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Date: Tue, 10 Dec 96 14:30:46 CST
From: "Workers World" <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Belgrade danger: Privatizers on the march
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 12, 1996

Belgrade danger: Privatizers on the march

By Sara Flounders, Workers World, 12 December 1996

Following daily anti-government demonstrations of tens of thousands in Belgrade and other cities, the major corporate media here have discussed the possibility of overthrowing the government of Yugoslavia.

Given the middle-class composition of the demonstrators, the reactionary parties leading them, and the sympathy of the imperialist West for the actions, these events raise the danger of a thorough counter-revolution.

Yugoslavia now consists of only the two republics of Serbia and Montenegro. It is the only country in Europe where even the bare bones of socialist ownership of the means of production has survived. It is the last holdout to the enforced privatization of industry and resources in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

The media in the U.S. have focused on the Yugoslav government's canceling local elections. But fueling the growing demonstrations are the extreme economic hardships the population faces.

The U.S. and other imperialist powers have consciously aimed to destroy the Yugoslav economy. They are determined to crush any resistance to the capitalist market.

For almost four years now the UN Security Council has imposed harsh economic sanctions. These have stifled manufacturing and mining, and choked off trade and credits. The large state industries were forced to shut down and the economy is in crisis.

The Yugoslav government has struggled to maintain the free, nationalized health-care program and to guarantee pensions. In addition there is the enormous cost of providing for over 1 million refugees of the civil war in Bosnia who have sought refuge in Serbia.

The Clinton administration prom ised a year ago to immediately lift the sanctions if Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic would break with the Bosnian Serbs and sign the Dayton Accords. At the time NATO planes carried out 4,400 bombing sorties of Bosnian Serb positions and threatened to bomb the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade.

Milosevic signed the accords.


However, a Nov. 26 Associated Press story makes it clear that despite Washington's promises the sanctions never really ended. The U.S. continued an "out er wall" of sanctions according to State Department spokesperson Nich olas Burns. The U.S. blocked Yugoslav access to foreign financial markets, investments or assistance, making it impossible to revive the economy.

These sanctions will continue because, as Barnes said, "We reserve the right to take any action consistent with our interests here. ... The outer wall of sanctions will remain."

In the U.S. corporate media the daily anti-government demonstrations of the past two weeks are always described as rallies for democracy, and the main opposition party calls itself the Democratic Party. Its real aim, however, is to pull down the Milosevic government that has attempted through zig-zags and maneuvers to resist the complete takeover of Yugoslavia by imperialist forces.

The main voice of this movement is a slick new newspaper, called Blitz, which went into print Sept. 16. According to the Nov. 27 Washington Post, German capital backs this publication. Blitz not only has the cheapest newsstand price, it offers raffles and gives away cars to promote circulation, which has already reached 200,000 copies.


The Yugoslav Federation broke up in 1991 when, with U.S. and especially German assistance, right-wing nationalist pro-capitalist groupings came to power in the Republics of Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia.

Serbian President Milosevic attempted to rally opposition to the break-up of the Yugoslav Federation and to a Western capitalist takeover of the region. But instead of appealing to Serbian workers on the principled basis of socialist solidarity and unity of the peoples in the different Yugoslav republics, he made a narrow appeal to Serbian nationalism.

During this time the pro-capitalist opposition opposed Milosevic for using nationalism. As soon as the Milosevic government, under U.S. pressure, signed the Dayton Accords and to broke with the Bosnian Serbs, the opposition attacked him for selling out Serbian nationalism.

Zoran Djinjic, the leader of the pro-capitalist opposition in Serbia, said: "Our primary goal is to reform the economy and push Yugoslavia into Western Europe, but we cannot rally popular support around an economic program. This is why we are building our movement on Serbian nationalism." (New York Times, Dec. 1)

The pro-capitalist opposition still has difficulty winning working-class support. According to media reports, the social base of the anti-Milosevic movement and the composition of the demonstrations is still the middle class, professionals and intellectuals. This grouping is relying on the deteriorating economy to wear down and demoralize the working class.

Even after the forced dismemberment of Yugoslavia, five years of war and sanctions, a million refugees and NATO bombings, according to all reports and polls the Serbian workers still are opposed to a complete capitalist takeover. They determinedly support social ownership of the means of production.

While the Milosevic government may not be popular, many workers still believe its removal will also eliminate whatever is left from the socialist revolution of 50 years ago. They have seen the horrors the counter-revolution has brought to workers in Russia and Eastern Europe and don't want it in Serbia and Montenegro.

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