism.

These results are not chance occurrences; they stem from the anarchy of the market in which capitalist nations compete to plunder the natural resources, cheap labour and markets of the former workers’ republics.

Is it any wonder that workers in the former socialist bloc are starting to see through the anticommunist propaganda with which they have been bombarded for years? Is it any wonder that the name of Josef Stalin is once more being associated with freedom, dignity and social justice?

We look forward to the day when the workers of eastern Europe are able to recover from the stunning blow that was dealt them by the collapse of revisionism and the capitalist counter-revolution, restoring and rebuilding a socialist society even better than the one they had before.

Stalin was a thousand times right when he predicted: “I know that after my death a pile of rubbish will be heaped on my grave, but the wind of history will sooner or later sweep it away without mercy.” (1943, quoted in Felix Chuev, Molotov Remembers, 1991)

The socialist genie is out of the bottle and will not be put back; the workers will not be kept down forever. Whatever its twists and turns, history has a way of moving forward; a temporary defeat is not the end of the road but merely a dip in the long march of humanity towards communist freedom. We have no doubt that the workers of Europe and the world will ultimately build socialist societies that empower them to develop their talents, harnessing their collective labour and the fruits of the earth to rationally plan a bright, hopeful and sustainable way of life for humanity.

Posted in YugoslaviaComments Off on Workers in eastern Europe and former Soviet states prefer socialism

Still Tranquil Belgrade

LINH DINH •

Pandemic, lockdowns, riots, disappeared jobs, collapsed businesses, empty fridges, closed borders, weird explosions and, just now, Beirutshima, so 2020 is already a horror show, but wait, it’s actually a mousy prelude to the endlessly crashing cymbals, just ahead. Many more ambulances will howl down streets. The empire will only exit with a bang.

Meanwhile, all is still relatively calm in most places. I hear a child singing outside my basement window. Each afternoon, kids play in my building’s narrow courtyard, then disperse just before five, to head home for dinner.

To reach the front door the other day, I had to sidestep four boys playing cards. As I fumbled with the key, one kid looked up, frowned and said something that sounded like a correction. I ignored the pipsqueak, only to understand immediately that he meant, “It’s already open, dumbshit.”

To fuss over trivia is a peacetime privilege, or curse. Here in Serbia, they squirt ketchup on pizzas! Italy is nearby, but so what. Everybody and his Kalashnikov waving grandma have their own way of doing things. South Koreans eat pizzas with corn, and dill pickles on the side.

Yesterday, I met a 70-year-old architect whose name translates as Lucky Darling. Nearly every morning, Sretan can be seen outside a beauty salon. Since its owners are two striking beauties, it makes sense for the old fart to park himself there. Sitting at a table, Sretan sips coffee, looks at traffic and waves at neighbors. Around 11, he wanders to Kafe Parkić.

“You should go there. Garden. Very nice.”

My spot is Dzidzi Midzi, where, perched on the balcony overlooking the sidewalk, I’m quite visible to passersby. Alien to a place, you won’t recognize anyone, but they all see you.

Although Serbia has reopened for tourists sans conditions, few have entered, and in Hadžipopovac, I’m the only Martian. It’s cool, though. Staring hard at me, a girl of about three smiled and waved, which brightened her mom also.

Despite their fearful reputation, Serbs are quite mellow, I’ve found. Yes, there is an edge here, as expressed by the graffiti, for example, with fans of Red Star and Partizan cancelling each other out all over town, and each time they clash, a riot is almost inevitable. Walking for miles across Belgrade, however, I’ve not felt anything like the tension or even menace that’s become banal in American cities, with each morning’s newspaper yawningly reporting last night’s carnage. My landlord never locks his house or car, he told me.

Vietnamese, too, are generally not aggressive. Save your butchery for when it really matters, tough guys. Queers strut.

In Busan, my friend Jung-min said, “We Koreans have all been in the military, so we know how to use weapons, but when it’s over, we forget about it. When there’s a war,” he chuckled, “we can be quite brutal.”

Sretan’s English is not bad. His wife is a career diplomat. Together, they spent two years in Tokyo, three in NYC and four in New Delhi.

“New York is fantastic. We lived in the middle. Sutton Place.”

“Very expensive!”

“Yes, very expensive, but my wife is a diplomat. I didn’t have to do anything. I just walked around and looked.”

“Did you go to other American cities?”

“Washington. We were there for 15 days. I didn’t like it. Washington is like a village. New York, great.”

“Are there many Serbs in New York.”

“No. Chicago.”

“I’ve heard. Did you go to Chicago?”

“No, but I know. Many Serbs there.”

When young, Sretan’s passion was karate, so Japan was particularly fascinating. Still, he disapproved of their lifestyle, “Japanese, all they do is sleep and work. No life.” He shook his head.

Opening a plastic container, Sretan offered me a baklava. “You like? No pressure. You like?”

It was excellent, “This is very good, and the coffee too.”

“I told you. I don’t lie. Turkish coffee, but Serbian style. She knows how to make.”

Sretan on Russia, “We are close. Russians, Serbs, same people. Slavs.”

“But Croats are also Slavs.”

“Ah, but… Between Serbs and Croats, there’s a complex. If I look at you and have a complex, then I hate you, but it’s nothing. It’s in my head, my imagination. People have complex.”

Like all who grew up in poorer societies, Sretan’s teeth are not perfect. Mine are fourth world.

Sretan on America, “They put pressure on every country. They bomb. Yugoslavia, your country. Saddam Hussein…”

“Iraq.”

“Yes, Iraq. Destroyed his whole family. Gaddafi… Libya, Syria, Yemen. No good. America must change. The cosmos will make America change. History, the cosmos. There are two new powers. Russia, Kina. America will change.”

Kina is China, of course. I picked that up just from walking around. Kineska robna kuća is a store selling made-in-China household goods. Kineski restoran is a monosodium glutamate factory.

There’s a Chinese department store, Panda, with two branches in Belgrade. Well-made and elegantly proportioned, Serbs can wear burlap bags and still look good, so they’re fine in bargain Chinese fashion.

Seeing a slim lady in black and white horizontal stripes, framed by body hugging red, I immediately thought, This is why you left your room today. She’s like an upright zebra crossing for sleepy lizards.

The many used clothing stores are dressed up with the English “Second Hand,” often coupled with Butik. When I was in Ukraine in early 2016, used clothing was sold in huge mounds, for shoppers to dig through. Haven’t seen that here.

In Kiev, I saw beggars kneeling under snowfall, heads drooping, behind soggy cardboard signs. They had just been color revolutionized by Uncle Sam. In Belgrade, beggars aren’t nearly as abject. Many are gypsies.

In plastic sandals and pink sweat pants, a scrawny teenage girl meandered into a pizza joint to mumble at each table. It’s called Poncho, oddly enough. Offering no burritos or tacos, it does have cacti painted on its walls. Its logo is a Mexican with a bulbous nose, handlebar moustache and a sombrero sagging over his eyes.

There are many gambling parlors here, an index of desperation, and even more Western Union outlets. Folks in each neighborhood need to easily collect cash from relatives overseas.

Like all of Eastern Europe, Serbia is hemorrhaging people like there’s no tomorrow. At least seven hundred thousand Serb live in Germany. Moldova has lost a third of its population since 1989!

One day on the street, a very cosmopolitan Serb gave me his thoughts on this issue, and more. Seeing me photographing, he started to talk, for he, too, had a camera. Also, he likely assumed I was Chinese. Turned out he had spent a year there.

“What were you doing there?”

“Studying the language. I’m a translator.” His English was excellent and practically accent-free.

“Have you been to the States?”

“No. I got a visa but I never went.”

“It’s not the same any more. It’s ruined. Still, you should go and have a look. Have you traveled a lot?”

“Some. It’s not easy for Serbs to travel. Just stopping at an airport, you have to pay for a transit visa. One year, I went to Brazil, but the transit visa for the UK was so high, I had to pick a different flight.”

“Wow.”

“It is ridiculous. When I was in middle-school, we loved British culture and British music, but the UK is not very welcoming to us Serbs.”

“Lots of Poles there.”

“Yes, but few Serbs.”

“So where do they go?”

“Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France. Many young people are leaving. Here, you can only make 500, 600 Euros a month, so after you pay for food and rent, there’s nothing left. There’s no future here. You can only live day to day.”

To make things worse, there’s the coronavirus, but that’s a universal problem. Tourism is comatose everywhere.

When Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian refugees swarmed over from Greece five years ago, they marched right through North Macedonia and Serbia.

“We used to see them on the highways, with backpacks. I talked to some of them. One man asked me, ‘What’s better, Germany or Austria?’” My instant friend cracked up. “They had walked all the way here from Asia, but they didn’t know exactly where they were going.”

To reach Austria, they still had to cross Hungary, however. “The Hungarians were tough. The border guards would beat them, so they had to dig tunnels.”

“But what happened on the other side? It’s not like they fitted in.”

“They had guides, smugglers. Coyotes!”

Even though his English was clearly flawless, I was still surprised by his use of coyotes. Some people just have supremely quick twitching synapses, man, while the rest of us must rely on miniature ox carts, bogged down by mud, prejudices and clichés, between our frayed neurons.

To escape Turks, Serbs themselves migrated en masse to Hungary in the 17th and 18thcenturies, but there are key differences, no? You tell me!

My instant friend remembered a trip to Switzerland, “In a restaurant, I met a Dutch couple. I also speak Dutch. When the man found out I was a Serb, he looked at me like I was a monster!” He laughed.

“He probably thought you were, like, a mass rapist!”

“And a mass killer! Dutch people, how should I say it, they’re very righteous, you know. They’re even worse than Germans!”

“Yes, but Germans are righteous against themselves. The most righteous Germans hate being German!”

We had a good laugh over that. It was time to go, so I stuck out my hand.

“No, we will not shake hands!”

“Oh, that’s right. Coronavirus!”

After 16 days in Belgrade, I finally spotted an American flag on someone’s clothing. In most foreign cities, I’d catch that several times a day. The wearer was a teenager, so born after American bombs exploded in his city.

It had 18 stars and 17 stripes, so both present and past had been tampered with, a common enough occurrence, though not usually so harmless.

U.S.A. MDTWN LOS ANGELES / CALIFORNIA was superimposed in black. NYC and LA are mythical destinations. Thanks to Hollywood, their color saturated, larger than life images have become parts of everyone’s consciousness, subconsciousness and memory, to flare up as teasing dreams.

As the American dream is snuffed out in situ, it persists as a quasi-religion outside it. Uncle Sam’s sexy fantasies about himself lord over foreign minds. The NY logo is the world’s most popular icon. Meanwhile, the country sinks into degradation and farce.

Crotch grabbing Michael Jackson feared actual sex, granite-jawed Bruce Jenner is a cleavage and leg flashing grandma, a casino hustler and reality TV star tweets as the president, Joe Biden never perks up unless there’s a squirming girl within stroking distance, and yet, even here in Belgrade, books by Michelle Obama sell.

It’s already 11 and I haven’t been outside yet. Done with this article, I’ll reward myself with a huge slice of pepperoni with mushroom at Poncho. The long stroll down there will be pleasant. From the most hideous apartment buildings will step the most lovely people.

At the corner, I’ll likely run into Sretan. “Come to my building and ring the intercom,” he has said. “If I’m home, you can come up and we’ll drink coffee.”

I’ll bring a bottle of Ždrepčeva Krv. From his roof, we can look down at a still calm universe.

Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.← Balkans Ahead!TweetReddit23ShareShare1EmailPrintMore

Posted in Serbia, YugoslaviaComments Off on Still Tranquil Belgrade

U.S. Is Pushing for a New Provocation Against Serbia over the Kosovo Issue

By Paul Antonopoulos

Belgrade and Pristina have resumed dialogue in Brussels, but the recent delivery of American-made armored vehicles to Kosovo could make the talks difficult and signifies Washington is once again attempting to destabilize the Balkans. Serbia and Kosovo returned to the negotiating table on July 16 after a long hiatus; however the hopes of Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy, to allow a constructive dialogue could now be in jeopardy. Washington’s delivery of Humvee armored vehicles to Pristina is a clear message to Belgrade that the U.S. will continue recognizing Kosovo’s independence. Washington purposefully sent the armored vehicles knowing it will create tensions in negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina.

The U.S. is putting pressure on Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to recognize Kosovo’s independence. However, this is in detriment to international law and UN Security Council resolution 1244, which is still valid and specifies that Kosovo is a Serbian province despite Washington’s recognition of its illegal independence. Although the delivery of Humvee armored vehicles makes little impact on the military capabilities of Kosovo, it is a symbolic gesture by the Americans to show they still have significant influence over Kosovo. Hashim Thaçi, the President of Kosovo and alleged war criminal, has always said that Washington should be an important player in negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo.

Kosovo is recognized as an independent state by the majority of Western countries, with the exception of five EU members who still refuse to recognize its independence: Spain, Romania, Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia. Russia and China, permanent members of the UN Security Council, have not recognized this either and are de facto preventing Kosovo from joining the United Nations.Kosovo’s Legitimacy Receives Massive Blow After Another Withdrawal of Recognition

There is clear proof that tensions are still high between Belgrade and Pristine, especially after Vučić attacked with virulence Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti, after the last round of negotiations:

“Is it nice to sit at the other end of the table facing Hoti and listen to his gibberish, saying that they are the only victims and that we are the only bad guys? No.”

The fact that Kosovo recently received a new shipment of armored vehicles from the U.S. will not help normalize relations between the two parties, but this is not surprising considering the Albanians are key to Washington’s policy in controlling the Balkans. Therefore, Belgrade likely recognizes that it cannot trust Washington to bring a resolution to the Kosovo issue, especially since Serbia maintains strong relations with Moscow that it is not willing to sacrifice.

The special relationship between Belgrade and Moscow is viewed negatively by both Brussels and NATO. They would rather bring Serbia under its influence. This is further complicated by the fact that Beijing has an ever-increasing strong presence in Serbia and is investing a lot in the country. Beijing always supports the preservation of Serbia’s territorial integrity, especially regarding Kosovo, which could mean that the Balkan country might be a future flash point between the growing rivalry between China and the U.S.

In 2012, Belgrade highlighted that officials during the presidency of Bill Clinton, who were in charge at the time of the brutal NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999, returned to Kosovo to invest – particularly General Wesley Clark and former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. Today Kosovo is a hub for drug trafficking, human trafficking and organ harvesting, something that Brussels and Washington are happy to turn a blind eye to.

Albanians are trying to unite in a Greater Albania that would serve the interests of U.S. foreign policy. The arming of Kosovo could be a consequence of this vision, especially since American arms deliveries to Kosovo contradict international law and could trigger a new armed conflict. This may be the hidden goal of the U.S. It is possible that Germany is also pushing in this direction, especially since Berlin was a key player in the dismemberment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The recognition of Kosovo’s independence opens the door to further destabilization, violence and potentially even a new Balkan war. With the U.S. delivering Humvee’s to Kosovo, it has signified that it has no interest in finding a lasting resolution between the rebel province and Serbia.

Posted in USA, Kosovo, Serbia, YugoslaviaComments Off on U.S. Is Pushing for a New Provocation Against Serbia over the Kosovo Issue

China Delivers Armed Drones, Missiles to Serbia, First Deal to Europe

China Delivers Armed Drones, Missiles to Serbia, First Deal to Europe

Serbia has reportedly taken delivery of a batch of CH-92A armed reconnaissance drones plus missiles recently, the first time China has exported military-use aviation equipment to a European country and a milestone for Chinese arms firms in the European market, analysts said on Monday.

The drones are expected to become some of the most advanced weapons in the Serbian arsenal, as the cost-efficient unmanned aircraft can conduct tactical reconnaissance, precision targeting, ground attack and patrol missions, experts said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic inspected the drones on Saturday local time, according to Serbia’s Ministry of Defense.

A total of nine CH-92A drones plus 18 FT-8C air-to-ground missiles were included in the delivery. Fifteen more drones are expected in future procurement, reports said.

Developed by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the CH-92A drone has a combat radius of more than 250 kilometers, a ceiling of 5,000 meters, and a maximum speed of 200 kilometers an hour, and it can carry two missiles, including the FT-8C air-to-ground missile that can reach targets 9 kilometers away, according to publicly available information.

Beijing-based military expert Wei Dongxu told the Global Times on Monday that the CH-92A is the best option for Serbia because of its high cost-efficiency. At a relatively low price, this type of medium-sized drone can offer precise tactical reconnaissance, hit ground targets including high-value targets and bunkers, guide artillery fire, and conduct patrol missions in sensitive areas such as border and conflict regions.

Chinese military observers pointed out that while the monetary worth of the deal is not high, this is the first time China has exported military-use aviation equipment to a European country, which will have great significance in Chinese arms firms’ position in the European market.

Wei said that other European countries that run on a tight military budget can now take a closer look at Chinese drones, such as the CH series and Wing Loong series.

Chinese arms firms have been active providers of military-use drones in the international market, as CH series and Wing Loong series drones can often be seen in the Middle East and Africa. As of December 2018, 100 Wing Loong drones had been delivered to foreign clients.

Chinese weapons and equipment are well known on the international market not only because of their high efficiency and low cost, but also good after-sales services and logistics support, observers said, noting that China does not attach political conditions to arms sales, unlike some countries such as the US.

Posted in China, SerbiaComments Off on China Delivers Armed Drones, Missiles to Serbia, First Deal to Europe

Сriminal Roots of Kosovo Further Exposed by Thaçi’s Indictment in The Hague

By Paul Antonopoulos

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić was due to meet Kosovo leader Hashim Thaçi on Saturday at the White House. This was at the behest of US envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell, after his much-publicized success in organizing the meeting. However, his success was short lived after Thaçi became indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity on June 24 by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office.

The US meeting has been put on hold until further notice, but as Vučić revealed, the EU will take over discussions between Belgrade and Pristina at a later date. It appears that France and Germany specifically will spearhead these meeting with the French Embassy in Kosovo saying on Thursday that “France and Germany expect Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia to resume soon. Together with Chancellor Merkel, President Macron remains ready to host a Summit in Paris.” German Ambassador to Kosovo Christian Heldt tweeted:

“Our governments stand ready to be helpful with [a] proposed meeting in July.”

Due to prosecutors in The Hague indicting Thaçi’s alleged war crimes during the 1998-99 Kosovo war, Kosovo’s new prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, said he could not travel to Washington to conduct talks with Serbia.

“Thank you, Prime Minister Hoti. We understand your decision and we look forward to rescheduling the meeting soon,” Grenell wrote on Twitter.

US President Donald Trump was hoping for a foreign policy victory just before the upcoming elections, but rather, the Kosovo experiment created by Bill Clinton in the 1990’s is beginning to crack. Thaçi in 1993 became a prominent member of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) and became responsible for the finances and armaments of the terrorist organization. The KLA financed its activities by turning Kosovo into a drug smuggling hub to distribute heroin and cocaine throughout Europe.Can Serbia Trust Washington’s Assurances in Upcoming Meeting with Kosovo?

A 2008 report by German intelligence service BND accuses Thaçi of having deep involvement in organized crime, saying that

“The key players (including Thaçi) are intimately involved in inter-linkages between politics, business, and organised crime structures in Kosovo,” and that Thaçi is leading a “criminal network operating throughout Kosovo.”

The charges laid against him by the prosecutor’s office in The Hague include murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture. He has also been accused of organ harvesting and drug trafficking by other reports and institutions. Although he has not been found guilty, it is well established that the KLA engaged in such activities, putting a mockery to the Albanian and Serbian Caucuses of US Congress suggestion in 2014 that Thaçi be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Geneva School of Diplomacy giving him a Doctor Honoris Causa degree as a Doctor of International Relations, and the Montenegrin town of Ulcinj giving him the title of Honorary Citizen of Ulcinj.

Before the scheduled meeting, Vučić said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed him about worrying information concerning various Western plans and ideas regarding the solution to the Kosovo crisis. Vučić pointed out that he exchanged opinions with Lavrov on a number of issues but that the key topic was the relationship between the two countries and Russia’s support for the integrity of Serbia and the situation in Kosovo.

“We received certain assessments from the Russian Federation […] which worried me. They concern various plans and ideas regarding the solution to the Kosovo crisis. I do not want to deceive anyone and hide from the public: obviously we are facing a difficult period, in which we will face great pressure to realize some plans that we did not officially or unofficially get, but based on the assessments of our Russian friends, it seems that we will have to be very careful in following every idea that is presented to us,” Vučić said at the press conference after their meeting.

Thanking Russia for supporting Serbia in the United Nations and in all international forums, Vučić said that it had been agreed that Serbia would consult with Russia on an almost daily basis, emphasizing that one thing was clear:

“If at any time and in any place a solution is reached, any solution requires the consent of Russia. We do not want everyone else to be consulted without anyone asking Russia anything.”

He added that Russia supported the dialogue under the auspices of the EU, while Serbia is ready to listen to all other political actors and their ideas. He emphasized that Serbia will be able to protect its vital national interests, regardless of the price it will have to pay.

It begs the question whether the Trump administration now has the willingness to come up with a solution for Kosovo, especially as it is evident that the Albanians are connected with the Democrats in the U.S. and the criminal roots of Kosovo’s independence are being further exposed. The indictment against Thaçi is a major embarrassment for Washington as they have been the main backers of the illegal separation of Kosovo from Serbia. If Thaçi’s allegations are proven true by The Hague, it would mean Washington would have always known about the criminal activities of the KLA and the ongoing criminality in Kosovo’s government, but chose to ignore them to carve out a pro-US state from a pro-Russia Serbia.

Posted in USA, C.I.A, Kosovo, SerbiaComments Off on Сriminal Roots of Kosovo Further Exposed by Thaçi’s Indictment in The Hague

Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities Exposed in New Indictment

by JAMES BOVARD

Photograph Source: TSGT Victor Trisvan – Public Domain

President Bill Clinton’s favorite freedom fighter just got indicted for mass murder, torture, kidnapping, and other crimes against humanity. In 1999, the Clinton administration launched a 78-day bombing campaign that killed up to 1500 civilians in Serbia and Kosovo in what the American media proudly portrayed as a crusade against ethnic bias. That war, like most of the pretenses of U.S. foreign policy, was always a sham.

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci was charged with ten counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by an international tribunal in The Hague in the Netherlands charged Thaci and nine other men with a “war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.” Thaci and the other charged suspects were accused of being “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders” and the indictment involved “hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents.” But the American media’s ludicrous bias and/or incompetence on that war continues. The New York Times responded to Thaci’s indictment with a tweet declaring that “Serbia’s leader was indicted for war crimes.”

Hashim Thaci’s tawdry career illustrates how anti-terrorism is a flag of convenience for Washington policymakers. Prior to becoming Kosovo’s president, Thaci was the head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), fighting to force Serbs out of the Kosovo. In 1999, the Clinton administration designated the KLA s “freedom fighters” despite their horrific past and gave them massive aid. The previous year, the State Department condemned “terrorist action by the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.” The KLA was heavily involved in drug trafficking and had close to ties to Osama bin Laden.

But arming the KLA and bombing Serbia helped Clinton portray himself as a crusader against injustice and shift public attention after his impeachment trial. Clinton was aided by many shameless members of Congress anxious to sanctify U.S. killing. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CN) whooped that the United States and the KLA “stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.” And since Clinton administration officials publicly compared Serb leader Slobodan Milošević to Hitler, every decent person was obliged to applaud the bombing campaign. (Alexander Cockburn was one of the few journalists who condemned the unjust war at the time; this 1999 Los Angeles Times column set the gold standard for calling out Clinton’s BS on Serbia.)

Both the Serbs and ethnic Albanians committed atrocities in the bitter strife in Kosovo. But to sanctify its bombing campaign, the Clinton administration waved a magic wand and made the KLA’s atrocities disappear. British professor Philip Hammond noted that the 78-day bombing campaign “was not a purely military operation: NATO also destroyed what it called ‘dual-use’ targets, such as factories, city bridges, and even the main television building in downtown Belgrade, in an attempt to terrorize the country into surrender.” NATO repeatedly dropped cluster bombs into marketplaces, hospitals, and other civilian areas. Cluster bombs are anti-personnel devices designed to be scattered across enemy troop formations. NATO dropped more than 1,300 cluster bombs on Serbia and Kosovo and each bomb contained 208 separate bomblets that floated to earth by parachute. Bomb experts estimated that more than 10,000 unexploded bomblets were scattered around the landscape when the bombing ended and maimed children long after the ceasefire.

In the final days of the bombing campaign, the Washington Post reported that “some presidential aides and friends are describing Kosovo in Churchillian tones, as Clinton’s ‘finest hour.’” The Post also reported that according to one Clinton friend “what Clinton believes were the unambiguously moral motives for NATO’s intervention represented a chance to soothe regrets harbored in Clinton’s own conscience…. The friend said Clinton has at times lamented that the generation before him was able to serve in a war with a plainly noble purpose, and he feels ‘almost cheated’ that ‘when it was his turn he didn’t have the chance to be part of a moral cause.’” By Clinton’s standard, slaughtering Serbs was “close enough for government work” to a “moral cause.”

Shortly after the end of the 1999 bombing campaign, Clinton enunciated what his aides labeled the Clinton doctrine: “Whether within or beyond the borders of a country, if the world community has the power to stop it, we ought to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing.” In reality, the Clinton doctrine was that presidents are entitled to commence bombing foreign lands based on any brazen lie that the American media will regurgitate. In reality, the lesson from bombing Serbia is that American politicians merely need to publicly recite the word “genocide” to get a license to kill.

After the bombing ended, Clinton assured the Serbian people that the United States and NATO agreed to be peacekeepers only “with the understanding that they would protect Serbs as well as ethnic Albanians and that they would leave when peace took hold.” In the subsequent months and years, American and NATO forces stood by as the KLA resumed its ethnic cleansing, slaughtering Serb civilians, bombing Serbian churches and oppressing any non-Muslims. Almost a quarter-million Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, and other minorities fled Kosovo after Mr. Clinton promised to protect them. By 2003, almost 70 percent of the Serbs living in Kosovo in 1999 had fled, and Kosovo was 95 percent ethnic Albanian.

But Thaci remained useful for U.S. policymakers. Even though he was widely condemned for oppression and corruption after taking power in Kosovo, Vice President Joe Biden hailed Thaci in 2010 as the “George Washington of Kosovo.” A few months later, a Council of Europe report accused Thaci and KLA operatives of human organ trafficking. The Guardian noted that the report alleged that Thaci’s inner circle “took captives across the border into Albania after the war, where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market.” The report stated that when “transplant surgeons” were “ready to operate, the [Serbian] captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Despite the body trafficking charge, Thaci was a star attendee at the annual Global Initiative conference by the Clinton Foundation in 2011, 2012, and 2013, where he posed for photos with Bill Clinton. Maybe that was a perk from the $50,000 a month lobbying contract that Thaci’s regime signed with The Podesta Group, co-managed by future Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, as the Daily Caller reported.

Clinton remains a hero in Kosovo where a statue of him was erected in the capital, Pristina. The Guardian newspaper noted that the statue showed Clinton “with a left hand raised, a typical gesture of a leader greeting the masses. In his right hand he is holding documents engraved with the date when NATO started the bombardment of Serbia, 24 March 1999.” It would have been a more accurate representation to depict Clinton standing on a pile of corpses of the women, children, and others killed in the U.S. bombing campaign.

In 2019, Bill Clinton and his fanatically pro-bombing former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, visited Pristina, where they were “treated like rock stars” as they posed for photos with Thaci. Clinton declared, “I love this country and it will always be one of the greatest honors of my life to have stood with you against ethnic cleansing (by Serbian forces) and for freedom.” Thaci awarded Clinton and Albright medals of freedom “for the liberty he brought to us and the peace to entire region.” Albright has reinvented herself as a visionary warning against fascism in the Trump era. Actually, the only honorific that Albright deserves is “Butcher of Belgrade.”

Clinton’s war on Serbia was a Pandora’s box from which the world still suffers. Because politicians and most of the media portrayed the war against Serbia as a moral triumph, it was easier for the Bush administration to justify attacking Iraq, for the Obama administration to bomb Libya, and for the Trump administration to repeatedly bomb Syria. All of those interventions sowed chaos that continues cursing the purported beneficiaries.

Bill Clinton’s 1999 bombing of Serbia was as big a fraud as George W. Bush’s conning this nation into attacking Iraq. The fact that Clinton and other top U.S. government officials continued to glorify Hashim Thaci despite accusations of mass murder, torture, and body trafficking is another reminder of the venality of much of America’s political elite. Will Americans again be gullible the next time that Washington policymakers and their media allies concoct bullshit pretexts to blow the hell out of some hapless foreign land?

Posted in USA, YugoslaviaComments Off on Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities Exposed in New Indictment

The Prosecution of Washington’s Kosovo Clients for War Crimes

By Ted Galen Carpenter

The United States and its NATO allies launched a military intervention in 1999 that helped the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) win its secessionist campaign against Serbia.U.S. officials justified that intervention on the grounds that Serbian security forces were committing pervasive war crimes against the Kosovar insurgents. American supporters of the KLA also asserted that the secessionists were staunch Western‐​style democrats mounting a noble resistance against Slobodan Milosevic’s corrupt, brutal regime, and that America had a moral obligation to support them. Speaking at a pro‐​Kosovo march in Washington D. C., Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) stated that the “United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles.… Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”

There was abundant evidence at the time that KLA leaders did not embody such values. Shortly after Kosovo became independent, KLA‐​supported mobs destroyed Serbian religious sites and waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing that expelled thousands of Serbs, as well as Roma and other minorities. Years later, evidence of utterly barbaric behavior during and after the war emerged. In 2010, an investigative report for the Council of Europe confirmed long‐​standing rumors that the KLA was involved in the trafficking of human organs, including killing Serb prisoners of war to harvest their kidneys and other organs. The lead investigator and author of the report was Swiss Senator Dick Marty, a highly respected champion of human rights.One of the suspects specifically named was Kosovo prime minister (currently president) Hashim Thaci. Yet U.S. leaders in the Bush, Obama, and Trump administration continued to back the KLA alumni who dominated Kosovo’s politics. The flow of foreign aid money from Washington continued unabated.

It now will—or at least should—be very difficult for Washington to persist in that policy.On June 24, Thaci and nine other former separatist military leaders were indicted on a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges by an international prosecutor probing their actions against ethnic Serbs and others during and after Kosovo’s 1998–99 war for independence against Serbia. The prosecutor for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, a court based in The Hague, said Thaci and the nine others “are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders” involving hundreds of Serb and Roma victims, as well as Kosovo Albanian political opponents. At the time of his indictment, Thaci was about to depart on one of his many trips to Washington to consult with U.S. officials on Balkan affairs.

This case is yet another shameful episode in which U.S. leaders have embraced thuggish geopolitical clients and portrayed them as committed democrats. At times, the United States has even gone to war on behalf of such odious clients.Washington’s support for Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress played a major role in America’s decision to wage the ill‐​advised military crusade in that country. More recently, Obama administration officials and many of their allies in the media have portrayed Islamic jihadists in Syria as freedom fighters seeking to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and, therefore, are worthy of U.S. backing.

Such chronic misrepresentations should not only cause U.S. leaders acute embarrassment, there needs to be a fundamental reexamination of America’s foreign policy to prevent such fiascos in the future. A good place to start is with a repudiation of the leaders Washington helped bring to power in Kosovo.

Posted in USA, C.I.A, Human Rights, KosovoComments Off on The Prosecution of Washington’s Kosovo Clients for War Crimes

21 Years Ago, NATO’s War on Yugoslavia: Kosovo “Freedom Fighters” Financed by Organized Crime

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Twenty-one years ago, June 10 1999, marks the end of NATO’s  aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia (March 24, 1999- June 10, 1999). The bombings which lasted for almost three months, were followed by the military invasion (under a bogus UN mandate) and illegal occupation of  the province of Kosovo.

21 years later on April 24, 2020, the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Hashim Thaci who subsequently became “Prime Minister” and “President” of Kosovo was indicted for crimes against humanity.

The Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office At The Hague filed an indictment against Hashim Thaci on April 24, 2020 ” for a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.”  

According to prosecutor Jack Smith, Thaci and his close allies “put their personal interests ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of law, and all people of Kosovo”. 

Nonsense: It took them 21 years years to acknowledge the crimes committed by the KLA. Those crimes were ordered by US-NATO. Hacim Thaci was and remains a US-NATO proxy. The KLA was supported by the CIA and Germany’s BND (Bundes Nachrichten Dienst).

Thaci was an the Interpol list. The KLA was also supported by Al Qaeda.

Balkan Insight 

From the very outset those crimes against the people of Serbia and Kosovo were committed on behalf of the Atlantic Alliance. NATO’s war on Yugoslavia was based on the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), their alleged “humanitarian” mandate was “to come to the rescue” of people of Kosovo.

The KLA had extensive links to organized crime involved in drug trafficking. In the wake of the 1999 war, 21 years ago, a Mafia State was installed in Kosovo. The bombing of Yugoslavia ceased on June 10th.

That same month of June, The US established in Kosovo its US military base Camp Bondsteel which constitutes “the largest and the most expensive foreign military base built by the US in Europe, since the Vietnam War”.

And then all of sudden 21 years later, the Hague Prosecutor says that Hashim Thaci is  a “war criminal”. His links to NATO are not mentioned.

In 1999, while the bombings of Yugoslavia were ongoing, some of America’s “Left” including  Znet were supportive of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), pointing to their so-called Marxist-Leninist roots:

At present, the only armed force capable of defending the Kosovar Albanian villages that remain is the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA). Despite political shortcomings born of the state of lawlessness into which the 90% Albanian majority has been thrown over the last 10 years, since Milosevic abolished Kosova’s autonomy, the KLA last year managed to organise an army of up to 40,000 fighters.    …

For example, Stephen Shalom, in an article on ZNet states: “I am sympathetic to the argument that says that if people want to fight for their rights, if they are not asking others to do it for them, then they ought to be provided with the weapons to help them succeed. Such an argument seemed to me persuasive with respect to Bosnia.”

In that same article, I was personally accused of having “discredited the KLA”:

“Michel Chossudovsky, a professor of economics at the University of Ottawa, has set out the most meticulous frame-up in a piece entitled “Freedom Fighters Financed by Organised Crime”, which has been doing the internet circuit. Full of half-truths, assumptions and innuendoes about the KLA’s alleged use of drug money, Chossudovsky’s article seeks to discredit the KLA as a genuine liberation movement representing the aspirations of the oppressed Albanian majority. …

Listen to the report of Democracy Now on the KLA links to the Drug Trade (June 2, 1999)

These so-called “half truths and innuendos” were the object of my article written in April 1999 at the height of the NATO bombings. entitled : Kosovo “Freedom Fighters” Financed by Organized Crime,  April 1999

A word in relation to the Indictment of Hashim Thaci. He was “a paid killer” acting on behalf of his sponsors.

The KLA was relentlessly supported by NATO and the US military.

The following article was written and published in April 1999.

Michel Chossudovsky, July 8, 2020

***

Kosovo “Freedom Fighters” Financed by Organized Crime

Michel Chossudovsky

April 15, 1999

Heralded by the global media as a humanitarian peace-keeping mission, NATO’s ruthless bombing of Belgrade and Pristina goes far beyond the breach of international law. While Slobodan Milosevic is demonised, portrayed as a remorseless dictator, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is upheld as a self-respecting nationalist movement struggling for the rights of ethnic Albanians. The truth of the matter is that the KLA is sustained by organised crime with the tacit approval of the United States and its allies.

Following a pattern set during the War in Bosnia, public opinion has been carefully misled. The multibillion dollar Balkans narcotics trade has played a crucial role in “financing the conflict” in Kosovo in accordance with Western economic, strategic and military objectives. Amply documented by European police files, acknowledged by numerous studies, the links of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to criminal syndicates in Albania, Turkey and the European Union have been known to Western governments and intelligence agencies since the mid-1990s.

“…The financing of the Kosovo guerilla war poses critical questions and it sorely test claims of an “ethical” foreign policy. Should the West back a guerilla army that appears to partly financed by organised crime.” 1

While KLA leaders were shaking hands with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Rambouillet, Europol (the European Police Organization based in the Hague) was “preparing a report for European interior and justice ministers on a connection between the KLA and Albanian drug gangs.”2 In the meantime, the rebel army has been skilfully heralded by the global media (in the months preceding the NATO bombings) as broadly representative of the interests of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

With KLA leader Hashim Thaci (a 29 year “freedom fighter”) appointed as chief negotiator at Rambouillet, the KLA has become the de facto helmsman of the peace process on behalf of the ethnic Albanian majority and this despite its links to the drug trade. The West was relying on its KLA puppets to rubber-stamp an agreement which would have transformed Kosovo into an occupied territory under Western Administration.

Ironically Robert Gelbard, America’s special envoy to Bosnia, had described the KLA last year as “terrorists”. Christopher Hill, America’s chief negotiator and architect of the Rambouillet agreement “has also been a strong critic of the KLA for its alleged dealings in drugs.”3 Moreover, barely a few two months before Rambouillet, the US State Department had acknowledged (based on reports from the US Observer Mission) the role of the KLA in terrorising and uprooting ethnic Albanians:

“…the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes to the police, … KLA representatives had threatened to kill villagers and burn their homes if they did not join the KLA [a process which has continued since the NATO bombings]… [T]he KLA harassment has reached such intensity that residents of six villages in the Stimlje region are “ready to flee.” 4

While backing a “freedom movement” with links to the drug trade, the West seems also intent in bypassing the civilian Kosovo Democratic League and its leader Ibrahim Rugova who has called for an end to the bombings and expressed his desire to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Yugoslav authorities.5 It is worth recalling that a few days before his March 31st Press Conference, Rugova had been reported by the KLA (alongside three other leaders including Fehmi Agani) to have been killed by the Serbs.Kosovo’s “Mafia State” and Camp Bondsteel: Towards a Permanent US Military Presence in Southeast Europe

Covert Financing of “Freedom Fighters”

Remember Oliver North and the Contras? The pattern in Kosovo is similar to other CIA covert operations in Central America, Haiti and Afghanistan where “freedom fighters” were financed through the laundering of drug money. Since the onslaught of the Cold War, Western intelligence agencies have developed a complex relationship to the illegal narcotics trade. In case after case, drug money laundered in the international banking system has financed covert operations.

According to author Alfred McCoy, the pattern of covert financing was established in the Indochina war. In the 1960s, the Meo army in Laos was funded by the narcotics trade as part of Washington’s military strategy against the combined forces of the neutralist government of Prince Souvanna Phouma and the Pathet Lao.6

The pattern of drug politics set in Indochina has since been replicated in Central America and the Caribbean. “The rising curve of cocaine imports to the US”, wrote journalist John Dinges “followed almost exactly the flow of US arms and military advisers to Central America”.7

The military in Guatemala and Haiti, to which the CIA provided covert support, were known to be involved in the trade of narcotics into Southern Florida. And as revealed in the Iran-Contra and Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) scandals, there was strong evidence that covert operations were funded through the laundering of drug money. “Dirty money” recycled through the banking system–often through an anonymous shell company– became “covert money,” used to finance various rebel groups and guerilla movements including the Nicaraguan Contras and the Afghan Mujahadeen. According to a 1991 Time Magazine report:

“Because the US wanted to supply the mujehadeen rebels in Afghanistan with stinger missiles and other military hardware it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA operation in Islamabad was one of the largest US intelligence stations in the World. `If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the US that forthright investigations are not being pursued it has a lot to do with the blind eye the US turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan’, said a US intelligence officer.”8

America and Germany join Hands

Since the early 1990s, Bonn and Washington have joined hands in establishing their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans. Their intelligence agencies have also collaborated. According to intelligence analyst John Whitley, covert support to the Kosovo rebel army was established as a joint endeavour between the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) (which previously played a key role in installing a right wing nationalist government under Franjo Tudjman in Croatia).9 The task to create and finance the KLA was initially given to Germany: “They used German uniforms, East German weapons and were financed, in part, with drug money”.10 According to Whitley, the CIA was, subsequently instrumental in training and equipping the KLA in Albania.11

The covert activities of Germany’s BND were consistent with Bonn’s intent to expand its “Lebensraum” into the Balkans. Prior to the onset of the civil war in Bosnia, Germany and its Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher had actively supported secession; it had “forced the pace of international diplomacy” and pressured its Western allies to recognize Slovenia and Croatia. According to the Geopolitical Drug Watch, both Germany and the US favoured (although not officially) the formation of a “Greater Albania” encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia.12 According to Sean Gervasi, Germany was seeking a free hand among its allies “to pursue economic dominance in the whole of Mitteleuropa.”13

Islamic Fundamentalism in Support of the KLA

Bonn and Washington’s “hidden agenda” consisted in triggering nationalist liberation movements in Bosnia and Kosovo with the ultimate purpose of destabilising Yugoslavia. The latter objective was also carried out “by turning a blind eye” to the influx of mercenaries and financial support from Islamic fundamentalist organisations.14

Mercenaries financed by Saudi Arabia and Koweit had been fighting in Bosnia.15 And the Bosnian pattern was replicated in Kosovo: Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries are reported to be fighting alongside the KLA in Kosovo. German, Turkish and Afghan instructors were reported to be training the KLA in guerilla and diversion tactics.16

According to a Deutsche Press-Agentur report, financial support from Islamic countries to the KLA had been channelled through the former Albanian chief of the National Information Service (NIS), Bashkim Gazidede.17 “Gazidede, reportedly a devout Moslem who fled Albania in March of last year [1997], is presently [1998] being investigated for his contacts with Islamic terrorist organizations.”18

The supply route for arming KLA “freedom fighters” are the rugged mountainous borders of Albania with Kosovo and Macedonia. Albania is also a key point of transit of the Balkans drug route which supplies Western Europe with grade four heroin. 75% of the heroin entering Western Europe is from Turkey. And a large part of drug shipments originating in Turkey transits through the Balkans. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “it is estimated that 4-6 metric tons of heroin leave each month from Turkey having [through the Balkans] as destination Western Europe.”19 A recent intelligence report by Germany’s Federal Criminal Agency suggests that: “Ethnic Albanians are now the most prominent group in the distribution of heroin in Western consumer countries.”20

The Laundering of Dirty Money

In order to thrive, the criminal syndicates involved in the Balkans narcotics trade need friends in high places. Smuggling rings with alleged links to the Turkish State are said to control the trafficking of heroin through the Balkans “cooperating closely with other groups with which they have political or religious ties” including criminal groups in Albanian and Kosovo.21 In this new global financial environment, powerful undercover political lobbies connected to organized crime cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence establishment.

The narcotics trade nonetheless uses respectable banks to launder large amounts of dirty money. While comfortably removed from the smuggling operations per se, powerful banking interests in Turkey but mainly those in financial centres in Western Europe discretely collect fat commissions in a multibillion dollar money laundering operation. These interests have high stakes in ensuring a safe passage of drug shipments into Western European markets.

The Albanian Connection

Arms smuggling from Albania into Kosovo and Macedonia started at the beginning of 1992, when the Democratic Party came to power, headed by President Sali Berisha. An expansive underground economy and cross border trade had unfolded. A triangular trade in oil, arms and narcotics had developed largely as a result of the embargo imposed by the international community on Serbia and Montenegro and the blockade enforced by Greece against Macedonia.

Industry and agriculture in Kosovo were spearheaded into bankruptcy following the IMF’s lethal “economic medicine” imposed on Belgrade in 1990. The embargo was imposed on Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanians and Serbs were driven into abysmal poverty. Economic collapse created an environment which fostered the progress of illicit trade. In Kosovo, the rate of unemployment increased to a staggering 70 percent (according to Western sources).

Poverty and economic collapse served to exacerbate simmering ethnic tensions. Thousands of unemployed youths “barely out of their Teens” from an impoverished population, were drafted into the ranks of the KLA…22

In neighbouring Albania, the free market reforms adopted since 1992 had created conditions which favoured the criminalisation of State institutions. Drug money was also laundered in the Albanian pyramids (ponzi schemes) which mushroomed during the government of former President Sali Berisha (1992-1997).23 These shady investment funds were an integral part of the economic reforms inflicted by Western creditors on Albania.

Drug barons in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia (with links to the Italian mafia) had become the new economic elites, often associated with Western business interests. In turn the financial proceeds of the trade in drugs and arms were recycled towards other illicit activities (and vice versa) including a vast prostitution racket between Albania and Italy. Albanian criminal groups operating in Milan, “have become so powerful running prostitution rackets that they have even taken over the Calabrians in strength and influence.”24

The application of “strong economic medicine” under the guidance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions had contributed to wrecking Albania’s banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy. The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to carefully position themselves. Several Western oil companies including Occidental, Shell and British Petroleum had their eyes rivetted on Albania’s abundant and unexplored oil-deposits. Western investors were also gawking Albania’s extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel and platinum… The Adenauer Foundation had been lobbying in the background on behalf of German mining interests. 25

Berisha’s Minister of Defence Safet Zoulali (alleged to have been involved in the illegal oil and narcotics trade) was the architect of the agreement with Germany’s Preussag (handing over control over Albania’s chrome mines) against the competing bid of the US led consortium of Macalloy Inc. in association with Rio Tinto Zimbabwe (RTZ).26

Large amounts of narco-dollars had also been recycled into the privatisation programmes leading to the acquisition of State assets by the mafias. In Albania, the privatisation programme had led virtually overnight to the development of a property owning class firmly committed to the “free market”. In Northern Albania, this class was associated with the Guegue “families” linked to the Democratic Party.

Controlled by the Democratic Party under the presidency of Sali Berisha (1992-97), Albania’s largest financial “pyramid” VEFA Holdings had been set up by the Guegue “families” of Northern Albania with the support of Western banking interests. VEFA was under investigation in Italy in 1997 for its ties to the Mafia which allegedly used VEFA to launder large amounts of dirty money.27

According to one press report (based on intelligence sources), senior members of the Albanian government during the Presidency of Sali Berisha including cabinet members and members of the secret police SHIK were alleged to be involved in drugs trafficking and illegal arms trading into Kosovo:

(…) The allegations are very serious. Drugs, arms, contraband cigarettes all are believed to have been handled by a company run openly by Albania’s ruling Democratic Party, Shqiponja (…). In the course of 1996 Defence Minister, Safet Zhulali [was alleged] to had used his office to facilitate the transport of arms, oil and contraband cigarettes. (…) Drugs barons from Kosovo (…) operate in Albania with impunity, and much of the transportation of heroin and other drugs across Albania, from Macedonia and Greece en route to Italy, is believed to be organised by Shik, the state security police (…). Intelligence agents are convinced the chain of command in the rackets goes all the way to the top and have had no hesitation in naming ministers in their reports.28

The trade in narcotics and weapons was allowed to prosper despite the presence since 1993 of a large contingent of American troops at the Albanian-Macedonian border with a mandate to enforce the embargo. The West had turned a blind eye. The revenues from oil and narcotics were used to finance the purchase of arms (often in terms of direct barter): “Deliveries of oil to Macedonia (skirting the Greek embargo [in 1993-4] can be used to cover heroin, as do deliveries of kalachnikov rifles to Albanian `brothers’ in Kosovo”.29

The Northern tribal clans or “fares” had also developed links with Italy’s crime syndicates.30 In turn, the latter played a key role in smuggling arms across the Adriatic into the Albanian ports of Dures and Valona. At the outset in 1992, the weapons channelled into Kosovo were largely small arms including Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles, RPK and PPK machine-guns, 12.7 calibre heavy machine-guns, etc.

The proceeds of the narcotics trade has enabled the KLA to rapidly develop a force of some 30,000 men. More recently, the KLA has acquired more sophisticated weaponry including anti-aircraft and antiarmor rockets. According to Belgrade, some of the funds have come directly from the CIA “funnelled through a so-called “Government of Kosovo” based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Washington office employs the public-relations firm of Ruder Finn–notorious for its slanders of the Belgrade government”.31

The KLA has also acquired electronic surveillance equipment which enables it to receive NATO satellite information concerning the movement of the Yugoslav Army. The KLA training camp in Albania is said to “concentrate on heavy weapons training – rocket propelled grenades, medium caliber cannons, tanks and transporter use, as well as on communications, and command and control”. (According to Yugoslav government sources.32

These extensive deliveries of weapons to the Kosovo rebel army were consistent with Western geopolitical objectives. Not surprisingly, there has been a “deafening silence” of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. In the words of a 1994 Report of the Geopolitical Drug Watch:

“the trafficking [of drugs and arms] is basically being judged on its geostrategic implications (…) In Kosovo, drugs and weapons trafficking is fuelling geopolitical hopes and fears”…33

The fate of Kosovo had already been carefully laid out prior to the signing of the 1995 Dayton agreement. NATO had entered an unwholesome “marriage of convenience” with the mafia. “Freedom fighters” were put in place, the narcotics trade enabled Washington and Bonn to “finance the Kosovo conflict” with the ultimate objective of destabilising the Belgrade government and fully recolonising the Balkans. The destruction of an entire country is the outcome. Western governments which participated in the NATO operation bear a heavy burden of responsibility in the deaths of civilians, the impoverishment of both the ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations and the plight of those who were brutally uprooted from towns and villages in Kosovo as a result of the bombings.

NOTES

1. Roger Boyes and Eske Wright, Drugs Money Linked to the Kosovo Rebels The Times, London, Monday, March 24, 1999.

2. Ibid.

3. Philip Smucker and Tim Butcher, “Shifting stance over KLA has betrayed’ Albanians”, Daily Telegraph, London, 6 April 1999

4. KDOM Daily Report, released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, December 21, 1998; Compiled by EUR/SCE (202-647-4850) from daily reports of the U.S. element of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, December 21, 1998.

5. “Rugova, sous protection serbe appelle a l’arret des raides”, Le Devoir, Montreal, 1 April 1999.

6. See Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia Harper and Row, New York, 1972.

7. See John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, The Shrewd Rise and Brutal Fall of Manuel Noriega, Times Books, New York, 1991.

8. “The Dirtiest Bank of All,” Time, July 29, 1991, p. 22.

9. Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999; see also Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997.

10. Quoted in Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999).

11. Ibid.

12. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4

13. Sean Gervasi, “Germany, US and the Yugoslav Crisis”, Covert Action Quarterly, No. 43, Winter 1992-93).

14. See Daily Telegraph, 29 December 1993.

15. For further details see Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997, p. 288.

16. Truth in Media, Kosovo in Crisis, Phoenix, 2 April 1999.

17. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 13, 1998.

18. Ibid.

19. Daily News, Ankara, 5 March 1997.

20. Quoted in Boyes and Wright, op cit.

21. ANA, Athens, 28 January 1997, see also Turkish Daily News, 29 January 1997.

22. Brian Murphy, KLA Volunteers Lack Experience, The Associated Press, 5 April 1999.

23. See Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3, see also Barry James, In Balkans, Arms for Drugs, The International Herald Tribune Paris, June 6, 1994.

24. The Guardian, 25 March 1997.

25. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, La crisi albanese, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, Torino, 1998.

26. Ibid.

27. Andrew Gumbel, The Gangster Regime We Fund, The Independent, February 14, 1997, p. 15.

28. Ibid.

29. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3.

30. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 66, p. 4.

31. Quoted in Workers’ World, May 7, 1998.

32. See Government of Yugoslavia at http://www.gov.yu/terrorism/terroristcamps.html.

33. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

Related Articles:

Kosovo Indictment Proves Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities

Сriminal Roots of Kosovo Further Exposed by Thaçi’s Indictment in The Hague

Afghanistan, Garden of Empire: America’s Multibillion Dollar Opium Harvest

The Destabilization of Haiti

Is the ‘Greater Albania’ Project Aimed Against Russia in the Balkans?

9/11, Osamagate and The “Blowback”

Posted in USA, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, YugoslaviaComments Off on 21 Years Ago, NATO’s War on Yugoslavia: Kosovo “Freedom Fighters” Financed by Organized Crime

Easing congestion in Sarajevo Canton with EBRD support

By: Axel  Reiserer

Easing congestion in Sarajevo Canton with EBRD support
  • EBRD loan of up to €30 million for modernisation and upgrade of road network
  • Improvements will ease congestion and provide better transport for people and goods
  • Sarajevo Canton is most densely populated area of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital city Sarajevo and the surrounding Sarajevo Canton will benefit from a loan of up to €30 million provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for the modernisation and upgrade of its strategic road network.

The EBRD financing will fund improvements of urban transport in Sarajevo, enabling better connections with other parts of the Canton. Investments will include the construction of a new twin pipe tunnel near the city centre (on the 1st Transversal road) and a dual carriage road at the end of the Sarajevo bypass (on the 9th Transversal road).

The upgrade of the road network will also improve local and regional transport connections and cut air pollution by reducing congestion due to shorter travel times. With some 450,000 inhabitants, Sarajevo Canton accounts for almost 13 per cent of the country’s total population.

The approval of the loan agreement took place before the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina hard. As the country lifts healthcare restrictions and adopts measures to support the economy, the need for modern infrastructure becomes ever more apparent.

Manuela Naessl, EBRD Head of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “We are very pleased to sign this loan agreement today, which has been some time in the making, but will have a long-lasting impact on the city and the Canton. Sarajevo suffers from traffic congestion and significant air pollution, particularly during the winter time. While we are also heavily investing with the Canton in improving public transport, better, faster and safer road transport connections mean less congestion and better trade and economic opportunities.”

Since it began operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996, the EBRD has invested €2.6 billion in 177 projects there. Investing in transport infrastructure to allow the local economy to expand and supporting regional integration are two of the Bank’s priorities in the country.

During 2020 and 2021 the EBRD expects to dedicate its entire investment volume of up to €21 billion across all the economies where it invests to overcome the impact of the crisis.

Posted in BosniaComments Off on Easing congestion in Sarajevo Canton with EBRD support

EBRD supporting real economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina

By: Axel  Reiserer

  • EBRD loan of €5 million to Mikrofin Banja Luka
  • Support for local enterprises affected by impact of coronavirus pandemic
  • Strengthening resilience of the private sector

Micro and small enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to draw on support from Mikrofin d.o.o. Banja Luka to overcome the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to a €5 million loan provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The financing will be used to offer short-term liquidity to micro enterprises and small-scale farmers. Bosnia and Herzegovina has been hit hard by the economic impact of the crisis. Despite progress in the lifting of public health measures many businesses face unprecedented challenges.

Helping enterprises to overcome the crisis is the goal of the EBRD’s €4 billion Resilience Framework designed to provide existing clients with liquidity support and short-term capital. It is part of the Bank’s Solidarity Package, which also includes trade finance and the restructuring of exposures. The EBRD is dedicating all of its work in 2020-21 to combating the economic impact of Covid-19 and expects to invest up to €21 billion in this period.

Mikrofin is the largest microfinance institution in Bosnia and Herzegovina and operates branches throughout the country. CEO Mladen Bosnić said: “We have a long and successful cooperation with the EBRD and we are looking forward to continuing our work towards the same goal, which is providing support to entrepreneurs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The new financing will enable Mikrofin to extend new loans to micro and small-business entrepreneurs who we consider to be the most inventive and productive segment of our economy. It is important to mention that this loan was negotiated during the Covid-19 crisis, which confirms the EBRD’s strong commitment to supporting small businesses now that they need it more than ever.”

Manuela Naessl, EBRD Head of Bosnia and Herzegovina, added: “I am very pleased with our loan to Mikrofin today, which will support micro and small companies and strengthen their resilience to the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their businesses.”

Since it began operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996, the EBRD has invested €2.6 billion in 177 projects there.

Posted in BosniaComments Off on EBRD supporting real economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk