On June 20, 2013, a Regional Meeting of Communist and Worker’s parties from Algeria, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, was organized at the initiative of the KKE in Athens. The opening speech, by KKE General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumpas, is below.

The KKE welcomes you to Athens for the workings of the communist and workers’ parties of the region. We feel particular joy and honour in welcoming you once again, here in Athens, in very difficult conditions for the people of Greece, of a deep long-term economic crisis, in difficult conditions also for all the peoples of the region.

Greece, which is experiencing the capitalist crisis for the fifth successive year, our wider region, where the inter-imperialist contradictions are sharpening, as well as the imperialist interventions and the danger of a generalized imperialist war, demonstrate an important truth to the peoples all over the world: the capitalist crisis and the imperialist war go hand in hand.

The inter-imperialist contradictions in the region increase the dangers of local military conflicts which will take on a general character, as the imperialist centres and blocks of forces are coming into conflict in the wider region, indeed in conditions of continuing and repeated crises, the deepening of the crisis in the core of these centres, such as the Eurozone and elsewhere.

The capitalist system, particularly today when it is found in its highest and final stage, imperialism, cannot offer anything positive for the workers, for the peoples. On the contrary it intensifies the class exploitation, the oppression, the naked barbarity, economic crises and wars.

At the same in our region, important struggles of the workers, the popular strata, the youth have been unfolding in all the recent years. They have been focussed on defending the basic rights which are being taken away in a brutal way, struggling hard against the consequences of the capitalist crisis, against the efforts of capital, the EU, the IMF, the bourgeois governments to thrust the burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working class in order to save the profitability of the monopolies, as in Greece and in other countries.

The anti-people regimes, like those in Egypt and Tunisia are being targeted by the people’s movements of the region. These are regimes which for many years were supported by the bourgeois class and the imperialists, and various mechanisms of capital, like the “Socialist International”. Or in Turkey against the violence and state repression of the Erdogan government, against the policy of Neo-Ottomanism, which recently brought millions of ordinary people onto the streets of the major cities of our neighbouring country. Today in Athens we also express our solidarity, our solidarity with the CP of Turkey.

In other countries again, the armed peoples, such as in Syria and Lebanon, are trying to face the naked imperialist interventions and the plans of the USA, Israel and other powers.

All these things demonstrate that the peoples do not give up, they fight, they come into conflict. But unfortunately, not always with the determination and orientation which the developments and our era itself demand.

In these complex conditions, the slogans “worker without you no cog can turn, you can do without the bosses”, and “the law is what is right for the workers and not the profits of the capitalist”, which have resounded in recent years in Greece’s strike demonstrations, become even more connected with the slogan “no land, no water for the murderers of the peoples”, which the demonstrators are shouting outside the US-NATO base of Suda, demanding the disentanglement of our country from the imperialist plans, so that the airspace, territories and seas of our country are not used for an imperialist war against Syria, against Iran, against other peoples of the region.

The goal of today’s meeting is for us to jointly examine the developments, to agree on positions which will contribute to the mass condemnation of the attack against the peoples and to the development of the people’s struggle.

This is not the first time that the communist and workers’ parties have been called on to rise to the occasion and stand up against imperialist war, either in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Libya and Mali.

But, today, we must take steps in order to inform and enlighten the working class, popular strata, and the youth, both in our region and more widely.

And this is necessary because the imperialists are concealing their aims behind various pretexts, constantly discovering new ones or utilizing old propaganda tricks, which are quite reminiscent of Goebbels. Amongst them the following stand out: the alleged “war on terrorism”, or the alleged “use of weapons of mass destruction”, their alleged pain regarding the “protection of minorities”, their alleged interest about the “restoration of democracy” etc.

In their effort to convince the working class-popular masses concerning the necessity of the interventions, the imperialist war, they have the forces of opportunism inside the movements as their alibi, as a “left-wing megaphone”.

These specific forces, either openly repeat the arguments of the imperialist centres, like the Party of the European Left (PEL) in the instance e.g. of Libya, supporting NATO’s offensive. Or “they wash their hands”, as they are doing in the case of Syria, but “regurgitating” the arguments of the bourgeois political forces, and in this way facilitating the imperialist offensive, as for example SYRIZA is doing in Greece.

However, the imperialist intervention and war are not being conducted for these pretexts, nor is imperialism concerned about “democracy” in Syria. The only reasons for the conduct of this war are the contradictions and rivalries which are being created on the terrain of capitalism and today permeate its entire nature. The reason is the fierce contradictions which are emerging amongst the large monopoly groups, bourgeois classes and the strong (to a lesser or greater extent) capitalist states, over the control of the natural resources (energy, mineral, water etc), the transport routes of these resources (oil and natural gas pipelines, as well as shipping arteries, ports, airports, roads), the division of the market shares.

This is also now the essence of the developments, which are taking place in this large region, an “arc” that stretches from North Africa, and includes the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Gulf, the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus and the Balkans.

In this entire region, fierce rivalries are developing, as now new energy resources are being divided up, and there is the aim for a violent re-division of all the resources that in the past had been divided up in a different way.

Very powerful forces are confronting each other in this conflict, which exert influence on the developments, via “regional players”, each one of which, nevertheless, has its own particular goals.

In this we see, apart from Israel, that now Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates are also playing an active role regarding the intervention for the overthrow of the Syrian regime.

This confrontation is being conducted with every means possible. Naval fleets are gathering in the region, weapons systems and ammunition, it is already well-known that Israel possesses nuclear weapons.

We communists do not forget that “war is a continuation of politics by other, specifically violent, means”. This is what we see unfolding in Syria today, where the conflict is fierce and threatens more general developments, a “domino-effect” in a much wider region.

It should not escape us that an imperialist power may have no hesitations in setting a region on fire, even if it does not have the capacity and the means to integrate it into its political-economic influence. But it may choose to transform a region, for as long as is necessary, into an endless “slaughter house” in order to impede the penetration of competing imperialist interests, in order to impede the economic and political-military influence of a rival power.

The developments which are underway in our region cannot be completely understood unless we examine them through the prism of two very important global factors.

The first factor is the capitalist crisis, which for the last 6-7 years has struck the strong capitalist states in a synchronised way. A crisis, which is due to the nature of the capitalist system itself and demonstrates the boundaries of the system and the difficulty of capital reproduction, because of the tendency of the average rate of profit to fall.

No policy “formula” can lead to a way out from the crisis in favour of the people. An anaemic “growth” was maintained even in those countries that have come out the recession and have been stabilized. This “growth” that was supported on the ruins of the social and labour rights, the destruction of the salaries and pensions, the extensive privatizations, the commercialization of health, education etc, while at the same time the eventuality of them sliding again into an even deeper economic crisis is certain.

The second factor is that in these conditions and due to uneven capitalist development at a global level new capitalist powers are developing, which aim at their coordination in order to strengthen their position in the “decision-making centres” like the international organizations, the UN, the IMF, the Global Trade Organization, the World Bank etc.

New regional and global unions are being created for this reason, which of course do not meet with the positive reactions on the part of the established powers, which see the loss in their positions in the global GDP, in the division of the markets and the raw materials. Indeed, conflicts and confrontations are developing in other regions of our planet as well.

Nevertheless, the issues remain particularly complex in our region, which is also due to the “mosaic” of nationalities and religions, the unsolved international problems, like the issue of Palestine, or the issue of the Israeli occupation of Syrian and Lebanese territories, as well as the Turkish occupation of territories of Cyprus.

In addition, there is the issue of bilateral problems, such as the demarcation of the EEZ in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the situation in the Caspian Sea. There are constantly new developments regarding these issues, such as:

The continuing aggressiveness of Israel against the Palestinian people, with the settlement policy and the constant provocations and attacks.

The preparation of the ground for a new plan, similar to “Annan”, in Cyprus which will not secure a just or viable solution.

The “greying” of the Aegean Sea by the Turkish bourgeois class, which does not recognise the Law of the Sea regarding the demarcation of Greek-Turkish borders in the Aegean.
Of course, in the phase we are in, above all, we are concerned about the situation in Syria, with the installation of NATO “Patriot” systems in Turkey, the role of the base in Suda, (where US war ships are constantly refuelling), the decision of the EU foreign ministers to lift the arms embargo on armed groups fighting in Syria, as well as the US decisions, which also signal the open support for the armed forces fighting against the Assad regime.

The aggressive role of NATO and the EU is becoming even clearer in these conditions. Those political forces that promised “security” and “peace” via the participation of our country in these imperialist organizations have been exposed.

These unions are imperialist “predatory alliances” and cannot be “democratized” or “humanized”, as is claimed by the social-democratic and opportunist forces. They are hostile alliances in relation to the working class-popular interests and must be targeted by the people’s movement, which must struggle against their plans, until the final disentanglement and disengagement from them. Something which can only be guaranteed by another power, working class-people’s power.

The period that has passed since the developments in Egypt, Tunisia and the other countries has provided more information so that we can better examine the situation in relation to the so-called “Arab Spring”.

Now we can better distinguish on the one hand the people’s reaction, the people’s struggle against the anti-people political line of the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes, with just demands. And on the other, the plan which was hatched by the staffs of the strong imperialist powers concerning the “New Middle East”, to better control the developments in combination with the goals of the bourgeois classes for the further development of capitalism, the adjustment of the political superstructure to the economic base of these countries.

We can draw conclusions about the methods to manipulate the people, about the necessity of a line of struggle which will rally popular forces and will mobilize them, of course with important popular problems as the spearhead, against the heart of the capitalist regimes, for radical changes for the overthrow of the power of capital, the monopolies, for the socialist change.

The KKE from the first moment denounced the imperialist intervention in Syria. It expressed its solidarity with the people and argued that only the Syrian people themselves, without foreign interventions and blackmail, have the right to determine the future of their country.

At the same time, we continue to express our solidarity at every opportunity with the struggling Palestinian people, denouncing the Israeli barbarity. The KKE took a position against, in various ways, against the military cooperation of our country with Israel and undertook an international initiative for the recognition of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Our party supported and supports the struggle of the Cypriot people for a united Cyprus, independent, in a federal, bi-zonal, bi-communal solution, with a single sovereignty and single international identity, without foreign bases and troops, a joint homeland for Turkish and Greek-Cypriots, without foreign guarantors and protectors.

The recent 19th Congress of the party, which was successfully held, positively assessed this activity and concerned itself in particular with the stance of the communists in relation to imperialist war. And this is because the furious war amongst the strong capitalist states and monopolies is coming into the spotlight more and more clearly.

There are existing open issues of contradictions, in the framework of the more general inter-imperialist contradictions, especially in our region, over the EEZ and energy. These are pregnant with even greater dangers for Greece’s involvement, as well as of other countries, in a war, in interventions at the side of one or the other imperialist alliance. Nothing can be excluded, including even an imperialist war.

Let us not forget that before the two previous world wars large capitalist crises with a global character manifested themselves.

And today capitalism is also going through a significant crisis, which embraces, to the one or other extent, many countries in Europe as well as Japan, the USA. This is a crisis which is combined with the strengthening of emerging capitalist powers that are seeking a stronger role in global affairs.

This new “multi-polar” world is not so “new”. To put it simply, when the USSR existed, the governments of the various capitalist countries made efforts to blunt their differences and have a united “front” against the forces of socialism.

The USSR was a support for the peoples, for their struggle and of course to an extent was even able to prevent certain imperialist plans.

Now that the USSR and the other socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe no longer exist, the contradictions between the countries with the same capitalist socio-political system manifest themselves more intensely than before, leading certain people to talk about a “new architecture” of international relations.

But, those who talk about a “new architecture” in international relations and a multi-polar world, promising that the differences will be solved from now on at “round tables”, are sowing illusions amongst the workers, are overlooking the contradictions which are developing and the fact that capitalism itself creates crises and wars.

The 19th Congress of the KKE noted the need for the workers and above all the communists to know about the dangers being created, stressing that: “In any case, whatever form the participation of Greece in the imperialist war takes, the KKE must be ready to lead the independent organization of the workers’-people’s resistance and link it with the struggle for the defeat of the bourgeois class, both of the domestic one and the foreign one as an invader.”

Based on this, the goal of struggling for working class-people’s power is an issue which contributes to avoiding the alignment with the bourgeois class, or with sections of it, avoiding the alignment-assimilation of popular movements in the aims and aspirations of strong imperialist powers.

The KKE consistently has taken a position on all the issues of imperialist threats, interventions, wars and focuses on activity and popular mobilizations.

It aims that goals for the disentanglement of our country from the imperialist war, every kind of intervention, for the removal of foreign bases and nuclear weapons etc should become goals of struggle and be taken up the trade unions, the mass organizations and rallies which it supports-like PAME in the labour movement, PASY in the farmers’ movement, PASEVE in the movement of the self-employed urban petty bourgeois strata, MAS in the student movement, OGE in the women’s movement, as well as other initiatives and mass organizations in the area of anti-imperialist-anti-war activity, such as EEDYE.

The working class and the popular strata of our region, with the communists at the forefront, must take on the burden of the struggle against the bloodletting, which is being promoted by the imperialists in the region in order to serve their own interests.

The coordination of the activity of the communist and worker’s parties becomes irreplaceable here, which must, in our opinion, be combined everywhere with the revelation that the solution for real security and prosperity for the peoples of the region cannot be provided and safeguarded by those whose basic concern is to increase the profitability of capital, to aim to serve the monopoly interests in the region.

The solution is only to be found in the struggle for the overthrow of the cause that gives rise to contradictions, conflicts, military conflagrations. In the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of the new socialist society, freed from the distortions and mistakes of the past, based on the now accumulated experience and the lessons-conclusions which we have drawn. Because this society is, in essence, as the poet says, the real “kingdom” of the friendship of all people, peace, and the people’s prosperity.

June 20, 2013