National Sections of the L5I:

Macedonia: another imperialist protectorate?

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A fragile cease-fire between the Macedonian army and the NLA has been brokered by European and US imperialism at the beginning of July. With some local breakdowns this held since then.

The Slavic Macedonian and Albanian parties have been forced to the negotiation table by a concerted effort by imperialism.

Of course nobody can exclude a return to open armed struggle or even the beginning of a bloody nationalist war. This is a major threat the Slavic and Albanian population faced (and faces) over the last weeks.

This is a result primarily of the reactionary politics of imperialism, secondarily of the Slavic nationalists—historic oppressors of the Albanian minority.

But its is also in part a result of the adventurist policy of the NLA, which has sought to draw in imperialism , hoping for "national liberation" via the intervention of NATO forces on the Kosova model

This policy seems to have born fruit though it will prove bitter fruit for the Albanian population —along with the Slavs and all other communities in Macedonia.

Since late June the EU, but also US imperialism increased its diplomatic pressure on both sides – the Macedonian government and presidency and the Albanian nationalists (via the Kosovar Albanian parties).

The EU and NATO sent a number of "mediators" – Solana, Léotard, Robertson – to Skopje to bring the Slavic nationalists to heel. Likewise they did the same with the Kosovar UCK in Pristina, the Albanian parties in Skopje and behind the scenes the NLA.

At the beginning of July the US also started to pay far more attention to Skopje, James Pradew who has been a long standing expert for the region under the Clinton administration already. After months of leaving the initiative to the EU, the US finally stepped in.
In contrast to the cases of Kosova and Bosnia, the EU powers and in particular German imperialism are playing a more prominent, indeed a leading role.

They are planning to establish a third imperialist protectorate in former Yugoslavia. Whilst Bosnia and Kosova starkly revealed the political and military weakness of European imperialism, it has now has a certain advantage over the US.

This is a result of the incredible zig-zags of Bush’s foreign policy. But it is also a result of German imperialism and the other EU powers’ renewed attempt to overcome their subordinate role to the US—experienced so bitterly during the wars of the Yugoslav successor states. They are gambling on the US being unable or unwilling to upset their plans as it did repeatedly in 1991-95.

The EU/NATO plan includes a number of constitutional changes in Macedonia to pacify the Albanians on the one hand and the voluntary handing over of the NLA’s arms to the imperialist "peacekeepers". According to this plan all shall be done within one month (in August). But this is rather to silence opposition within in the imperialist countries and present the whole affair as a "truly" humanitarian affair—i.e. they are apparently being called in by both conflicting sides.

Indeed, this is indeed remarkable fact which reveals lots about the political character of both the Slavic Macedonian and the Albanian nationalists. The Macedonian nationalist led government in Skopje was prepared to start a reactionary war, inflame the worst fears and nationalist feelings amongst the Slavic part of the population, even to encourage the looting of Albanian shops and homes in Skopje and other towns and force Albanian civilians to flee from the war zones.

For what? In order to prevent the recognition of equal rights of the Macedonian and Slavic nationality in the constitution!

According to the Macedonian nationalists this would threaten the countries "dismemberment" and its "sovereignty" .

In fact nothing would more surely doom the unity of the Macedonian state than a bout of ethnic cleansing. Apart from creating a river of blood over which it would be impossible to unite Slavs and Albanian over the next decades it would provide a pretext for Serbian, Bulgarian, Albanian and Greek intervention. Some form of partition would be almost certain.

As for the defending the sovereignty of Macedonia they now happily hand this over to the imperialist powers in return for deceitful promises of aid and even EU membership. .

Likewise the NLA and the Albanian nationalist parties were prepared to start a war which might have led to wholesale Balkan war in the name of equal rights of the Albanians, equal participation in the political life of the country and equal social rights.

Now they are prepared to hand over their arms to the imperialists. They may be more "equal" with the Slavic workers and peasants once the imperialists have stationed their troops – but only in the sense that they will be equally excluded from any real political and economic power in their own country.

The Slavic Macedonian and Albanian leaders are repeating the disastrous policy of all the rival Balkan nationalists over the past century or more. for decades. They have tied the fate of "their" nation to the big powers.

They think they can achieve the liberation and aggrandisement of their people by alliance with this or that imperialism against the other peoples. This has only led to (and only could lead to) the perpetuation of fragmentation, national oppression and endless wars.

The imperialist powers are, of course, happy to have a series of small weak states who they can dominate and whose disputes they can arbitrate—despite the occasional anger at the a "rogue state" which temporarily disrupts their plans. Which is why Milosevic finds himself in the Hague This has even added a term to the political lexicon— Balkanisation.

This policy which pits the workers and peasants of the Balkan peoples against each other, has been a human disaster. The bourgeois and petit-bourgeois nationalists in Macedonia are preparing another one. It is high time that the workers and peasants of all the nations and nationalities put a stop to this criminal policy and take the weapons from the hands of the chauvinist fireraisers.

What will an imperialist protectorate mean, what will be its purpose for the imperialists?

Firstly, it will not bring economic well being, reconstruction and all the other niceties they are promising. Bosnia has been a protectorate for more than half a decade – and nothing has really improved for the masses. Macedonia will not be different, it will rather be worse for the masses.

Secondly, it will not be a brief temporary exercise, as the imperialists like German defence minister Rudolph Scharping claims. This argument is primarily for home consumption in Germany. One reason it the fact that the NLA’s arms will not be collected in a month (if ever).

But more importantly, even if they were, the imperialists would not go. Why? Because there are differences, increasing competition between the imperialist powers themselves.

Macedonia has an importance for German imperialism (and thereby the EU) in particular in order to secure not only a permanent military presence on the Balkans (it already has troops in Kosova and Bosnia), but also in order to gather a position where it can effectively lead the imperialist troops stationed.

That is the reason why Germany (together with Britain) will probably have the largest contingent in Macedonia. Of course the fact that currently, the US are not eager to station any more troops in this country themselves is an important chance for Germany. Unlike US, French or British imperialism, Germany’s troops have little experience and expertise in military intervention abroad. "Peace-keeping" in Macedonia therefore its also a welcomed training ground for future "peace keeping" interventions and outright wars.

Apart from competition between the imperialists, there is also an element of common interest for them to station troops in Macedonia and turn it into a third protectorate on the Balkans (i.e. a temporary colony). Currently they have no semi-colonial power on the Balkans who could act as a junior partner of imperialism (or an imperialist block dominating the Balkans).

With the downfall of Milosevic, Serbia has become once more the best candidate for this role and both the US and German imperialism are struggling to turn Serbia into their semi-colony. The US has even declared that its hopes to see Serbia resume "its leading role in the Balkans". But it will take some time to turn Serbia into a safe imperialist gendarme for the region and it is unclear exactly whose tool Serbia will be then; a German-led EU? The US?

Other powers—Britain, France, Russia, Greece, Turkey could well upset these plans if they felt their interests were being infringed. They could fuel further national conflicts as they did in the 1990s. This interference via sponsorship of nationalist parties of the local élites— not "ancient ethnic hatreds"— is the real secret of the waves of Balkan wars at the beginning, middle and end of the twentieth century.

Therefore, there is no other option for the imperialist powers to secure "stability" in the Balkans and to secure their current and future imperialist interest against each other than to turn a third of former Yugoslavia into a colony and maintain it as such.

This turning point in the Macedonian development brings a new, enormous danger, the colonisation of the country. But it also offers a tremendous chance for the workers and the peasants of all nationalists. It reveals the hypocrisy of the nationalists and their parties, of the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois leaders. It offers the chance to unite the workers and peasants of all nationalists against the imperialists and the nationalist miss-leaders.

As we have seen in Bosnia and Kosova, the nationalist leaders do quite well under imperialist rule. They receive aid ( not a small part of which goes straight into their own pockets), they control all the posts in the state apparatus, all the exchange of goods, the trade etc. and at the same time blame the other nations for the misery of "their own" people!

That is why the workers and peasants of all nations must organise independently now! No to EU/NATO troops! All imperialist troops and advisors out of the Balkans! Such a campaign must be started not only in Macedonia, the whole Balkans and in the imperialist countries.

The masses in Macedonia can and must stop the war and prevent its renewed outbreak. They can do so by multi-national co-operation of democratic and progressive Macedonian and Albanian people to stop the war!

This requires the recognition and defence of the right of national self-determination for the Albanian people! We support the right of communities – be it Macedonians, Albanians or of other national minorities – to defend themselves against the terror of armed chauvinist forces! In multi-national areas we advocate mixed defence groups to prevent each and every attempt at "ethnic cleansing."

But we oppose the handing over of arms to the imperialists! The NLAs arms should be handed over to workers and peasants to arm the population in multi-national defence militias.

We demand that the all negotiations between the government, the nationalist leaders and the imperialists, all the proposed pacts, secret agreements etc shall be made public. Likewise all economic deals need to be opened to inspections of representatives from the workers and peasants, the unions etc.

All imperialist property, the wealth of the new bourgeoisie, all privatised factories and services need to be re-nationalised without compensation and put under workers control (with no compensation except for vouchers and shares owned by workers and peasants).

We need workers and peasant councils to take stock of the (remaining) wealth of the country in order to develop an emergency plan to secure production and exchange between town and countryside.

Macedonia cannot be rebuild in isolation. International links and close collaboration with the economies of the other Balkan states and abroad are needed.

We demand aid without strings and full compensation from the imperialists for the damage done by the imperialist blockades and wars on the Balkans in order to rebuild the economy under the control of the workers. Chancel all debts of Macedonia and the other Balkans states!

These demands can only be implemented by a revolutionary government, based on workers and peasants councils and militias. In short we need the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and destruction of the bourgeois state apparatus which defends it.

This would open a bridge and give an example for the other Balkan peoples and become a starting point for spreading the revolution and the building of a Socialist Federation of the Balkans.

However, all this will only be possible, if the Macedonian workers and youth break with their current misleaders if they form an internationalist revolutionary workers party which can lead the masses in the struggle against the imperialists and the Macedonian and Albanian bourgeois nationalists.

It key slogans must be:
* No to the entry of EU/NATO troops into Macedonia!
* All imperialist troops out of the Balkans!
IMF- World Bank hands off the Balkans!
* Economic reconstruction in the hands of the workers and peasants. Power to councils of workers and peasants deputies.
* Massive compensation—without strings—from the EU and USA to Serbia, Kosova, and all the states wasted by war over the last ten years
* Disarm the national chauvinist warmongers—equal civic rights for all nationalities in the use of languages. The right of all peoples to self-determination.
* Recognise the independence of Kosova
* For a socialist federation of the Balkans