Yugoslavia represents such a significant chapter in this end of the
century that it is well worth taking a look at the origins of these
peoples who during the last 10 years have experienced the
vicissitudes of a shocking political and geographical division, and
have found themselves involved in previously unthinkable wars and
acts of aggression.
Yug is a Slavic term meaning south. Thus, Yugoslavia should be
interpreted as the place of the South Slav peoples. The logic of
history and culture united all those peoples. Serbs,
Croats, Montenens and Turks speak the same language, Serbo-Croatian.
Slovenes and Macedonians speak slightly different Slavic language,
which are, however, closely related to Serbo-Croatian.
The first groups of that origin reached the Balkan Peninsula between
the end of the 6th century and the first half of the 7th
century. Their existence has been strongly marked by struggles
undertaken to achieve their survival as peoples, standing up to
Byzantium, France, Bulgaria, Venetia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and
During the Middle Ages, the Yugoslav peoples had state structures
within the Austrian, Ottoman and Venetian empires and peasant
uprisings, riots and armed actions were frequent events in Slovenia,
Croatia, Vojvodina, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and
A heavy migration of Albanians to the territory of Kosovo still
dominated by the Turks, look place throughout the 17th and 18th
centuries. The movement for national liberation steadily increased
during the 18th and 19th centuries, until 1878, when the independence
of Serbia and Montenegro as state entities was finally recognised.
In 1913, after the Balkan Wars ended with the defeat of Turkey, that
country was forced to concede the territories it still occupied in
the region, among them Kosovo, which once again became part of
Serbia. Of course, the strengthening of these peoples' statehood did
not please the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany, which constancy
aspired to extending their dominion over a peninsula located at an
extremely important crossroads.
For that reason, they took advantage of the 1914 assassination of the
heir to the imperial throne to declare war on Serbia. That was the
pretext for the great powers of that time to attempt another division
of the world. World War I commenced in the Balkans. The Kingdom of
the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes emerged at the end of the fighting in
1918, and officially became Yugoslavia in 1929.
Yugoslavia came into the world as a capitalist monarchy, with all
its contradictions of class and national character exacerbated by
the exploitation of a socioeconomic regime, which devoted itself
to institutionalising inequality.
The Communist Party, created in 1919 under the influence of the
October Revolution in Russia in 1917, rapidly gained popularity and
in 1920 held 14% of the parliamentary seats. But that same year it
was legally banned. During the years of fascism, the monarchy,
represented by regency, directed its foreign poll towards an alliance
with Mussolini and Hitler. Yugoslavia was defeated in March 1941 and
the Nazi occupation began on April 6, consolidated on April 18 by the
capitulation of the regular army.
While the monarchical bourgeoisie was installing a provisional
government in London in readiness for someone to pull the chestnuts
out of the fire, the illegal Communist Party led a resistance
movement throughout the country and on July 4, 1941, launched a
general armed uprising against the fascists. The Party, under Josip
Broz (Tito), managed to lead the Yugoslavs (Serbs, Croatians,
Slovenes, Montenegrins, Bosnian Serbs, Macedonians and other minority
groups) in a genuinely popular struggle over a number of years,
not only against Hitler's forces, but also against the army of
the government-in-exile in London, which was collaborating with the
Thanks to the South Slavs' heroism, selflessness, bloodshed and
desires to see their country free, they filled entire pages of
history with their bravery and patriotism. Serbia, Macedonia,
Montenegro and Dalmatia were liberated by the last three months of
1944. The Soviet Red Army arrived in October of that year, to make
its contribution to the completion of a feat primarily undertaken by
the Yugoslavs, of freeing themselves from fascist rule.
United within the single state for which they had fought so hard,
and internationally acclaimed for having been able to defend their
land, the inhabitants Of this part of the Balkans subsequently
constructed a socialist society with its own characteristics until,
in the 1990s, caught up in the collapse of European socialism,
Yugoslavia began to disintegrate into a number of states, virtually
all founded on ethnic bases. The axiom of 'divide and rule' seems to
have prevailed here.
In line with that, the Western media in particular is insistent
that nationalist sentiment in present-day Yugoslavia is confined to
one or two areas, but actually nationalism and even ultra-nationalism
- is apparent throughout the entire region.
In the particular case of Kosovo, in the '80s that republic was one
of the scenes for the first signs of internal crisis in the Socialist
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, then composed of six republics.
Massive political, economic and social demands were made, including
the nationalist slogans of the Kosovars of Albanian origin, supported
by neighbouring Albania.
It has now been demonstrated that, by taking advantage of this
conflict's history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and
the United States have taken the step, unprecedented since the end of
the cold war, of attacking a sovereign nation, disregarding
international precepts, without the approval of the United Nations.
------- END -------
-YUGOSLAVIA- THE DISINTEGRATION
BY ELSON CONCEPCION PEREZ (Granma daily staff writer)
GRANMA INTERNATIONAL APRIL 18,1999
THE disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
(SFRY) was part of the process of atomisation within the Eastern and
Central European socialist states brought about by the collapse of
the socialist bloc, a crucial aspect of which was the suicidal
disappearance of the Soviet Union.
In 1991, when this process began, the SFRY had a socialist
development model with its own characteristics, based on economic
self-management. It was a state made up of various republics and a
central federal government. With its own economic development, it had
levels of productivity, public health, education and social welfare
that were on a par with many other developed European countries.
However, Yugoslavia's political role within the Non-Aligned Movement
and its close relationship with the Third World nations kept it in
the sights of the West - Germany and the United States in particular
- which were interested in dispensing with the last vestiges of
socialism in Central Europe. An area of geopolitical influence for
Germany, historically interested in having a more active role in this
part of the Balkans, it also came to be a central element within the
US concept of a unipolar world governed by Washington.
In that context, the socialist bloc's collapse and the disintegration
of the Soviet Union formed a perfect pretext for foreign appetites
finding any justification whatsoever. By exacerbating millennia-long
ethnic, religious and nationalist problems, they initially focused on
Bosnia and Herzegovina and now the entire Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia, bent on destroying by military force the life and work
attained with the labour of a population with a firm patriotic
MUTATIONS The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was proclaimed
on January 31, 1946, and up until its disintegration in 1991 it
consisted of six republics, with a total surface area of 225,804
square kilometres and a population approaching 23 million
inhabitants. Serbian citizens represented 64% of the federation's
population; 31% in Bosnia, 12% in Croatia and 11% in Macedonia.
In order to maintain unity among all the peoples comprising the SFRY,
its president, Josip Broz (Tito), took as a premise an egalitarian
base, which put aside ethnic or religious considerations.
In 1991, the parliaments of Slovenia and Croatia proclaimed
their independence. Macedonia followed suit. In 1992, Bosnia and
Herzegovina declared its independence and a triple war broke out
between Serbs, Croats and Bosnians, finally concluding with an
unstable peace agreement. On April 27 of that same year, Serbia and
Montenegro proclaimed the new Yugoslav Federation.
Croatia's breaking away provoked an armed conflict between the Serbs
in the Krajina region, which preferred to unite with Serbia rather
than becoming part of an independent Croatia. The outcome of that
confrontation, which included outside support in the form of arms and
other resources for Croatia, was hundreds of dead and injured and a
massive migration of Serbs to Belgrade.
In the case of Slovenia, its separation wasn't complicated, since it
lacks distinct ethnic components; and that republic has maintained
its level of development and political independence. Macedonia, the
poorest of the former Yugoslav republics, has confronted various
problems, and its border with Kosovo and closeness to Albania
has affected its stability in every sense.
Any weighing up of this theme must likewise take into account other
aspects. It is possible that certain reforms inspired by the federal
political leadership gave rise in the end to the proliferation of a
multi-party system bearing the seeds of political division, a
division which led to the Federal Republic's later structure, one
that played into the hands of those who, from abroad, were constantly
pursuing that objective.
THE CASE OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA When Bosnia and Herzegovina, a
territory shared for centuries by Serbs, Croats and Muslims, declared
its independence, an appalling and still unresolved war broke out,
one which involved other countries in the region, NATO and the United
States. Arms, munitions and external economic resources, some sent
from distant countries, and even mercenaries, all had a presence in
the Bosnian conflict.
The Serbs, who Jived in 70% of Bosnian territory, fought with the
Muslims, while the Croats also demanded their territorial share.
As if demonstrating Europe's incapacity to solve its own problems,
the United States drew up a plan and convened the parties involved to
Dayton, Ohio, where it was decided that the only way to pacify Bosnia
was through a NATO military occupation under the command of US
generals. The toll in Bosnia was thousands dead, destruction,
hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the relocation of families who
had lived for centuries in the same area who, on account of the new
map thought up by Washington in the Dayton Plan, were forced to go
where they were told by those who brought over 50 000 soldiers to
Bosnia in order to "shore up" peace.
Bosnia and Herzegovina were turned into sort of an artificial
republic, now with foreign troops installed in it. Approximately 700
000 mixed marriages between Serbs, Croats and Muslims were separated
by the transfer of those involved to one region or another, in line
with the Dayton Plan. Ultimately, contemporary Bosnia is composed of
a "Croat-Muslim federation," a Serbian republic of Bosnia and... 28
000 NATO soldiers. The division has destroyed cultural traditions
and forms of coexistence which were over a thousand years old.
WHAT DID THE SECURITY COUNCIL DO? Although it is obvious, it is worth
noting that, in the midst of Yugoslavia's disintegration, warfare in
Croatia and then in Bosnia, the UN Security Council never met, not
even to comment on those events. However, when the United States
decided that Yugoslavia was supporting the Bosnian Serbs across the
border, it convened the Security Council and quickly procured the
imposition of economic, financial and military sanctions against the
As if that wasn't enough, the much-talked about Dayton meeting was
sol up and there, at the table, the United States forced the signing
of a plan, with an attached map, determining Bosnia's future. But
the sanctions against Yugoslavia remained in force and some persist
until this day, two and a half years after that signing. Industrial
production in the Yugoslav Federation fell by 48% as a result of the
sanctions. The per capita social product dropped by 40%.
Twenty percent of the Yugoslav population was reduced to living in
poverty and some 800,000 workers were left without jobs.
Indirectly, the sanctions also affected neighbouring countries and,
during those years of sanctions, Romania lost between seven and eight
billion dollars; Ukraine, 2.5 billion; Hungary, one billion;
Macedonia, 1.8 billion; the Russian Federation, 25 billion; and
Greece, 2.5 billion.
Thus, the former Yugoslavia was left disintegrated. Now, in
Kosovo, external interests, headed by Washington, are attempting to
complete that disintegration if any material aspect of it remains
after the bombings - by promoting on all fronts the separation of
that Serbian province At the same time, they are trying to create
mistrust and intrigue in Montenegro, possibly with a plan for its
future separation in mind.
INNOCENT VICTIMS MUST RECEIVE MAXIMUM HELP Stresses official
statement released in Havana. IN the context of the stated US
intention to place Kosovar refugees on the Guantanamo Naval Base, the
Cuban government has offered its full cooperation in regard to aid
for the victims of the war in Yugoslavia. An official statement
released in Havana affirms that "innocent victims," whatever their
nationality, ethnicity or religious origin, should receive the
maximum help, inside and outside of Yugoslavia.
"Cuba unhesitatingly supports such humanitarian aid, whatever its
source" reads the note published on the front page of Granma daily
and in the rest of the national press, 'and will not place any
obstacles in the way. Moreover, it is prepared to cooperate with
those aid efforts, as far as possible, wherever necessary." The
statement, released to avoid "unnecessary confusion on our
country's position," clarifies that a previously circulate alleged
Cuban response on the matter was "a strictly personal opinion...
erroneously attributed to the government of Cuba," given that, up
until that moment the country's leadership had not made "any public
pronouncement on the matter."
The document likewise calls for an end to the war in Yugoslavia,
"before it results in even greater disasters of a human, economic,
political and military nature, benefiting no one. Cuba supports with
equal determination, the urgent search for a reasonable and just
solution to the conflict," it adds.
"Within its very modest possibilities and without any desire for
publicity or protagonism, [the government] has maintained its
conviction that the Serbs would resist the devastating NATO attack,"
the statement reads, adding that "no weapons system is capable of
crushing the resistance of those attacked from the air or on land,
who, supported by the population, are prepared to fight to the end,
applying appropriate tactics in the face of modern military
technology... [The Yugoslavs] have already demonstrated their
combativeness and capacity for struggle in standing up to the
Nazi hordes during World War II."
The Cuban statement additionally warns NATO that, given the road it
has taken, that military alliance "is headed for an interminable
battle and unjustified and useless genocide in the very heart of
Europe, which will not be tolerated by public opinion on that
continent and throughout the world." According to the Cuban
government, the battle initiated by NATO could only have "a political
solution, not a military one; observing the geography and realities,
military support from outside of Serbia is only possible
with unconventional weapons. that is to say, nuclear weapons, which
In the middle of winter, destroying a thermoelectric plant which
supplies electricity and heat to one million people, and attacking
similar installations lending vital services to the whole population,
is far from hitting military objectives and borders on genocide," the
text adds." JC