Deindustrialization and Workers’ Struggle in Serbia

“Yugoslavia was in debt to the IMF. . . .  There was a conflict in the six republics of Yugoslavia: who is going to pay the debt?  Who is going to pay the debt was also a conflict between developed parts and undeveloped parts of Yugoslavia. . . . [In] this huge debate about who’s going to pay the debt, all this traditional ethnic hatred that had been pushed aside during the Communist period emerged.  Many elements . . . in society started to use this traditional hatred amongst the nations.  They were talking about what happened during the Second World War, who was fighting whom, and so on.  This dilemma — who’s going to pay the debt — ended in a civil war, a civil war between the nations. . . .  [T]he situation about Greece, debt, and media stereotypes about lazy Greeks and PIIGS countries, [is similar to what happened in] Yugoslavia. . . .  The Serbian economy survived the international sanctions during the 1990s.  It survived the three months of the NATO bombing campaign.  NATO didn’t bomb only military targets.  It also bombed hospitals, refugees, distribution systems.  They were bombing many civilian targets, for example the national media, like they did it in Libya. . . .  [T]he cost of the NATO bombing . . . was something like 30 billion dollars.  [Still] the economy survived, and people were still employed.  It was not a prosperous economy, but it had the potential to . . . keep all these people employed.  But, unfortunately, after the fall of Milošević, after the overthrow of the government, this neoliberal Democratic Party came into power.  They started with the privatization process.  It was [made] mandatory by the World Bank.  Actually it’s that privatization that completely ruined the economy.” — Milenko Srečković

Milenko Srečković is an Pokret za slobodu (Freedom Fight Movement) activist in Serbia.  This talk was given at the “Krise und reale Utopien” conference, Johannes Kepler University of Linz, 17 November 2011.  The text above is an edited partial transcript of his talk.

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