1. Has Serbia’s government taken an official position regarding the situation in Venezuela? If yes, what is the position?
The government is trying to keep a low profile. After a period of some sort of a constrain, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic gave a moderate statement for Sputnik: “The least we can do is to not change our position towards Venezuela”. In fact the government is openly on Maduro’s side but tends not to insist this position because most of European countries- including Germany, which is super influential in the governing party- act as hard-liners on the issue.
2.What does this (fail to) reveal about the foreign policy/international standing of your country?
It reveals a seemingly strategic but in fact superficial and affective (in terms of propaganda) tendency to side with anyone who is exposed in this or another way to the Western (USA+NATO+EU) hegemony. It fails to reveal that next to all such rhetorical and symbolical sidings, the country which is ruled by a comprador bourgeoisie, tends to gradually and systematically join the euro-Atlantic political and economic block. It is obvious that it is not the entire ruling coalition that is equally motivated for such a solution, but the flexibility and adaptability of attitudes and priorities of all stakeholders is obvious. The historic heritage (turned meanwhile to an empty ceremonial ballad) of non-alignment is not forgotten but it simply doesn’t sound palpable and viable in today’s world (of ruling parties and their financial foundations). Siding with Russia is much more strategic and popular in the electorate but it is economically and hence strategically unreliable for most of the comprador fractions. That should be the reason for Dacic’s low profile described above.
3.Have left groups/parties/movements come forward with a position on Venezuela? If yes, what has their position been? What does this (fail) to reveal?
Generally, publicly active and present groups criticized the imperialist and interventionist behavior and planning. The reactions vary strikingly in terms of the level of support to Maduro’s regime itself. It is chiefly tactically ignored in the situation of the attempt of the coup and the possibility of the imperial intervention. The support to the regime is stronger on the more nationally oriented left, but also on the left that is theoretically and rhetorically focused on anti-imperialism. Inevitably the issue involves the orientation towards the NATO interventionism in Yugoslav wars, where the differences in understandings and evaluations are striking. As Venezuelan ambassador reminded us in the public statement, the issue cannot here be seen separately from the experience of disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Western block’s role in that disintegration. This is
further connected to the toppling of Milosevic’s regime, which is then connected to the role of Otpor in education of young self-proclaimed Venezuelan president, the “Kosovo is Serbia“ parole etc. Possibly productive are debates on internet forums where some participants appear as even triumphant over the possibility of getting rid of Maduro’s clique in any possible manner. The perspective over the good sides of the chavismo project in case of the success of the intervention is not of their concern. While the opposed side is ready to put critique of Maduro’s regime and politics aside (only) in this very critical moments.
4.Do you see any parallels/differences in what is happening with Venezuela now to any moment in the development of state socialism in your country?
Yes, in many ways… it is obvious that Yugoslav “self-management”, “Chavismo” or any other “special and unique way to socialism” is being gradually destroyed by the exposure to world-market rules and dynamics (however those rules could be misrepresented or misunderstood). The Yugoslav case showed that the “diversification of economy” (so much insisted upon by the economically “sober” leftist critiques of Chavez-Maduro’s) under the market condition doesn’t make the economy of the socialist country resistant to the dictatorship of the world market and its managers. On the contrary. It is maybe worth mentioning, that the former and actual nature and intensity of the economic blockade of Venezuela resembles the first period after the break-up of Yugoslavia with the USSR and the Eastern bloc. In the future, debates are to be expected about “who and why is to blame” for the failure of Yugoslav, and the socialist economy project in general…
Nebojsha Milikic is a cultural worker and producer, researcher and activist based in Belgrade, Serbia. Since the 1999s, he works as editor, initiator and coordinator of various programmes and projects at the Cultural Centre Rex (Kulturni Centar Rex) in Belgrade.