Balkanizing the Balkans

Editorial, Workers World, 26 May 2006, 6:14 PM

The first thing to make clear is that the referendum separating Montenegro from Serbia on May 21 had nothing to do with self-determination for the people in that republic. The second is to understand that the breakup of the Montenegro-Serbia union is just the latest step in the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia so that each of the mini-states left can be more easily oppressed and exploited by U.S. and Western European imperialism.

In this case the bulk of the Monte negro residents, 30 percent of whom identify as Serbs, speak the same language and are members of the same church as the bulk of the population of Serbia. Montenegro is more mountainous and has a seacoast, but a similar history. It also has a political leader under suspicion—and in Italy under investigation—of using Montenegro for a lucrative cigarette-smuggling racket. He and his party have been leading the drive for indepen dence from Serbia for the past decade.

The referendum, which required 55 percent for victory—the Constitution requires two-thirds—got 55.4 percent. That 0.4 percent translates into 1,760 votes—a small part of the Montenegrin diaspora brought back to vote, many coming from the New York area. It was an anti-Serbia vote, easier to find or buy after the U.S. and European Union propagandists made Serbs the pariahs of Europe for defending their own independence too well and made them a target of NATO bombs.

Berlin, Vienna and then Washington instigated the breakup of Yugoslavia, using lies, money, subversion, 78 days of bombing and more subversion to bring it about. Those defending real self-determination in the Balkans will defend the right of the peoples there also to join together to win and defend their independence from imperialism.