BFP Exclusive – Guess, Who’s Coming to the Moscow Parade?

The US-NATO Control of the Balkan Ruling Elites

Recently, the president of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman made news around the world when he publicly confronted the US ambassador to the Czech Republic Andrew Schapiro about the ambassador's statement that Zeman's attendance of the Victory Day parade in Moscow would be "awkward". "I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president where to travel,” Zeman said. “I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels.” And, then, in order to make concrete his displeasure at the attempted interference, he added that Schapiro "has the door to the castle [Zeman's presidential residence] closed".[1]

This made Zeman an instant celebrity among those in Europe who believe that the US-NATO military build-up, coupled with the strengthening of the anti-Russian geopolitical discourse, might have serious repercussions for the European political and economic stability and peace. This, however, is nothing new for Zeman as he has voiced similar opinions in the past as well. For instance, he was one of the first EU high-level politicians to take a stand against the imposition of the sanctions against Russia.[2] For this reason, he became a target of the smear campaign by several pro-US political parties and organizations and was even pelted with eggs and symbolically shown the red card by the protesters during the public commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in November 2014.[3]

It appears, however, that the pressure this time around was so overwhelming that Zeman was forced to change his plans. It could easily be that he was blackmailed in some way as one could see the collective glee of pro-NATO political forces after Zeman backed down from his earlier decision.[4] Obviously, the US-NATO Empire could not tolerate such an open defiance against its imperial interests and was willing to use all the means at its disposal to have its isolation of Russia stick. And, so, the latest news is that Zeman will be in Moscow on the day of the parade, but will not be actually attending it.[5]

In contrast to Zeman, many of his Balkan colleagues did not even put up the fight to defend their countries' sovereign foreign policy decision making. There are only a very few exceptions. In my opinion, the examination of who is and who is not going to the Victory Day parade in Moscow provides a good litmus test of the extent to which the US-NATO Empire exercises a firm control over the ruling political elites in the Balkans. In this analysis, I will look at the political dynamic with regards to this issue in each country of the region.

Greece

The prime minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras has visited Moscow last week (April 8 and 9) and, notwithstanding the vocal opposition from the Obama administration and several US-controlled EU politicians, has signed important agreements to deepen and expand economic cooperation between Greece and Russia.[6] Needless to say, the issue of Tsipras's coming to Moscow again for the Victory Day parade created a lot of controversy. There were even some reports in the US mainstream media that he would not go. However, Tsipras dispelled all these rumors during the meeting with the Russian president Vladimir Putin and made clear that he would be in Moscow on May 9.[7]

Serbia

In addition to Tsipras, there is only one more Balkan leader that has explicitly said that he would attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow. That is the president of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić. Just like Zeman, Nikolić was publicly lectured by various EU politicians to reverse his decision. During a visit to Belgrade in March 2015, the head of the European Parliament delegation Eduard Kukan for instance said that Nikolić "should not attend the milary parade in Moscow on May 9".[8] Nikolić replied that it was "rude to offer the advice to somebody who did not ask for any" and stated that it was "in vain" to try to put pressure on him to go against the interests and opinions of the vast majority of the Serbian people.[9]

At this point, it appears that not only will Nikolić attend the parade, but also a Serbian military unit will march together with the Russian troops in what is called "the parade of victors".[10] This will no doubt expose Serbia to even bigger pressures and threats from the US-NATO Empire.

The recent statement of the Albanian prime minister Edi Rama (Albania is a member of NATO and probably the most US-controlled state in the Balkans) should be seen from this perspective. In an interview for a Kosovo TV station, Rama said that if the EU did not enable the union of Albania and Kosovo within its framework, they will unite in another way.[11] There is some controversy about the exact translation of Rama's statement,[12] but the implicit meaning is unmistakable: Albanians in Albania and Albanians in Kosovo should be politically united in the near future. This geopolitical narrative may lead to a serious destabilization of the Balkans in the coming years.

It is indicative of the geopolitical stakes that Rama's statement was condemned by both the EU[13] and Russia,[14] though the Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dačić complained that the reaction of Brussels was "lukewarm".[15] It is interesting that the European Parliament member Kukan, who earlier criticized Nikolić's decision to attend the Moscow parade, stated that he did not like Rama's statement and that it made him "nervous".[16] In my opinion, by saying this, he was in fact trying to cover up his own deep involvement in the US-NATO strategy to punish Serbia for disobedience. But, in order to make sure that he is not misinterpreted by his "Euro-Atlantic" mentors, Kukan in the same interview explicitly condemned the Serbian policy of military neutrality.

Montenegro

With regards to the Victory Day parade in Moscow, the position of the ruling coalition in Montenegro has been especially tragicomic, even burlesque. It is no secret of course that this coalition of corrupt politicians is publicly supported by the imperial foreign policy establishment in Washington and covertly by the CIA, whose officials have allegedly interfered in the Montenegrin election process.[17] Still, the rationale offered for the cancellation of the trip to Moscow represents a shameless attempt at the infantilization of the Montenegrin public.

Namely, in March 2015, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov included the president of Montenegro Filip Vujanović (the figure of compromised political legitimacy elected in the rigged presidential elections in April 2013)[18] in the list of those heads of states who confirmed their presence in Moscow on May 9.[19] The same was later repeated by the Russian ambassador to Montenegro Andrey Nesterenko who expressed his astonishment at the reversal, considering that the Russian embassy received an official acceptance letter from the president's cabinet at an earlier time.[20]

However, in the first week of April 2015, Vujanović announced that he was not going to Moscow after all as "it would not be natural for the president to ignore the commemoration in his own country because of his attendence of the parade in Moscow".[21] He hid behind an alleged request of the Montenegrin WWII Veterans' organization to organize the commemoration in Montenegro as well. That this is a made-up excuse is shown by the fact that Yugoslavia, one of the victors in WWII, celebrated the Victory Day not on May 9, but on May 15 when the fascist troops and their collaborators finally surrendered. This means that if the WWII veterans wanted to organize an authentic commemoration, this should have been done on May 15, not on May 9 and therefore Vujanović's presence in both places would be made possible. However, as is clear, this anti-Russian move (in addition to being a serious diplomatic faux pas) was yet another episode of the Montenegrin political puppet theater directed by the forces of the US-NATO Empire.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

The high-level officials of Bosnia-Herzegovina were also on Lavrov's March list of the attendees. He specifically mentioned not only "the president of the Serb Republic (Republika Srpska) within the B-H", but also referred to other officials, including those from the other entity making up the country (the Muslim-Croat Federation).[22] However, at this point of time, there is no confirmation that anybody else, except the president of the Serb Republic Milorad Dodik, will come to Moscow.[23] This fits with the geopolitical narrative that divides Bosnia into the two spheres of influence, which is imposed by the US-NATO Empire and which in the long-run threatens to destabilize the functioning of the country's institutions.

Macedonia (FYROM)

Even though the presence of Georgi Ivanov, the president of Macedonia, was also announced by Lavrov, I seriously doubt that he will attend in the end. So far, there are no official announcements, but I expect that some excuse will soon be found, perhaps one along the lines used by the Montenegrin officials and equally unconvincing. The ruling political elites of both Montenegro and Macedonia have been willing puppets of the US-NATO agenda in the Balkans and certain policy decisions have been closely coordinated, such as for instance the momentous decision to recognize Kosovo as an independent state on October 9, 2008.[24] The blurring between the two countries in the minds of some high-level US officials sometimes reaches comic proportions. For instance, during the speech on his visit to Montenegro in May 2011 (on which the Montenegrin government spent $200,000 of taxpayers' money), former US president Bill Clinton  spoke of the "breathtaking beauty of Macedonia".[25]

Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania

The heads of state and government of these countries, firmly integrated into the US-NATO Empire, have all stated that they would not attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow.[26] This is not to say that in these countries, there are no political forces which oppose NATO and demand the dissolution of that geopolitically expansionist military alliance. As I have written in my previous BFP analyses, the presidential candidate in Croatia, Ivan Vilibor Sinčić, advocated a clear anti-NATO political agenda during the presidential elections in December 2014 and received more than 16% of the total vote.[27] At this time, Sinčić and his political organization "Živi zid" are preparing for the parliamentary elections to be held sometime during this year.[28]  The political movements, sharing the similar anti-war perspective, are also active in Slovenia and Bulgaria. I expect that within the next year or two (unless there is a wide-scale European war) the number of their supporters will double and the US-NATO Empire in the Balkans will not be as hegemonic as it is at this time.

# # # #

Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com

NOTES

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/05/czech-president-bans-us-ambassador-prague-castle

[2] http://praguepost.com/eu-news/42701-zeman-appears-on-russian-tv-to-blast-sanctions

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30086495

[4] http://www.voanews.com/content/czech-pm-sobotka-says-president-zeman-overreacted-to-us-envoy-schapiro-comments/2710293.html

[5] http://news.yahoo.com/czech-leader-skip-military-parade-during-moscow-trip-184404657.html

[6] http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/04/08/tsipras-putin-sign-new-trade-deal-and-renew-greece-russia-relations/

[7] http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20150409/1020681869.html

[8] http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2015&mm=03&dd=20&nav_id=93555

[9] http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2015&mm=03&dd=20&nav_id=93557

[10] http://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/politika/1510902-nikolic-odlucio-vojska-srbije-ucestvuje-na-vojnoj-paradi-u-moskvi

[11] http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/archive/news/latest/500/500.html?id=26942719

[12] http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/content/sta-je-stvarno-rama-rekao/26943085.html

[13] http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Politika/549611/EU-o-Rami-Provokacije-su-neprihvatljive

[14] http://www.novosti.rs/vesti/naslovna/politika/aktuelno.289.html%3A543690-Moskva-osudila-izjave-Rame-o-ujedinjenju-Albanije-i-Kosova

[15] http://www.palo.rs/svet-jugoistocna-evropa/mlaka-reakcija-brisela-na-provokaciju-iz-tirane/1016612/

[16] http://www.tanjug.rs/novosti/173745/kukan--ne-dopadaju-mi-se-ramine-izjave.htm

[17] http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/ambasada-sad-popov-nije-agent-cia-vec-sekretar-105835

[18] http://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/638813-lekic-izbori-u-cg-su-pokradeni-dokazacemo; http://www.cdm.me/politika/lekic-vujanovic-je-formalni-i-lazni-predsjednik

[19] http://tass.ru/en/russia/783263

[20] http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/nesterenko-vujanovic-je-prvo-rekao-da-ce-doci-u-moskvu-828080

[21] http://www.tanjug.rs/novosti/173327/nesterenko--vujanovic-prvo-potvrdio-dolazak--iznenadjen-sam.htm

[22] http://www.novosti.rs/vesti/planeta.299.html:538966-Lavrov-Nikolic-i-Dodik-na-Paradi-pobede-u-Moskvi

[23] http://www.rtvbn.com/337436/Dodik-i-Nikolic-na-Paradi-pobjede-9-maja-u-Moskvi

[24] http://www.rts.rs/page/stories/sr/story/11/Region/21052/I+Makedonija+priznala+nezavisnost+Kosova.html

[25] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI0HgPSdolo

[26] http://report.az/en/other-countries/bulgarian-president-will-not-participate-in-victory-parade-in-moscow/; http://www.balkaneu.com/croatian-president-attend-military-parade-moscow/

[27] http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2015/01/29/bfp-exclusive-the-balkans-elections-update-croatia-greece/

[28] http://www.24sata.hr/politika/lesar-parlamentarni-izbori-su-moguci-vec-17-svibnja-2015-406988

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