On behalf the European Network for Alternative Thinking and Political Dialogue of transform!, I would like to express our great pleasure to be present in this big meeting of European citizens and activists of social movements, trade-union and political parties.
In 2002, when we met in Fortezza da Basso for the 1st European Social Forum organized in a marvelous way by our Italian comrades, we promised to fight together against neo-liberalism and war in our countries, Europe and the world. History showed that our voluntarism was not enough for achieving our ambitious target. However it would be wrong to say that this first effort, which lasted for almost a decade, was in vain. We, veterans of the ESF process and the movement for an alternative globalization, can be proud for having laid the foundations of a serious transnational challenge to neoliberal ideological hegemony as well as for having tried, not always successfully, to promote the establishment of various European networks.
Ten years later we are back again here in Florence, in the midst of the most serious systemic capitalist crisis since the 30s, unfortunately older but certainly wiser and determined to form a wide European front against austerity and for the support of democracy in our continent, which is threatened by the authoritarian and repressive policies of national states and European institutions (which, in our times include the notorious IMF).
We have reasons to be optimist that this time we will be successful in our effort:
a) a) A new generation of young women and men are the protagonists of struggles, as one can see from the “squares” and the “occupy” movements,
b) b) Trade-unions have regained their militancy and are now more willing to cooperate with social movements,
c) c) Social movements are also in a more friendly relationship with trade-unions and those political forces which share their values and respect their autonomy,
d) d) New radical political forces have emerged in various European countries, which on the one hand are not willing to participate in governments with unclear social and political orientations, but at the same time distance themselves from sectarianism in a process of significantly increasing their influence among the people. Greece is a notable and promising example of this case.
e) e) And since I referred to the country from which I come from, allow me to say that Greece is not only the guinea pig of the neoliberal experiment for a way out of the crisis at the expense of the working and middle classes, which provides a fertile ground for the rise of the extreme and the fascist right. It is also a political laboratory of social and political resistance as well as of alternative proposals, which can potentially be a catalyst for the re-foundation of Europe.
transform! is fully committed to the cause of establishing an effective, wide European alliance of social and political actors, which will change the state of affairs in our continent. It is for this reason that we fully support the Alter Summit process, which will be presented here in Florence on Friday.
Comrades and friends, our common struggle can be successful. United we can win! United we can transform Europe!