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[20.01.2007, Istabul, Turkey] About the “The Oriental Question”

Dear comrades,

We are particularly pleased to take part in this meeting organised by the Communist Party of Turkey on the occasion of its 8th Congress, on the theme “The Eastern Question”. We would like to take this opportunity to salute the heroic struggles of Turkish Communists, especially under the present exceptionally difficult conditions in which imperialism is becoming increasingly aggressive and barbaric on all fronts. These struggles are directly linked with the theme of this meeting.

Is there an “Oriental Question” today, and how is it expressed in comparison to the past when it basically concerned the fate of the Ottoman Empire? From a territorial viewpoint, the field of intense confrontation remains basically the same (the Balkans, the Caucasus region and the Arab world) and the form of the international conflicts that flare up over the imperialists’ claims to and control of these regions bears a strong resemblance to the form of those that led to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. But only in form, as the social and class content of these conflicts has changed radically.

The objective historical conditions are totally different today. Then the struggle was waged between the rising bourgeois class which, with the help of the then young proletariat, was fighting to demolish the feudal bastions in Europe; now, with the creation of the international imperialist system, the bourgeois class has assumed the position formerly held by the feudal lords, and the struggle is taking place today against reactionary monopoly capital and the intolerable oppression and exploitation exerted on a global scale by a handful of monopoly interests with the US as leader, but also with its “willing allies” in the EU, as well as rising capitalist states.

Today the task of demolishing the imperialist bastions of reaction can only be undertaken by the new rising class, the working class with its allies and the other exploited strata and sections of the society.

In addition, today the Communist and Workers’ movement has to face the wave of counter-revolution that led to the overthrow of socialist power in the USSR and in the other European socialist countries, to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and to the change in the international correlation of forces in favour of capital. We must also point out how correct and timely today the analysis of Lenin and the Bolsheviks continues to be regarding the question of creating a “United States of Europe” under a capitalist regime: If such a thing occurs, these united states will be reactionary and will even generate a temporary agreement between capitalists and states, the sole purpose of which will be jointly to stifle socialism in Europe.

After 1945, under the leadership of the US, NATO was created, together with the European Economic Community (EEC), whose main purpose was to stifle socialism in Europe and in 1991 they achieved a temporary victory of the counter-revolution, the effects of which are becoming increasingly visible among all peoples and states. This is particularly true in our region. The Balkans, the Mediterranean, countries in North Africa, the eastern and southern Mediterranean, and the Gulf and Red Sea region are already caught up in the whirlwind of the “new world order” that imperialism is striving by all means to impose. Yugoslavia was dissolved and in its place are small, weak states and protectorates such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, which are under the direct military and political control of the US, NATO and the EU.

It is clear that the region continues to have the same military significance it has had in the past for imperialist interests, particularly those of the US, Britain, France and Germany and the respective international monopolies. The region’s significant energy reserves, especially in oil and natural gas, have caused the imperialist forces to intervene directly to ensure control over these resources, which have also provoked intense rivalry among the powers in question.

Today, the imperialist forces are trying to build an interstate system in our region by creating a context that relies on NATO force of arms and will protect the multinationals in their infiltration of these countries. It includes control of the international channels in the Black Sea, the Aegean, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, as well as the Gulf region.

This arc extends to the east coast of Southeast Asia, and its main purpose is to secure US-NATO supremacy.

NATO, especially since the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty and the USSR, has elaborated a new doctrine regarding the role it wants to play under the new conditions, by extending its range beyond its boundaries to include the former socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, while planning to expand into other countries of the Mediterranean as well. It has designated our region as a high-risk area for its own security and that of the interests it serves. It has already created a flexible and powerful multinational intervention force that will take action wherever NATO judges that the imperialist world order is being “disturbed”. It is likewise the rule that the countries which become members of NATO will then at some point become members of the EU. There are some exceptions to this process, such as Malta and the Republic of Cyprus, where special conditions prevail, but this does not change the rule.

Conflicts and rivalries for primacy in the distribution of markets and spheres of influence are under way, especially today for control of energy sources and the routes for transporting it. They are manifested directly and indirectly on battlefronts, in hotspots of nationalist clashes, in conflicts between neighbouring countries. In this geostrategic game, each power participates according to its weight and magnitude in the imperialist pyramid, its status in the international system and its strategic geographic location. Our region is situated in the middle of the crucial zone. In fact, in recent years, it has become even more deeply involved. The situation became more acute after the war in Yugoslavia and especially after the war in Iraq and the latter’s continued occupation by the US and its “willing allies”.

The hanging of Saddam Hussein was perhaps just the pretext to set in motion various plans for the region that will cause chain reactions and side effects. The split or partition of Iraq cannot be ruled out.

NATO’s Mediterranean Strategy formulated at the Istanbul Summit in June of 2004 has paved the way for new threats, since in reality this is a strategy to divide peoples and countries, and to facilitate the hegemony of the US and other leading forces in the EU. All countries in the Middle East and in the general region are involved one way or another.

The situation in the Middle East is extremely alarming. The hub issue here is Palestine, while the situation in Lebanon remains complex following what was essentially the defeat of the Israeli military machine in the war against Lebanon in the attempt to crush Lebanese resistance.

In all this network of conflicts and problems, both Greece and Turkey are “part of the problem”. And even more so today when they are both playing a more active role in all the processes that are under way and affect the region.

Greece and Turkey are also two neighbouring countries with a common border. They have both belonged to NATO since 1952; Greece has been a full member of the EU since 1981, while Turkey is in the process of negotiations to become a full EU member. In both these countries, the presence of the US is a decisive factor in the relations between them. Although both countries are members of NATO and collaborate under its umbrella in various military missions abroad (such as in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan), there are serious differences between their bourgeois classes and their ruling political forces which manifest themselves on every occasion, whether as regards Cyprus, the exploitation of the maritime and undersea resources in the Aegean, on questions of border disputes, or stirring up minority issues in the region.

In these matters, the KKE is of the opinion that the problem of Greek-Turkish differences cannot be resolved without raising the issue of the strategy of the imperialist forces in the more general region, without taking into account the rivalry between the EU and the USA and the large-scale interests that have become manifest in the region. The bourgeois class in every country seeks to have preferential relations with both these imperialist centres in order to promote its own objectives. The orientation of the imperialists today is to dispute the treaties and agreements that have been concluded to date and affect our two countries, to dispute international frontiers and to create new agreements that will reflect imperialist interests. Greece also has problems in the Balkans and in the Aegean; Turkey has a problem in respect of Iraq and its occupation by US-British forces and their plans to create a Kurdish state that will draw new borders in the entire area.

Our state frontiers, then, as they have been drawn by treaties in the past, must not change and the minorities that exist in all states in the region, and that are frequently used by the imperialists as pawns in the known policy of divide and rule, must have the same rights and obligations within the borders of the states they now inhabit. The only way for such a policy to prevail, which corresponds to the interests of the working class and the peoples of the region, is that there be a decisive front against imperialism and imperialist organisations, and against the policy of the US, NATO and the EU. Our peoples must step up their vigilance and preparedness and must develop a broad united front of anti-imperialist struggle among all peoples, for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries, for peace and normal co-existence and collaboration between peoples and countries in the region, in opposition to the policy of divide and rule and of imperialist interventions.

On this ground stand the fundamental principle of internationalism and socialism, “that no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations.” (Marx and Engels). This principle the imperialists continuously violated.

As Lenin pointed out in “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination” (April-June 1914):
“The interests of the working class and of its struggle against capitalism demand complete solidarity and the closest unity of the workers of all nations; they demand resistance to the nationalist policy of the bourgeoisie of every nationality. Hence, Social-Democrats would be deviating from proletarian policy and subordinating the workers to the policy of the bourgeoisie if they were to repudiate the right of nations to self-determination, i.e., the right of an oppressed nation to secede, or if they were to support all the national demands of the bourgeoisie of oppressed nations…. If the proletariat of any one nation gives the slightest support to the privileges of its “own” national bourgeoisie, that will inevitably rouse distrust among the proletariat of another nation; it will weaken the international class solidarity of the workers and divide them, to the delight of the bourgeoisie.” (Chapter 5: The liberal bourgeoisie and the socialist opportunists in the National Question).

The KKE, supports with all its forces the development of fraternal relations of coordination and collaboration with the Communist Party of Turkey, as well as with all anti-imperialist, radical parties and movements; we likewise support joint events by Greek and Turkish mass and social organisations that will condemn hatred between our peoples and promote friendship and cooperation. There is nothing to separate our two peoples. Indeed, they have only to gain if they can decisively confront imperialist plans. Our struggle, then, is a common one.

The class interest of Greece’s working class lies in stepping up its struggle, in changing the present correlation of forces against the EU, NATO and the US, and in building the Anti-Imperialist Anti-Monopoly Front of Struggle, for the People’s Power and the People’s Economy.

The class interest of Turkey’s working class lies in the consistent struggle to defend the rights and interests of the working class and the other popular strata, to prevent your country from joining the EU, and to step up the struggle of the Patriotic Front and the Communist Party of Turkey against the monopolies, NATO and US imperialism.

The struggle of the working people and of the peoples in every member state of the EU must refute the illusions sown by social democracy and opportunist forces that this reactionary capitalist association can become a friend to the people and to peace. This struggle must lead to weakening it, and to changing the correlation in favour of the political forces that are against the monopolies and their power, against imperialism and imperialist wars, against NATO, and against interventions and barbarity to the peoples who resist.

The fight in every country and the change of the present correlation to the benefit of the forces that aim to change the present day capitalist society, that aim for socialism, is the path that can cause countries to break away from this Union, to weaken it, and to lead to its dissolution and overthrow.

Our common struggle against US imperialism, against the imperialist centre of the EU, against NATO, and against the new imperialist order, will bear the fruit of prosperity, peace, the abolition of exploitation of man by man, and socialism!

Athens, 14/1/2007
International Meetings


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