Soros' World
George Szamuely
New York Press


Last week 900 NATO troops, under UN auspices, stormed into a smelting factory at Zvecan in Kosovo and closed the place down. According to the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) chief, Bernard Kouchner, pollution from the plant – part of the vast Trepca mining complex that produces gold, silver, lead, zinc and cadmium – was raising lead levels in the environment to 200 times World Health Organization norms. "I would be a debauched person if I let this threat to the health of children and pregnant women continue operating any longer," he announced.

One wonders if the Frenchman managed to keep a straight face as he said this. Kouchner is running the province on behalf of a NATO that littered the place with cluster bombs and depleted uranium shells, that presided over the expulsion of some 200,000 Serbs, that sent bridges crashing into the Danube, that happily released clouds of toxic fumes from bombed-out petrochemical factories into the atmosphere. The residents of this town – particularly the women – showed their usual ingratitude to their benefactors by throwing stones at them. Trepca is the leading employer of Serbs in Kosovo and is Yugoslavia's chief exporter. The protesters got the Los Angeles treatment: tear gas and rubber bullets.

The Yugoslav government disputes Kouchner's claims. Yugoslavia's record for telling the truth is considerably better than NATO's. Seizure of Zvecan gives UNMIK control of the Trepca mines. Already an agreement has been signed with a group of major mining companies, ITT Kosovo Consortium, to begin rehabilitation of the complex. Some $16 million is forthcoming from the EU, the United States, France, Italy, Holland and Sweden.

UNMIK, needless to say, does not have the right to take over property that belongs to others. The agency was set up by UN Security Council Resolution 1244; strangely enough, it remained silent on the matter of stealing. However, as is the way with NATO, Kouchner simply issued a decree last year: "UNMIK shall administer movable or immovable property, including monies, bank accounts, and other property of, or registered in the name of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia or the Republic of Serbia or any of its organs, which is in the territory of Kosovo."

Interestingly enough, the seizure of Trepca had been urged on him as long ago as last November by the International Crisis Group (ICG). The ICG, invariably described in the media as an "independent" and "private" think tank, is largely financed and run by the billionaire financier George Soros. Its "independence" can be gauged by the fact that on its board sits Louise Arbour, former chief prosecutor at that travesty of justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; as well as Wesley Clark, loony chief bomber from last year. Financial support also comes from the governments of France, the UK and the U.S.

The ICG is a fascinating case study of the way human rights organizations, governments and international corporations work hand in glove these days. "Independent" figures like Soros identify a "crisis" demanding urgent government attention. Governments act on them and then parcel out the lucrative contracts to Soros and his pals. The Trepca report begins with the usual tendentious boilerplate: "The future of Trepca cuts to the heart of the Kosovars' identity. Its great mineral wealth is the basis of the economy of Kosovo, but the complex is badly run-down as a result of under-investment and over-exploitation by governments in Belgrade… Trepca…is Kosovo's Berlin Wall. It has long stood for Kosovar Albanians as the symbol of Serbian oppression and of their own resistance." Therefore, "UNMIK…should implement a rapid and categorical takeover of Trepca complex, including the immediate, total shutdown of the environmentally hazardous facilities at Zvecan." There is no question of turning the mines over to the Kosovar Albanians. And forget about there being lots of jobs for the locals. Trepca is to be rehabilitated and then divided up among foreign investors.

The report notes, with pleasure, that the KLA appears to be thoroughly up-to-date on the issue of turning Kosovo over to international financiers. George Soros has littered the world with innumerable think tanks and foundations, all dedicated to promoting his nebulous notions of the "open society." Cut away the pompous verbiage and what his pronouncements amount to is that enlightened businessmen like himself and enlightened governments with the appropriate globalist outlook should help each other out. To hell with national sovereignty.

It is an outlook that has been happily in conformity with that of the Clinton administration. And it has gone out of its way to be very helpful to Soros. Last month, Soros Private Funds Management announced that it will invest $50 million of its own equity in the Balkans. The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp. will provide a loan guarantee for another $100 million of investments. The Soros investment was chosen over 16 other proposals.

Last December the Clinton administration ordered the U.S. Export-Import Bank to delay approval of $500 million in credit guarantees to a Russian company, Tyumen Oil, following complaints by Western investors, including Soros, that they had been swindled. The U.S. Export-Import Bank argued that the loan met all its financial criteria. After talking to Soros, however, it was announced that it was not in the "national interest" to go ahead with the loan "for the time being." Now comes the seizure of Trepca. There is little mystery as to what it is our society is "open" to.

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Archived Columns by George Szamuely from the New York Press

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The Good Lieberman

Nader-Buchanan 2000

W's Oil Warriors

Rupert's Hillary

The Veep's No VIP

Hollow Mexico

Death of Innocents

NATO's Home Free

Poll Attacks

Israel's Powerful Friends

Defense Against What?

God Bless Rehnquist!

Long, Hillary Summer

Communicating Power

Law as Ordered

What Threat?

Peculiar Yet Brave

Closed to Debate

Arrogance of Power

Prison Love

Gore's Oil

Rough Justice

Race Race

Al the Coward

Intruder Alert

McCain's Money

Haider Seek

Out of Africa

Prosecute NATO

Villain or Victim?

Intervention, Immigration, and Internment

Home-Grown Terrorism

Who Benefits?

Laws of Return

Embassy Row

Selling Snake Oil

Chinese Puzzle

That Was No Lady, That Was the Times

The Red Tide Turning?

Pat & The Pod

United Fundamentalist States

Let Them All Have Nukes!

Liar, Liar

Gangster Nations

Puerto Rico Libre – and Good Riddance

Leave China Alone

A World Safe for Kleptocracy

Proud To Be Un-American

All articles reprinted with permission from the New York Press


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