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,"
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.
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.
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
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.
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
is Kosovo's Berlin Wall.
It has long stood for Kosovar Albanians as the symbol of
Serbian oppression and of their own resistance." Therefore,
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.
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
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.
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.