Keynote speech by Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Executive Secretary, World Peace Council (WPC)
Anti-NATO conference of World Peace Council in Washington DC
March 31, 2019
Our conference here today, in Washington D.C. on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of NATO is of historic importance. I am privileged to represent the World Peace Council.
Our respected president of the US Peace Council, comrade Alfred Marder, who has dedicated his whole life to the struggle against imperialism and for peace in the world, was always dreaming and planning of such an opportunity where the WPC would hold its own event on US soil. And here we are, with the US Peace Council as host and with important organisations from the US such as the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), the Black Alliance for Peace, the Veterans for Peace, among others.
We salute our friends from the US peace movement and congratulate you for the rally and march yesterday in front of the White House. It was a strong and important message coming out of this country, from its people who oppose the war drive policies of the occupants of the White House. We have deep respect and appreciation for the struggle you all carry out in extremely difficult conditions in the heart of imperialism, the USA.
NATO, the armed wing of Euro-Atlantic imperialism is “celebrating” its 70th anniversary in few days. It is cynical but the last time NATO celebrated a round-anniversary here in Washington it was under the presidency of Bill Clinton in 1999 during the murderous and criminal bombing of Yugoslavia, where many thousands of cluster bombs, napalm bombs and bombs with depleted uranium were dropped on schools, bridges, factories, TV stations, hospitals, even on kindergartens having thousands of civilian victims as a result. Yugoslavia became the first case where the new NATO doctrine was applied openly.
Many cases followed, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and so many others. The concept of “humanitarian intervention” as a pretext to prevent supposed “humanitarian crisis” is known too well. The thousands of “collateral” killings in Yugoslavia and Iraq are speaking for the cruelty and cynicism of the imperialists. The open violent regime change was applied in 2014 in the Ukraine where the US installed its willing government, while five years ago the neo-Nazi squads were brutally killing civilians in Odessa at the trade union building.
NATO and the US, right now as we talk, are deploying tens of thousands troops on a belt from the Nordic and Baltic States to Bulgaria, with military exercises of 50,000 soldiers in Sweden and Norway last year (Trident Juncture) and missile defense shields in Norway, in Poland and Romania. All the above is happening in order to encircle Russia and contain its presence in Europe and the Balkans.
At the recent meeting of the NATO Defense Ministers on 13-14 of February, the implementation of the of the plans for the ” four 30s” (NATO Readiness Initiative) was examined. The plan speaks about the readiness within 30 days to deploy 30 warships, 30 battalions, 30 airforce units anywhere on earth.
The Middle East is the biggest and most burning hot-spot in this world. We condemn in the most categorical manner the imperialist interventions and the war against Syria, the threats against Iran following the withdrawal of the US from the nuclear agreement, the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s daily assassinations against the Palestinians, Turkey’s invasion of Syria and Iraq, the war of Saudi Arabia against Yemen, the recent decision of US President D. Trump to “allocate” the Syrian Golan Heights occupied 52 years ago, to its occupier Israel!
It is obvious that in the Southeast Mediterranean region and more broadly, the competitions for the control of resources, the transport routes of energy and products, and the geo-strategic control of spheres of influence, are increasing. Such antagonisms occur across the globe, from the Arctic to Southeast Asia, from the Caucasus to the Balkans and Africa. The economic war that manifests itself between the United States of America, the EU, China and other major powers, is intensifying. The whole planet looks like a volcano that is currently showing small explosions but seems to be preparing bigger and bigger ones, as history has shown.
This situation also underlines the duty of the people to struggle against interventions and imperialist wars; to develop and strengthen the people’s movement in a struggle that will turn against the root causes for all this.
The NATO summits, like the one to be carried out here in Washington, are adapting NATO’s policy, structure and action to these conditions, aiming, despite its internal contradictions, at maintaining and expanding its domination throughout the world, by all means including of course the war.
The World Peace Council at its meetings and international conferences, such as the one taking place today, monitors these dangerous developments, informs the peace movements and other people’s movements with the aim of alerting and mobilizing the peoples.
Some characteristic elements in relation to the escalation of NATO’s latest aggressiveness and activity are:
- The further concentration of military forces and armaments at the border with Russia, with a leading role of the NATO member states of Central and Eastern Europe.
- The concentration of large military forces and warships in South East Europe, the creation of new bases, such as in Larissa of Greece, with drones installation, the installation of a helicopter base in Alexandroupolis (Northeast of Greece) the modernization and extension of old bases, eg. Souda in Crete and Araxos for nuclear weapons on the Peloponnese.
- The strengthening of structures of command of the military forces.
- The deep and close cooperation and coordination between NATO and the EU
- Its new expansion in the Balkans with the affiliation of North Macedonia to NATO following the unacceptable agreement between Greece and FYROM, which was signed mainly for this purpose. A new qualitative element is the process of Colombia’s accession to NATO, which is the first of the countries in Latin America, to be followed recently by the plans to bring even Brazil into NATO.
The most important and most revealing of the literally brutal goals of NATO is the report of a powerful think tank, “Globsec” based in Bratislava. It is a text for discussion and a plan for a “New Strategic Concept” to be decided this year, on the 70 years of this murderous organization.
Allow me to briefly refer to this report:
- “NATO – it is stated – in order to maintain its credibility, needs to begin a more extensive adaptation process. It has to make sure it has the ability to make a future war if it wants to prevent … such a war. ” It’s obvious what it means. Next, the objectives are defined: Russia, reinforcement in the South and also North Korea!!!
- It then states that a prerequisite for this is to increase military expenses so that all countries reach 2% of the GDP. At the same time, it states that “member states should buy what they need and not what they want”, meaning that military spending is determined on the basis of NATO priorities rather than the needs of states for their defense. At the same time, they require a greater involvement of the 29 country members in military alliance missions (particularly outside Europe).
- It then refers to the adaptation of the NATO command structure so that it will be ready at any time to “fight tonight”. In a provocative way, it notes the need to improve “military mobility” by removing bureaucratic and other obstacles in cooperation with the EU and building new resilient infrastructures (motorways, bridges, railroad networks) in order to deploy faster and safely military forces in the east and south.
- Finally, in the chapter “Strategic Allies and Opponents”, it calls for a closer connection with the EU. It sets a goal of a NATO-EU summit every year. It argues that “NATO’s opponents already believe they are at war with it”, naming as such Russia, Al-Qaeda and ISIS !!! It clearly and as a matter of priority determines the South (Syria and the Mediterranean) as an area of action, noting that Moscow’s movements in the region “challenge the primacy of the US and its Allies in the Eastern Mediterranean”.
There is no doubt that, as we have said many times, NATO was and is the enemy of peoples and peace, the armed hand of imperialism, the armed, dangerous murderous organization protecting the interests of capital at global level. That it escalates its aggression against the peoples, that the conflicts and antagonisms lead to new wars and their possible generalization. From this point of view, the struggle of the peoples as a whole for its dissolution is an immediate priority.
Towards that goal, the peoples’ struggle in the NATO member states for disengagement from it, as well as the denouncement of all the governments of the member states which unanimously sign its decisions, has a special weight. There can be no doubt of it as well as of the character of the EU, which, as an imperialist union, is working closely with NATO in the same direction.
The EU is further militarizing. Its Battle Groups are doing war drills, its Permanent Structural Cooperation (PESCO) would allow group of countries to form intervention forces for any part of the world, while the European Interventions’ Initiative is an advanced mechanism of 9 States to safeguard and protect (above and beyond International Law) the interests of the Multinationals and big monopolies.
Allow me to say here that the forces in the global peace movement who do not identify the European Union as an imperialist structure which goes hand in hand with NATO are not naive. First of all the 23 out of the 29 NATO States are member of the EU! But they know very well why they try to create a different image of and for the EU, different from the one of the USA for example. It is not a secret that some forces in the peace movement are historically linked with the Social-democracy which was and is ruling in many European countries. The hypocrisy of the European Union is clearly visible in various cases and examples. I will try to only mention three cases to show the complicity of the EU with NATO and the USA, which is in any case aproved by the official texts of all sides.
- The slowly genocide by the Israeli occupation is not only fully backed and fueled by the USA. The so-called neutral positions often taken by the EU to call upon all sides “to refrain from violence” is actually equating the victims with the aggressor. At the same time the EU and its governments have not recognized the Independent State of Palestine (with exception of Sweden) and not distanced itself from the US decision on Jerusalem
- The Coup d’Etat and installation of a pro-imperialist government in Kiev with the support of Neo-Nazi criminals was not only done by the USA. The EU was part of the whole plan, despite the different puppet they wanted to install instead.
- The provocations here are paramount. After the self-proclamation of the imperialist puppet Juan Guaido as “interim president”, the EU announced a seven-day ultimatum towards the legitimate government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, to hold elections, ignoring that such were held last year. Today 20 out of the 28 Members of the EU have recognized Guaido in violation of any sense of International law and standards.
An important tool for our struggle against imperialist wars, against injustice and occupation is the internationalist solidarity with the people in need. As World Peace Council, we are proud for identifying historically this need. We have done so in the liberation struggles of the peoples in Africa, Asia and we have done so in the struggle of the peoples against bloody dictatorships of Latin America and Europe which were in all cases openly linked with and supported by the USA and NATO.
As WPC we are proud for our principled and firm positions about the NATO aggression in Yugoslavia of 1999 where the peace movement faced from within again the effort to equate victims and aggressors. Likewise the WPC takes clear stand towards the situation in the Middle East, where despite the significant victories against the ISIS (which was funded, trained and instructed by the imperialists), the war still goes on.
And so do we speak clearly and openly today about the foreign imperialist interference today in Venezuela, the country with the richest oil reserves on earth, the country which was before 1999 under the control of the USA having its people in poverty and illiteracy and the local governments looting the wealth of the country. The well coordinated maneuvers of the local oligarchy, championing on both economical war and violent street actions, together with the international pressure by the USA, the Organization of American States and the European Union, imposing sanctions on the country are unacceptable actions of subversive nature, a clear interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country. The WPC is proud of having facilitated the recent successful visit of the US Peace Council delegation to Venezuela and we are working currently for an international mission of Solidarity with the People and Youth of Venezuela in mid April, 17 years after the coup d’etat against the then President Hugo Chavez.
Last but not least I would like to refer to the noble struggle of the US peace movement and of the world peace council for the abolition of all foreign military bases in the world, whereas the 95% of them belong to the USA and NATO. After the important initiative of last year in Baltimore on national level, an important international conference against US/NATO military bases was held last November in Dublin which was very successful.
Being here today in Washington I would like to especially underline and repeat our demand for the closure of the US military base which is on the Cuban soil of Guantanamo, which is unique for many reasons. First, because even when the 99 years for which the contract, signed in the beginning of the 20th century, have passed the closure can only take place if both sides agree with it!!! Secondly, because this base is not wanted by both the people and the government of Cuba.
With these words allow me to thank you all for your attendance and to once again salute our friends in the peace movement in the USA and in particular the US Peace Council, for its idea and determination to hold this anti-NATO conference of the World Peace Council for the first time in history on US soil.