One week before last Christmas, the US State Department fast-tracked four European Bank for Reconstruction and Development projects in Serbia, which consisted of a loan to HVB Banka Serbia; an equity investment in Syntaxis Mezzanine Fund I; an equity investment in South Eastern Energy Capital; and a loan to Danube Group Holding of Serbia, which holds a stake in JKR Natural Resource BV.
The State Department claims that these particular investments "will contribute to a stronger and more integrated economy in the Balkans." Therefore, Section 561 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act was suspended. Section 561 would have prevented US executive directors of the EBRD from voting in favor of these initiatives because of the Serbian government's noncompliance with the Hague Tribunal.
Why is the United States so eager to fund these projects?
The first of these projects, as Andrea Crandall, writing in the July issue of Chronicles, explains, is a subsidy to HVB Banka Serbia, a subsidiary of Bank Austria Creditanstalt, the fourth-largest bank in Austria and the operator of the largest international network of banks in Eastern Europe. The second of the projects will shovel a minimum of 25 million Euros into an equity fund headquartered in tax-shelter Guernsey, for the purposes of
...building institutions; developing local fund managers; restructuring local companies; and finding new ways of financing local companies.
The third project will acquire a ten-percent stake in SENCAP, a partnership of the largest Greek energy concern and American corporation Contour-Global; proceeds from the investment will be utilized to
...acquire other energy resources in Serbia, as well as in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Rumania, and the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo.
Fascinating: Western governments enabling private Western companies to lock up energy reserves in southeastern Europe. The free market has triumphed! All hail neoliberalism!
Finally, the fourth project will enable JKR Natural Resource BV, a Dutch concern specializing in construction and maintenance, to acquire competitors in Serbia and to consolidate existing holdings. In other words,
...NATO power-players are handing out tax-guaranteed loans to buddy companies in order to rebuild the Serbian infrastructure NATO destroyed.
Moreover, as Crandall elaborates, these projects are but stepping stones to a larger ambition: Serbia's EPS (Elektroprivreda Srbije, Electric Power Industry of Serbia) and NIS (Naftna Industrija Srbije, Oil Industry of Serbia) are likely to be subjected to rapid, shades-of-Russia privatization in the near future. Western multinationals and financiers will be able to exert a controlling influence upon the energy, industrial, and commercial sectors of southeastern Europe. And herein lies the rub: why would any patriot of any one of these nations wish for the resources and economy of his nation, his people, to be owned and/or controlled by foreigners, for their interests? Unless, of course, he were in on the arrangements, particularly the lucrative primitive accumulation of state assets, in which case, scratch the 'patriot' part.
This is the "magic" Russia "betrayed", to her credit and current responsibility to her people, and the ire of the US and Britain, especially. Americans may find this difficult of comprehension, what with the widespread insouciance concerning Chinese - to take but one example; we could talk about the Saudis, too - ownership of American assets, monetary and productive; then again, Americans often seem to be a post-patriotic, post national people anyway.