From Thu Jan 1 15:45:06 2004
From: “WW News Service” <>
To: “WW News Service” <>
Subject: wwnews Digest #742
Date: Thu, 01 Jan 2004 15:31:25 -0500

Serbia's voters defy U.S. NATO and Hague Tribunal

By John Catalinotto, Workers World, 8 January 2004

In the largest turnout in three years, voters in Serbia's national elections on Dec. 28 rejected the U.S.-NATO definition of who was good and who was bad for them. They voted into parliament two party leaders now behind bars in Scheveningen prison in The Hague facing war-crimes charges.

An election by itself can only indicate changes in the mood and consciousness of the population. This one indicated that 36 percent of the Serbian population would rather vote for an alleged war criminal, vilified and demonized, than for those who have been giving their country away to the imperialist monopolies for the past three years. They cast that vote even though they know it may mean more attacks from the West.

Voters in Serbia were also rejecting the efforts of NATO's tribunal at The Hague to blame Serb leaders and Serbia itself for the 10 years of civil war in the Balkans, which in fact were fomented by the U.S., Germany and other NATO powers.

Vojislav Seselj led the ticket of the Serbian Radical Party (SRP), a Serb nationalist party and the big electoral winner with 28 percent of the votes and 81 of 250 seats in parliament. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic led the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) ticket. With 8 percent of the vote and 22 members seated, it made the best showing since Milo sevic was driven from office in 2000.

The servile pro-Western, pro-globalization parties that have been running Serbia into the ground took a big hit, but will probably remain in office. Four of these parties got enough votes to be in the parliament, winning a total of 147 seats. These include three major parties that promote capitalist globalization—the U.S. and European Union call them “democratic.” They would have to form a bloc with Vuk Drascovic's monarchist party, which got 23 seats, in order to form a government.

The imperialists are already pressuring these parties to overcome their differences with each other and unite to keep the Socialists and Radicals from forming a government. It was imperialist intervention in 2000 that forced these pro-imperialists and 14 other small parties to unite to defeat Milosevic in the 2000 presidential election. But many observers say they expect only a very unstable government to emerge, one that will soon have to call new elections.

Both Milosevic and Seselj are in Scheveningen prison in The Hague, facing serious war-crimes charges. With this election, both are now in a position where their parties can choose to give them seats in Parliament. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will not allow them to take those seats. Still, they have shown that being put on trial by this NATO court is actually a plus for a candidate in Serbia. And that's even though the ICTY issued a 30- day gag order to stop the two from communicating with Serbia during the entire election period, going so far as to prevent Milosevic from seeing his grandson.

Milosevic has won respect back in Serbia by his strong legal and political self-defense during almost two years of his trial, during which he showed how the U.S. and NATO powers provoked civil wars and then attacked Yugo slavia. His own role was to attempt to defend Yugoslavia, a multinational state.

After the war, he was replaced by governments like the one that just offered to send Serbia's army to Afghanistan and even Iraq to help the U.S. occupy those countries. Disagreements between Vojislav Kostunica's party and the other even more openly pro-imperialist forces broke up the last government.

In 2000 U.S. agents pressured the 18 anti-Milosevic parties to join together and run Kostunica for president against Milosevic, as Kostunica was the only candidate available who wasn’t already compromised either by corruption or by close entanglements with the imperialist powers.

Since the ouster of the SPS and the SRP in 2000, Serbia's economy has been globalized and taken over, mainly by U.S. and German transnational firms and by local collaborators. The broader federation of Yugoslavia has been completely dismantled. Unemployment is now at 30 percent with many factories closed, prices have risen much faster than wages, and Serbia is now considered one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Whatever government emerges from the bargaining among parties following this election, the vote has shown that the promise to integrate Serbia with the imperialist West has steadily lost support among the population there. The ICTY is completely discredited inside Serbia and is seen as an imperialist tool.