the legal battle:


The Defendants' List of Documents:

[the next step - 12 July 1991]

Yugoslavia and the new world order

The legal documents so far:

The original letter from ITN's solicitors

Statement of Claim from ITN

The Defence

Two-Ten Statement in Open Court

The Reply

>The Defendants' List of Documents

The carnage and disintegration in Yugoslavia today demonstrates the reality of the new world order. The dramatic changes on the international scene over the past two years have been the product of the collapse of Stalinism on the one hand, and on the other the crisis in the West. In Yugoslavia these trends have thrown the country back into the turmoil it faced in the years before the Second World War. For the people of Yugoslavia the new world order seems very much like the old world order of the inter-war years.

At the heart of the Yugoslavian crisis lies the failure of both the capitalist and the Stalinist systems to develop the economy. The weakness of the local capitalist class led to endemic regional strife from the turn of the century and made the Balkans a byword for instability and sectarian conflict. It also allowed the Stalinists under Tito - who played a key role in the struggle against Nazi occupation - to assume power at the end of the war. Tito welded together the six republics and two provinces and suppressed the pre-war conflicts. But the Stalinist system could not advance Yugoslavia's economic and social needs.

The stagnation of the Stalinist economy forced the bureaucrats to extend market forces in the eighties. To survive the shift to the market, the bureaucracy set out to win popular support by encouraging nationalist and ethnic rivalries. The failure of the market to deliver, particularly in the poorer southern republics, has intensified these rivalries and brought Yugoslavia to civil war.

For the West the main aim is to bottle up the tensions in Yugoslavia and ensure that they do not spill over into the rest of Europe. The European powers are terrified that the inter-communal strife in Yugoslavia could set off similar conflicts in neighbouring states - Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece. Many of these countries contain substantial minority ethnic groups and fear the possibility of volatile sectarian strife. Such conflict would not only bring instability into the heart of Europe but call into question all the borders in the region.

For all their rhetoric about the 'triumph of the market', the Western powers recognise that there is little hope for economic and social progress in the region. Their only concern is to limit the damage caused by the collapse of Stalinism and the introduction of market forces into the East. This is why the West has by and large been firm in its insistence on the maintenance of a federal Yugoslavia.

Over the past week the West shifted its ground somewhat, putting more stress on the need to respect the rights of Slovenia and Croatia. This has nothing to do with concern for the people of these republics. Rather some Western strategists are worrying that the imposition of a federal Yugoslavia by force could be a recipe for more instability than the provision of greater autonomy for Slovenia and Croatia. Germany, which is likely to gain most from the fast development of capitalism in these two republics, has been most vocal in its support for Slovenia and Croatia. In the new world order the stress is very much on the maintenance of order - according to the interests of the West.

We oppose the secession of Croatia and Slovenia from the Yugoslav federation because the unleashing of nationalist, ethnic and regional conflicts can only be a major setback for the working class as a whole. It will obscure the real interests of people throughout East and Central Europe and create new divisions and tensions. At the same time, we are opposed to any form of Western interference to resolve the issue, and to the use of force by the regime in Belgrade to impose the federal system. Only the people of the region can settle their problems through uniting in an all-Balkan federation and tackling the real issue: the failure of either the old Stalinist or the new market system to advance their interests.

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