Full Citation

  • Title The Push in Yugoslavia
  • Author International Herald Tribune
  • Publication Title International Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection International Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Saturday-Sunday,  April 1, 1989-April 2, 1989
  • Issue Number 33002
  • Page Number 4
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Editorial
  • Publication Section Opinion and Editorial
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
The Push in Yugoslavia In the great race of Eastern Europe — who will be first across the shadow line into pluralism? — do not underestimate Yugo- slavia. Hungary has seen that the path to pluralism usually starts in economics, and it has gone further than any other European Communist country to let a free economy develop alongside a state-controlled one. Poland is the leader in politics, becoming the first country in the region to allow a multi-party election for at least one house of parliament. Yugoslavia could yet over- take them both, because in Yugoslavia the push for pluralism may get a helping shove from nationalism. On the face of it, Slobodan Milosevic had a case for trying to strengthen his Serbia within the Yugoslav federation. The two northern republics that are most adventur- ous in the search for pluralism, Slovenia and Croatia, happen to be the two physical- ly closest to the West. That is why Yugosla- via faces a genuine danger of disintegration, Like other Serbs before him, Mr. Milosevic thought that keeping Serbia strong would be the best way to hold the country togeth- er. This time it may not work out like that. In scooping the “autonomous provinces” of Vojvodina and Kosovo back under Ser- bian control, Mr. Milosevic badly misealeu- lated Kosovo. The Albanians, who now make up nine-tenths of Kosovo’s people, have not accepted the change in their life as a fait accompli. The past week’s bloodlet- ting could be the start of a grumbling insur- gency: Yugoslavia’s Ulster. That would se- riously complicate things for Mr. Milosevic, The Yugoslav security forces, with Kosovo tugging at their attention, would not want g to worry about Belgrade’s authority in the northern republics, too. And Slovenia and Croatia would be handed an excellent bar- gaining card: They would support the oper- ation in Kosovo, provided they were given more autonomy for themselves. The trouble is that it will be harder for Mr. Milosevic to consent to that extra au- tonomy while the issue in Kosovo remains in doubt. Mr. Milosevic is more open-mind- ed about economic reform, and the looser Yugoslavia that it would bring about, than are many of his fellow Serbs. But these conservative Serbs, centralizers by instinct, will be even more reluctant to let Croatia and Slovenia stroll down Pluralism Road so long as Kosovo stays rebellious. They do not want a challenge in the south and one in the north at the same time, If Belgrade did put the brakes on the northern republics, the resentment inside Slovenia and Croatia would get worse. The challenge to the “leading role” of the Com- munist Party would grow. The local Corn- munists would either have to give ground, or see their own support grow even weaker, It could be like what is happening in the Baltic republics of the Soviet Union, Nationalism, they say, is the enemy of liberalism. That is often right; but it may not be in Yugoslavia today. When one na- tionalism stimulates several countemation- alisms, but is not strong enough to master them, the door may suddenly open for those who want to live their own lives. Unless Mr. Milosevic gets a grip on Kosovo soon, he may find that his would-be master stroke in Serbia’s name has in fact weakened him. INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE.