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Where's the 8th corridor?

par Eric Cotte
mise en ligne : 7 June 1999

The eighth corridor goes through Skopje,
Macedonia, a few miles from Kosovo. Why
haven’t we ever heard about it?

It’s been repeated many times already: NATO’s actions in Kosovo are not
legitimate as far as international law goes, but they seem to be OK because
of our status as democracies and our will to have "human rights" prevail
over international law. NATO acted outside of the UN’s mandate to bypass
the fears of some members of the security council. In France, the
government shook the constitution (only the national assembly can declare
war), because this is no "classical" war. Our media were happy enough to
talk about a new, and more just, world order according to which human
rights matter more than law and where it is OK to take care of other
nations’ business because we think ourselves wiser and legitimated by the
international tribunal.

All this is certainly worthy of admiration and surely represents a step
forward for humanity. Tyrants can no longer hide themselves behind
international law ("I can do what I bloody well please inside my borders")
to massacre. (The next step could be for multinationals to use proprietary
law and freedom of concurrence to massacre the whole planet)

Thus legitimacy in our intervening in Kosovo comes from our position as a
democracy fighting barbarian acts. That’s what we keep hearing, and that’s
the only thing that makes military actions outside the UN’s mandate

But for this to hold, we have to be democracies. That’s where the real
question lies. Did NATO really act to answer to people’s will and under
their control? Or have our armies exercised disinformation, manipulation,
and demagogy to escape our control? Even if that never appears clear to the
troops, it must be noted that democracies cannot fight dictatorships with
the same weapons (torture, reprisals on civilians, weapons prohibited by
international conventions, etc) without running the risk of loosing all
legitimacy. What good is fighting totalitarianism if, to do so, we use the
same tools? Lying, misinforming and manipulating public opinion are clearly
totalitarian means since, by distorting the information, we prevent the
people from exerting their free will.

After this long preamble, here’s the question I’m interested in more
particularly: since we live in democracies and take the liberty to bomb
radios and televisions, kill journalists (who are guilty of spreading
propaganda, whereas what we spread is information), how is it that we’ve
never heard of corridors dubbed VIII, X, IV and "Dalmatian"? Why are those
projects, that are centerpieces to the policies of countries of the
Balkans, and that directly concern the economical development of Europe,
hidden from us? Why was this element, vital in the decision of going to war
or not, kept secret?

What are those corridors?

To clarify the situation, below is a map that helps locating the different

The corridor VIII links the Albanian port of Durres to Varna (Bulgaria) via
Tirana, Kaftan, Skopje, Deve Bair, Sofia, Plovdiv and Burgas.

The corridor IV links Desden (Germany) to Istanbul (Turkey) via Prague,
Bratislava, Gjor, Budapest, Arad, Krajova, Sofia and Plovdiv. Ways diverge
to provide links to Nuremberg, Vienna, Bucarest and Constanca.

Corridor X crosses Salzburg (Austria), Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, Nis,
Skopje, Veles and Thessalonica (Greece). The main part of the corridor is
also linked to Graz, Maribor, Sofia, Bitola, Florina and Igoumenitza.

These three pan-European transport corridors are part of a project set up
to help develop former members of the Soviet block, and ease their
integration into European economy. In its entirety, this project represents
11,000 miles of roads, 12,000 miles of railroads, 38 airports, 13 sea ports
and 49 river ports. The estimated budget until the year 2015 is 90 billion
euros (a euro is approximately equal to a dollar). The part that concerns
the Balkans itself is worth 10.5 billion euros. (Those are
under-estimations: the Eastern development projects are split, on the
European level, in many chapters, and it’s hard to get a global view.
Furthermore, this pertains only to the part financed by the EU, not
counting the US, very implicated, Turkey and diverse private funds. These
figures are thus grossly under-evaluated). These figures speak for
themselves: those are huge works in progress. In political, social and
economical terms, this is one of the principal development projects in

To this we must add the Greek project, the "Dalmatian" corridor linking the
Italian port of Trieste to the Greek city of Igoumenista, following the
coast via Albania, Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Croatia, a project proposed in
middle 1998 and estimated to 3 billion dollars.

To wrap it all up, we also must mention another project, similar to the
pan-European corridors, in Caucasus and central Asia: the TRACECA program,
another continent-scale project. The interest in this project lies, for
western economy, on the junction between this project and Europe ("It had
been recognized that one the weaknesses of the TRACECA route, in the
context of the EU Tacis program, was the lack of linkage between the
western end and the European market", was a remark formulated in Helsinky,
in 1997). This link therefore depends on corridors IV and VIII, via the
port of Varna.

Thus, development projects on the European continent scheduled for the next
20 years depend on the building of corridors crossing the Balkans. On this
map, you’ll notice that the central tie between corridors VIII, X and IV is
a triangle formed by Nis, Skopje and Sofia, a large part of which lies in
Kosovo. If instability were to persist in Kosovo, Serbia and Albania as
well as Macedonia, this would be detrimental to one of the most important
human projects in the making.
Oh, and I forgot: the beginning of work is scheduled for... right now
(corridor VIII is nearly totally financed, European studies already
represent tens of thousands of euros, and many parts of those routes are
being worked on).

Then, why was the economic importance of this conflict kept a secret? Are
democracies so weak that they need purely human alibis. Did arguments based
on human development of a whole continent seem less legitimate? Is it
better to present the work in progress in Albania as a "reconstruction" and
a backing for "good and loyal services", whereas it’s just the beginning of
the building of corridor VIII, something that’s been planned and financed a
long time ago? Why say: "if Serbians want credits for reconstruction, they
need to get rid of Milosevic", while, in reality, "we need, for our own
development, to build infrastructures in Serbia and, to make it viable, we
need to get rid of Milosevic" is closer to the truth (that’s the exact
inverse problem)?

I insist: why were we told that this region held no economic interest (we
were told there was no oil, as a proof that our intentions were cleaner
than in Irak)? Why was corridor VIII never mentioned (whereas the Albanian
press dubs it "the famous corridor VIII")? Why was this pan-European
transport project (that is at the center of all the regional governments’
economic decisions) kept a secret?

Are we being played for fools?

[Links and sources in the french version.]

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