Balkans

The workers of Macedonia have once again shown that only through struggle can any meaningful victory be achieved. The strike of 80,000 public sector workers which started last week has forced the government to back down.

Our correspondents from Macedonia report on the recent strike wave that has hit the country. After years of waiting for things to "get better" the Macedonian workers have lost their patience. In a region blighted by ethnic conflict, the potential for working class struggle is clearly shown, and is an indication of how things will develop all over Eastern Europe. The class struggle is back on the agenda.

A young Marxist from Yugoslavia has written to us about how things used to be in Yugoslavia before the events of the late 80s and 90s which tore the country apart. By Vladimir Unkovski.

The New York Times of Saturday, March 27, quotes Laura Leslie, a senior from Miramonte High School, San Francisco: "I don't want to see another thing like what happened with Hitler, with a terrible person taking over countries". Laura reads the newspaper and listens to the news, and in her innocent way sums up the message of the propaganda war-supporting machine. She is not to be blamed for oversimplifying what is going on in Kosovo and why her country is at war again. The media and the President try to convince you that this is true and that you should support the men and women of your armed forces for the sake of your values and your children's future. But I would like to offer you a

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The break up of the former Yugoslav federation has been a disaster for all its peoples. There is nothing progressive about it whatsoever. In all the states that have been created from the break up, reactionary governments have come to power. Tudjman in Croatia and Milosevic in Serbia do not defend the interests of the Croat or the Serb workers. The same is true of Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Slovenia.

Nato is to send 3,500 troops to Macedonia with the stated aim of disarming the Albanian rebels who have been involved in armed conflict with the Macedonian army. NATO is going in because Macedonia is on the verge of open civil war. If this were allowed to spread and get out of control it would have far greater consequences than simply that of destabilising Macedonia itself. It could bring Greece and Turkey (both NATO members) into a war where they would be fighting on opposite sides thus seriously weakening NATO's south eastern flank.

We have received this article from Alek Atevik in Skopje, Macedonia. It analyses the historical background and the situation facing Macedonia today. Particularly striking is the reference to workers strikes. As the author points out, when it is a question of defending jobs and wages, such as at the Yugohrom factory, there is no divisions between Albanians and Macedonians. Workers' unity cuts across the ethnic divide!

Below we publish a letter we received commenting on our article 'Macedonia - the next powder keg?' What is particularly interesting is what is said about places where the local population is mixed, Albanian and Macedonian speaking. Apparently some form of militia has been formed to protect all the population from attacks from the Albanian guerrillas.

What is unfolding in Macedonia today [March 2001] confirms what we have always said. There will never be a solution to the National Question on the Balkans so long as the underlying economic and social problems remain. After they thought they had brought the situation in Kosovo under control, the situation across the border in Macedonia is flaring up.

Two correspondants from Belgrade provided us with an almost day-to-day account of last week's events in Serbia. These accounts show clearly how the intervention of the working class was decisive in toppling the old regime. What is also clear is the attempt on the part of both the old regime and the "opposition" to curb the spontaneity of the masses.

Following on from the collapse of the Milosevic regime, the working class of Yugoslavia have moved to reassert their class interests. While Vojislav Kostunica attempts to restore "order" after the mass movement that overthrew the old regime, miners, carworkers, lecturers and other layers turned on their old bosses.

There is a very old tradition in Balkan politics to resort to conspiracy theories to explain everything. There is always some dark plot brewing in some foreign chancellery or other, some obscure forces that are supposed to be manipulating events for god knows what purpose. Such stuff is as inseparable from Balkan political comment as Hail Marys from a nunnery or sex scandals from Bill Clinton's bedroom. After the overthrow of Milosevic, we are now informed that it was all the result of a conspiracy...