Intervention of Neoklis Sylikiotis, member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL, at the European Forum on Peace
8-10 November 2019, Brussels
Dear friends and comrades,
Peace is the foremost and principal issue of our era. The world is truly seething with contradictions, conflicts and rivalries. The attempt by the US, the EU and the so-called ‘Western world’ to defend their hegemony in the imperialist power pyramid against other emerging centres of the world – such as the People’s Republic of China and Russia – signals an intensification of their aggression. The current huge battles being waged around energy issues and for securing geopolitical control in Eastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and the South China Sea are mounting dangers for the whole planet. Other regional powers are asserting a greater share and position on the global stage.
All these developments mean new hotbeds of tension and the revival of outstanding international problems. Furthermore, they also mean greater foreign interference and violations of International Law, as well as rivers of blood to be shed by the peoples of the world, the uprooting of people as refugees and pain.
It is characteristic that the militarization of the planet has now assumed uncontrollable dimensions. Last year, global military spending rose yet again by more than 2% to more than $ 1.8 trillion. At the same time, the new US nuclear doctrine brings back the nightmare of a nuclear war. In conjunction with the withdrawal of the US from the Agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, they continue to provide cover to Israel’s nuclear arsenal. At this point we should also point out the US unilateral withdrawal from the Mid-range Nuclear Weapons Treaty, which has been a fundamental element for the security and stability of the European continent as a whole over the last 30 years. Now, Trump is also planning the withdrawal of the US from the Open Skies Treaty, which has so far been a very important mechanism for the control of arms.
The EU, on its part, has been relentlessly pursuing its path of militarization and alignment/coupling with NATO, focusing on the creation of military structures and promoting investment in the arms war industry, while it’s most powerful member states play a leading role in the sale of arms to authoritarian regimes and warring states.
Perhaps the most dangerous of the new trends in this field is the growing competition for the introduction of new technologies, robotization, autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence into the military industry. This will irreversibly change the nature of wars and conflicts, the relations of states and the future of humanity itself.
All these tendencies and contradictions are identified in a condensed and concentrated way in the Eastern Mediterranean as well, which is one of the most militarized areas of the world today. The importance of the Eastern Mediterranean is also determined by the fact that it has always been a key link in global maritime trade and in the transport of oil. Now, however, the discovery of significant hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean has made the situation literally explosive.
What the plan for a “New Middle East” has brought which has been promoted by the US over the past decades with the objective of – supposedly – “democratizing” the region’s regimes is chaos, instability and bloodshed that continue to this day with chain reactions. As far as the region’s older pending problems are concerned, such as the Middle East problem, the Cyprus problem and the Kurdish issue, they have interconnected with new issues, such as the intervention in Syria, the raid and, essentially, dissolution of Libya and the activity of the “Islamic State” organisation.
It is also evident that in the volatile region of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, the rivalries of the mighty powers of the world encounter with the efforts of the ruling classes of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to renegotiate their geopolitical and economic position. That is precisely why Turkey’s aggression against Syria and the Kurds, against the Republic of Cyprus with flagrant violations of International Law and the UN Law of the Sea, against Greece in the Aegean is increasing. That is also the reason why Israel is stepping up both its intransigence and the oppression of the Palestinian people. That is why Saudi Arabia is continuing the destruction of Yemen and intensifying the confrontation with Iran.
The European Union’s hypocrisy with regards all these developments is truly outrageous. The EU’s interests and political, trade and military ties with these states are considered more important than human rights and International Law. The EU-Israel Association Agreement continues unhindered despite Israel committing new violations of International Law and human rights on a day-to-day basis and in doing so adding to its record. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are the biggest byers of weapons from arms industries of the EU member states, despite the fact that this represents a flagrant disregard of both the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, as well as of the EU’s Common Position on the sale of arms and weapons.
Even now that the EU, in the face of the new Turkish invasion of Syria, has taken some measures against Turkey, these are such that they do not affect the interests of the European monopolies and big industries. Even the suspension of arms exports to Turkey concerns only the future sales of arms. For that reason, the existing contracts by which Turkey is armed will be implemented, but it will also acquire military know-how so that with its own arms and weapons industry it will become independent and rampant in its military adventurism.
The case of Cyprus is characteristic as well. The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, is under the military semi-occupation of Turkey. The Republic of Cyprus is not recognized by Turkey. It is currently the subject of Turkey’s illegal maritime drillings in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus. And yet, the measures approved by the EU to defend the sovereignty of one of its member state were very mediocre and extremely belated compared to the measures it approved as regards one non-EU member state, namely Ukraine against Russia, based of course on the Western narrative on the Ukrainian crisis. Once again, imperialism’s double standards policy has been revealed.
NATO’s stand on Syria is also characteristic. At the same time as Turkey’s invasion and massacres in northern Syria were taking place, the NATO Secretary General was sending out a clear message for Europe and the US to be careful in their reactions because what NATO considers as important is that the unity of the North Atlantic Alliance must not be shattered. Furthermore, it should also be pointed out that NATO has for some years has strengthened Turkey with two antiaircraft battery systems on its border with Syria. This is the same NATO with which the EU is in coupling with and which, according to the Treaty of the EU Treaty itself, represents the foundation of the defense for the European NATO member states.
Dear friends and comrades,
All of this shows a path towards destruction and catastrophe. We know from History that this “recipe” – crisis, the rise of fascism, militarism and rivalries – leads to war. The Left in Europe must be even more determined to project the demand for peace and in particular the demands for:
- The disengagement of the EU from NATO and the dissolution of NATO
- A Foreign policy based on International Law and peace
- The termination of the “investment shift” in the arms war industry and of the EU military missions around the world.
- An end to the sale of arms and weapons to warring states and authoritarian regimes
- The dismantling of all American bases and the removal of all nuclear weapons from European territory.
Dear friends and comrades,
In these conditions, the struggle for peace is a struggle for life and humanity himself. In our view, the struggle for peace must embrace broader and wide-ranging forces that share peace-loving and anti-war sentiments and demands.
This struggle needs to embrace every citizen, movement, organization and force that wants and believes in peace, in the friendship of the peoples and the respect of international law.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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