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[23-24.04.2005, Prague, Czech] Problems today regarding a policy for peace, security and cooperation between the peoples of Europe

Contribution to the meeting on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Antifascist Victory
Prague 23-24 April 2005

by Thanassis Pafilis, member of the Central Committee and MEP

Today it is obvious that the international reality that emerged from the reversal of Socialism in Europe is causing great concern all over the world as to where humanity is headed.

For the first time since the end of World War II in 1945, the peoples of Europe are once again witnessing wars over the allocation of spheres of influence, increased imperialist barbarity in the heart of Europe, their military interventions and resulting the break-up of countries; they see new borders being drawn and protectorates being formed under the control of the US, NATO and the EU. The imperialist attack against Afghanistan and Iraq and the occupation of these countries by the military forces of the 'alliance of the willing' are facts that give us a clear picture of the world today.

Comparing past with present, we are led to a number of necessary comparisons as to how we arrived at this point that harbours such grave dangers for all humanity.

First: Fascism did not arise in Italy and Germany after World War I as a movement disputing the capitalist system, but rather sprang up from within the latter's ranks and was reinforced in every way by powerful monopoly groups in consultation or with the tolerance of the bourgeois political parties.

The Socialist and Social Democratic parties of the 2nd Internationale bore particular responsibility for this development since, following the1914 policy in support of their own bourgeois class during the war, they contributed in the disorientation of the impoverished popular strata. The stance in particular of German Social Democracy and then that of Austria are the most characteristic examples.

Even in France when, after many concessions by the communists, the Popular Front was formed and rose to government with the support of the French Communist Party, it was unable to take the foreign policy measures necessary to address the aggressiveness of Nazism and Fascism. The policy of 'non-intervention' that was adopted, following the example of England, by the government of the Popular Front in France towards the Spanish Popular Front and its struggle against Franco's fascists led to the bombing of Guernica by German aircraft and the victory of the Black Front.

Second: the real goals and aims of fascism and what they actually represented became visible with the 'Anti-Cominterm Pact' in 1937 that was targeted directly against the USSR and all Communist Parties. In Germany and Italy thousands of Communist and anti-fascist fighters found themselves in prison, as was the case in Greece after the dictatorship of 4th August (1936), a fascist regime sympathetic to Germany and Italy but controlled and supported directly by Britain; the connecting link between them was their anticommunism.

At the same time, agreements were concluded between the Vatican and Nazism the results of which were portrayed superbly in the Costa-Gavras film "Amen".

Third: The policy of appeasement pursued by the governments of Britain and France led to the Munich Pact (1938) and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, paving the way for war.

Fourth: Nazi Germany's scheme to gain world supremacy was also significant. The plan to attack the USSR that was given the codename "Operation Barbarossa" made provision for applying the Blitzkreig (lightening war) doctrine to ensure the defeat of the Soviet Union in 8-10 weeks. Then Hitler intended to occupy Afghanistan and attack India. The plan anticipated that, toward the autumn of 1941, Nazi troops could begin their concerted operations to occupy Iran, Iraq, Egypt and the Suez Canal, and from there proceed to India which was to be the meeting point for German and Japanese troops. With the annexation of Portugal and Spain, Hitler intended to occupy Gibraltar thus cutting Britain off from its sources of raw materials with a view to gradual encirclement. After solving the 'British problem', the Nazis planned to weaken the influence of the 'Anglo-Saxons of North America' by occupying Canada and the US with large-scale military forces based in Greenland, Iceland, Brazil and the Azores that would land on the Atlantic coast of the US and from bases in the Hawaiian islands and the Aleutians to land on its Pacific coast. The success of this plan for global rule was predicated on victory against the USSR by September 1941 at the latest.

These plans were upset by the resistance of the Soviet army and the countless sacrifices of the people of the Soviet Union. But we cannot fail to notice the names of some of the states that to this day are in the news headlines. Is it possible that we are today witnessing the dawn of the period that would have come into being in 1941 if the USSR had been defeated and the plans of the Nazis and Hitler for world domination had succeeded? And is it possible that things have worked out this way today owing to the non-existence of the USSR and the socialist community of states in Europe? And is it possible that what we are watching today is the work of one imperialist power alone, the sole superpower, as the USA is called? Unquestionably the leading role in shaping the state of affairs today belongs to the US. With the consent of the USA, a number of decisive steps have been taken. The Federal Republic of Germany, in violation of the Final Act of Helsinki (1975), annexed the German Democratic Republic. It was the policy of Germany, within the then EEC, that led to the break-up of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which, in turn precipitated the intervention of NATO and the USA in Bosnia-Herzegovina and then in Kosovo. Czechoslovakia ceased to exist, becoming the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and most of the former Soviet republics have become a battlefield for different capitalist forces fighting for spheres of influence (eg US- Russia – EU). Consequently they are now going through an extended period of instability and armed clashes that makes them hotspots of crisis and imperialist interventions in many different forms. The Balkans have become a bridgehead for the control of Eurasia.

Despite any differences between them, the imperialists agree on the precept 'Divide and rule', which is to undermine states and assault peoples and their rights. The US, the EU and NATO share the responsibilities for these developments. An initial account shows us that the first war against Iraq in 1991 was followed by the NATO intervention in Bosnia in the heart of Europe and then in Kosovo from which two protectorate states emerged under the control of NATO and the UN, and a number of states under tutelage. In 2002 we had the invasion of Afghanistan and in 2003 that of Iraq, which resulted in creating two states under military occupation. These imperialist interventions have caused thousands of civilian casualties many of whom are children. Who will be punished for these crimes and how?

Fifth: When Nazi theories about the superior Aryan race were applied in practice, they led to the mass slaughter of populations, cruel terrorism, genocide and the looting of the so-called lower races (Jews, Slavs, Roma). The result of this policy was the barbaric extermination of millions of people in the death camps of Buchenwald, Auschwitz, Mauthausen and other concentration camps. Of 18 million prisoners, more than 11 million were murdered, while entire cities and villages were destroyed, together with their inhabitants, such as Lidice, Oradour, Kalavryta in Greece, and hundreds of villages in cities in the USSR and other occupied countries.

In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, under the 'Patriot Act', thousands of people were arrested in the USA who were merely deemed suspicious, but were nevertheless deprived of the right to communicate with their relatives or to have legal defence. The same shame is attached to the US concentration camp in Guantanamo and the horror of Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq that are run by US, British and other occupation forces. There is also the court of expediency in The Hague regarding Yugoslavia, in which Slobodan Milosevic, a political leader whose 'crime' was to say no to the dissolution and humiliation of his country, is on trial. How much lower will imperialist barbarity take humanity?

Sixth: The end of World War II brought not only the liberation of the peoples who had been defeated by the Axis forces but also great hopes for a fairer world and a peaceful future for the peoples. But it also ended with the US use of the atomic bomb and the holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was a double outlet from the sufferings created by the imperialism of Germany and the other Axis forces: both enormous hopes and grave concerns over the use of a massively destructive new weapon. The subsequent period was marked by the vast efforts on the part of the USSR and the socialist community to put a stop to nuclear armaments and to ban the use of nuclear energy for military purposes. The power of the USSR was the decisive factor in maintaining the balance and the block to dangerous adventurist moves by the imperialists. Let us keep in mind here the US production of the neutron bomb.

The socialist community constantly and unswervingly demanded nuclear disarmament by the great nuclear powers and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In 2002, the USA withdrew from the ABM ballistic missile pact of 1972 and rapidly proceeded to implement a missile defence (NMD) program. In 2003, the US Congress approved the development of the so-called short-range nuclear weapons. In addition, the US used weapons made of depleted uranium in Iraq in 1991 and during the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia in 1999 with terrible repercussions on the environment and on people's lives. Where is this situation heading?

Is it not an urgent duty for a movement to rise up today in protest and demand that nuclear weapons be abolished by the US first, and then by the other nuclear powers and to demand non-proliferation at the same time?

And we wonder what relation the world today can possibly have in common with the hopes engendered among the peoples of Europe and the whole world then by the antifascist victory and the establishment of organisations (such as the UN) and treaties between states that laid down a number of international principles and regulations such as respect for sovereignty, equitable cooperation, the inviolability of frontiers, the right of every people to choose its own path of development and governance, the peaceful resolution of disputes between states and non-intervention in the internal affairs of others?

Of course USA and other imperialists had violated these principles on several occasions in the past, but it worth considering: Are any of these principles and regulations in effect today? The reply is enlightening. On paper they exist as declarations that look like empty words; in practice they lie in bloody shreds because today the precept of might is right prevails, i.e. the law that imposes the interests of the most powerful, by military force if necessary.

And the question is as follows: Why were these principles that regulated international relations and the behaviour of states abolished in practice? Were they perhaps inadequate? Did they perhaps fail to stand the test of time or is there something else we should look at? In our opinion, the primary factor is the change in the correlation of forces. The correlation of forces, the hopes and the expectations that were generated after the anti-Fascist victory of the peoples gave meaning to these principles.

Imperialism was no longer all-powerful. The correlations that had come into being hindered the imperialists' complete freedom of movement. The objective tendency of imperialism to impose its domination ran up against a major obstacle in the USSR and in the socialist countries of Europe whose principles were based on respect for sovereignty and equal treatment for all states, respect for frontiers, mutually beneficial cooperation, etc. This correlation of forces stood in the way of the imperialists' efforts to impose their rule and dominate the whole world. However the peaceful coexistence of countries with different social system did not withstand the tough class struggle between the two systems. This is one of the main factors that is weaker now and exerts much less influence on international regulations of conduct and principles of international law.

Other factors, such as popular and liberation movements, the movements for peace and against imperialist interventions and wars, even though they have grown, are still way behind, in terms of the complex developments and threats to peace, freedom and the survival of the peoples. Whether they will be able to act effectively today and to acquire special weight in order to have some impact on the world stage will depend on the degree to which the meaning and need to implement such principles can be demonstrated.

Once again, the problem arises of how to change the present-day correlation of forcess, in terms of both movements and states. And under what terms and conditions?

Some issues derived from the experiences of today's struggle against the new imperialist order need to be clarified.

One is the view held by some movements, parties or officials about conflicts within the imperialist system or about the part played, for example, by the EU which some people believe can take a counterbalancing role against the power and dominance of the USA, failing consciously or not to take into account that the EU is ant interstate imperialist union that promotes the unification of the capitalist market among its members, it demonstrates the same tendency to domination and turns against the peoples and consequently is not a power which can contribute to the promotion of peace and friendship among the people. The advocates of such misconceptions, objectively and regardless of their intentions, become advocates of the policy of the major powers within the EU and even their rivalry over the division of markets and spheres of influence. They become vehicles for disastrous delusions and disorientation from the real dangers and problems that require particular solutions.

There is the experience of the Balkans and of the dissolution of Yugoslavia as well as the continuing presence of the EU in the Balkans together with the US and NATO.

There are also military, political and economic relations between NATO and the EU:

 Relations between NATO and the European Union: There are of course a number of disagreements, between the USA and Great Britain on the one side and France and Germany especially on the other, on military matters such as armaments or the creation of an army that will undertake military missions independently of NATO etc., that reflect intra-imperialist conflicts not only in the military field but also on more general issues. At the same time, however 'NATO and the EU share common strategic interests' as confirmed once more by NATO's Prague Declaration.

Undoubtedly the reciprocal relations between these two imperialist organisations are complex and contradictory rather than simple. Powerful states of the EU contest the US hegemony in NATO. And while the US leadership of NATO is catalytic, the same is not true of the European Union. Which of its member states could possibly lead decisively? Here we have a system of leadership based on domination by four major imperialist powers (Britain, France, Germany and Italy), reflecting the uneven economic and political development of the countries that make up the EU. Leadership is exercised through alliances with the rationale of forming sovereign blocks, such as the Franco-German axis, etc. Their internal conflicts are becoming more intense and visible. Examples of this reality can be seen in the issue of Iraq, as well as in the conflicts that arose during the debate on the so-called European constitution between its leading forces which have not reached a compromise. The statement that NATO and the European Union share common strategic interests means at the same time that this 'sharing' also contains the seed of fierce competition with the US, even within NATO, since the leading powers of the EU demand equitable treatment by the US in international matters.

There is also NATO and its role today:

NATO already develops operations "out of zone" violating even its own constitution. It has evolved as an 'antiterrorist' organisation with the adoption of 'a strategic concept of defence against terrorism'. Within the context of the decision to activate article 5 for the first time in the history of NATO, a number of measures were taken that were based on the strategic concept of NATO as announced during the meeting in Washington (23-25.4.1999) to celebrate NATO's 50th anniversary, in order to strengthen the 'security of the alliance' and to address dangers, whatever their origins. The 'enemy' is not only abroad; it is also at home (mass movements against imperialist wars, for peace, etc).

 The creation of a NATO Response Force (NRF) that consists of a 21,000-strong force prepared to move fast to any part of the planet.

The creation of such a force was initially suggested by the US Minister of Defence Donald Rumsfeld during the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Warsaw (24-25 September 2002) and was presented as the answer to an EU proposal to set up a Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) within the European army. The Prague Summit Declaration in November 2002 made the following reference to this issue: 'The NRF and the related work of the EU Headline Goal should be mutually reinforcing while respecting the autonomy of both organisations.'

On the part of the EU, the declaration about European security and defence policy creates an official basis for cooperation between the two organisations in the realms of crisis management and conflict prevention. It outlines the political principles of EU-NATO cooperation and ensures the EU access to the capabilities that NATO infrastructures offer in terms of administration and operational planning, in the event of EU military operations. This leads, as NATO also says, to a new fairer distribution of burdens between the United States and a more mature EU, or in other words, to response with an enormous leap toward the militarisation of the EU.

The further militarisation of the EU is also visible in its so-called Constitution. The text of the Constitutional Convention gives us some facts about the plans of the leading forces of the EU in the near future. It talks about an Intergovernmental Organisation in the development of defence capabilities, research, procurements and armaments that was decided at the meeting in Thessaloniki as well as the undertaking by the member-states "progressively to improve their military capabilities" (Article I-40.3). The disputes that exist, in particular over the role of the US, are acknowledged in setting out a Common European Security and Defence Policy (CESDP) that must "respect the obligations of certain member-states which "see their common defence realised in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation" (NATO) (Article I-40.2). At the same time, however within the context of CESDP, it is acknowledged that "Those Member States whose high military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the Union framework."(Article I-40.6). The Article reflects the efforts to create a different military structure within the EU in cooperation with NATO. All this of course is in the name of protecting and promoting the "Union's military interests" (Article I.39.2)! In this way the EU too makes a fairly clear declaration of its imperialist aims as well as its claim to an equal share with the US in the distribution of international markets, which in turn provoked the opposition of the USA.

These relations and conflicts are reflected in cases like the military missions in the Balkans by NATO or US military forces. The Concordia military operation in FYROM and the policing operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina are on-going as they are in Bunia (the Artemis military operation) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

After the US, the EU also adopted the concept of pre-emptive war and believes that it can intervene in what it calls 'failed states'".

In our view, we are dealing here with very dangerous developments. After the 'evil axis' and the terminology about 'rogue states' used by US imperialism, the EU has now added the term 'failure states' to the vocabulary, and it is now being adopted in UN texts.

The report of the UN Secretary General about the reform of the UN has already been presented. Important issues have been led to a reactionary revision, including the notion of self-defence in conjunction with the definition of terrorism, the democratisation of states (according to the Bush model of reform and democratisation), the increased membership of the Security Council and the change in the way decisions are made with the possible abolition of the veto.

Under these present conditions, we are opposed to the proposals for the so-called reform and democratisation of the UN. The UN already has procedures that permit it to operate effectively.

Let there be no more hypocrisy or double standards! A characteristic example is the Anan plan to resolve the Cyprus issue which accepts the invasion and occupation of the island as accomplished facts. The issue that arose with Iraq is not solely that the US intervened without any decision from the UN, but also the fact that the UN did denounce nor imposed sanctions on a country that decided to act unilaterally with no authorisation to do so. Or perhaps this is not the issue. And what did the forces that disagreed do about this?

This is what we have emphasised from the beginning: The UN does not mainly suffer from a lack of democratisation measures. What the international relations between states suffer from is the current correlation of forces in which the imperialist reactionary forces have the upper hand in shaping developments, and have abolished principles in effect to date or have amended their content in order to transform them into their opposite.

Reversal of the present situation requires tough struggles, dedication to the cause and, above all, the awareness that many sacrifices may be needed.

Also necessary are resoluteness, boldness, the contribution to the struggle and the clearest possible formulation of goals.

An enormous concentration of forces is also required.

What forces? Rallied together on what basis?

This is a cause that, more than anything else, has to do with communists standing in the vanguard during these difficult times, as they stood during the years of the imperialist fascist plague, resolved to make even greater sacrifices, to be the soul of a broad militant movement to change the present correlation of forces, to confront imperialist barbarity and to confirm the necessity and timeliness of socialism.

The axes of struggle can be:
To combat the effort to falsify the history of the anti-fascist victory, the role of the communists, the resistance and the USSR.
To confront phenomena of neofascism, racism and xenophobia.
To fight to lift the ban on communist party activity, solidarity with persecuted communists.
To condemn imperialist wars and interventions waged on the pretext of fighting terrorism. To reveal and confront state terrorism and the repressive laws which are essentially applied against the peoples and movements that resist and fight the new world order.
To unmask imperialist demagogy regarding democratisation and to support in particular the struggle by popular movements, communist and progressive parties, which is being conducted in support of basic democratic rights and freedoms in a number of countries, especially Arab and African countries.
To step up our struggle against the establishment of a new "international law" that might is right.
To defend the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of independent sovereign states and the principle of respect for states' territorial integrity and independence.
To defend the peoples' right to select their own path of governance and development and to determine their own future.
To step up our opposition to NATO and its new doctrine, which does not recognise frontiers, and whose military action has no limits, as well as to the repercussions of its aggressive policy in the region. To fight in every member state for disengagement from NATO and for the demand that this aggressive reactionary organisation be dissolved.
To fight against the new EU Constitutional treaty and the EU. To denounce the creation of rapid deployment forces and the militarisation of the EU.

Insubordination and disobedience to the new imperialist world order.
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