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Letter in the Eastern Daily Press, Monday, April 26, 1999:

Serbs will not give up easily

Manor Lane,

With objective coverage of the root cause of the current Balkan crisis seemingly restricted, it must be stressed that prior to the secessions of the various Yugoslav republics in 1961, that there was no ethnic cleansing, genocide or refugees.

Certainly ethnic and nationalistic tensions existed, but were contained by Tito's balancing act where semi-autonomous rights were granted to provinces like Kosovo with a large preponderance of Kosovan Albanians in proportion to Serbs.

What triggered the country's subsequent fragmentation was the inability of its old command-style economy to adapt to a free-market system after the advent of the vaunted "New World Order", where old apparatchiks like Yeltsin and Milosevic were feted in the West for their remarkable overnight conversion to an alternative ideology.

However, the only achievement of this epoch was to underline the massive disparities in wealth and resources between the affluent north of Slovenia and Croatia, and the impoverished south of Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

Relieved of Stalinist constraints, leaders in the north, principally Tudjman of Croatia, began to play the nationalist card of exploiting the internal resentments instilled by having to provide subsidies to their southern neighbours, particularly Serbia

However, with ethnic tensions being exacerbated generally throughout the rest of the country due to this failure of market reforms, this provided the perfect excuse for the West to intervene politically in a humanitarian guise, on behalf of Croatia and Slovenia in order to exploit their high-growth, export-led economies ideal for integration with European and USA markets.

After a period of rival dithering between a German-led Europe and the USA, a consensus was reached that an independent Slovenia and Croatia would be preferable to Western interests regardless of how detrimental it was for Serbia. Secession was granted, and nationalistic tendencies erupted.

From then on, the Croats were depicted in the West as freedom loving, cultured and capitalist, the Serbs authoritarian and communist, as portrayed in the daily reporting and presentation of the conflict today.

The abominable ethnic-cleansing occurring today in Kosovo cannot be condoned, but is the direct legacy of Western governments meddling in the sovereign affairs of the Yugoslav state, and of subjecting Serbia to their gunboat diplomacy ever since.

It is hardly surprising that having had to concede hundred of miles of territory at Krajina in 1995 where thousands of Bosnian Serbs were brutally displaced by Western-backed Croatian forces backed by Nato bombers during the civil war in Bosnia, that the Serbs regard their province of Kosovo with a great deal of sensitivity, and will defend it by whatever means necessary, especially if provoked by airstrikes.

Today, as Nato governments and generals assess the humanitarian consequences of their gung-ho tactics, the plight of Kosovan Albanians now has to be seen as a genuine commitment, rather than the original masquerade to maintain USA-charged power in the Balkans.

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