A Single Yugoslavia, Pluralized. - The New York Times, December 29, 1989, електронен архив




A Single Yugoslavia, Pluralized
December 29, 1989
In moving to end the Communist Party's political monopoly, the Central Committee recognized a central truth: The best way to maintain unity in a multinational state like Yugoslavia is to allow more autonomy. If the urge for greater autonomy is thwarted, resentful nationalists could press more radical demands, like secession.
Yugoslavia's fragile unity is being tested by two crises at once. Belgrade is trying to find a remedy for economic distress whose symptoms include prolonged recession and 40 percent monthly inflation. And its component nationalities are struggling for greater self-determination.
Prime Minister Ante Marcovic, a Croat, wants to loosen the bureaucratic hold on the economy by decontrolling prices in most sectors and encouraging private enterprise and foreign investment. These reforms could aggravate regional tensions because Slovenia and Croatia are better situated than other republics to benefit from freer markets.
Serbia's president, Slobodan Milosevic, argues that ministries in Belgrade need to retain economic control. A reflexive authoritarian, Mr. Milosevic has also sided with doctrinaire Communists to resist dilution of the party's leading role. He tried to pressure federal authorities into forcing Slovenia and Croatia back into line. His assertiveness has aroused fears of Serbian domination over other republics.
The differences over economic and political arrangements could yet fracture Yugoslavia along ethnic lines. Nationalisms might then leap across Yugoslavia's borders to kinsmen in neighboring states, sparking the same kind of instability that once plunged the Balkans and the rest of Europe into war. How to keep these tensions from spilling beyond Yugoslav borders is a matter Washington needs to begin thinking about, and discussing with its allies and with Moscow.
What sort of political and economic arrangements Yugoslavs prefer is their own business. But by allowing greater autonomy, they could ease their own and outsiders' concerns.