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Kosovan independence and the left

[This is a polemic taken from the GLW discussion list which addresses some of the mistaken views now being embraced by a few on the far left.]

by Michael Karadjis

Once again rapidly upwards zooms not only the levels of fiction but also of political incoherence. It might be considered 'fun' just continually knocking down all the piles of crap, if it wasn't so boring to have to repeat repeat and still get no response to simple points, facts and questions. But then that's the nature of internet politics isn't it? Everyone just has to send their 'declaration" (Obviously I'm not refering to Fred who sent the article, which he presumably did just for information rather than agreement - but I am referring to the authors of the article, some Trot sect in Turkey).

Anyway, once again, let's have a go.
Operation Independence Kosovo: NATO and the New Step Toward "Greater Albania"
by Sungur Savran


The celebrations by the Albanian people of Kosovo upon the declaration of an "independent and sovereign" state were aired on television extensively. Two flags were waved during these celebrations. One was the familiar U.S. flag. And the second one? This flag with a double-headed black eagle on a red background, which country might that belong to? Better not to be too rash and say that it is the flag of the newly "independent" state of Kosovo, for that would be misunderstanding the true nature of what has happened. In the newly "independent" state of Kosovo, the people celebrating on the streets were waving the flag of another country. This was the flag of Albania!

Really! What a criminal act!! The Albanian people of Kosova were waving their own flag! The only flag they have ever woven! The flag that speaks for their national consciousness!

Now this really is a crime, and is a threat to the entire world order, which socialists obviously have quite an investment in. Maybe we better get onto our comrades on various left chat groups and organise a reactionary 'International Brigade' to go wage war against the 2 million Albanians of Kosova for waving Albanian flags, the flag "of another country."

Seriously now, doesn't t remind me so much of all the reactionary racist venom from white Australians when Kathy Freeman waved an Aboriginal flag at an international sporting event? I wonder what these Turkish comrades would think about Kurds in their country waving a Kurdish flag rather than "their own" Turkish flag??

Even more seriously, regarding the breathtaking ignorance: the legal flag of the Kosovar Albanians under Tito's socialist multi-ethnic Yugoslav federation was ... the Albanian flag. I guess that fact is not widely known ... Now the national question was far from perfect under Tito, but obviously the internationalist principles were light years better than that preferred by chunks of Albanian-hating "left" today. Anyway:
The declaration of the "independence" of Kosovo is, first and foremost, a vast step forward for one of the pet projects of the U.S. in the Balkans, the creation of a "Greater Albania." This fact is so tangible, so concrete that when Martti Ahtisaari, the Special Envoy of the United Nations (UN), in a report he submitted in spring 2007 after two years of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia had reached a deadlock, recommended the "independence" of Kosovo, he had to qualify this by a special formula, "supervised independence." And against what would the "independence" of Kosovo be "supervised"? Why, the first precondition that Ahtisaari had to propose was to rule out unification with Albania! The mere imposition of this qualification demonstrates, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the real aspiration of the Albanians of Kosovo (and of the U.S.) is the creation of a "Greater Albania" through unification with the present state of Albania. Hence, the "independence" of Kosovo is sham independence.
What a simply amazing mass of confusion. "The real aspirations of the Albanians of Kosovo is the creation of" a united Albanian state, of the unification of the divided Albanian nation in the Balkans, a territorially compact contiguous nation, split into five states due to the machinations of imperialism in 1913.

And what is so criminal about that, were it true? Isn't like Irish wanting a united state where all Irish people live? Or Palestinians? Or Kurds? Never mind. other people are allowed, but certainly not the brutally oppressed Albanians, the poorest people in Europe, Europe's third world. First world leftists rule that out.

But the rest of the paragraph is, like wow. It claims "Greater Albania" is the pet project of US imperialism, and that is what is "really" behind Kosovar semi-independence. But then it says the "evidence" for this, "beyond a shadow of doubt", moreover, is the fact that the "first precondition" of the US-backed, UN-imposed Ahtisaari Plan "was to rule out unification with Albania" !!

You see the sneaky US made sure Ahtisaari put this precondition in just to restrain itself from trying to implement it!

I just wonder if a more common sense interpretation of this might be possible: that the reason the US, EU and UN continually ruled out any union of Kosova with Albania, to the point of making it a "first precondition" of "independence", was precisely because they are forcibly opposed to such an outcome, indeed the entire intervention from day 1 was largely around preventing such a scenario, as I explain in my quote from the US ruling class theoretical journal 'Foreign Affairs', in my GLW article which Stuart has sent along to this list.

That yes, this is precisely one of things being "supervised" against; that yes, the prevention of the Albanian people's unification, if they so desire, is precisel an imperialist *restriction* on the "independence" being allowed, a *restriction* on the right of the Albanian peoples to self-determination.

As it happens, Kosovar Albanian consciousness is an evolving thing, and between a united Albanian state and an independent Kosova there is still a great deal of confusion, with some firmly in one camp and some in the other. The tendency has been more and more towards merely accepting independence. But that should be their decision.

The imperialist powers are so determined to avoid any 'Albanian' colouration' to Kosova that they have disallowed that "flag with a double-headed black eagle on a red background" that the Albanians were waving. They decreed that the new flag must have none of the symbolism and *none of the colours* of either Albanian or Serbian flags; the new flag of "independent" Kosova is a map of Kosova with six stars - representing the six ethnic groups of Kosova - in ... you guessed it, blue and white. Another imposition *against* Kosovar self-determination by imperialist "supervision."

According to the terms of the resolution adopted by the UN after the termination of the Kosovo War, Kosovo was to remain Serbian territory, but was also to be converted into a "UN protectorate." This was a legal formula that was permeated with contradiction, since the status of "protectorate" is an entirely colonial status and to declare a territory that is under the sovereignty of an independent state (the former Yugoslavia and today's successor state of Serbia) a colonial belonging defies logic.

The "independence" granted today to Kosovo removes this contradiction, making it thereby a straightforward colony, one under multilateral rule.

Interesting logic. So before it was a colony of the UN and officially still a colony of Serbia. Today it is a colony of the EU (instead of UN) but no longer a colony of Serbia. Surely, while it is still a colony, it is one degree less so today. In fact, more than one degree, as the EU colonial rule will be much less direct than the UN colonial rule, though still colonial. Surely it is better that the local parliament has *more* power now vis a vis the colonial authorities? Surely then, our argument should be to further remove the colony and allow unfettered independence? Or does that pose some kind of psychological problem to you comrades? Well let's see:
The initiative regarding the declaration of "independence" does not belong to Hashim Thaci, the leader of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army become prime minister in January this year, but Ahtisaari on behalf of the UN.
Only half true, but mostly silly. The Kosovars have been fighting for nothing less than independence for a century, in fact their last unilateral declaration of independence was in 1990, but the "international community" refused to recognise this entirely legitimate act supported by 99% of Albanians in a referendum - the US, EU etc ignored it for two decades and insisted Kosova was part of Serbia. And even this declaration has been put off by Kosova leaders for at least two years now, due to the demands of imperialism to *not* do it.
Imperialism has offered "independence" to the KLA on a golden platter. Today Kosovo is controlled by 17 thousand NATO troops. It is being delivered to the rule of the EU, which will be sending an additional force of 1800 to police the territory. "Independence" on the force of arms of others is sham independence!
Ah, so you agree now, do you? We should get rid of the EU and NATO and allow complete independence for Kosova? Well, not quite it would
seem:
The 1999 war was fought on the declared grounds of stopping the cruel treatment and ethnic cleansing the Albanians of Kosovo were suffering at the hands of Milosevic. But the final outcome nine years later demonstrates that the real aim was to carry to its conclusion the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.
Wonders never cease. Yugoslavia ended in 1991, not 1999 or 2008. And in 1991 it was not dismantled by imperialism at all, that's pure half-baked, fact-free mythology, but maybe that's another argument for now.
A clear understanding regarding the aims of this imperialisticpolicy is of paramount importance. To start with, the Balkans are the South-western tip of Eurasia, an immense region that has come upfor grabs as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the other degenerated workers' states in Europe between 1989 and 1992. It was imperative for imperialism to prevent the survival of a state(Federal Yugoslavia) that had the capacity of obstructing imperialist plansin the Balkans.

Yugoslavia was not obstructing any imperialist plans at the time. It was far and away the most advanced in capitalist restoration, as it had been doing "market socialism" for decades prior. The Milosevic regime at the time was pro-EU, pro-NATO and pro-US. The US strongly opposed the secession of Croatia and Slovenia. Of course, as common sense might tell you, when the federal "Yugoslav" army (by then entirely controlled by the Serbian republic) used its US-supplied massive weaponry, the fourth largest armed force in Europe, to level Croatia, kill 10,000 people, destroy 40% of Croatian industry, rip one third of Croatia out as a "Serb republic' and expel the Croatian duality of the population from there - some 250,000 people - well then, yes, Yugoslavia did collapse, as it would.
Third, the Albanians were promoted as a special ally of the USA. Albania has today become the stronghold of reaction and pro-imperialistpolicies,
Now I wonder why the Albanians would be so pro-US and wildly wave US flags, and name the central boulevarde in Prisitina "Bill Clinton Boulevarde"? Was it because

  • Kosovar Albanians are merely born that way, its in the genes (in fact, in an idiotic post on "marx"mail, the moderator a few days agoposted an article from the US ruling class's 'Foreign Affairs' whichin 1999 had made the extraordinary - and entirely unbacked up -claim - that the KLA leaders were sons and grandsons of Nazicollaborators, asserting that reactionary politics was genetic - whoneeds marxism on a marxism list?)
  • They were brutally oppressed and so now glorify the imperialist power that opportunistically and very belatedly "came to their side" and "rescued them" from that oppression, again demonstrating thevalidity of the right to self-determination and the catastrophicconsequences of denying it.
as well as the Balkan centre of trafficking in drugs and prostitution.
Oh yes, the Albanians, the poorest people in Europe, the 3rd world of Europe, are declared by all kinds of 1st world leftists drug traffickers, human traffickers, mafiosi, a gangster state, you name it, and of course the entire hard right and all the nazis and fascists the world over join in with exactly the same chorus. How is it possible that these leftists haven't heard the same slanders against other oppressed peoples? Against the Kurds and in particular the PKK? Against the Palestinians and their "gangster state". Against the Basques and ETA? And moreover, aren't we gonna be a little alert to such crap when at home we also hear about how the migrant communities, the poor, the oppressed, the Lebanese, the Asians, also dominate drug trafficking and various other crimes?

Maybe comrades, since the Albanians are "the Balkan centre of trafficking in drugs and prostitution", you ought to advocate a lot more imperialist "supervision"? /
Today Albania and Kosovo seem to embody the two heads of the eagle on the Albanian flag. Tomorrow, the eagle may become triple-headed, with the Albanians of Macedonia joining the bandwagon. The "independence" of Kosovo should be situated in this overall picture.
Unity of the Albanian peoples? What a disaster to the world, and to all its good citizens.

Yet here's the irony of such nonsense: the partition of Macedonia is precisely one of the things imperialism most fears, as it could in turn raise again the "Macedonain question", and from there more questions of borders and ultimately the "nightmare scenario" for imperialism of a clash between Greece and Turkey on NATO's "southern flank."

So when the KLA in Macedonia initiated a rebellion there in 2001, imperialism came in and made sure the two sides signed the Ohrid agreement, which gave the Albanians enough of what they want to prevent them from seceding. And part of that is that the Albanian community of Macedonia is now allowed, like the Kosovars in Tito's day, to raise the Albanian double-headed eagle flag! And as a result of this highly democratic measure (and the rest), Macedonia has been
a success story and there is no hint of it breaking apart!

The Albanians of Kosovo seem to be overwhelmingly in favour of secession from Serbia.Like duh! "Seem to". Wake up. They have unanimously favoured nothingelse since they were brutally conquered in 1913. Would it not be appropriate under these circumstances, it might be asked, for internationalists to support this "independence" on the basis of the right of nations to self-determination?

Ah yes, one might just ask ...
The specific evolution of Kosovo history and the existence of a project to establish a "Greater Albania" complicate matters. Before it came under Ottoman domination in the wake of the notorious Kosovo War of 1399, Kosovo used to be the historiccentre of Serbia.
The same argument the Zionists use: hundreds or thousands of years ago it was "ours", but now fast-breeding Muslims have taken over. Little wonder the sympathies of Ariel Sharon and all the Zionist Likudnik right-wing with Serbian nationalism.

Of course, it is all fiction. It was briefly part of the Serbian empire, from 1215 to 1389. Before that it was part of Byzantine and Bulgarian empires. After it was part of the Ottoman empire. All these empires were multi-ethnic. Serbian rule did not signify which nationality dominated then. And the Serbian state had been around for hundreds of years before its brief rule over Kosova. In any case, what a lot of obscurantist crap.
It was only towards the end of the 19th century that Albanians became the majority in this territory as a result of the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs under Ottoman colonial policy and thesupport extended by the Empire to Islamised Albanians as against the Serbs.
Pure nonsense. But it is true that at that time the percentage of Albaians did grow and Serbs decline. The reason for that was the massive ethnic cleansing of the Albanian population from south Serbia, where in many areas - even the main southern Serbian city Nis - they consitituted the majority of the population. So they were forced into Kosova via massive terror, and when they got there they likewise ethnically cleansed lots of Serbs. So by this logic, even if true, then Serbia would have to "give back" south Serbia in exchange for Kosova!
Add to this the fact that Albanians already wield a state that neighbours the Serbian state. Under these circumstances thenational question in Kosovo overlaps with that of the quest of one state to expand its territory (and population) at the expense of another.
Sheer nonsense.
But all these arguments pale beside the fact that the status accorded to Kosovo today has nothing to do with "independence." A new colony is born. How long the status of protectorate will last is totally unforeseeable, given the policyof imperialism in the Balkans.

Good, good. So we can agree on demanding the end of the colony for complete independence, right? United front despite our disagreements around a point of principle, right ...
That Turkey should have recognised the "independence" of Kosovo immediately, on the same day as the U.S. and the larger states ofthe EU, and this despite its own Kurdish question and its fears regarding the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, has certainly nothingto do with respect for the rights of oppressed nations.
Obviously not. So let's exploit these imperialist contradictions and demand the same right of independence for the Kurds in Turkey, and to be able to unite with Kurds in Iraq and Iran. Right? Comrades? Or is that an embarrassing question ...


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1 Com:

Anonymous | February 24, 2008

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=13833

Serbs on Kosovo

Alex Callinicos (» A triumph for the West?, 22 December) rightly exposes the failure of US and EU policy in Kosovo. The primary duty of socialists in the West is to argue that Western imperialism has no answers to the problems of the Balkans.

But what should revolutionary socialists in Serbia say about Kosovo?

Our position is difficult. Nationalist claims to Kosovo play a crucial role in "legitimising" the Serbian ruling class. And the threat from Serbia lies at the root of Kosovan Albanian support for the US, which has plans for a Balkan oil pipeline.

To counter the US, Serbia looks to Russia, which in turn seeks ownership of key Serbian energy resources. As a result a mini-Cold War has broken out over Kosovo.

Nationalism and imperialism are dangerously entangled in Kosovo. This is why Serbian revolutionary socialists have to be both anti-nationalist and anti-imperialist.

Another factor is the emergence of a radical but nationalist group in Kosovo called Self-determination (Vetevendosje). It has mobilised thousands by calling for unconditional independence, an end to
colonial rule by the "international community", plus social reforms for a Kosovo that has the lowest per capita income in Europe. It has been brutally repressed – two members were shot dead by UN police last year and its leader was imprisoned.

We believe that Serbian revolutionary socialists should respect Kosovo's right to self-determination. By doing so, we draw a clear line between us and our ruling class.

We argue that, by extending an internationalist hand of friendship to the Kosovan Albanians, there is a way of solving our problems without becoming the pawns of imperialism, East and West.

Milos Jadzic, Vladimir Markovic, Matija Medenica, Dragan Plavsic, Milan Radanovic, Vladimir Simovic, Vladimir Unkovski-Korica, Jovana Vukovic, Andreja Zivkovic, Serbia

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