Interview: ‘On Balkanisation’

‘Neoliberalism and Protectorate States in the post-Yugoslav Balkans’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Global Balkans Network (posted on  ZNet), October 5, 2007

Global Balkans: It is rather fortuitous that today is the 5th of October 2007, 7 years since the so-called October 5th revolution in Serbia when Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown. The post-intervention period since October 5th is known as the “tranzicija” or “transition” in Serbia. What we are witnessing now is an accelerated privatization program, mass unemployment, massive impoverishment following upon ten years of war, the highest number of refugees and internally displaced people in Europe, and a lot of promises of a better future through privatization and so on. I wanted to ask you what your perspective on transition in such post-intervention contexts is. How do you see this?

Tariq Ali: Well, I mean the first question which arises is: transition from what to what or from what to where? And for me the big tragedy of Yugoslavia is that it was split up.

This was a country in the middle of Europe where different communities lived with each other for 50 years quite well. And it is not suddenly that they developed ethnic hatreds and killed each other. It had material bases for it. And that material bases was the insistence of the IMF on the implementation of its program, which broke the unity of the Yugoslav Army which couldn’t be paid. read more