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Sam Adams

Unravelling the Balkan Riddle

(3 September 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 38, 3 September1933, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

More than enough time has passed since the war ended in Europe to reveal the real Allied policy for the Continent. A glance at thedaily press shows that the great “ideals” which the Big Three constantly referred to as their purpose in the war, the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms, not only do not exist, they are not even mentioned any more.

What was absolutely clear from the moment it became certain that the Allies would defeat Germany, namely, that Europe would bedivided into spheres of influence among the big powers under a super-Versailles Peace Treaty, is now a reality. Europe lives under the conditions outlined by Potsdam decisions, which, although they deal primarily with Germany, also ratified the Yalta agreements, which divided Europe among the Big Three.

At that time, we wrote that these agreements were power agreements. They were based on the respective strengths of the Big Three and had nothing whatever to do with honor, justice, freedom, the rights of the people, self-determination, national independence, peace or security.

The Imperialist Peace

William Henry Chamberlain, noted correspondent and author, called the Potsdam decision the worst in all history. Whether it is the worst or not is not too important. What is important is that imperialist decisions were made at Yalta and Potsdam which exchanged territories, uprooted millions of people and instituted police, military or supervised regimes in most countries.

Russia, which had already seized parts of Finland, incorporated the Baltic states into its borders, revised the Polish borders and set up a puppet regime there in agreement with her allies, seized other territories which “voted” to join the “Soviet Union.” She has also been given spheres of influence in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. In addition, Russia occupies the largest zone in Germany.

Great Britain has dominated Greece since the Germans were driven out of the country. Her main object is to prevent the workers from seizing the reins of government and thereby ousting the royalist gang in power. She has maintained a tight control on Italy, jointly with the United States and also occupies an important industrial area of Germany.

The United States maintains a sharp interest in all the areasof Europe. American imperialism wants to prevent any single country from dominating the continent. She hopes to do this through her enormous economic, political and military might and by establishing a powerful base for herself in Western Europe through Great Britain and France.

So long as the war in the Far East remained to be fought, great concessions were given to Stalin. Great Britain and the United States undoubtedly hoped that this would not mean complete Russian domination of Eastern Europe or the Balkans. But the Russians proceeded quickly to reduce their “spheres of influence”into puppet states.

Democracy for Whom?

In the case of Roumania, the Red Army installed the Groza government, proceeded to smash all anti- and non-Stalinist elements in the country and to insure a complete pro-Russian regime with the aid of the Russian army, and the native Communist Party.

In Bulgaria, the Fatherland Front, dominated by the Communist Party and assisted by the Russians, runs the country. The elections planned for August 26, against which the United States and Great Britain protested so vehemently, were postponed with the promise that they would be made really democratic. Special election laws were in operation which would have disqualified opponents of the Stalinist Fatherland Front from voting. When Byrnes and Bevin made representations that they would not recognize the Georgieff government on the basis of undemocratic elections, the Bulgarians, under advice from the Russians, who first opposed the British and Americans, finally conceded to their demands.

Lest anyone think that the situation in Greece is fundamentally different than in the Russian-occupied Balkans, remember that the demand of the Voulgaris government for Allied supervision of the election is made for the purpose of intimidating the anti-royalist sand the resistance movement.

Russia declined the invitation to supervise the Greek elections on the ground that it would be an undemocratic act and would mean interference in the affairs of another country. This really takes the banner for hypocrisy. The nation which has already destroyed the independence of so many countries declined to supervise the elections in Greece because it would mean “interference in the affairs of another country”!

Liberation? Where?

What is this all about? The answer is really very simple.

We are observing a clash of interests in Europe. England and France, for example, have important economic interests in Romania and Jugoslavia which Russia dominates. They want to protect those interests. The Western powers want free access to the whole of Europe, something which is denied them by Stalin. Previous to this, the United States and England had made a deal over the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, Churchill likewise made a deal with Molotov extending to Russia a zone of interest in Romania. But Russia took the whole country. The United States and Great Britain want to curb Russian power in Europe.

Hence all the talk about “democratic elections.” It has nothing really to do with FREE elections, national independence or democracy. The quick end of the war enabled the Western powers to intervene more actively in the European theater, each promoting her own imperialist interests.

Europe, after the “war of liberation,” is a conquered land. Genuine peace, freedom and security for the Continent have still to be achieved.

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