National Sections of the L5I:

Kosova: from a Serbian province to an Imperialist Protectorate

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On 17 February the Kosovar parliament declared the independence of the former Serbian republic. Albanians from Kosova and all over Europe celebrated in the streets of Pristina, hoping that this would not only be a step to national independence, but also towards better social and economic conditions for the 2.2 million population.

The declaration came as no surprise - just as the recognition of its independence by the US and the major European Union powers, like Germany, Britain, France, Italy, or states like Turkey, was no surprise either. On the other hand the rejection of the independence of Kosova, not only by the Serbian government, but also by Russia, China, Spain, Romania, Cyprus and Greece was also expected. Leaving aside the cynical talk about the declaration being in breach of "international law", a powerful motive for most of them was to give no precedent to the oppressed national minorities imprisoned within their own borders.

However no less hypocritical were the US and European supporters of "self-determination", who had no problems about waging a war against Yugoslavia in the first place, or occupying countries like Iraq or Afghanistan.

Independence as a fraud

But the most hypocritical with regard to Kosova itself is the content of the so-called independence. This is a fraud. The government of Hashim Thaci's declaration means the effective transfer of all political powers to the EU, backed by Nato troops.

Already since the war against Yugoslavia (March-June 1999), it was effectively Nato and the EU which exercised state power in Kovosa - neither the Serbian nor the Kosovar government forces.

The actual core of the state apparatus is 20,000 Nato and European troops stationed according to UN resolution 1244. The "independence" of the country is linked to the recognition of the so-called plan of the EU drafted by Martti Ahtisaari, which means:

• Placing an EU High Commissioner in the country, who can veto and overrule all decisions of the government/parliament

• Recognising the free market as the economic foundation of the country, and putting the remaining state owned companies under control of an EU run privatisation agency

• Currency and money politics run by the European Central Bank, the euro to be the country's currency

• Sending 2,000 judges, police instructors, administrative experts of the EU (Eulex-mission) to run and build up the state apparatus

• 20,000 Nato troops to secure law and order, i.e. to act as the repressive state apparatus.

The Ahtisaari plan and the independence based on it is fraudulent; it is not a step towards independence after more than a century of national oppression, but merely from being a Serbian province to becoming an EU colony.

In short, the Kosovar nationalists of the ruling parties have sold their country to the imperialists of the EU and the US; they support the continued oppression and plundering of their country - a plundering they have benefited from as well.

For a socialist federation

The way forward for the Kosovar people does not lie in an alliance with imperialism - but in the struggle against the Nato occupation, and against the imperialists' nationalist and bourgeois agents. It lies in the struggle for a workers and peasants' government in Kosova, for the expropriation of the imperialists and their agents, for workers' control and for a plan to rebuild and reorganise the economy, controlled and run by democratic workers' councils.

It lies in the struggle for a voluntary socialist federation of the Balkans as the only basis to overcome the national hatred between the peoples and the imperialist dominance of the region.

The recognition of the right to self-determination of the Kosovars, including their right to form their own state, if they wish so - as of any other oppressed nation or nationality - is a necessary part of such a strategy (just as it is, of course, to recognise similar rights of the Serbian minority areas in Kosova itself).

The Serbian workers and peasants, like any other nation in the Balkans, have nothing to gain from opposing the right to self-determination of the Kosovars. Indeed, they have only to lose from this. Firstly, it drives the Albanian workers and peasants into the hands of their enemies, the Kosovar nationalists, the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois forces and their Western imperialist masters.

Moreover, it ties the Serbian working class and all other oppressed strata to their "own" rulers - the Serbian capitalists and their Russian imperialist backer.

The Serbian nationalist demonstrations in Belgrade, but also in some western European cities, like Stuttgart, Vienna and Zurich, are in no way "anti-imperialist", but reactionary chauvinist mobilisations. It is a scandal and a disgrace for some people, who call themselves socialists, to join in an unholy, reactionary alliance of the Orthodox Church, the Chetnik fascists and other vile racist forces to deny the Kosovars self-determination, and excuse the attempted ethnic cleansing of the country in 1999. In Vienna, they even applauded Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) leader, the arch-reactionary racist Heinz-Christian Strache, when he addressed the rally. Such a stance can lead only to another act in the nightmare of Balkan national oppression.

It is not only in the interest of the Kosovar workers and peasants that the Serbian workers break with this reactionary gang. It is also necessary in the Serbian workers' interests to break with their own exploiters, if they want to defend themselves against further exploitation and misery. This will not only help them direct their struggle against exploitation, it will also help the Kosovar workers to see the Serbian workers as what they can and must become - their allies in a common struggle.