National Sections of the L5I:

Prague: International Conference against the Militarization of Europe - a missed opportunity

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Around 100 representatives of movements against military bases attended an international conference in Prague on the 5th May. Unfortunately, far from agreeing a plan of actions resisting war and militarism the conference was little more than a talk shop, argues Lenka Svetla of the League for the Fifth International.

On 5th May, around 100 representatives of movements struggling against US military bases in their respective countries gathered in Prague, to discuss the role of US imperialism in the world and to share their experiences. Participants came from many European countries - Poland, Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Germany, France, Great Britain, Greece and of course the Czech republic.

Such a conference, held moreover in a country where a struggle against US military bases is now going on, could have been really fruitful. It could have been used for developing a solid European-wide coordination that could actually plan and execute such actions. But - unfortunately - it was not to be.

Instead of it we had to listen to a string of long speeches with little in the way of discussion. The ways to prevent expansion of US military bases into Central Europe weren’t discussed at all. The part of the conference dedicated to it was reduced to presentations by the participating anti-base or peace initiatives, one by one, again with no discussion. Such reports could have been circulated via the internet. What a waste of resources to travel to Prague without engaging in any debate on strategy and tactics

But in fact it is really no wonder. The majority of the participants were people from various pacifist organisations, that are fearful of any independent, militant action by workers, youth and other people opposed to the military bases of the imperialist states - the only force able defeat the plans of US imperialists. Amongst those present were the Mouvement de la Paix from France, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament from Britain, the Freedom Council from Germany, American Voices Abroad, the World Peace Council and initiatives from Poland and Hungary. Even the participants from Italy - No Dal Molino Vicenza and the Initiative against the participation of Italy in Anti-missile Defence - where there has been a mass movement recently with a demonstration of 200,000 people against the expansion of US Airforce base, were no exception.

The Czech section of the International Socialist Tendency (IST), which has uncritically supported the pacifist policy of the Humanist Party since the beginning of anti-base movement, continued to do so at the conference. It was only members of Czech section of the League for the Fifth International who, together with some Polish participants, argued there was a need for the coordination of ongoing struggles and the launching of new initiatives.

At the end of the day a statement, grandly called the “Prague Declaration” (see below) was presented for agreement without the great majority of conference even having been even able to read it. At the short discussion that followed after reading the Declaration one member of the L5I was able to speak and criticised the general, pacifist character of the Declaration, the way how sows illusions in the European Union as more peaceful alternative to the USA, and in bourgeois politicians (concretely the Czech and Polish presidents), that they should stop the bases. She also criticised that the Declaration didn’t attempt to agree on concrete actions against US military bases. She was then accused of “disrupting the consensus” and the rest of the conference agreed on the Declaration. Clearly “consensus” means agreeing with the majority but without a vote and indeed without opposition.

To defeat the plans of US imperialism to new military bases in Central Europe and to really halt its expansion we need a European-wide mass movement, pledged to direct action and to mobilizing the workers movement. The Prague conference failed totally to lay such foundations. This is just one more example how the progress of the anti-war and anti-globalisation movement is blocked by its present leadership. We in the League for the 5th International are fighting to solve this crisis and call on all forces fighting against US military bases in the whole world to set up a democratic body which would coordinate our struggle and lead it to victory!

L. Svetla, Socialistická organizace pracujících (SOP), Czech section of the League for the Fifth International

PRAGUE DECLARATION

Made by participants in the International Conference against the Militarization of Europe

PEACE DOESN’T NEED NEW MISSILES -
We say no to the US missile defense system in Europe

Faced with new US military plans to begin official negotiations with the Czech and Polish governments on May 10th, the signatories of this paper declare:

We voice our protest against the plans of the Bush administration to install a “national missile defense system” for the US on the territory of the Czech Republic and Poland. Most people in the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as in the rest of Europe, reject plans to host this system. We reject the official reasons given for the NMD project as mere pretexts.

The realisation of the US plan will not lead to enhanced security. On the contrary - it will lead to new dangers and insecurities.

Although it is described as ’defensive’, in reality it will allow the United States to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. It will also put ’host’ countries on the front line in future US wars.

The governments of Poland and the Czech Republic recklessly risk unleashing a new arms race, jeopardising the present framework of international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation and conventional arms control throughout the world, but especially in Europe.

What we really need is disarmament as a precondition to peace and genuine human security.
To face the impending ecological crisis we need international cooperation and trust, not confrontation.

Peace initiatives, democratic and emancipatory political forces, women’s and environmentalist movements, trade unions and faith activists must come together in their resistance to this attempt to play one European country off against the other. We see our protest as part of a global movement against all foreign military bases and other infrastructure used for wars of aggression. It is a contribution to building peace in Europe and the world, and to empowering local communities to act together and protect their rights and guarantee their public role.

European Union and Nato states must not participate in this new military adventure of the Bush administration. Peace remains our foremost task.

We demand of those responsible in the European Union, especially President Klaus and President Kaczynski, to listen to the will of the people of the European Union. We demand that they act democratically and hold binding referendums on the deployment of NMD components in their countries.

We emphatically reject the attempt to legitimise the US plans through the back-door of NATO and EU decision-making. Across a wide range of nationalities and walks of life, we call on you: Together let us do everything to prevent Europe from becoming the stage for a new arms race and a new politics of confrontation.

We call on all people to take part in demonstrations and to speak with and write to their elected representatives, members of government and heads of state, to tell them that they do not want a new politics of confrontation and that this will be remembered at the polls.

The participants of the International Conference against the Militarization of Europe

Prague, 5 May 2007

Helena Franke, Ne zakladnam, Czech Republic
Thomas Franke, Ne zakladnam, Czech Republic
Rudolf P?evrátil, Ne zakladnam, Czech Republic
Ivona Novomestská, Ne zakladnam, Czech Republic
Jan Májí?ek, Ne zakladnam, Czech Republic
Karel ?erník, Ne zakladnam, Czech Republic
Zdenka ?eháková, Czech Republic
Dagmar Wernerová, Czech Republic
Oskar Krej?í, politolog, Czech Republic
Maciej Konieczny, Stop Bazom USA / Mlodzi Socjalisci, Poland
Cinzia Della Porta, Disarmiamoli!, Italy
Tobias Pflüger, MdEP
Marko Forberger, Lavka.info (network for left policy in C\E Europe)
Jule Nagel, Lavka.info
Thomas Kachel, Lavka. info
Stanislav Holubec, Lavka.info
Petak Peter, Civilek a Mecsekert Mozgalom CMM, Hungary
Solyom Alex, Civilek a Mecsekert Mozgalom CMM, Hungary
Lenard Kata, Civilek a Mecsekert Mozgalom CMM, Hungary
Nagy Erzsebet, Civilek a Mecsekert Mozgalom CMM, Hungary
Thiesz Angela, Civilek a Mecsekert Mozgalom CMM, Hungary
Pamuki Krisztian, Civilek a Mecsekert Mozgalom CMM, Hungary
Hans Lammerant, Bombspotting - Vredesactie, Belgium
Roland Nivet, Mouvement de la Paix, France
Yves-Jean Gallas, Mouvement de la Paix, France
Hannelore Toelke, Deutscher Friedensrat, Germany
Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, United Kingdom
Athanasios Pafilis, World Peace Council, Greece
Boleslaw Saszczuk, Stowarzyszenie Stop Tarczy, Poland
Andrzej Zebrowski, Inicjatywa Stop Wojne, Poland
Gvazyna Stawowska, Inicjatywa Stop Wojne, Poland

Read the L5I leaflet to the conference here

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