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Academics against NATO's war in the balkans


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We reject these false dilemmas:
- Support NATO intervention or support the reactionary policy of the Serbian regime in Kosovo? The NATO air-strikes, forcing the withdrawal of the OSCE forces from Kosovo, have facilitated and not prevented a ground offensive by Serb paramilitary forces; they encourage retaliation against the Kosovar population by the worst Serb ultra-nationalists; they consolidate the dictatorial power of Slobodan Milosevic, who has crushed the independent media and rallied around him a national consensus which it is necessary on the contrary to break in order to open the way to peaceful political negotiations over Kosovo.

- Accept as the only possible basis of negotiation the `peace plan' elaborated by the governments of the United States or the European Union - or bomb Serbia? No durable solution to a major political conflict internal to a state can be imposed from the outside, by force. It is not true that `everything has been tried' to find a solution and an acceptable framework for negotiations. The Kosovar negotiators were forced to sign a plan which they had initially rejected after being led to believe that NATO would involve itself on the ground to defend their cause. This was a lie which maintained a total illusion: none of the governments which support the NATO strikes wants to make war on the Serbian regime to impose the independence of Kosovo. The air-strikes will perhaps weaken a part of the Serbian military apparatus but they will not weaken the mortar fire which, on the ground, is destroying Albanian homes, or the paramilitary forces who are killing the fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

NATO is not the only or above all the best fulcrum for an agreement. One could find the elements of a multi-national police force (embracing notably Serbs and Albanians) in the ranks of the OSCE to enforce a transitional agreement. One could extend the negotiations to include the Balkan states destabilized by the conflict: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania. One could at the same time support the right of the Kosovars to self-government and the protection of the Serb minority in Kosovo; one could try to respond to the aspirations and fears of the different peoples concerned by links of co-operation and agreements among neighbouring states, with Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania.

None of this has been tried. We reject the arguments which seek to justify the NATO intervention:
- It is not true that the NATO air-strikes are going to prevent a regional flare-up, in Macedonia or in Bosnia-Herzegovina: they are going on the contrary to feed the flames. They are going to destabilize Bosnia-Herzegovina and without doubt menace the multi-national forces responsible for applying the fragile Dayton accords. They are already setting Macedonia alight.
- It is not true that NATO is protecting the Kosovan population and its rights.
- It is not true that their bombing of Serbia opens the way to a democratic regime in Serbia.

The governments of the European Union, like that of United States, perhaps hoped that this demonstration of force would compel Slobodan Milosevic to sign their plan. Haven't they thereby displayed naivete or hypocrisy? In any case this policy is leading not only to a political impasse, but to the legitimation of a role for NATO outside any international framework of control.

This is why we demand:
- an immediate halt to the bombing;
- the organization of a Balkan conference in which the representatives of the states and of all the national communities within these states take part;
- defence of the right of peoples to self-determination, on the sole condition that this right is not fulfilled on the back of another people and by the ethnic cleansing of territory.

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