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THE Serbian traveller was incandescent at the communist-style red tape which ensnared him when he went to buy a Yugoslav Airlines ticket. `You deserve to be sold off to Lufthansa,' he shouted at the girl behind the counter. In a land rich in expletives, that was perhaps not much of an insult, but the man at least exposed the growing unease in Yugoslavia over a new Germanic invasion in the country. What the Austro-Hungarian empire and then the Nazis failed to win by force of arms in the first and second world wars--supremacy in the Balkans--Germany is now about to achieve by money and stealth.
German companies have bought much of the Serbian media, including 50 per cent of the former pillar of communism, the daily newspaper Politika, and taken a stake in TV Kosova, the broadcasting outlet set up by Slobodan Milosevic's daughter, Marija. Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung has invested 25 million euros in Politika, and the biggest European publishing house in Germany, Grunner & Jahr, has bought 49 per cent of the Belgrade tabloid Blic. Another German company has expressed interest in buying up the water utilities in Montenegro, the mountain republic which with Serbia makes up what remains of the Yugoslav federation. This month, the …