Ownership of Trepca (Re: Self Determination- Support It!)

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at SPAMgmx.net
Fri Aug 18 16:55:43 MDT 2000

Louis Proyect quoted:
> Financial Times (London), July 11, 2000, Tuesday USA Edition 2
> Kosovo town looks to the future in mines of Trepca
> After it took over supervision of Kosovo, the UN passed a resolution by
> which it took over administrative authority over Yugoslav state-owned

Thats the position of the colonial UNMIK administration, which gives
them the formal right to lay hands on Trepca. But actually the question
of ownership is a bit more complicated. Let me allow to quote from
another imperialist source, the Soros-funded International Crisis Group.
It shows that the UNMIK legal position is even seen by its own advisors
as sort of weak.


Begin quote from:

Claimants and Questions of Ownership
Throughout the 1990s the ownership of Trepca conglomerate was never
entirely clear. In November 1997 Trepca was one of 75 companies slated
for privatisation by the Belgrade government.13 This process stalled
when a close confidant of the Miloševics, Zoran Todorovic, one of the
richest men in Yugoslavia and director of Beopetrol, a state firm in the
process of being privatised, was gunned down in Belgrade.14 Recently one
report claimed that Jugobanka, Beobanka, and Dunav, a Belgrade insurance
company, now control Trepca's ownership.15 Belgrade's general policy
appears to have been to introduce maximum confusion, allowing the regime
the flexibility to exploit the resources, break sanctions, disguise the
money flow, and reward favoured cronies.16
UNMIK officials believe that the legal position is actually as follows:
Trepca is owned 66% by the Serbia Development Fund, 27% socially, 2.5%
Jugobanka, 2.5% Progress and Beobanka, and 2% by Serbian Electric Power.
As a result they conclude that the complex is overall public property
and therefore under UNMIK's authority in accordance with its mandate.
But there do exist private-sector claims which complicate the issue.

Société Commerciale de Métaux et de Minéraux (SCMM)
In July 1999, shortly after the deployment of KFOR, with French military
assigned to the Mitrovicë/a area, Mr Jean-Pierre Rozan17 appeared
claiming 2.8% ownership of Trepca on behalf of the Paris-based SCMM of
which he was a director. According to Rozan, SCMM had inadvertently come
to be a shareholder in Trepca. This was due to an agreement with
Belgrade under which SCMM took over Jugobanka's subsidiary in Kosovo as
a result of Belgrade's failure to meet previous business commitments to
SCMM.18 Despite these previous business dealings and Jugobanka's
well-publicised claim of part ownership in Trepca, Rozan expressed
surprise that his newly acquired bank branches were themselves
shareholders in Trepca.
SCMM's claims have not been taken seriously and have received no backing
from the French government.19 Nevertheless some Kosovar Albanians,
always ready to believe in a conspiracy however unlikely, are prepared
to perceive SCMM as part of a wider Franco-Serbian understanding, which
incorporates French KFOR acquiescence in the partition of Mitrovicë/a,
French economic interests in Trepca, and even the appointment of Dr
Bernard Kouchner himself as head of UNMIK and Special Representative of
the UN Secretary-General.20 The recent award of a GSM telecommunications
concession, regardless of the transparency of the process, to French
company Alcatel, has fuelled the suspicions of such

To other veteran observers of the Balkans, however, the involvement of
SCMM looks like a Miloševic-style attempt to create a diversion
(including by encouraging exactly that Balkan and Kosovar propensity for
conspiracy-identification outlined above), and confuse the thinking of
international officials charged with working out the problem. By putting
this and other claims to due process of arbitration, and meanwhile
getting on with what needs to be done, the problem can be neatly

The UNMIK regional office in Mitrovicë/a meanwhile occupies the
Jugobanka building and continues to display Jugobanka insignia in the
very meeting room to which Kosovars are invited to discuss Trepca - some
report that they feel uneasy in such surroundings. Rozan, as 'owner' of
Jugobanka and the building, is demanding rent,21 which UNMIK has refused
to pay, since Jugobanka is considered a public company and therefore
under UN trusteeship, like other public property in Kosovo.

Mytilineos Holdings S.A.
This Athens-based company was established in 1990. After securing
predominance early in the decade in the domestic Greek market for lead
and zinc,22 the company began to branch out. In December 1995, in a
widely publicised agreement just days after the suspension of economic
sanctions on Yugoslavia, Mytilineos began to handle the marketing of
Trepca minerals, particularly of lead and zinc. This $50million contract
was expanded in 1997 to a seven-year, $519 million arrangement.
In December 1996, after years in the metal trading business, the
chairman of the board of Mytilineos Holding, Mr. Evangelos Mytilineos,
was appointed to the board of directors of OTE, the Greek
telecommunications company.23 Six months later, OTE, in conjunction with
Telecom Italia paid the Belgrade regime $1 billion for a minority
holding in Serbia Telekom.24 The Mytilineos company also went into
business with the large copper mine at Bor in Serbia. In February 1998
they signed a seven-year agreement with the potential for $1 billion of
investment and trade.25 Mr. Mytilineos's business acumen has also led
him into the field of banking.26 He shares with Borka Vucic, a long-time
banking advisor to Slobodan Miloševic, the co-presidency of the
Greek-Serb Business Council established in 1998.27 Through a subsidiary
Metka, Mytilineos Holding has recently secured some large defence
contracts to produce submarines and Patriot missiles for the Greek
military.28 This same subsidiary Metka is also involved with the state
owned Yugoslav Power Company.29

Mytilineos says it contracted with Yugoslav state firm Genex, backed by
guarantees issued by state banks Jugobanka and Beobanka (run by Borka
Vucic). All three companies have close links with Slobodan Miloševic and
his family - Miloševic's brother is a sometime director of Genex.
Genex's role appears to be mainly to accept part of the profits. In 1998
bankruptcy proceedings were initiated at the request of the Yugoslav
Central Bank against Genex.30

Mytilineos expressed the importance he placed on Trepca in December 1998
saying it has contributed decisively to the further development of his
company.31 Curiously only days later in January 1999, he launched a
lawsuit in Belgrade due to the failure of the Trepca deal.32 In April
during the bombing campaign Mytilineos was reported to be 'furious' with
the regime and was claiming compensation for Belgrade's failure to
deliver on their contract.33 Along with a leading hotel in Belgrade and
other enterprises, Mytilineos Holding SA have also claimed that Trepca
is theirs.34

On their website Mytilineos sum up their business strategy in the
Balkans region: " Through these contracts Mytilineos SA is rendered, in
essence, a financier and co-manager of collaborating groups . .
.Companies such as Mytilineos SA, that adopt a long-term collaboration
policy with local producers, enjoy special treatment and revel in their
exclusive marketing rights on company products."35

The Kosovo parallel government of President Rugova (elected by Albanians
who had boycotted official elections) warned foreign companies in May
1997 that these agreements were considered 'null and void.'36 Kosovars
state that the strategy of SCMM, Mytilineos, and the Belgrade regime is
an attempt to show that Trepca is privately owned. If proven, this would
demand a different approach from UNMIK.

Mytilineos is a harder problem than SCMM for UNMIK for two reasons.
First, it appears to be a solid company with an international track
record and many international partners. Second, it has close ties to the
Greek government.37 An EU member, Greece has recently demonstrated an
eagerness to make significant financial investments in the Balkans.38

UNMIK cannot simply ignore claims which may be genuine, and the UN legal
advisers in New York have concluded that the rights of claimants like
Mytilineos must go to adjudication.

End quote

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