«The dangerous role of the EU and ΝΑΤΟ in the Balkans, the monopoly antagonisms that bring imperialist war, refugees, nationalism and the response of the peoples» (Thessaloniki, 15 May 2016).
Speech by Dimitris Koutsoumbas, General Secretary of the CC of the KKE (Source: inter.kke.gr).
We thank you for your participation in today's meeting of the Balkan communist and workers parties, as well as for the contribution of all our parties to the maintaining of the Balkan meetings, which provide us with the opportunity at this level as well, at the level of the Balkans, to examine the current developments and to exchange thoughts and experiences from our activity.
Our experience confirms the constantly increasing necessity for the closer collaboration of the CPs, the collective examination of the developments, internationalist solidarity and joint activity and also the necessity to intensify the efforts to form a unified strategy of the communist and workers parties in Balkans and beyond.
We must develop these elements and of course each CP must intensify its efforts to establish solid foundations, to elaborate its political line and strengthen its bonds with the working class, to gain ground inside the labour-people's movement of its country.
This year, the organization of the Balkan communist meeting coincides with a major historical anniversary, a milestone in the history of the people's and labour movement of Greece, the harsh class conflicts of May 1936. In honouring the militants, those unbowed by the class struggle, it is necessary to highlight the strength of the working class and its position in society, as the class that has the historic mission to overthrow capitalism, to abolish the exploitation of man by man and build socialism-communism, the society that has the satisfaction of the needs of all the workers at its centre. By studying history, we draw lessons for today that show us the way and can make the labour and communist movement more capable in the struggle against the exploitative system, the bourgeois class and its political representatives, every kind of reactionary, fascist force that make their appearance in the region, to struggle and reinforce the front against social-democracy and opportunism.
The developments in our countries and in the region, the tendencies that are prevailing increase the level of demands, raise the bar to a very high level and impose very important political tasks on our parties.
We can note that the following features are apparent in the developments in the Balkans and wider region:
There are clear difficulties in the management of capitalism and its contradictions, not only in Greece, where an economic crisis has been underway for many years, a crisis that is a creation of the capitalist mode of production. We see difficulties and problems in many other Balkan countries, where the numbers and statistics may "prosper", but the inability of the capitalist economy to develop stably is evident, something that causes a sharpening of all the contradictions and of course political disturbances.
The intensification of the aggressiveness of the bourgeois classes can be observed in all the Balkan countries and the implementation of harsh anti-people policies and measures that attack the workers. A "graveyard" for workers' rights and gains that they had experienced in the past has been imposed over the entire Balkans, with the aim of serving capitalist development, i.e. capitalist profitability.
At the same time, however, all the means to manipulate the peoples and youth are being utilized to keep them trapped in bourgeois ideology and political line, with the fostering of false expectations regarding the course and prospects of the capitalist mode of production, with state and employer repression, nationalism and with as its spearhead anti-communism and the blackening of socialism. And from this podium we would like to denounce the anti-communist legislation in Balkan countries, like Romania, as well as the persecution of communists, which we have seen recently in Serbia against cadres of the Communist Youth (SKOJ), as well as legal prosecutions against dozens of cadres of the CP, Turkey.
These developments are taking place inside the framework of and in interaction with the increased role and intervention of the EU and NATO, the sharpening of the inter-imperialist competition with Russia and other strong-both at an international and regional level-capitalist states. We already read that Russia connects the political instability in FYROM with a plan for a "colour revolution", which aims to overthrow those political forces that did not align with sanctions implemented by the EU and the USA against Russia.
We also can see another aspect of these contradictions here in Thessalonica. In two days (17/5) from today it is expected that the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline - TAP will be inaugurated in the presence of the leaders of the countries it will pass through (Azerbaijan, Turkey, Italy) and of course from Greece in the person of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The presence of the representatives of the EU Commission and the USA demonstrate that the construction of energy infrastructure, i.e. those "arteries", as they call them, of energy, which are necessary in order to set the cogs of the capitalist economy in motion, is connected to the continuing struggle over who will control the energy deposits, their transport routes, the market shares. This is also demonstrated by the representatives of these imperialist powers at the inauguration, when it is well-known that the same powers (EU and the USA) did everything in order to block similar Russian energy plans in the Balkans, in order to make the EU, as they claim, independent of Russia.
In addition, we stress that the business groups and not the workers will benefit from the construction of TAP. Only when the people truly acquire their own power can they ensure mutually beneficial inter-state relations in the energy sector in order to satisfy the people's needs. Only by charting a radically different development path, with socialization of the domestic energy resources and infrastructure, with the disengagement from the EU and NATO, only then can such projects be used for the people's prosperity and not the profitability of capital and in addition so that they do not become "flashpoints" for inter-imperialist contradictions.
The inauguration of the TAP demonstrates how facile those assessments were that promised that such projects would objectively become factors for the stability, security and peace of the countries involved in them. Greece and Albania are involved in this project, but this has not provided a solution to the problems in the Greco-Albanian relations, for example, related to the issues of the EEZ. On the contrary, all the evidence suggests that in the recent period the disputes are intensifying. Greece and Turkey are involved in the project, but this was not capable of resolving the problems in the Greco-Turkish relations, it was not capable of reversing the provocativeness of the Turkish bourgeoisie, under the leadership of Erdogan, which is intensifying its violations of Greek airspace and it disputing of sovereign rights in the Aegean Sea.
We know that developments in the Balkans cannot be detached from the more general developments. It is a part of all the developments in the wider region that includes Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya etc.
The war in Syria continues, without excluding the possibility of a new intensification and its dismemberment into spheres of influence.
Of course, what the people of Syria are experiencing is inside the framework of capitalism. I.e. on the economic terrain, where the means of production, the natural mineral wealth, its transport routes, can be bought and sold, where the economy does not work to satisfy the contemporary needs of the people, but the interests and the profitability of the various capitalist businesses and monopolies. So in this instance we can see that "apple of discord" is the mineral wealth of Syria and of the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East as a whole, as well as the transport routes for energy and the market shares. The imperialist intervention in Syria manifested itself for such a reasons a few years ago, which was welcomed with a fanfare as part of the "Arab Spring" and which has led to a bloody conflict with over 250,000 dead and the interference in Syrian internal affairs initially by the USA, EU and their allies in the region and since the end of last year by the military intervention of Russia, Iran etc, at the side of the current Syrian regime at its invitation. Enormous economic interests that are competing over the pipelines that will come from Syria, for the exploitation of Syria's EEZ, over the military and geopolitical influence in the region of the Middle East are what lie behind the conflict in this country and the other countries where military conflicts are underway.
The partial and temporary cessation of hostilities in Syria and the talks in Geneva, the bargaining between the USA and Russia do not guarantee a stable peace in favour of the Syrian or other peoples in the region. In the conditions of a temporary "peace" indeed with the gun to the people's head, with constant interference in the internal affairs of Syria, the sharpening of the Kurdish problem and the geo-strategic negotiations of the strong players of the imperialist system, a new phase of military conflicts will be prepared. Even more so when the Ukrainian front is still open and there are scattered flashpoints in other regions of the planet.
No one can be fooled by the arguments used to justify the imperialist intervention. The people's tolerance cannot be acquired in this way. Even if a solution is found, a temporary compromise between the conflicting interests in Syria today, no one can know how long it will last, or if the confrontation will simply be transferred to another neighbouring country, sowing destruction for the peoples.
We should ask ourselves:
What is the aim of the USA and NATO in locating their so-called anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe, including bases in Romania and Bulgaria, also utilizing their position in the Aegean? Is this development not related to NATO's efforts to obtain nuclear superiority over Russia? For what reason, when the SYRIZA-ANEL government claims that it does not have even one Euro for basic needs in healthcare and education, does it actively participate in all the imperialist missions and military exercises of NATO, like "Thracian Star 2015" in Bulgaria, last summer, together with the airforces of Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and the USA? Were these military exercises not integrated into NATO's war plans in its competition with Russia?
Or perhaps it is not well-known that the naval force deployed by NATO in the Aegean has nothing to do with refugees, as they claim, but is there to support Erdogan, after the conflict between the Turkish bourgeoisie and Russia over the Syrian problem, as well as in light of the new imperialist intervention in Libya that is expected?
The imperialist interventions and wars, which have been caused in recent decades, apart from anything else, have even further sharpened the refugee-immigration problem, leading millions of people to leave their homes to escape the maelstrom of war, poverty and destitution.
The decisions of the EU, the haggling with Turkey, have also led to the entrapment of tens of thousands of people in Greece. Thousands have been now trapped and imprisoned in closed camps in wretched conditions. The NGOs exploit this situation and EU funds. Most of them do not play a role of true solidarity but in essence play a suspicious and undermining role.
We know every well that this issue cannot be solved, as long as the imperialist wars continue. Capital also seeks to strengthen itself in this situation, sometimes using racism and xenophobia, with the aim of dividing workers on the basis of their background, language and religion and at other times it uses its cosmopolitanism in order to integrate a necessary number of refugees into the capitalist economies in order to renew the EU's labour force and increase the rate of exploitation. In these conditions, the communists in Greece play the leading role in the solidarity movement with the refugees and immigrants, because we understand their right to seek a safer life in other countries, on the basis of observing international law on refugees, despite the fact that a permanent solution to the problem can be found if the people of each country organize and struggle to overthrow the system that creates wars, poverty and refugees. We propose immediate relief measures, such as their transfer to their final destination countries, and we do not cease our struggle against the causes of this problem so that the conditions can be formed that would allow the return of the immigrants and refugees to their homelands, where the peoples will be the masters of their destinies.
The location of the Balkans has particular geostrategic significance, as it is the gateway to 3 continents (Europe, Asia, Africa).Controlling it means above all controlling the transport routes for commodities, including energy. In addition, the region is a bridgehead of the USA and the imperialist unions of NATO and the EU for the political economic and military consolidation of their influence in the region of Eurasia, the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, the Middle East and North Africa. It is no accident that we see the US and NATO reinforcing their military positions with bases in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, in other Balkan countries, with the clear aim of strengthening their presence in the Black sea as well.
Plans, that come into opposition with the plans of the ruling class of Russia, which seeks to enhance its position in the global imperialist system, with the penetration of Russian capital and commodities into the Balkans, by creating new "energy pathways", by increasing the shares of its monopolies in the markets, and of course by maintaining the deterrent of its nuclear arsenal ( i.e. maintaining its capability of responding if it is on the receiving end of a first nuclear strike).
The situation is made even more complicated by the corresponding plans of the bourgeois classes of the capitalist countries in our region, utilizing national, religious and linguistic minorities.
This web of inter-imperialist contradictions, in which the EU, NATO and the USA play the dominant role, also threatens the peoples of the Balkans with the dangers of war that could cause untold destruction and misery. Therefore it is of primary importance for the communist and workers movement to highlight these dangers, to reveal their causes that are rooted in the nature of the exploitative capitalist system itself, and also to raise ideological-political barriers so that the misleading dilemmas of the bourgeoisie in each country, which seeks to place the peoples under its banners, are not successful. Sometimes under the banners of the alleged "war against terrorism", or against the weapons of mass destruction which the other "evil people" have, other times for the "safeguarding" of the rights of minorities or at other times for clearly chauvinist-expansionist and irredentist ideas.
Truly, the communist parties in our region must fight against any weaknesses they have and take the necessary measures to strengthen the common struggle of the peoples of the Balkans against the participation of our countries in imperialist interventions and wars, against the provision of bases and military infrastructure for the needs of NATO and the EU. Against the accession of new countries to the imperialist organizations of NATO and the EU and in favour of the disengagement from them, something that we believe workers' power can be guarantee.
Allow me to say a few words about the developments in Greece, which we evaluate are particularly instructive and useful for the other peoples of the Balkans. The ongoing capitalist crisis led the workers to enormous losses as regards their social gains, income and also the rapid rise of unemployment. The SYRIZA-ANEL government took on the "baton" of anti-people measures from where the 2 memoranda of the ND-PASOK governments had left off, keeping all these measures in place and thrusting new heavy burdens onto the working class and other popular strata. The famous "negotiations" which have nothing to with these burdens, but are a way to lighten the load of the capitalists so that they can recover and return to profitability on the ruins of the workers'-people's rights. Here, there is also the entanglement in this situation of the major competition of the EU and IMF, as well as the emergence of conflicting scenarios for the future of the EU in combination with the future of the Eurozone, with the basic vehicles of this confrontation being Britain, France and Germany and with the concerns about the global economy and the slowdown of capitalist growth as the background of all this discussion, as well as the intensifying competition between the big business groups, the corresponding states and international alliances.
In this period the things the KKE warned of have become clear to the people. I.e. that there can be no way out of the capitalist crisis in favour of the people inside the imperialist unions, such as the EU, and the capitalist development path.
In these conditions, the primary task of the workers and people is the organization and the direction of their struggle for their rights, for the recovery of their losses to their income, so that the new measures to reduce social-security, harshly overtax the workers, farmers, self employed cannot be implemented in practice, for measures to defend the unemployed and the rights of the youth and women. A new great people's alliance can be built on this path, which will target the rotten system itself and the monopoly groups. The KKE devotes all its forces in this direction. Our common effort to reinforce the class-oriented movement, the movement of the poor and medium farmers, of the urban middle strata, women, youth in every Balkan country, would be a serious legacy for the change of the current situation in our region.
For the KKE, the path for the formation of the social alliance requires the regroupment of the movement of the working class the strengthening of the work of communists in the trade unions and workplaces. In the next period, we can focus more on better studying the necessary conditions for the organization of the working class, for the expansion of the work of the communists in the trade unions of the Balkans.
Our opinion is that this necessity for the regroupment of the labour movement cannot be realized without the independent political and ideological struggle of the Communist Party, without its leading activity for the defense of the interests of the working class and the other popular strata, and especially not without a front against all the bourgeois political forces, both liberal and social-democratic, as well as against opportunism, which sows false hope amongst the workers and in the end brings them disappointment, leading the labour-people's movement to dissolution. However, we stress from this podium that the "wasted struggles are only those that are not waged", the disappointment brought by the SYRIZA-ANEL government to wide sections of our people must be overturned and in its place there must be a strengthening of the determination for conflict with the system that abolishes and reduces workers' and people's rights, with the EU and NATO that constitute the "womb" of the new torments for the peoples. To struggle for workers'-people's power, which will put an end to the power of the monopolies, capitalism that give rise to crises, antagonisms, imperialist wars, poverty, unemployment and refugees.
The struggle for socialism is what lends strength to and can support the daily activity of the CPs in the labour-people's movement, in any case it is no accident that the class enemy focuses its attack on socialism, with slanders against socialism and anticommunism. There must be a strengthening of our common struggle against the poison of anti-communism, against the persecutions carried out against CPs and communists. We must strengthen the common struggle against fascism, racism and chauvinism-expansionism.
In this direction, utilizing the 100th anniversary of the October Socialist Revolution which we will honour next year in 2017, we can take steps towards the organization of joint events about the history and contribution of the communist movement in the Balkans.