(Article sent to "The Guardian" at the start of the bombardment of Yugoslavia which was refused publication)

Ethnic cleansing and the criminal role of the centre-‘left’



The massive NATO bombardments launched by the ‘progressive’ governments of Clinton, Blair, Schreder, Jospin, D’Alema and co, (in cooperation with the bankrupt green parties which continue to participate in several of them) showed, once more after the recent bombings of Iraq, the criminal character of centre-‘left’. The bombings make it even clearer that their real aim is not to stop the ethnic cleansing, which the Serbian elite has initiated long ago, but:

  • first, to impose the New Order in the Balkans and to fully integrate Yugoslavia into the internationalised market economy and
  • second, to establish an alternative ethnic cleansing which is compatible with the above aim.  

As far as the first aim is concerned, the choice of targets reflects a desire to hit not just the military but also the economic infrastructure of Yugoslavia. This, coming after a long-lasting and crippling embargo, is an indication of the multiplicity of western objectives. In the Yugoslavian case, the punishment had to be exemplary since it is a European country, which dares to refuse to be integrated into the political/military and economic institutions which reflect the New Order (‘new’ NATO and EU respectively). This is why the West, on the pretext of the criminal policy of ethnic cleansing which the Yugoslavian elite has consistently implemented throughout this decade, has taken the decision to dismember this country. The dismembering started with the recognition of Croatia by Germany, which, according to Hans Dietrich Genscher the then Foreign Minister, was his greatest achievement! What followed was inevitable. Yugoslavia, after going through a process of a systematic ethnic cleansing which cost the life and the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of people, was broken up. The benefit for the West of dismantling Yugoslavia was the neutralisation of the only non-dependent on the West Balkan state, through the creation of a handful of small states fully dependent on the West and the isolation of the Serbs, who had not shown any real desire to lose their independence. Today, they have to pay the price for it.

As regards the second aim, the Paris ‘agreement’ makes clear that the western elites’ objective is the gradual independence of Kosovo. The provision that the autonomy to be granted in the first stage is to be enforced by a NATO ‘peace’ force implies that the real aim is the creation of a ‘pure’ Albanian autonomous state-entity in Kosovo which, at a later stage, will inevitably join Albania itself. This ‘scenario’ means uprooting 10% of the present population which constitutes the present Serbian minority. The Serbian elite, facing the imminent danger of further dismantlement, which became visible by the Paris ‘agreement’ that the West tried to impose on them, decided to resist, in the hope that the inevitable conflict will create the chance for the partition of Kosovo. The partition scenario means the uprooting of many Serbs and even more Albanians. Therefore, the aim of both the Western and the Yugoslavian elites is ethnic cleansing, albeit with a different content. But, to understand the significance of today’s events we have to go back to recent History.

Although the demographic structure of Kosovo changed significantly during the second world war, when the Axis powers granted Kosovo to Albania, detaching it from Yugoslavia, and accompanied this act with the massive movement of Albanians from Albania proper, still, even in 1912, when Kosovo was liberated by the Serbs from the Ottoman rule, the Serbian population was only 21% of the total.[1] It was this predominance of the Albanian population which had fuelled constant pressures, even during the Tito era, for some kind of autonomy. Tito, in response to these pressures, granted a significant degree of autonomy to Kosovo in the 1974 constitution which included a local parliament, police etc. However, Tito never declared Kosovo as a federal republic like Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia ―whose an autonomous part Kosovo was going to be. This led to the creation of the National Liberation Front of Kosovo in the mid seventies which attracted some Albanian support. But, the majority of Kosovars lived relatively harmoniously in the (officially) multi-cultural environment which constituted Tito’s society, despite the fact of course that class as well as ethnic frictions never went away.

With the collapse of ‘existing socialism’ in Eastern Europe, the Yugoslavian nomenclature, facing the visible danger of losing power, moved from socialist to nationalist ideology. Thus, when Milosevic in 1989 abolished the autonomy of Kosovo, he launched, in effect, the neo-nationalist Serbian movement. This move led to the revival of nationalist tensions not only in Kosovo itself but also in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and elsewhere, where independence movements flourished and led to nationalist governments at first, to be followed by armed struggle. Kosovo was the only part of the ex-Yugoslavia which remained out of this process, with the Serbs, in a hopeless attempt to keep the status quo, continuing and, lately intensifying, the repression of the Albanians. The latest intensification of repression was in direct response to the armed struggle initiated by KLA, which enjoyed full material and other support by the US and Germany in particular.

It was within the context of the violence initiated within this process, well advertised by western media (although this time they were supporting a movement which in a different context would have been exorcised as ‘terrorist’) that the mechanism to manipulate public opinion was set in. The Americans, repeating the successful procedure of deceiving public opinion that applied during the Gulf war, embarked on a process to  create the image of  serious ‘negotiations’ going on with the Serbs to avoid the impending war. Needless to say that the only ‘choice’ given to the Serbs during these negotiations was to either accept the plan voluntarily or by force! The only difference with the Gulf war was that, on this occasion, the West did not even bother to pretend that it abides by the rules:  the United Nations procedure was simply thrown away. The NATO ‘defence’ mechanism took over, whose defence was supposed to be under threat because of Milosevic, whom Clinton dutifully compared, treading on the heels of Bush, with Hitler. Lately, the world seems crowded with Hitlers threatening the peace-loving West which, however, having learned the lessons of the past, respond by bombing. Always in advance!

It is particularly indicative of western (and the new ‘Third Way’) hypocrisy that they invoke Kosovars’ human rights and Serb ‘brutality’ to justify the criminal bombardment, forgetting in the process the Israeli brutality in the occupied territories, the Turkish genocide in Kurdistan, the ethnic cleansing in Cyprus, the massacre of one quarter of the Timorese population and so on. Still, apart from their highly selective memory, the bombings themselves is another indication of the ethnic cleansing plan that they are currently implementing. As Western military analysts stress, the dynamic that will be set in motion by the aerial bombardment itself is almost certain to create an even bigger wave of refugees than at present, which will in fact be the basis for the new ethnic cleansing.[2] This is particularly so, given that the use of ground forces has been excluded, due to the significant potential losses to NATO troops.

It is therefore clear that the idea of a multi-cultural society is only for internal consumption in the West, where the use of cheap labour from other countries is particularly useful for the smooth functioning of the market economy. As even some Western liberal analysts openly state, monoethnic states may be the best solution for the underdeveloped Balkans.[3] Had the centre-‘left’ governments been really interested in the human rights of Kosovars there was a solution. They could have provided economic and other assistance to encourage the creation of a truly multicultural society in present Yugoslavia in the first stage and the development of a new confederation of the peoples of ex-Yugoslavia at a later stage. Instead, they prefer to bomb out the Serbian brand of ethnic cleansing in order to impose their own brand, which happens to be consistent with the strategic and economic interests of the ruling elites in the West.


[1] Noel Malcolm, A Short History of Kosovo  (Macmillan)

[2] Jonathan Eyal, The Guardian, 24/3/98

[3] Timothy Garton Ash, New York Review of Books, 14/1/99.