Workers World, Feb. 15, 2008
Following is an interview by Yugoslavia scholar Cathrin Schütz with Branko Kitanovic, general secretary of the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia (NKPJ), and published in the German daily newspaper Junge Welt on Feb. 12. The Belgrade-based NKPJ was established in 1990 and has its departments in all former republics of Yugoslavia. Schütz and Kitanovic discuss mainly Yugoslavia and European imperialism, but U.S. imperialism played a similar role as its European allies, and of course led the military assault on Yugoslavia. —WW editors
Cathrin Schütz: The West’s favorite candidate, Serbia’s President Boris Tadic, has just been confirmed in office. What position did the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia (NKPJ) take during the election campaign?
Branko Kitanovic: We supported Tadic’s opponent Tomislav Nikolic from the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), who lost by a small margin. He represents an anti-imperialist position, which refuses to accept either the separation of Kosovo or the membership of Serbia in NATO and the European Union, even though his position towards the EU is ambivalent. We are a Marxist-Leninist party and categorically against NATO, not only because it bombed our country in 1999, but because it is an aggressive alliance that supports the policy of the leading western states by military means. We are against Serbia’s entry into EU. The European Union is a creature of big western capital, especially German, English and French. The EU acts like a colonial power towards Eastern Europe and the Balkans. An EU membership would be a harder imprisonment than the ones we suffered under Ottoman or Austrian rule.
CS: So you support the SRS because of its foreign policy?
BK: Right. It is a bourgeois, patriotic party and we do have different ideas on how to achieve the national liberation of our country. The SRS stands for “honest capitalism,” for “fair privatization.” That’s nonsense. Any privatization of public property is theft. Nevertheless, the SRS, which is presently the strongest patriotic party in Serbia, struggles against the government, which carries out the interests of the West. Of course, we as communists are patriots, too.
CS: The term “patriotism” is upsetting to progressive movements in Germany.
BK: Patriotism is a characteristic of anti-imperialism. As Germany itself is an imperialist country, you probably understand the term “patriotism” as meaning support of imperialism. For us, it has a defensive character. We fight for our sovereignty and national integrity, and as a party, for the reestablishment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The FRY had deficiencies, for example, Serbia did not enjoy the same rights as the other republics. However: even the worst socialism is better than the best capitalism.
CS: During the 1999 war, the majority of the western left did not oppose their governments’ anti-Serbian agitation and shared the position that then-President Slobodan Milosevic was responsible for the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. What was your relationship to the Milosevic government?
BK: Since its establishment in 1990, the NKPJ supported the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), whose chairperson was Milosevic. The international circumstances at the beginning of the 1990s forced Milosevic to adapt to some sort of social democratic line and to carry out some limited privatizations. I think that he thought that this was the way Serbia could exist in peace. It turned out to be an error. The West, Germany and the UK in particular, wanted to destroy first Yugoslavia and than Serbia. In the end, Milosevic was harmed by not having followed a stricter ideological line. He was surrounded by the wrong people, many of whom turned out to be traitors. We did not support the bourgeois orientation of his party, but we completely stood behind the anti-imperialist features of his foreign policy.
During the years when Milosevic was president, we were able to participate in all elections. Since the pro-western “democrats” had come to power by the coup in October 2000, they made unconstitutionally high demands for the registration for the elections that we still have been unable to fulfill even once.
CS: How will you remember Slobodan Milosevic?
BK: In some respect, he cooperated with the West as president of Serbia and Yugoslavia. After he had been extradited and stood before the Yugoslav tribunal in The Hague, he was incredible. What he did not fully understand before—he realized much better then. In The Hague he made sure the truth was heard. He exposed the methods which the western states used to destroy Yugoslavia and the rest of the world. “Slobo” will go down in history as a symbol of the worldwide anti-imperialist struggle.
Translation by Zoran Sergievski