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Vol. 72/No. 11      March 17, 2008

Kosova’s independence a step forward
Kosova’s independence from Serbia is a step forward for working people around the world. It strikes a blow at the national oppression, divisions, and prejudices used to keep the working class divided on a world scale.

Ethnic Albanians in Kosova—who make up 90 percent of the population—have been oppressed by the rulers of neighboring Serbia. The Yugoslav socialist revolution in the 1940s showed the road to ending that discrimination, when all nationalities united to overturn capitalist rule. The new workers state that emerged extended language and cultural rights to Albanians and pledged an affirmative action program to prioritize development in Kosova, the poorest of all the provinces in the country. The strides forward by Yugoslav working people were cut short as the ruling Stalinist bureaucrats relied more and more on capitalist methods and began reversing the gains won. Growing inequalities for Kosovar Albanians fueled popular sentiment for independence.

The Serbian government’s discriminatory policies have made Kosova one of the poorest nations in Europe today. Surging unemployment and a sharp decline in economic output disproportionately impact the Albanian majority. Working people have more space to address these burning questions free of Belgrade’s stranglehold.

Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica says Kosova’s independence was “brought about by the destructive, brutal and immoral policies of force imposed by the United States.” But it was the Serbian regime’s policies of “ethnic cleansing” and national oppression that gave a handle to Washington and European imperialist powers to militarily intervene in the region. Now that they are there, nothing changes about the justness of the fight for self-determination in Kosova. In fact, it is only through this fight that the toilers of the region will be able to end the NATO and UN occupation.

Struggles by oppressed nations, regardless of their initial leadership, are not initiated or inspired by the imperialists. Their governments, whether in Europe or North America, are no friend to oppressed nationalities. They make tactical decisions to advance their interests. Washington has just made that crystal clear by openly aiding the Turkish government’s invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kosovar workers and farmers are in a stronger position to fight for their rights in an independent state free of the Serbian boot. Just as workers and farmers in Iraqi Kurdistan are better off today with regional autonomy than they were under the tyranny of the Saddam Hussein regime. In both cases, steps toward self-rule have been an unintended consequence of imperialist intervention, not imperialism’s original goal.

Given the defeats inflicted by the Stalinist regime in the former Yugoslavia, the national struggle in Kosova does not begin with a revolutionary proletarian leadership. Only through the fight for self-determination will space open up for a communist leadership to emerge that can forge links to anticapitalist and anti-imperialist struggles worldwide.

While recognizing Kosova’s independence, U.S. officials insist that it does not set a precedent. But the new nation does inspire confidence among those facing national oppression around the world—from Kurds to Saharawis to Albanian immigrants living in Greece and other parts of Europe.

By championing fights by oppressed nationalities against their subjugation, the toiling classes can forge a united fight against their common enemies—not only the imperialist powers, but also the domestic exploiters, from Turkey, to Iraq, Iran, Kosova, and Serbia.
Related articles:
Working people welcome Kosova independence  
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