Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 4): Serbia - Once were Yugoslavs

 NATO dropping bombs on Serbia

Josip Broz Tito had leaded Yugoslavia from the war torn states it had been after WW2 to a united, modern and economically strong federation of states. Tito had split with Stalin’s Soviet Union, believing that the Soviet Blocks Communist Parties were insufficiently devoted to the cause. Tito began implementing reforms based on a model of market socialism. In many ways resembling Gaddafi’s Libya, the new model meant that private firms were allowed based on a structure of social ownership by the employees, meaning that businesses could now compete with each other in open and free markets. After rebuilding the war torn country, the companies had started carrying out construction on numerous major infrastructural and industrial projects in Africa, Europe, Middle-East and Asia. Tito had been key to unifying Yugoslavia and his internal policies were the main reason for peaceful coexistence of the states inside the Yugoslav federation.

The economy of Yugoslavia started to decline right around the 80’s when Reagan took power in the United States and Tito’s death the previous year. Following a range of IMF loans, Yugoslavia fell in to heavy debt, also the declining oil prices meant that many of the oil exporting countries reduced large infrastructure projects, which constituted a large part of Yugoslavia’s source of foreign currency. Only later was it revealed through declassified U.S. documents (NSDD 133) from the Reagan administration, that the U.S. specifically targeted the Yugoslav economy, expanding its efforts to promote a “quiet revolution” and overthrow the communist government. In fact, Yugoslavia had been flooded with NGOs funded by the U.S. congress through NED (National Endowment for Democracy), which began financing opposition groups, journalists, trade union opposition, pro-IMF economists and human rights NGOs all around Yugoslavia.

After Tito’s death Yugoslavia changed the presidency to a collective consisting of members from the 6 republics and 2 autonomous provinces, the presidency also had a president which was rotated on a yearly basis. Each republic also had its own presidency, and this is where Slobodan Milosevic rose to power and became the President of the Presidency of the Socialist Republic of Serbia, enabled by the U.S. policies of impoverishing the Yugoslavs through the World Bank and IMF. Milosevic claimed that he stood for every nationality in Yugoslavia while using nationalist rhetoric and populism to aid him in his quest for power, a move criticized by fellow socialists as a violation of the Yugoslav Communists commitment to “Brotherhood of Unity”, effectively a political crime in the Yugoslav political system. Milosevic’s nationalist tendencies were also proved when on the 28th September 1990, he promulgated a new constitution declaring Serbia an independent state, this was before Croatia and Bosnia declared independence, so while Milosevic pretended to be a “defender” of Yugoslavia, he was in fact the one who deliberately destroyed it.

NATO dropping bombs on Serbia

When NATO started bombing “Yugoslavia” in 1999, it had already been broken up into pieces with only Serbia and Montenegro remaining federated as “FRY Yugoslavia”. NATO bombed a cigarette factory which was a competitor to Phillip Morris 3 times, later Phillip Morris purchased what was left of that factory. They bombed the Yugo car factory to the ground, the car brand that managed to make it into the U.S. market. They bombed cement factories, oil industry, electricity plants, telecommunications industry, TV stations, schools, hospitals, bridges and foreign embassies. At the end of the bombing campaign NATO had only destroyed 13 Yugoslav tanks, some of them decoys. Many criticized the bombings, which seemed to have targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure rather than actual military targets. The bombings further harmed civilians for decades to come, with Serbia dealing with a cancer epidemic, which is being caused by use of depleted Uranium in the NATO bombings, the dust of which spread over the entire country, including Kosovo. 

Pushing for Serbia to join NATO

Serbia is on of the few East-European countries that doesn’t aspire to join NATO officially, public opinion is strongly against joining the alliance, but this might change with the help of foreign funded NGOs promoting NATO membership, these NGOs include Center for Cultural Decontamination, Helsinki Board for Human Rights, Humanitarian Law Center and the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, which are funded by many of these parties in combination: National Endowment for Democracy(NED), Open Societies foundation, Rockerfeller Brothers Fund, European Union, European Cultural Foundation, Norwegian Ministry of foreign affairs, United States Institute for Peace, British Embassy and the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which are all funding multiple or all of these NGOs. We even see members of new political parties also being members of some of these NGOs, which raises the question of who is really funding these new Pro-NATO political parties.

As part of the EU, we will all be eating out of a golden spoon

Negotiations for joining EU had started after the fall of the Milosevic government in 2000, but became more serious after Zoran Djindjic became prime minister in 2001, he was a strong advocate of western values, pro-democratic reforms and integrations of Serbia into the European Structure. What many don’t know is that Zoran started to have second doubts about “going west”, publicly questioning if the west really was looking out for the best interests of Serbia, even trying to sack the director of the National Bank. Shortly after this he was assassinated and Serbia was heading west again.

 Serbia has had multiple obstacles on the way to EU, but has dealt with most of them, and was accepted as a candidate in 2012, opening negotiations on Serbia’s accession in 2014. Serbia is currently receiving EUR 2.9 billion of development aid yearly by the EU until 2020, which is a very strong motivator for the politicians to allow foreign companies into Serbia, and even in some cases subsidizing them with larger amounts than local companies. This has led to many foreign companies moving to Serbia, outperforming local companies, forcing them to close down, either by taking their markets or taking their employees. In many cases foreign companies bought up local companies for a fraction of their worth, reduced the workforce and started channeling the profits out of the country. So while some are winning by Serbia joining EU, the majority and country as a whole, can be considered as losing in this game of politics and economy.

See also:

Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 1): Bulgaria - Turning the tide

Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 2): Romania - Ending of an era

Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 3): Albania - Ideology made it hard to make friends

Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 5): Kosovo - The long way to independence

Alexander Awayez

Alexander Awayez is an investigative journalist and researcher of Bulgarian/Iraqi descent who grew up in Denmark and later moved to Bulgaria.