“Letters from Yugoslavia” consist of translation of previous articles published in different portals whichare piled in "Yugoslavya Mektupları". The current articles are published in İleri Portal, the press agency of TKP (Communist Party of Turkey).

Why "Letters from Yugoslavia"? Click here.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

WHY LETTERS FROM YUGOSLAVIA?

Original text: published in February 12, 2011


“Our country [Turkey] is located in a critical region for the process of world revolution. This region, Eastern Europe and Russia experiences the imperialist plunder and a deeper independence through capitalist restoration, includes Balkans and Turkey which are at the sphere of European capitalism, where the most striking forms of inequalities are perceived.” (1)

Those sentences are from the brochure titled “World and Turkey in 2002” published by TKP. Since then, TKP is trying to improve international relations in the region, slowly but surely. TKP, on the one hand follows the revolutionary developments in far geographies, and on the other hand not only follows the developments in the near geography, but also tries to be an actor in it. This is also a natural outcome of the flow of life. The need for international solidarity began to be more vital in the age of globalization and communists are very well aware of it. Therefore, a more rapid reaction towards the developments in the near geography is needed. The latest events in Northern Africa once again showed that international revolutionary movement is more intercnnected than it seems and it also showed how crucial it is to tighten those relations.

In May 2003, we discussed in Gelenek if a “Geography of Revolution and Revolutionaries” is possible. (2) Within this discussion we had mentioned about the importance of near geography for the revolutionary movement of Turkey and we had discussed the meaning of “Being Revolutionary in Balkans”. Today, it became more vital than ever to be concerned with the political dynamics of near geographies and follow the political developments when neo-Ottomanism is rising from the grave. The increasing concerns for Middle East, Caucasus and Balkans by government of Turkey ruled by AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – Party for Justice and Development, the pro-Islamic right wing ruling party) flagging neo-Ottomanism, should not be ignored . For sure, we have got things to say in this geography where the conservatist actors rule by the great support from imperialism! Looking from this perspective, “Letters from Yugoslavia” is a need.

As a symbol, Yugoslavia is a foreground subject for the revolutionaries in the geography of Balkans and East Europe, a country who had been ideologically supported by the West, fed up with the credits as a thanksgiving for their conflicts with USSR, and was not needed by Western imperialism anymore after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is very well known what happened to Yugoslavia as a result of malfunctioning of the “self-management” wasting the huge amounts of credits, especially when the time to pay back the credits came which triggered the ethnic discussions of collaborative politicians. Seven new countries appeared on the ruins of that country which had been one of the strongest countries of Europe with a population of 22 millions as an economic, political and military power. Even only for the sake of the historical experience, Yugoslavia deserves to be scientifically studied as a historical laboratory.

On the other side, Yugoslavia symbolizes the most tragic dimension of the developments which are experienced in Eastern Europe since 1990’s: Ethnic warfare, impoverishment by privatizations, imperialist bribery of an heritage of 45 years... Within this context, understanding Yugoslavia is key for understanding Eastern Europe.

Empirical data is needed when we need to understand or analyze an event or a fact. Within this frame, actually we can talk about the lack of knowledge of leftists in Turkey about Balkans. The lack of information about Balkans is not only specific to the leftists, but we can also talk about an erosion of information about Balkans even among those who has origins from the region. We see that, the information about Balkans is so much false or superficial even among those who have got family and cultural roots in Balkans, who geographically identify themselves by Balkans, who can even be identified as having intellectual interests. The effects of false and superficial information can be seen in between the lines in speeches, such as mentioning Skopje as a city in Bosnia, or claiming Mostar bridge as being in Sarajevo, or assuming that Kosovo neighbouring with Bosnia, and even supposing Slovenia as an East European country which had separated from Czech Republic. The problem is that, “Balkans” is always mentioned “in between the lines” not as the focus of subject.

We have very limited sources about Balkans. Our basic references about Balkans are those which are written by a Eurocentric point of view. If we are lucky to find any, even those most objective, scientific, academic sources do have problem of Eurocentrism by defining Balnas as “the other”. Those memory books of orintalist travelers and journalists are full of forgeries, distortions and even true lies.

Our other source of Balkans is our conservatists [from Turkey] who conceptualize Balkans as our back garden. Their eyes cannot see anything else but the remains of the monuments from our ancestors in every square meter of the region. For them Balkans is not more than the Ottoman leftovers in the region. On the other side, they are the only “local” source of information about Balkans in Turkey, with the help of their nets established by high chools and even by the universities which are closely connected to religious sectarian groups. Those studies which do not have connection with the perspective of Islamo-Turkish conservatism have lack of surpassing the limitations of Eurocentrism. Despite some academic studies may be identified as very quality works, their implications in political life is inadequate.

Benefiting from the local sources is crucial to keep our scientific and actual data about Balkans relevant with the actual developments. We have to use local sources to dispose the neo-Ottomanist and Eurocentrist perspectives.

TKP regularly comes together with the communist parties from Balkans. (3) On the other side, since Autumn 2010, in SoL Portal we pay more attention to give more original news from Balkans. It may have taken attention that we are trying to transmit the latest political developments in Balkans by using the local political sources.

“Letters from Yugoslavia” aims to go one step further. Letters from Yugoslavia will take place in SoL Portal twice a month. Sometimes we will re-handle historical discussions: We discuss on Tito or Caucescu, or we will examine “self management”. From time to time we will deal with actual discussions, such as political demands of Bosnian Serbs, Western mandate in Kosovo, class struggle in Serbia, or newly re-emerging leftist trends in Bosnia. From time to time, we will try to cover social and cultural polemiques as well: We will examine Kusturica’s films, or compare the Nobel Award winner novel of İvo Andriç’s “Bridge Over Drina” with his other works.

We wish from the readers to advice us new topics to write, to ask us to orientate the path of letters from Yugoslavia within the interactive relation between the writers and readers.

1) TKP Conference “The World and Turkey in 2002”(2002 Yılında Dünya ve Türkiye), Gelenek 76, January-February 2003, p. 107.
2) Egemen Aslan, “Geography of the Revolution, Geography of the Revolutionaries: Being Revolutionary in the Balkans” (Devrimin Coğrafyası, Devrimcilerin Coğrafyası: Balkanlar’da Devrimci Olmak), Gelenek 78, May 2003.
3) For the English presentation of TKP in “Balkan Communits and Worker’s Parties Meeting” in Thessaloniki in January 21-23 2011: Click here.
For the joint statement of the conference: Click here.

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