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[21.01.2003, Santiago, Chile] III Seminario Politico Latinoamerica-Europa

Santiago de Chile,
9-11 January 2003

Costas Alissandrakis
Member of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece
Member of the European Parliament
Professor of Astrophysics, University of Ioannina

Dear comrades,

On behalf of the of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece I would like to thank the organizers for their hard work in preparing this meeting and for their invitation to our party. Furthermore, I would like to convey to all delegations the fraternal greetings of the Greek communists. Our thought is also with our dear comrade Gladys Marin, to whom we wish the best for her recovery.

It is with feelings of deep respect that we have come to the land of Chile: respect for the Chilean Communists and their Party, respect for the popular struggle, respect for the Unidad Popular, respect for the tens of thousands of martyrs of the US imposed dictatorship. The Greek people suffered from another US imposed dictatorship, at about the same time as the Chilean people. This has created additional fraternal feelings of solidarity between our two peoples.

These meetings between Communist Parties of Latin America and Europe are becoming a tradition. They are having an important contribution in the strengthening of the relations among our parties and in the better understanding of one another; they have the potential to become an important factor in the relations between Latin America and the European Union. Our Party has a very positive attitude towards such meetings and is always trying to contribute as much as possible to the exchange of experience and the development of common action with other communist, to the definition of concrete proposals, as well as to the strengthening of the role of communists and enhancing the communist identity.

The CPG has an active interest in political developments in Latin America. We have a lot in common, not only in the mentality of our people but, most important, in the popular struggle and in the blunt imperialist intervention that we have all suffered. At this historic period, there is an intensification of popular struggle all over Latin America, which has lead to a number of important steps forward, while more are expected in the immediate future. At the same time, although US imperialism is no more capable of spreading dictatorial regimes all over the American Continent, it has a strong presence through its political control of a number of governments. It is refining its methods of intervention and is using more and more the bilateral and multilateral commercial relations and agreements, such as the ALCA, to impose its rule in this part of the world.

A dozen years after the overthrow of the Soviet Union and the dismantling of the socialist system in Europe, the imperialist powers use every means possible to extend their absolute domination all over the world, including blunt aggression as they did in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. They did not hesitate to murder tens of thousands of innocent people, to cause irreversible destruction to the environment. They have named particular countries as their next possible targets, they threaten the entire world with preventive military action on the pretext of terrorism.

Socialist Cuba is one of their targets. Both the US and the EU have made it crystal clear that they cannot tolerate a country controlled by its own people right under their nose. Last year was marked by a prominent intensification of their blunt intervention in the internal affairs of Cuba, under the pretext of defense of human rights and the death penalty. The European Union had a prominent position in this anti-Cuban campaign. The Cuban government provided convincing evidence that all these allegations are false, but this did not stop the imperialists of threatening even with direct aggression.

We consider as a matter of utmost importance the expression of the strongest and broadest possible internationalist solidarity to the island of the revolution. This is even more so for communist parties all over the world, since the very idea of social change and the building of a classless society are under attack. Our party took a number of initiatives at national and international level in support of Cuba. We organized a large number of activities in our country and invited numerous Cuban representatives. Our secretary general visited Cuba two months ago. Unfortunately, we cannot but notice that a number of European left parties, including some communist parties, took a position which did not help at all in this respect, since they accepted, at least in part, the imperialist allegations. In spite of that, it became possible to have some joint action at the European Parliament in defense of the five heroic Cuban patriots held captive in Miami.

We salute and we stand in solidarity with the heroic struggle of the people of Venezuela in support of their Bolivarian revolution. We are confident that the imperialist plots against the government of Hugo Chavez will have the same fate as the previous ones. We rejoice with the success of the popular forces in Colombia in the referendum and in the municipal elections, in spite of the virtual control of the country by the US. The Uribe government is improving its relations with the EU: its vice president, Francisco Santos, appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and an invitation is expected for Uribe himself, at the proposal of the Socialist group. Santos tried to present the Uribe regime as favoring national reconciliation, still he could not hide the intentions of his government to crush the armed struggle by all means. The fact that they have not succeeded so far shows that the resistance has deep roots in the people, and, as I pointed out in the Foreign Affairs Committee, they cannot deal with the guerilla by labeling them as narcotic dealers.

We follow very closely the events in Brazil and we expect to learn more during this meeting from our Brazilian comrades. We note the new role of Brazil in the international scene, particularly in Cancun and after, but we could not fail to notice some neoliberal policies within the country. We know, of course, that the Lula government is not a revolutionary one, but it would be very important for Brazil, Latin America and the entire world if the people could direct it to more progressive positions.

We rejoice and congratulate our Uruguayan comrades for the result of the recent referendum on privatization. We know that Frente Amplio is very close to coming to power and wish them to succeed both in the October elections and in running the country. We also wish the best to the Farabunto Marti front of El Salvador for their success in the forthcoming elections.

We followed closely the events in Bolivia, where the people overthrew the unpopular government. The question of course is what will happen next. We are sorry about the turn of events in Ecuador, where the Gutierrez government did not stand up to the popular expectations.

Last but not least, we are very much interested in the developments within the Foro de Sao Paolo. It is an important experience for the communist and left parties of Latin America.

Dear Comrades,

It is the profound duty of all communist parties to follow the evolution of society and the development of social forces, and to intervene in the course of the events. It also our utmost duty to work with all our strength for social progress. In performing these tasks, we have in our disposal the most advanced tools that human thought has ever developed, the Marxist-Leninist theory, which we have to use in a constructive way in order to promote social progress.

From this point of view, we should never forget that we live in a class society and that class struggle is the driving force of social progress. Consequently it is not very meaningful for us to describe social phenomena simply in terms of social movements, a notion deprived of any class context. It is even less meaningful to dissociate the political level from the social level and speak of political forces without reference to the social forces that they represent.

The emphasis given, within the context of the anti-globalization movement, to the artificial separation between social forces and their political expression serves only the purpose of creating confusion and orienting the social forces away from social change, towards the demand of reforms that are compatible with the system and do not threaten its existence, towards reforms that push back the question of social change. This is why some pretend to have re-invented the wheel and bring to the forefront issues that the working class movement has solved a century ago. They want to wash out the class structure of capitalist society, to make us speak in terms of citizens rather that in terms of exploiters and exploited, they want to put us aside, by making us follow their approach.

The anti-globalization movement, with all its diversity, the grate number of the often obscure NGOs that are involved, the multitude of issues that they are rising, the existence or lack of class references, the social democrat or Trotskyite efforts to drive the movement in their own way, has given new impetus to the internationalization of the struggle. However, the internationalization cannot bring results unless there exists, at the national level, a powerful popular movement, a class-conscious workers' movement and a powerful CP with a correct policy of alliances that could resolve the issue of power in favor of the working class and dissociate the country from the international imperialist system.

Difficulties and weaknesses that presently exist should not be transformed to theoretical concepts proposing that everything is over in the national field, or that the national field is out of date. Uneven development is being intensified today; therefore the struggle will also have an uneven course. What is important is that movements at the national level will make as many advancing steps as they can towards claiming significant changes and overturns and this can give momentum to the shift in the international balance of forces.

The Struggle in Greece

Greece is in an intermediate and dependent position. During the recent decades, particularly during the 1980’s, our country was integrated deeper into the world imperialist system, within the framework of the European Union and NATO. As a consequence, our people suffer from the antipopular policy that serves the interests of monopoly capital.

Here is some evidence on the consequences of the so called "Lisbon Strategy" of the EU to the Greek workers: in 2002 productivity rose by 4.1% in Greece in comparison to 0.7% in EU but at the same time employment decreased in Greece by 0.1% while in EU increased by 0.4%. The social gap is widening: the income of the richer 20% of the population is 6.2 times higher that the income of the poorer 20%. According to the official figures, 30% of the workers receive salaries up to 600 EU, and 44% from 601-900 EU, while the minimum salary is 519 EU. In Greece already a 25% of the population lives below the poverty line. We pay a high price for the Economic and Monetary Union, with constant rise of prices and the freezing of the salaries and pensions.

These reactionary policies of the EU met in our country significant resistance. Big struggles developed against the overthrow of the social security system, the lay-offs, against the imperialist war in Iraq and the Greek involvement. Important mobilizations took place against the Greek presidency of the EU, which gave birth to new forms of struggle and coordination. The movement "Action-Thessaloniki 2003" organized, with the participation and support of our Party, big counter summits and demonstrations with international participation.

The workers are passing to the offensive, with the development of demands that correspond to the contemporary needs of the people: against privatization of the social security and the plans to extend the age of retirement and in favor of fully public and free social security; substantial increase of salaries and pensions (in Greece 53% of the pensioners receive less that 400 EU per month); decrease of the retirement age; full time permanent jobs, against flexible work schemes and part-time employment.

Under conditions of prolonged social democratic governing, these struggles would not have taken the extent and continuity they had if our Party had not contributed to:
  •  The refusal by the class-oriented trade union movement to participate in the so called "social dialogue"
  •  The uncovering of the role of trade union leaderships and the consolidation of the class-conscious forces around the All-Workers' Militant Front (PAME)
  •  The militant struggle for demands that correspond to the contemporary needs of the working people and the youth
  •  The Development of political and ideological front against social democracy and the "center-left" scenarios.
  •  The systematic revelation of the true character and role of the EU and NATO
Our Party studies this experience and will use it for the continuation of the struggles against the policies of the EU as well as for the concentration of forces in the perspective of social change, the revolutionary transformation of society and building of socialism which is as it has always been our strategic goal

As an alternative to the current situation, our party proposed in its 15th Congress and elaborated further in its 16th Congress the creation of a Popular front, an Anti-imperialist, Anti-monopoly Democratic Front. The Popular Front will be based on the social alliance between the working class and the petty bourgeois strata, which, in their mutual interest and overcoming their differences, will join their efforts in the fight against their common adversary, the monopolies and imperialism. It will be based on the dialectic relationship and interaction of social and political alliances. It will draw its strength mainly from the development of the class struggle and from the processes and realignments that this will bring at the social and political level. In turn, the Front will provide new dynamics to the class struggle, to the movement for and the process of change in the balance of forces.

For the formation of the Front it is not enough to have common action based on common or similar views on current big issues, on the defense against the attack to which our people is submitted. There must also be a certain level of agreement on the general direction for solving problems, which will be expressed in a program framework for the people’s economy and peoples’ power. The Anti-imperialist Anti-monopoly Democratic Front, under conditions of a revolutionary situation, could develop characteristics of a revolutionary front fighting for the overthrow of the rule of the monopolies, ready and capable to alternate all forms of struggle.

Our experience so far will be reviewed during our forthcoming 17th Congress, to be held near the end of 2004 with central theme of “Strengthening of the party, build-up of the Front”.

The anti-popular policies followed by the Greek government have had their cost in the popularity of the governing social democratic party (PASOK), which lags considerably in the opinion polls behind the conservative “New Democracy” party. In face of this situation, PASOK decided to proceed to a “face lift”, in the form of leadership change. During these very days we witness the process of replacement of prime minister Costas Simitis by the foreign minister George Papandreou in the party leadership, together with the decision to hold national elections on March 7, about a month before the mandate of the current parliament expires.

George Papandreou is not an ordinary person. He is the son of the late prime minister and founder of PASOK Andreas Papandreou and the grand son of another prime minister, George Papandreou. He was born in the USA by an American mother, and educated there. He is considered to have the full trust of the previous and present US administration and he has even been Honorary President of the North Atlantic Council.

Our party has pointed out that a change of persons does not mean change of policy, Papandreou being equally responsible as anyone else for the anti-popular policy of PASOK. At the same time, the conservative “New Democracy” party cannot provide an alternative, since it is pursuing the same policy, a phenomenon that is not at all uncommon in the European continent. Real changes in the political situation in Greece are intricately linked with the strengthening of the Communist Party.

The Development of the Struggle in the EU

The EU is developing further its policies against worker’s rights and peoples’ democratic rights, while at the same time undergoing institutional changes and annexing new member states. The institutional changes proposed in the new treaty, to which some give the title of “constitution” in order to invoke positive feelings from the people, are fully consistent with its current policies; they consolidate further the character of the EU as the union of the big capital, they institutionalize the market economy and neoliberalism and provide for its further militarization in close association with NATO.

At the same time, the EU is in the process to create its own political structures, promoting the formation of political parties at European level. This constitutes a blunt intervention in the political life of member states, an obvious effort to impose to political forces to operate according to rules that are imposed by the EU in order to serve best its interests. It is characteristic that the relevant EU legislation provides that such parties “must observe the principles on which the European Union is founded” and that the recognition of such parties as well as their continued operation is at the discretion of the European Parliament.

The CPG has expressed its full opposition to the formation of political parties at European level, as well as to the efforts for the creation of a European Left Party. We do not believe that the coordination and common action of communist parties, as well as broader forces of the left needs the umbrella of the EU. After all, proletarian internationalism never resorted to bourgeois institutions for its development. Coordination and common action cannot be achieved by observing the rules imposed by our opponents. This is why the CPG has proposed coordination on EU issues outside of EU institutions.

In the global context, the EU is seeking to enhance its role as the European pole of the world imperialist system and improve its position with resects to the US. Due to its character, the EU cannot assume the role of an alternative to the US domination, since they both start from the same principles. The EU advances militarisation; they are planning to use space for military purposes, they are in the process of developing an internal market of military procurements, they even adopt the concept of preventive military action, not in order to oppose the US, but in order to have the capability of equitable participation in acts of aggression and in order to be able to demand their share of the loot. The militarization of the EU is consistent with their policy in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Cyprus, as well as with their position of Cuba. At the same time, they consolidate their control of Central Europe through the enlargement process and do not hide that their interests extend further East and in the Mediterranean. It would be very naive and at the same time very dangerous to develop any illusions about a positive role of the EU in the global scene, as advanced by social democratic and even by some left forces.

Working people in all member states suffer from an unprecedented attack against everything that they have won with their struggle during the last 150 years. This attack is not at the initiative of individual governments but of the EU as a whole, which is acting in defense of the collective interests of monopoly capital. The capitalist restructuring, advanced with the same vigor by right-wing, "center-right", social democrat and "center-left" governments, has been implemented already to a large extend, worsening the situation of the working class. This restructuring also provides for the privatization and commercialization of everything; everything can be bought and everything can be sold, including education, health care, culture.

In addition to the attack against working rights, we have a full-scale attack against democratic rights and liberties, with increased strength during the last three years under the pretext of the terrorist threat. An important issue for us is the persecutions against communists and the prohibition of communist parties in a number of EU candidate states, something that the EU does not consider to be a violation of human rights! We believe that it of an important internationalist duty to defend our comrades and we have taken a number of initiatives in this respect.

The anti-popular policies lead, inevitably, to popular reactions; thus a new situation emerges in Europe, characterized by the large-scale resistance against the offensive. The theories that the free market and competition will lead to prosperity are collapsing and we are witnessing social explosions. Trade union and popular struggles have taken place in virtually every country of the continent: general strikes, demonstrations, rallies and politically relevant large-scale national mobilizations. The trend is one of increasingly acute social conflicts. New forms of struggle and coordination have appeared, and, the most important, these struggles put forward an advanced frame of demands in opposition to the dominant policies.

The deepening of contradictions and the development of the struggle will certainly lead to positive developments in the future. A prerequisite for this is the abandonment of illusions that the problems can be solved in favor of the people within the context of EU policies. The European Union was not made for that. It was made in order to consolidate the forces of monopoly capital in their drive for world domination and in their struggle against the working class. On its part, the working class should not only defend itself against the attack of the capital, but should also put forward the issue of social change and the construction of a class-less, socialist society.

Coordination of Action of Communists

The coordination of action among communist parties has been a very important issue at any historical phase. We must contribute to the coordination of the struggle of the class oriented trade union movements and organizations against capitalist restructuring. Internationalization of the struggle without a base on a class oriented workers movement is almost impossible.

The CPG has taken a positive stance to all related initiatives and has itself taken a few. Our Party was and is always open to discuss co-ordination and joint action, respecting the sovereign responsibility of parties and movements in their own countries. In order for the struggle for peace and for social rights to be effective, it needs to be associated to the struggle for the change of the balance of forces in each country.

The pursuit for alternatives linked to the workers interests requires a clear demarcation from social democracy. Thus it is even more urgent and necessary for the communists to illuminate the path to socialism, to make the socialist perspective visible in our everyday action and proposals. After all, the question of the perspective it is not only posed by us; it is posed by the developments themselves, that put to a central position the labor-capital contradiction. The struggle for another world of equitable cooperation and peace is the struggle for a socialist world.

We are, therefore, in favour of the formation of a distinct communist pole, which at the same time will contribute to the creation of a broader anti-imperialist alliance. It would be a huge mistake with historic consequences to let the communist parties diffuse within a left of often unspecified character. We feel the need to highlight our communist identity, to affirm the role of the communist party.

We are optimistic for the future. We have confidence to the popular movement and to the political forces that are led and inspired by the Marxist-Leninist theory, to all political forces that fight for social change. We know very well that capitalism cannot impose itself indefinitely, that the only way out of the crisis is the overthrow of capitalism and the creation of a socialist society.
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