On 14 August 2000, in the early hours of the morning, 900 troops, from Britain, Denmark and France, under a Spanish general, Ortuno, seized control of a lead smelting plant that forms part of the Trepca mining complex, one of Yugoslavia’s most precious assets, and one which imperialism has long lusted after. According to Christopher Hodges of the
New York Times,
the Trepca mining complex is
“the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans, worth at least $5 billion”.
With the takeover of the smelting plant, under the false pretext that it was polluting the atmosphere, the imperialist offensive to take over Yugoslavia’s most valuable resource has begun.
What the ‘UN’ now intends, under the direction of western imperialism, is, according to the
of 19 August, that
“a consortium of French, American and Swedish interests … put the plant in order and re-open it.”
In other words, control is to pass to western imperialism. The
adds that the re-opening will be
“presumably with a more multi-ethnic workforce.”
These weasel words, when read in the context of the fact that prior to the takeover the smelter employed both Serbs and Albanians, indicates a clear intention to reduce the number of Serbs, probably to nil, in order to put in place Albanians – not because imperialism has any ethnic preferences, but because Serbs are more likely to be loyal to Yugoslavia and to put up resistance to western imperialist takeover. In other words, Kfor will, as it has all along, promote the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.
There is no pollution
Dr Milan Ivanovic, Deputy Director of Kosovska Mitrovica City Hospital addressed a mass protest rally of Trepca workers and other local inhabitants on 16 August, the day after the expropriation by Kfor troops. He pointed out that the takover
“was only part of the scenario and strategy laid down by Bernard Koucher
[imperialism’s quisling governor of Kosovo]
and his Shiptar
accomplices with a view to occupying northern Kosovo-Metohija, to expelling the Serbs, intimidating them and ethnically cleansing the remaining Kosovo-Metohija territory”.
As for Kfor’s claim that it was acting to prevent lead pollution, Dr Ivanovic, who is certainly a person who would know what the situation was, commented:
“They say that the reason is an environmental disaster. That is a lie. While working here for two years and leafing through health and medical protocols, I can say that not a single case of lead poisoning has been registered.”
Besides, it is not only the lead smelting plant that Kfor has expropriated. At the same time, it occupied the town’s principal hotel, smashed up the region’s only Serbian language radio station and closed down the only Serbian language local newspaper. Dr Ivanovic went on to say:
“They are closing down our media so as to prevent that which they do not approve of from being heard …” and, he asked, with regard to the takeover of the Zvecan Trepca hotel,
“How much does that hotel contribute to environmental pollution?”
Prior to taking forcible possession of the smelting plant, Kfor had conducted a propaganda offensive among the local population, endeavouring to weaken any resistance by planting the idea that they were in danger of being poisoned by noxious effusions. In response to this the Trepca management issued a statement on August 13 in refutation of these ridiculous lies:
“Thousands of Trepca’s employees – workers, experts and executives – work at and live in the immediate vicinity of the Zvecan lead smelting plant, and they certainly care more about their own health than UNMIK [the UN ‘civilian mission’ to Kosovo, i.e., the imperialist-imposed civilian administration]
ever could. Daily sampling of air, water and soil shows that these are protected from pollution by lead, gas and dust and that there is no reason for UNMIK’s so called ‘concern’.
On the other hand, it is a well-known fact that NATO’s merciless bombing of Kosovo-Metohija last year and use of banned weapons, such as depleted uranium and cluster bombs, have caused an environmental disaster with unforeseeable long-term consequences”,
“Regrettably, UNMIK has shown not the least concern for the people suffering the consequences of the horrors of war strewn all over our land.”
The actions of 14 August are only the first step in imperialism’s intended takeover of the entire Trepca complex. Let imperialism be warned, however, that the people of Yugoslavia will not rest until they have prised off the claws of the oppressor. They fought to free themselves of Ottoman rule and won. They fough t to free themselves of the Hitlerites and won. Even if it takes some time and a great deal of suffering, they will see off US and European imperialism as well.