Who Are the G-17?

By Michel Chossudovsky and Jared Israel

(Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics, University of , Ottawa, author Globalization of Poverty, Third World of "The Network, Penang, Zed Books, London, 1997 and Jared Israel is editor, www.tenc.net (Emperor's Clothes)

" We want to be open colony and open society." G-17 coordinator VESELIN VUKOTIC interviewed on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer", US Public Television, July 14, 1999

Recently there's been a lot of interest in the economists in the Yugoslav group G-17. They wrote the Program adopted by the so- called "democratic" opposition and its Presidential candidate, Vojislav Kostunica.

The G-17 likes to give the impression it is independent and Yugoslav-oriented. In fact it is funded mainly through the Washington-based "Center for International Private Enterprise" (CIPE). CIPE describes itself as "an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. " But in fact it is "a core institute" of the National Endowment for Democracy. The National Endowment for Democracy has nothing to do, as far as we can discern, with Democracy. Rather, the Endowment was created in 1983 to solve a problem of Empire. People knew that the CIA bribed intellectuals and leaders and set up phony front groups to carry out US policy:

"When these covert activities surfaced (as they inevitably did), the fallout was devastating." ('Washington Post', Sept. 22, 1991)

So Congress created the National Endowment for Democracy. Allen Weinstein, who planned the Endowment, said:

"A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." ('Washington Post', Sept. 21, 1991)

So the National Endowment (a sort of spinoff from the CIA) controls and pays for the Center for International Private Enterprise which in turn funds the G-17. In addition, the leading G-17 economists hold important positions in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and have for many years.

If the "democratic" opposition got in power, the G-17 economists would be in charge of the Yugoslav economy. This is not a matter of speculation. The "democratic" opposition program calls for working with the International Monetary Fund and the Fund does not work on a casual basis. It invariably insists that its men (who conveniently happen to be the G-17 economists) run the show. That is not open for negotiation.

Let us take a look at three of the leading G-17 economists. Their record is most disturbing.

One of the writers of this article, Prof. Chossudovsky, studies the effects of the economic "medicine" imposed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The G-17 program contains the same economic measures they forced on Russia, the Ukraine, Bulgaria and Peru, among many others. The results: social and economic devastation. But because of the long-term US/German attack on Yugoslavia, the results in the Yugoslav case would be much worse.

G-17 economists are fond of phrases like "free markets" and "privatization," but their International Monetary Fund "reforms" wreck countries. First, they force governments to do away with any social protections - subsidized food or rent, free transportation, free medical care. Out the window. Second, they use economic manipulation and new laws to force businesses - public and private - into bankruptcy. Then these businesses are taken over by a small clique of thieves, international banks, rich speculators and foreign companies. They purchase the businesses at rock bottom prices. This is called "Privatization through Liquidation."

A case in point is Yugoslavia, 1989.

The elder statesman of the G-17 is Professor Veselin Vukotic. Presently he is one of the brains behind Montenegrin secessionism. But in 1989 he was Minister of Privatization under Yugoslav Premier Ante Markovic.

Yugoslavs have bitter memories of 1989-1990. But do they "put a human face" on the nightmare? Perhaps people think the economic disaster that befell Yugoslavia that year was the natural result of "market mechanisms" or the fault of "incompetent government." It wasn't. There was somebody pulling the strings.

That somebody was Veselin Vukotic.

In 1989-90, Professor Vukotic worked out of governmental offices in Belgrade alongside an army of Western lawyers and consultants to impose the Financial Operations Act. It was a World Bank plan.

Under this law, companies were selected for bankruptcy or liquidation. They were forced to meet impossible conditions. In this way, Vukotic orchestrated the breakup of fifty percent of Yugoslav industry. 50%! World Bank data confirms that under his direction more than 1100 industrial firms were wiped out from January 1989 to September 1990 And that was only the beginning.

Over 614,000 industrial workers were laid off out of 2.7 million. The areas hardest hit were: Serbia, including Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia. Real wages did a nose-dive. Social programs collapsed. Unemployment shot up.

And now this same Vukotic, a key man in G-17, wants to return to power.

When the IMF gets its jaws on a country it forces the government to work under people like Vukotic. So Vukotic could finish the job he started in 1989 and which ironically was discontinued when economic sanctions were imposed in 1992. (Bulgaria would probably be better off today if it had been hit with sanctions instead of with the International Monetary Fund!)

While hoping to get his hands on all of Yugoslavia once again, Mr. Vukotic is practicing on the cooperative regime in Montenegro. Montenegrin boss Milo Djukanovic, his former student, has appointed Vukotic Deputy Chief of the Privation Commission which is auctioning off state property in Montenegro. Recently we discovered a US Commerce Department advertisement on the internet. The title is: " Montenegro: Seeks Privatization Fund Managers." The advertisement explains that these Managers are needed in Montenegro, where US officials are "providing technical support" for so-called privatization. The managers would control "funds" that would take over ownership of what is now public property. The Managers could "restructure" these privatized companies - lay off the workers and sell the most valuable components. The Commerce department promises that this "should be quite profitable." Note how brazenly the U.S. Commerce Department celebrates the transformation of Montenegrin property into foreign profits.

Vukotic is helping in other areas as well. For example, last June NATO marched into Kosovo, and the UCK along with them. Wherever they went, they drove loyal Yugoslav citizens from their homes, stole or destroyed their property and threatened them with death. By June 26, the expulsions were at a peak.

Vukotic could no longer remain silent. According to the Associated Press, on June 26 Vukotic demanded that Kosovo have its own currency, separate from the dinar!

Dr. Dusan Vujovic

One of the most prominent G-17 people is Dr. Dusan Vujovic, a senior economist at the World Bank. He acts as a link between G-17 and Washington. He has been very active overseeing "reforms" in so-called "transition countries". In August 2000, Vujovic was in charge of negotiating one of the World Bank's most deadly economic packages, imposed on the Ukraine, already devastated by previous International Monetary Fund Measures.

What happened to the Ukraine?

The Ukraine disaster started in the fall of 1994 in Madrid, Spain. Prime Minister Vitali Masol signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

In exchange for accepting "economic shock treatment" Ukraine got a 360 million dollar loan, a very small amount as these things are calculated. Reforms were launched in mid-October, 1994. The IMF ordered the Ukrainian authorities to abandon State controls over the exchange rate. This led to the collapse of the currency. The price of bread increased overnight - 300%. Electricity shot up - 600%. Public transportation - 900%.

"Dollarised" prices were forced on a population with earnings below ten dollars a month. Credit was frozen. With super high electricity prices and no credit, public and private industry was destroyed. The international speculators moved in like sharks in a frenzy.

Then in November 1994, World Bank negotiators were sent in to "advise" the government on overhauling Ukraine's agriculture. The grain market was deregulated. This opened Ukraine up to the dumping of US grain surpluses.

Ukraine went from being a grain exporter to begging for Food Aid from the European Union and the U.S. Thanks to the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine is a starving political protectorate of the US and Germany. And remember, Ukraine never did anything to offend the U.S., unlike Yugoslavia.

Zeliko Bogetic and the Rape of Bulgaria

G-17 member Dr. Zeliko Bogetic has a senior position at the International Monetary Fund. Bogetic has been doctor in many economic cures. The patient always dies.

In 1994-96, he played a key role in forcing a structural adjustment program (SAP) on Bulgaria. All social defenses - price controls, subsidized food, housing and medical care, were stripped away.

The program led to mass poverty. By 1997, old age pensions (according to World Bank sources) had collapsed to two dollars a month. The World Bank admits that 90 percent of Bulgarians now live below the extreme poverty level but, they say, much economic progress is being made. Apparently perfection will be achieved when there are no Bulgarians left alive.

What would Mr. Bogetic do if he and his G-17 colleagues came to power under a "democratic" opposition government?

Bogetic was dispatched by the International Monetary Fund to Podgorica, Montenegro to advise the pro-secessionist government of President Milo Djukanovic. Bogetic was to set up a currency board modeled on that of Bosnia under the Dayton Accord. Bogetic's advice was to stop using the Dinar, the Yugoslav currency. He said that under no circumstances should Montenegro establish a Central Bank. Now remember, the Djukanovic government in Montenegro says it wants "independence" from Yugoslavia - but a Central Bank is a requirement for real independence. No, said Bogetic, that is the "worst possible solution". Meaning: independence in the colonial sense.

Bogetic would be the likely candidate for Yugoslav Central Bank Governor if the "democratic" opposition were to win.

What would he do?

The same thing he's been doing in Montenegro - establish a colonial style currency board linked to the Deutschmark. Then monetary policy would be controlled by the country's creditors. This would be an excellent state of affairs for the creditors, but very bad for the common people. It would make it impossible to finance economic reconstruction through the mobilization of Yugoslavia's own domestic resources. The country would be in a straightjacket.

What would International Monetary Fund-Type Reforms mean for Yugoslavia? If the "democratic opposition" came to power they would enforce International Monetary Fund economic medicine. That's what they say in their Program.

But would this be the same medicine that the Fund (including some of the people who lead the G-17) have prescribed for Russia, Bulgaria and Ukraine?

Russia, Bulgaria and Ukraine cooperated fully with Washington. As nations, they never resisted being turned into colonies. Was the West merciful?

Consider Russia. During the first year that the reforms were applied, 1992, wages collapsed by 86 percent. And in many of the countries of the Balkans and Eastern Europe, economic activity has been cut in half, even if it was low before.

And these are cooperative countries. As everyone knows, the U.S. is very annoyed with Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia has not been a good slave. It has not kissed the hand of the bombers.

History shows that if the Monetary Fund gets hold of a country that has been rebellious the treatment is vicious. And we are not talking about major rebels, like Yugoslavia. We are talking about very moderate rebels, like Peru.

In Peru, the government of President Alan Garcia (1985-1990) refused to do some of what the International Monetary Fund ordered it to do. In 1985, it decided to pay international debts at a reduced rate. It instituted an economic program that would help (instead of destroying) the economy.

The country was immediately put on a black list by the International Monetary Fund. This disrupted Peru's foreign trade.

Enter Professor Alberto Fujimori. It was the 1990 elections. With help from Washington, Peru was having economic problems, so many people wanted a change. Fujimori was an unknown. People felt he was "honest" and "promising". He led a tiny party that had never held power. He seemed to be squeaky clean. With Washington's help, he was the top runner-up in the 1990 elections. The electorate chose him over the other candidates "because we did not know who he was" and "we thought he was honest" and "maybe if we put in someone Washington likes they will go easy on us." They did not understand. Washington has no mercy.

Fujimori of course caved in to the International Monetary Fund's demands. What followed was the most deadly economic "reform" in Latin American history. From one day to the next, the price of fuel increased by 31 times (2,968 per cent) and the price of bread increased more than twelve times (1,150 per cent).

People could no longer afford to boil water. A cholera epidemic broke out.

The social consequences were devastating. An agricultural worker in August 1990 was paid $7.50 a month (US). That was enough to buy two hamburgers and a drink at McDonalds. Consumer prices in Lima were higher than New York.

Real earnings dropped by 60 per cent. By mid-1991 the standard of living had declined by 85 per cent.

And this was the just beginning of ten years of deadly reforms under Fujimori.

And remember, Peru didn't really do anything. Just resisted a few International Monetary Fund Measures. But Yugoslavia? Yugoslavia has been driving the German Establishment (and now the Americans) crazy for 100 years or more. Washington and Berlin would like nothing more than to make Yugoslavia an example of total enslavement, to show people what would happen to them if they were to resist.

Haven't the U.S. and Germany made this perfectly clear in Kosovo? A gangster-fascist regime has been installed. And Western leaders are fully aware of the horror they have wrought in Kosovo. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan received a special report about this. The report was discussed by the British newspaper, the 'Observer':

"Murder, torture and extortion: these are the extraordinary charges made against the UN's own Kosovo Protection Corps in a confidential United Nations report written for Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"The KPC stands accused in the document, drawn up on 29 February, of 'criminal activities - killings, ill-treatment/torture, illegal policing, abuse of authority, intimidation, breaches of political neutrality and hate-speech'. " (quoted in "How Will You Plead at your Trial, Mr. Annan?" at http://emperors-clothes.com/news/howwill.htm )

What would Washington do if it's G-17 employees got hold of Yugoslavia? They would institute the most extreme economic "reforms" to devastate the country. Prices would go sky high; farmers would lose their land; businesses would be bought up and closed down. In Hungary they privatized the only light bulb factory and shut it down so that now everybody has to buy bulbs from the US company, General Electric. In Yugoslavia they would take away the lamps. People would be reduced to starvation.

This kind of suffering produces ethnic tension. Washington would whip this up by sending in their UCK (KLA) fascist terrorists. Why does Washington keep the UCK in power in Kosovo? Because they want to use them again. For what? They are incapable of fighting a real army. But they are capable of terrorizing civilians.

A Washington-controlled government would bring in NATO troops to "help keep order." The troops would never leave. The hunt for imaginary war criminals would go on, a thousand times worse than it is in the Bosnian Serb Republic. Croatians, Bosnian Muslims and ethnic Albanians who fled to Serbia to escape fascist persecution would be put on the list of phony war criminals. All loyal Yugoslavs would have to pay for their (imaginary) crimes so that "healing can begin."

Every effort would be made to humiliate the people, to break their spirit, and to eliminate potential leaders of resistance.

Do you know what the United States did a few years ago to Vietnam? When the Vietnam War ended, the US government ordered an embargo which did Vietnam a lot of harm, economically. A few years ago, Washington agreed to lift the embargo. In exchange, Vietnam had to agree to pay the debts of the former South Vietnamese government, a puppet government controlled by Washington. Most of its debt came from borrowing money (from the US) to buy weapons (from the US) to kill its own people. And now Vietnam is being forced to pay this "debt" to Washington, after Washington had invaded Vietnam and was driven out, leaving two million Vietnamese dead.

The "democratic" opposition says that if they can just get into power everything will be normal. Washington would treat the Yugoslavs right. Sure they would. Just the way they treated the American Indians.

www.tenc.net [Emperor's Clothes]