The Guardian July 18, 2001


America at war in Macedonia (Part 1)

by Michel Chossudovsky
Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

Washington's covert war in Macedonia (the Former Yugoslav Republic of 
Macedonia) aims to consolidate America's sphere of influence in 
southeastern Europe. At stake is the strategic Bulgaria-Macedonia-Albania 
transport, communications and oil pipeline "corridor" which links the Black 
Sea to the Adriatic coast. Macedonia stands at the strategic crossroads of 
the oil pipeline corridor.

To protect these pipeline routes, Washington's goal is to install a 
"patchwork of protectorates" along strategic corridors in the Balkans.

The promise of "Greater Albania" used by Washington to foment Albanian 
nationalism is part of the military-intelligence ploy. Amply documented, 
the latter consists in financing and equipping the Kosovo Liberation Army 
(KLA) and its National Liberation Army (NLA) proxy to wage the terrorist 
assaults in Macedonia.

The development of America's sphere of influence in southeastern Europe — 
in complicity with Britain — supports the interests of the oil giants 
including BP-Amoco-ARCO, Chevron and Texaco. Securing control and 
"protecting" the pipeline routes is paramount to the success of these 
multi-billion dollar ventures.

A successful international oil regime is a combination of economic, 
political, and military arrangements to support oil production and 
transportation to markets.

The Anglo-American consortium which controls the AMBO Trans-Balkan pipeline 
project linking the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Vlore on the Albanian 
Adriatic coastline largely excludes the participation of Europe's competing 
oil giant Total-Fina-Elf.

In other words, US strategic control over the pipeline corridor is intent 
upon weakening the role of the European Union and keeping competing 
European business interests at arms' length.

The US-based AMBO pipeline consortium is directly linked to the seat of 
political and military power in the United States and Vice President Dick 
Cheney's firm Halliburton Energy.

The feasibility study for AMBO's Trans-Balkan Oil Pipeline, conducted by 
the international engineering company of Brown & Root Ltd [Halliburton's 
British subsidiary] has determined that this pipeline ... will become a 
part of the region's critical East-West corridor infrastructure which 
includes highway, railway, gas and fibre optic telecommunications lines.

Upon completion of the feasibility study by Halliburton, a senior executive 
of Halliburton was appointed CEO of AMBO. Halliburton was also granted a 
contract to service US troops in the Balkans and build "Bondsteel" in 
Kosovo, which now constitutes "the largest American foreign military base 
constructed since Vietnam". Coincidentally, White and Case LLT, the New 
York law firm that President William J Clinton joined when he left the 
White House, also has a stake in the AMBO pipeline deal.

Militarisation of the pipeline corridors

The AMBO Trans-Balkans pipeline project would link up with the pipeline 
corridors between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea basin, which lies at 
the hub of the world's largest unexplored oil reserves. The militarisation 
of these various corridors is an integral part of Washington's design.

The US policy of "protecting the pipeline routes" out of the Caspian Sea 
basin (and across the Balkans) was spelled out by Clinton's Energy 
Secretary Bill Richardson barely a few months prior to the 1999 bombing of 
Yugoslavia:

"This is about America's energy security ... It's also about preventing 
strategic inroads by those who don't share our values.

"We're trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west ... 
We would like to see them reliant on western commercial and political 
interests rather than going another way. We've made a substantial political 
investment in the Caspian, and it's very important to us that both the 
pipeline map and the politics come out right."

The Anglo-American oil giants, including BP-Amoco-Arco, Texaco and Chevron 
—supported by US military might — are competing with Europe's oil giant 
Total-Fina-Elf (associated with Italy's ENI) which is a big player in 
Kazakhstan's wealthy North East Caspian Kashagan oil fields.

The stakes are high: Kashagan is reported "so large as to even surpass the 
size of the North Sea oil reserves."

The competing EU based consortium, however, lacks a significant stake and 
leverage in the main pipeline routes out of the Caspian Sea basin and back 
(via the Black Sea and through the Balkans) to Western Europe.

The key pipeline corridor projects — including the AMBO project and the 
Baku-Cehyan project through Turkey to the Mediterranean — are largely in 
the hands of their Anglo-American rivals, which rely heavily on US 
political and military presence in both the Caspian basin and the Balkans.

Washington's design is to eventually distance all three AMBO countries, 
namely Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania from German-EU influence through the 
installation of full-fledged US protectorates.

In other words, US militarisation and geopolitical control over the 
projected pipeline linking Burgas in Bulgaria to the Adriatic port of Vlore 
in Albania is intent upon undermining EU influence as well as weakening 
competing Franco-Belgian-Italian oil interests.

Negotiations concerning the AMBO pipeline have been supported by US 
government officials through the Trade and Development Agency's (TDA) South 
Balkan Development Initiative (SBDI) "designed to help Albania, Bulgaria 
and FYR Macedonia further develop and integrate their transportation 
infrastructure along the east-west corridor that connects them."

The TDA points to the need for the three countries to "use regional 
synergies to leverage new public and private capital [from US companies]" 
while underscoring the responsibility of the US Government "for 
implementing the initiative."

With regard to the AMBO pipeline, it would appear that the EU has largely 
been excluded from the planning and negotiations. "Memoranda of 
understanding" (MOU) have already been signed with the governments of 
Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia which strip the countries' national 
sovereignty over both the pipeline and the transport corridors by providing 
"exclusive rights" to the Anglo-American consortium:

" ...[The] MOU states that AMBO will be the only party allowed to build the 
planned Burgas-Vlore oil pipeline. More specifically, it gives AMBO the 
exclusive right to negotiate with investors in and creditors of the 
project. It also obligates ... [the governments of Bulgaria, Macedonia and 
Albania] not to disclose certain confidential information on the pipeline 
project.

The AMBO pipeline project is linked up with another strategic project 
entitled "Corridor 8", initially proposed by the Clinton Administration in 
the context of the "Balkans Stability Pact".

Of strategic importance to both the US and the European Union, "Corridor 8" 
includes highway, railway, electricity and telecommunications 
infrastructure. In turn, the existing infrastructure in these sectors is 
slated for deregulation and privatisation (at rock bottom prices) under 
IMF-World Bank supervision.

Although rubber-stamped by EU transport ministers as part of the process of 
European economic integration, "Corridor 8" feasibility studies were 
conducted by US companies financed directly by the TDA. In other words, 
Washington seems to have set the stage for the takeover of the countries' 
transport and communications infrastructure.

American corporations including Bechtel, Enron and General Electric (with 
financial backing from the US government) are competing with companies from 
the European Union.

Washington's design is to open up the entire corridor to US multinationals 
in a region situated in the European Union's "economic backyard", where the 
power of the Deutschmark tends to dominate over that of the US dollar.

In early 2000, the European Commission began negotiations on EU associate 
membership status with Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania. And in April 2001, 
at the height of the terrorist assaults, Macedonia became the first country 
in the Balkans to sign a so-called "stabilisation and association 
agreement" (SAA) constituting an important step towards full EU membership.

The agreement provides the basis for "trade liberalisation, political co-
operation, economic and institutional reform and transplantation of EU 
legislation". Under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, Macedonia 
would (de facto) be integrated into the European monetary system, with full 
access to the EU market.

The terrorist assaults coincided chronologically with the process of "EU 
enlargement", gaining momentum barely a few weeks before the signing of the 
historic "association agreement" with Macedonia. Amply documented, the US 
has military advisers working with the terrorists. Was this a mere 
coincidence?

Also, Robert Frowick, "a former US diplomat", was appointed to head the 
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe mission in Macedonia in 
mid-March, again barely a few weeks before the signing of the "association 
agreement".

In close liaison with Washington and the US Embassy in Skopje, Frowick 
initiated a "dialogue" with NLA rebel leader Ali Ahmeti. He was also 
instrumental in brokering an agreement between Ahmeti and the leaders of 
the Albanian parties, which form part of the government coalition.

This agreement negotiated by Frowick has largely contributed to 
destabilising political institutions, while at the same time jeopardising 
the process of EU enlargement.

Moreover, the deteriorating security situation in Macedonia has provided a 
pretext for increased US political, "humanitarian" and military 
interference, while contributing to weakening Skopje's economic and 
political ties to Germany and the EU.

In this regard, one of the "binding conditions" of the "association 
agreement" is that Macedonia conform to "EU standards on democracy". 
Needless to say, without a "functioning government" in Macedonia, the EU 
association process with Brussels cannot proceed.

The puppet governments installed in Tirana, Skopje and Sofia, while largely 
responding to US diktats, are currently being swayed in the direction of 
the European Union. Washington's intent is ultimately to curb Germany's 
"Lebensraum" into Southeastern Europe.

While paying lip service to "EU enlargement", the US has consistently 
favoured "NATO enlargement" as a means to pursuing its strategic interests 
in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, while Germany and France have opposed 
it.

* * *
To be continued next week Acknowledgement: Emperor's Clothes, website: http://www.emperors-clothes.com

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