Kosovars, not NATO, must decide their future

June 23, 1999

Kosovars, not NATO, must decide their future

The US-directed NATO air war against Serbia appears to have ended. NATO forces are occupying Kosova.

NATO's bombing campaign continued by violent means its policy of seeking to preserve the political stability of the existing states in the Balkans. The international statement against the war and for self-determination for Kosova initiated by Green Left Weekly pointed out that NATO was demanding "that Serbia allow NATO troops to occupy Kosova ... because the NATO powers had lost confidence in the Serbian authorities' ability to crush the Kosovar armed resistance movement".

Cynicism is an easy response to NATO's negotiations. At Paris, the Kosovars were promised, in order to obtain their agreement, that an international meeting would be held in three years' time "to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo, on the basis of the will of the people [and the] opinions of the relevant authorities". But NATO also included a demand unacceptable to Serbia — the right of NATO to move throughout Yugoslavia.

This inevitably meant war against Serbia. NATO expected the Serbian regime would respond with a massive acceleration of the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovars that it had already begun, which would weaken the social base of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA).

Having recruited heavily among from among Kosovar refugees and emigrants, the KLA started to beat back the Serbian security forces in Kosova. NATO, by posing as "United Nations peacekeepers", has given the Milosevic regime in Serbia a peace in which the retreating Serbian army is protected from the KLA and the regime from losing face. At the same time, as NATO became a force on the ground in Kosova, it withdrew any proposal for Kosovar self-determination.

The new situation should help to clarify the political situation for many people. The imperialist powers of NATO have no significant economic interests at stake in their war against Serbia, but they do have political goals. They are continuing to pursue their political aim of opposing the emergence of the KLA as an effective armed resistance movement expressing the Kosovars' aspirations for self-determination, which might inspire a popular movement for self-determination and national unity among the Albanian populations divided by the borders of Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece.

Success for NATO means the preservation of state borders in the southern Balkans which were established and legitimated by a conference of the imperialist powers in 1913. The elementary democratic right of national self-determination demands instead that these boundaries be determined by the nations there, in accordance with their own wishes.

The direct obstacle to the Kosovar people exercising this right is no longer the occupying Serbian security forces but the UN-authorised Kosovo Force (KFor) dominated by NATO. This force should withdraw from Kosova. The people of Kosova should be allowed to run their own affairs, including the creation of their own security forces. Any KFor pressure on KLA fighters to surrender their weapons should be opposed: the future of the KLA is for the Kosova people, not NATO, to decide.

Opponents of NATO's war and "peace" aim should call for NATO to immediately provide, with no political strings attached, massive reconstruction aid to Kosova and Serbia, in the form of non-repayable grants, at least sufficient to restore all the civilian infrastructure that has been destroyed. Holding reconstruction aid to Serbia hostage to the removal of Slobodan Milosevic would be "collective punishment" of the Serbian people for the alleged crimes of one person.

NATO's objectives in the Balkans have not been achieved. In particular, the mass movement for the democratic rights of the divided Albanian nation has not been extinguished. Their struggle reinforces the lesson that those who want freedom must fight for it.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.