To whom does Trepča belong? To the miners of Trepča![4 min. za čitanje]

Statement of the revolutionary socialist organisation Marks21 in Serbia
(ovo je engleska verzija saopštenja koje možete na srpskohrvatskom pročitati ovde)

In the past week, a dramatic struggle has been fought over the mine of Trepča.

Trepča is a lead, zinc and silver mine. In the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, it was one of the main producers of the mineral wealth of the country and it employed 20,000 people.

Today, Trepča, like Kosovo, is divided. Since 1999, Trepča is under the care of the United Nations, kept on trust until its privatisation.

In recent days, we learned that the Government of Kosovo will take over the mine. The Government of Serbia, which claims that three quarters of Trepča is the property of the Republic of Serbia, reacted with vehement opposition.

Days of drama, high diplomacy and protests followed. The Government of Serbia does not recognise the secession of Kosovo and it has demanded that the future of Trepča be the subject of discussion in Brussels. What is the Government of Serbia hoping for?

It is haggling with Brussels. It hopes that it will in some way be able to monetise any potential concessions. Will this be European money? Will it be some kind of ’cantonisation’ of Kosovo? Will it mean the passing on of various debts to the Government of Kosovo?

Whatever the case, pressured by the great powers, the Government of Kosovo withdrew, in spite of the strike of the miners of Trepča, who were demanding the nationalisation of the mine. Why did it take this step? Because it does not want nationalisation under pressure from the workers. The Government of Kosovo will go to Brussels and see if it, too, can profit from the situation. Perhaps it will seek European money? Perhaps reparations from Serbia? In any case, it just cannot wait to privatise Trepča.

What is the stance towards all this of revolutionary socialists in Serbia? We are led by the idea of internationalism. For us, it is unacceptable for the state of Serbia to continue to try to impose itself as the legitimate authority in Kosovo. The Republic of Serbia is not the legitimate government of Kosovo, since the majority of the population does not want the return of the state of Serbia on its territory.

Moreover, we solidarise 100 percent with the demands of the miners. They want nationalisation under the Government of Kosovo. They did not get it, but they have announced they will continue to protest, even though the Prime Minister of Kosovo called on them to end the strike. We wish them every success.

We also support the slogan, which forces like the Movement for Self-Determination (Lëvizja Vetëvendosje!) have put forward, that the Government of Kosovo does not have the legitimacy to privatise Trepča. The Kosovan authorities are not a sovereign authority, since it is a protectorate of the Western powers and under the umbrella of NATO.

We believe that the nationalisation for which the miners of Trepča themsleves are fighting would be a blow both to the former occupier – Serbia – and the current occupier – NATO. The pressure from below would create a situation in which the Government of Kosovo has to listen to its own people, not its aggressive neighbour or the greedy “international community” to which it currently answers.

We also believe that our stance will show Albanians in Kosovo that they have a true friend: the left of Serbia. With our support, we hope to help the growth of the left and internationalism among Albanians in Kosovo. We think that this would aid the reconciliation of Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo, which is necessary for the people of Kosovo to overthrow the colonial protectorate.

Reconciliation would calm the voices in Serbia which claim Serbs are oppressed in Kosovo, and it would take away the argument from NATO that it needs to protect Kosovo from Serbia and it would de-legitimise the protectorate.

We believe that these would be real steps towards the friendship of the peoples of Kosovo and Serbia. These would be real steps for both countries to be declared zones free of NATO. This would be a real step towards Balkan Federation.

The actor which has the chance to create such international solidarity are the miners of Trepča. It was their own rulers, our rulers and the “international community” who tried to suffocate their strike. That is why their victory would be the victory of all those who want the true self-determination of Kosovo. We therefore express our belief that the struggle of the miners of Trepča is the way towards the full and true self-determination of Kosovo, free of imperialism.

This is why we send the miners our heartfelt solidarity greetings. We call on them to call on the Serbs of Kosovo to show their solidarity with the struggle, in order to show to the world that Trepča is the treasure of all working people, of all nationalities, in Kosovo, and that it does not belong either to the state of Serbia, nor the imperialist protectorate. We stand shoulder to shoulder with their struggle.