|WPC General Secretary Thanasis Pafilis.|
The World Peace Council Secretariat Meeting was held in Belgrade, Serbia, on 21st and 24th of March, 2019.
The meeting coincided with the international conference, organised on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Below is the speech of the WPC General Secretary Thanasis Pafilis to the meeting.
It is with pleasure to salute and thank the “Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals” for hosting this Secretariat meeting of the WPC here in Belgrade on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the imperialist NATO aggression against the peoples of Yugoslavia. We express our solidarity and support to the people of former Yugoslavia, to our comrades and friends of the Belgrade Forum who never accepted and never collaborated with the NATO aggressors, with the US and EU imperialists who attacked and invaded the country promising “democracy and peace”, after destroying infrastructure, bridges, schools, hospitals and killing thousands of innocent civilians.
The WPC does not only remember and commemorate the victims of the crimes committed by NATO in 1999 during the murderous bombing of 78 days. We recall the causes for the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia, from 1991 on, when the international correlation of forces changed with the overthrow of socialism in Eastern Europe. The horrific aggression of NATO against Yugoslavia was aiming at the creation of new states and regimes, willing to cooperate with NATO, the US and the EU, thus the expansion of NATO to the East, the creation of the Protectorate of Kosovo with the biggest ever US military base in the world (Camp Bondstil), took place at the same period.
The WPC stood firm all these years, based on our principles, with our struggle and positions against the imperialist plans in the Balkans, against the integration of the whole region into NATO in order to contain the influence of Russia in the region, while encircling it with bases and troops from the Baltic States till Bulgaria, including “Missile Defense Shields”.
What we witnessed and fought against in 1999 in Yugoslavia, repeated itself till today in many other parts of the world like in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria, in Yemen but also today in Venezuela and other Latin American countries. Therefore the case of Yugoslavia constituted a “useful” precedent matter for the imperialist plans till today.
The WPC expresses its deep concern about the growing imperialist aggressiveness in the world, the competition of imperialist forces for the exploitation and control of natural resources, pipelines, markets and spheres of influence to the expenses of the peoples, their sovereignty and the rights to decide alone for their fortunes and wealth.
The most recent and ongoing imperialist aggression, with the case of the attempted Coup in Venezuela with a self-proclaimed puppet of the US as ‘interim president”, does not only constitute a clear violation of every sense of International Law and the UN Founding Charter, it reminds us also of the darkest times of US imperialist interventions, dictatorships and military aggressions in Latin America. The reactionary forces of the local oligarchy tried to overthrow the legitimately elected President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in close cooperation with the USA, the European Union and reactionary governments of the “Lima Group” in order to take over the rich mineral resources of Venezuela while proceeding with their imperialist plans in the whole region and in particular against the island of the Revolution, Cuba.
As WPC we expressed our strong opposition to the above plans with statements, protests and demonstrations of our member Organisations in dozens of countries. The WPC has contributed to the success of the US peace&solidarity visit of a 15 member delegation 2 weeks ago to Venezuela. We denounced the imperialist plan and the governments in our countries that supported the subversive plans against Venezuela. It is to be noted that the government of Colombia, the newest NATO partner in the region is playing a key negative role, offering its soil even for possible military adventures and aggression by the USA.
We express our full-hearted solidarity with the people of Venezuela and in particular with the anti-imperialist forces and our member organisation COSI, in the struggle to defend the sovereignty of the country, their achievements and their right to determine alone and without foreign interference the destiny of the country and its natural resources. We are proud for having announced the International Mission in solidarity with the people and youth of Venezuela from 12-14 April in Caracas together with our partner WFDY. The success of this mission will show our active solidarity and will send a strong message against the imperialist plans in the region. At the same time we shall continue our actions and initiatives in all countries against the threats of the US, the EU and their allies, against a possible military intervention in Venezuela denouncing particularly the governments in Latin America and Europe who execute the imperialist plans by sanctions and economical blockade, trying to strangle the Venezuelan people. In the same light the WPC intervened in cooperation with COSI at the Human Rights Council of the UN in Geneva few days ago. We want also to highlight the importance of the presence of the WPC President Socorro Gomes on 10th January 2019 at the swearing in of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.
It is self-understanding to underline our sincere and deep solidarity with the other peoples in Latin America and their struggles, and against the new threats and dangers and in the framework of the new regimes in Brazil, Colombia etc. We express our full solidarity especially with the Cuban Revolution, its people and leadership who are likewise targeted along with other countries by the same reactionary forces and plans.
Meeting here in the heart of the Balkans in Serbia, we would like to draw your attention to the developments in the region, which are of serious concern. These developments are related and connected with the imperialist strategic plans in the broader area, including Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, the Middle East and North Africa. Apart from the provocative plans for the recognition of the Serbian province of Kosovo as “independent State”, the plans to “integrate” all the remaining Balkan states into NATO, the imperialists have a general plan how to contain and prevent other major forces (e.g. Russia and China) from political and economical influence in the region. The recent affiliation of North Macedonia into NATO, in close cooperation with the Greek government, the ambitions of Albania for a greater Albania (with the Kosovo protectorate), the multiplication of US and NATO military installations and bases in Greece, the NATO armada in the Aegean Sea and the “neo-Otoman” ambitions and provocations of Turkey in the region are creating an extremely dangerous situation the ground of which lies in the economical rivalry for the exploitation of gas and oil reserves in the Aegean Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, whereas Multinational corporations from the USA, France, Italy and others have already started their job. At the same time fierce competition exists for the existing and future Pipelines, the sea roads with plans far away from the interests of the peoples.
The same situation can be observed off coast of the Middle East, where under the US supervision and the cooperation of the governments of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel axis of cooperation are being created, welcoming the multinationals to exploit the resources as well as common military exercises are being held. All the above while the Palestinian people is being slaughtered by the Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, the settlements and land robbing continue along with the Judaization of Jerusalem and the deprivation of political rights for Non-jewish citizens in Israel. As WPC we reiterate our full support to the struggle of the Palestinian people to end the occupation and for their right to establish an independent and viable State within the borders of pre 4th June 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital. We call upon and struggle for the recognition of such State by governments and the UN and reject the imperialist maneuvers and hypocrisy towards Palestine by equating victims and aggressors.
We express our satisfaction for the overwhelming success of our Executive Committee held in the Syrian capital Damascus along with the common International Solidarity mission to Syria held with WFDY last October. The WPC proved that it is capable to hold in difficult conditions its meeting around the globe, relying on the commitment of its members and friends and especially our partner the Syrian National Peace Council who hosted the events successfully and generously. The message coming out of the Damascus events was received broadly and positively by members and friends, the news had spread internationally and was published by international media.
We reiterate our firm believes and actions for the just cause of the Syrian people to liberate their country from the remaining fundamentalist mercenaries and demand the withdrawal of the troops of Turkey in the North along with the complete withdrawal of the US troops and bases from Syrian soil. The brave Syrian people have suffered for 7 years an unprecedented internationally coordinated imperialist aggression and have marked huge sacrifices and important victories so far.
It is only the Syrian people who are entitled to decide upon their future and leadership. We reject any efforts for a violent “regime change” in order to install willing to the imperialists government, as it has happened in several cases, especially in Libya after the NATO aggression in 2011. Likewise we denounce the ongoing massacre of the people of Yemen which is suffering a tremendous humanitarian crisis with the Saudi led and US supported aggression since many years.
In the Executive Committee held last October in Damascus we analyzed deeply the developments around the world in relation to the threats to peace from the ankle of the peoples struggling for their sovereignty against imperialist aggression, occupation, exploitation etc. We do not want to repeat all valid issues and conclusions from the EC and prefer to focus in this Secretariat Meeting on the important actions we have in plan for the year 2019.
Nevertheless allow us to pick some additional issues which we consider necessary to stress in this report at this moment.
We would like here to underline the extremely negative developments around the withdrawal of the USA from the INF agreement, which will open the ways for already existing plans of deployment of new nuclear arsenals by the US in the Balkans and Middle East, which will cause a new arms race internationally. Such developments are opposed strongly by the WPC, while we insist and strive for the global abolition of nuclear weapons and tests in the world.
We observed with interest and caution the developments on and around the Korean peninsula and we support the Inter-Korean talks with the perspective of the independent and peaceful reunification of the peninsula, along with our demands for the end of the military exercises of USA-Japan and South Korea and the withdrawal of the US troops and their THAAD from the Korean soil. In this light we support the efforts for the signing of a peace accord between the DPR Korea and the USA in substitution to the armistice agreement of 1953 and the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
The WPC has dealt historically with and has denounced the existence of Foreign Military Bases throughout our history. We all know the multiple role of such installations which are reaching about 1.000 Bases in the world,the vast majority of which are US and NATO bases. After the important initiative of the Peace Movement in the US and of the USPC in particular, last year in Baltimore, against US foreign military bases, we have supported the efforts of the US Peace Council and PANA Ireland, to hold the First International Conference against US/NATO foreign military bases abroad,which was held with great success in Dublin in November last year. The WPC and its members were actively involved in this and shall continue the work under this light. Here we want to stress the importance of the 6th International Seminar against Foreign Military Bases, to be held again in Guantanamo Cuba, organized and hosted by the MOVPAZ Cuba in cooperation with the WPC. We pay great attention and are working for the success of this event, around which the participants will have the chance to pay homage to the late leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.
NATO, the biggest war machinery of history and armed wing of the US- and EU-imperialism, is marking its 70th anniversary on April 4th 2019 with a summit in Washington D.C. Following our discussion in Damascus and based on our campaign “Yes to Peace-No to NATO” the WPC will organize its own Anti-NATO conference on 31st March in Washington together with the USPC, for the first time in our history. The symbolization but also the moments this conference will take place, makes it extremely important to make it a success from all aspects. Likewise we endorsed and support the anti-NATO protest Rally on 30th March, organized by a broad coalition of US movements amongst which the United Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) and the USPC are part of. We underline the fact that the WPC is invited to speak in this rally very near to the White House.
This year several regions are planning their annual meetings, involving new host organizations as element of strengthening and broadening our work and influence in many parts of the world. We are pleased to inform that the American&Caribbean Region will hold its Meeting on 11th April in Caracas, the Asian&Pacific Region will hold its meeting in the second half of the year in Vientiane/Laos, while consultations are on their way for the proposal of the Swiss Peace Movement to host the European meeting on 20-21 September in Basel, along with the 70th anniversary of the Swiss Peace Movement. Additionally we are proceeding with the plan of having the African Meeting this year in Johannesburg and a Middle East meeting which is not yet defined.
The World Peace Council is an action oriented and grass root based International anti-imperialist Organization completing on April 21st its 70th anniversary. We discussed at the Executive Committee to observe this important anniversary with as many as possible events in dozens of counties,to issue a relevant poster and related propaganda. We propose to accept the proposal of COSI Venezuela to hold our central anniversary event this time in Caracas on 13th April, combined with our Solidarity Mission. We propose to adopt the slogan for this occasion : “World Peace Council, 70 years of service for the struggle and in solidarity of the peoples, against imperialist exploitation and wars”.
From the martyr city Belgrade, which was bombed brutally by the NATO imperialists we are sending a strong message of the World Peace Council, to the peoples of the world: No matter how strong the enemy of our dreams and aspirations may appear, we insist in saying that the only “super-power” is the peoples!