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Inaki Irazabalbeitia

Former MEP, Aralar

The Sofia declaration

Apr 30, 2015

Last Sartuday representatives of European left parties of Eastern Europe, Greece, Italy, Galicia and The Basque Country met in Sofia for the conference: 'Left Alternatives in Europe'. Here bellow the final declaration of the Conference

The second meeting of the Sofia club takes place on the eve of  the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II and we are saddened, first, by attempts to underestimate the role of the USSR and other states in the victory over Hitler and his allies, and, secondly, by the growth of neo-Nazi tendencies in Europe.

A year and a half ago, in the first statement of the Sofia Club, we said that the whole process of European integration had been distorted and directed in very much the wrong direction. We can actually now see, with regret, that our prediction was correct. And moreover it now fully evident (for those who want to see) that the European Union today is no longer able to face and solve its own internal problems. The tragedy of Greece continues and gets worse: with the current rules it cannot be either resolved or mitigated.

For the past five years Greece has been a target of economic and political attack from an alliance of German and other European elites, European institutions, IMF and world finance. They imposed a program on this country, supposedly to help and save it, but in reality to protect the interests of big international banks, which has provoked an economic and social catastrophe unprecedented in post-war history of capitalist Europe. The democracy and national sovereignty of Greece were all but wiped out and unacceptable colonialist agreements were imposed upon it.

Greece is being used by leading forces in the EU in order to impose the dominance of finance upon the whole continent, indirectly abolishing democracy and destroying the European welfare state, the two biggest achievements of European civilisation.

We express our full solidarity with the Greek people who are struggling to stop this catastrophe. We call upon the European Central Bank, the Commission, the Parliament and the Council to stop blindly obeying the policy of the global financial elite and drastically reverse their policy towards Greece.  We call upon all European peoples, especially the German people, to ask their governments to stop putting pressure and blackmailing the newly elected Greek government. We believe in the necessity of a new “Marshall Plan”, not only to redress the results of European policies in Greece but also to help improve the economic and social situation in all Europe, especially for its weaker and poorer nations. Europe has the resources for such a plan and it can find even more by reducing unnecessary military expenses.

As all our history testifies, Europe cannot exist without solidarity.

But Greece is not alone in representing a real strategic disaster. Economic growth is the real issue, it hasn't come and it is not even on the visible horizon. 

The losses of hundreds of migrants' lives trying to cross the Mediterranean puts Europe to shame. These tragedies are, to a very large extent, the result of western policies and especially military interventions in the Arab, Muslim and African world. All this had a consequence in the destruction of numerous states in this region. We call for the immediate stop of western military intervention.

An absence of democracy and participation alienates people from the European institutions. This is demonstrated by the very low turnout of the elections to the European Parliament in almost all countries of the Union.

The lack of a common vision of European destiny does not allow Europe to play an autonomous and sovereign role in the international arena. A clear example of the submission of European institutions to the interests of the USA, placing the overall interests of Europe as secondary to those of transnational capital, is the secretly negotiated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty.

We see the abandonment of European solidarity and the triumph of state selfishness and separateness. Europe's fundamental principles have been abandoned and relegated to the shadows. We can see the rebirth of revanchism and right wing populist nationalism as well as attempts  to rewrite history which is often tinged in some member states with shades of very clear Nazi intonations.

The civil war in Ukraine was the poisonous fruit of three fatal distortions in Europe:

a) An interpretation of the partnership that was assumed to bear the character of a genuine imperial expansion of Europe to the east;

b) The enlargement of the Union in 2004 (continued with growing intensity in the following years) included countries which have never undertaken a serious and radical process of denazification. These are the same countries (in fact pushed into NATO before they became members of the Union) who immediately supported the coup in Kiev in February 2014: a coup carried out on the initiative of the United States and with the apparent intervention of revanchist, ultra-nationalist, racist and Nazi forces. The European Union has openly encouraged this shift which led up a blind alley. And now it will be impossible to absorb not only a country in full economic bankruptcy, but also its ruling class which is incompatible with the founding principles of the Union.

c) Europe has toed the US line for an entire year and a half, which not only promoted and supported the Kiev coup, but acted to create an irreparable rupture between Russia and Europe. A breakage that seriously damages the interests of Europe, in economics, politics, culture. Only recently, in connection with visits to Moscow by Merkel, Hollande and Renzi, the "old Europe" seems to have realized the abyss which Europe is now facing.

The division of the continent is very dramatic now. An important part of the EU members in the East, starting with Poland and the three Baltic countries, prefers to follow the line of the United States, pushing for exacerbating the conflict with Moscow, through military pressure, extension of NATO, and economic and financial sanctions against Russia. The unresolved tangles of European history are added to American imperial pretensions. We have to break this spiral.

The model of competition and domination which was the engine of development of the West for the last three centuries and saw a long series of attacks against the rest of the world - is now turning into a machine that could lead to World War III. Our old assessment of 2013 was correct. Today war has come to central Europe. A new "curtain" is high enough to divide Europe from Russia. And this time it was the West - with the help of a blinded Europe - which raised it.

We are facing the most serious military and political crisis since 1962 (when America and the Soviet Union faced each other directly in the Cuban missile crisis). Today, again, the opposition is directed: on the one hand there is NATO, on the other side there is no longer the Soviet Union but present-day Russia.

But, since then, the world has changed. The very idea of a twenty-first century "American way" is impractical and unrealistic. Instead there is a policy by the West (meaning the alliance between the US and the EU) that claims to dictate the new rules of domination to the rest of the world. This hypothesis is quite unreal, or viable only through major conflict. Therefore it is evident that if this trend will continue we will be bounded to face a significant clash between the West, the driving American war machine as a whole, and the rest of the world. In other words, the golden billion against the other six billion people inhabiting the planet.

It is a dramatic perspective, as you can see. But it is clear that the world has set out  towards this perspective. This is demonstrated by the fact that any idea of a common European security has been abandoned and reversed, replaced with a project of annihilation, initially economic and political of the opponent. All this was based on the assumption that the adversary - in this case, Russia – will surrender, not being able to react on the offensive. But this could be based on an illusion. The real danger is that the opposition can develop into war.

Today, 40 years after the Helsinki Final Act was adopted, there is an urgent need to convene a new conference on common security in Europe.

As an immediate consequence it is clear that we now live in a world which is less safe. Therefore we must return to the idea of a security policy, the same for all, in Europe. An idea of international security that is based on the recognition of multipolarity of the contemporary world. It is time to look at the reality, to join forces and put positive processes on the move.

Europe and Russia are not enemies. Europe has no enemies. Europe and the USA are friends, and should remain so, but with equal rights. It follows that NATO must stop its expansion and start downsizing. Europe and Russia, together, can play a crucial role to propose a new global architecture that will avoid a new confrontation between East and West that would be fatal for all.

But Europe can only play a positive role, among other global superpowers, so long as it does not disintegrate. The crisis in Europe is now producing a severe disconnection between peoples and their representatives. It’s a real political revolution that is reshaping the political face of all of Europe. This political revolution is taking place in England, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Holland and there is a risk that Europe will return to the state it was in 60 years ago. The "pact" between the leadership and the people is breaking. The traditional parties are abandoned by large sections of the electorate - a real earthquake - when they are no longer able to keep the promises the "pact" was based on: political support in exchange for welfare. The crisis and the wrong European responses, which have begun to demolish the welfare state, are now producing a massive rejection by voters. Electorates seek new parties, but these parties do not yet exist. New leadership is taking shape, but there are still not defined projects. Protest prevails. So the electorate moves to the extreme: either right (France) or left (Greece, Spain), as well as new bodies having mixed and transverse ideological character (Italy, England).

Everything indicates that the current processes will grow and evolve. It is quite unlikely that today's European elite can address them. More probably these elites will be replaced or overthrown.

A very deep constitutional reform in European legislation must take place. It must include dialogue between people and their representatives. It must suppose the liberation of Europe from NATO and from subordination to the USA.