[Nasional-e] EUROPEANS PROTEST NATO'S EASTWARD MARCH
Mon Dec 2 10:00:19 2002
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 5, 2002
issue of Workers World newspaper
EUROPEANS PROTEST NATO'S EASTWARD MARCH
By Bill Cecil
Prague, Czech Republic
"The frontier of freedom has expanded." That's what U.S.
President George W. Bush told 50 heads of government
assembled here for the Nov. 20-22 summit of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization. The meeting expanded the U.S.-
dominated military bloc to include Bulgaria, Estonia,
Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
This brings NATO deep into Eastern Europe and onto the soil
of the former Soviet Union. The Czech Republic, Hungary and
Poland joined two years ago.
At Bush's bidding the gathering formally changed NATO's
"mission" from "combating Communism" to acting as an
appendage to Washington's "war on terror"--which can be
better described as Bush's scheme to pump up oil company
profits with mass murder in the Middle East.
The U.S. president failed to mention the decades when the
people of East Europe lived in terror of obliteration by
NATO nuclear missiles aimed at Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw,
Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia, Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn and other
cities of the region.
To partake in Bush's war, the NATO leaders voted to set up a
European Rapid Reaction Force. For the recently impoverished
East European countries, joining NATO will mean arms
purchases from such U.S. firms as Boeing and Northrup
Grumman, both financial sponsors of the Prague meeting.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic is officially 18.8
percent. Homeless people now live on the streets in once
prosperous Prague. Yet the NATO big shots were wined and
dined on endangered species of fish in luxury hotels behind
walls of police.
Bush's remarks notwithstanding, this 1,100-year-old city of
castles and cobblestones did not feel particularly free last
week. It was more like a city under occupation.
The Czech government had ceded responsibility for the
country's security to the Pentagon for the duration of the
summit. U.S. Air Force F16s circled over the city while
Czech Army helicopters hovered above and armies of police
patrolled its streets.
Whole areas of Prague were declared off limits to its
people. Police snipers were visible on rooftops. A Kazakh
civilian jetliner was forced to land by the U.S. Air Force.
These measures were ostensibly taken to "prevent terrorist
attacks," but many felt they were meant to stifle political
protest. Many Europeans, east and west, don't feel that
NATO's growth will bring any kind of freedom.
Dozens of political activists were detained at the Czech
border to prevent their participating in anti-NATO rallies.
The "Czech" media, now mostly owned by U.S. and German
companies, created an atmosphere of fear with constant
reports that anti-NATO protesters were planning violence.
In spite of state and media intimidation, chants of "NATO,
no pasaran" and "Drop Bush, not bombs" rang through Prague's
streets Nov. 20. Some 2,000 workers, students and retirees
took part in a protest rally and marches called by the
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM). The day
before 150 delegates from around Europe had attended an anti-
NATO counter-summit the KSCM organized.
Also on Nov. 19, over 1,000 mostly young people joined an
anti-NATO march called by the Czechoslovak Federation of
Anarchists, the Feminist Organization of March 8 and the
Organization of Revolutionary Anarchists.
At a Nov. 20 news conference, Russian activists pelted NATO
Secretary General Lord Robertson with eggs, shouting, "NATO
is worse than Gestapo."
'FREE MILOSEVIC, DON'T ATTACK IRAQ'
Most of the marchers on Nov. 20 were Czech. But activists
came from Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Belgium, Slovakia
and Poland. Marchers carried portraits of Yugoslav children
murdered by NATO bombs and signs demanding the liberation of
kidnapped and imprisoned Yugoslav President Slobodan
Other signs denounced U.S. plans to attack Iraq, a major
topic at the "North Atlantic" meeting. A banner called NATO
the "North Atlantic Terrorist Organization."
Peter Shuster, a student, came from the Czech city of Brno
to march against NATO. "We are free people," he said, "and
we don't want to be cannon fodder for the U.S. power elite
that wants to take over the world."
Edo Bango, an 18-year-old Roma man, came to the protest from
Slovakia. He wore a shirt with a picture of Che Guevara. His
brother, Mario Bango, is in prison for defending himself
against a racist attack in which the attacker died. There
has been an epidemic of violence against Roma people in
Eastern Europe since capitalism was restored there.
Edo Bango scoffed at the idea that NATO is bringing freedom.
"Capitalism has made everything worse, especially for the
Marcin Adam, a student from Poland, did not take part in the
demonstrations. He and a group of friends were detained at
the border and did not get to Prague until after the
protests. He said: "NATO is a pact to unite all the richest
countries so they can control the world resources. We know
the U.S. and Great Britain have more weapons of mass
destruction than any other country, and they used chemical
weapons against Vietnam and Iraq."
Adam said the return of capitalism to Poland is a "success
story only for the capitalists, but most workers think it
was a catastrophe. Now we have a really high unemployment
rate in Poland, and most workers and peasants live in
KSCM General Secretary Miroslav Grebenicek opened the rally.
He said, "Prague has become a meeting place for people who
are responsible for war crimes and crimes against peace." He
denounced NATO's expansion as part of Washington's drive to
conquer the "heartland of Eurasia" with its vast energy
resources, as outlined in former U.S. National Security
Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's book "The Grand Chessboard."
He said, "Our citizens must have housing, schools and
hospitals, not tanks, warplanes and cannons."
Communist Youth Union leader Zdenek Stefek denounced NATO as
the "world's largest terrorist organization, which it proved
with its aggression against Yugoslavia and now by its
preparations to attack Iraq." He said that "reforming NATO
is not possible" and called for the pact to be abolished and
its leaders put on trial.
The rally and the Nov. 19 counter-summit were also addressed
by leaders of Communist and workers' parties from Austria,
Belarus, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany,
Greece, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Ukraine,
Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey and Yugoslavia as well as the
European Peace Forum and the World Federation of Democratic
Workers Party of Belgium General Secretary Nadine Rosso
Rosso called for solidarity with Colombian, Filipino and
Palestinian freedom fighters. She reported that the Belgian
port of Antwerp was now under U.S. military occupation but
that Belgian activists would try to block arms for the
attack on Iraq from being shipped through the city.
The counter-summit adopted a declaration called the Prague
Appeal that denounced the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the
Anglo-U.S. attack on Afghanistan and the U.S. war against
Iraq. It called the Bush regime's planned invasion of Iraq
an "attempt to solve U.S. economic problems at the expense
of other nations" and called on people of the world to
mobilize against war.
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