The 10th annual Summer University of the Party of the European Left in cooperation with transform! europe took place in Litoměřice, Czech Republic, 8-12 July. It was hostesd by KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia), SDS (Party of Democratoc Socialism) and SPED (Society For European Dialogue). Find here the "Appeal of Litoměřice" and reports by the EL on the three main plenaries.
In this moment of time Europe is at the crossroad.
The principal values of our societies that have been accomplished in many social struggles over the centuries are at stake. From the Ukraine to the Mediterranean Sea the achievement of peace, humanity and dignity are threatened by the forces of neoliberal capitalism.
In these months, since the Greek people decided to say OXI to austerity and blackmail and NAI to a dignified way out of the crisis, by voting SYRIZA into power, the spirit of hope, of solidarity and of a real democratic and social alternative took hold in Europe.
But the ruling forces declared war: war on the Greek people and war on all Europeans who are opposing their relentless fight to impose austerity to increase their profit. It is not only directed against the Left but against all other forces in Europe that stand for democracy, social justice and peace.
Therefore we call upon all Europeans to demand from their governments a viable solution for Greece and Europe. Now is the time to prevent political decisions that will lead to irreversible and dramatic consequences. Now is the time for political responsibility.
We, the participants of the 10th Summer university of the Party of the European Left and transform! europe in Litoměřice (Czech Republic ), pledge ourselves to stand with the Greek people who are now at the forefront of our common struggle for a sustainable and peaceful Europe, a Europe that is worth fighting for.
Together we win!
11 July 2015
The first plenary session was devoted to the debate on the future of Europe, equality, justice and social coherence, with the experiences and contributions of Central and Eastern Europe.
The president of the EL, Pierre Laurent, started by analyzing of the situation departing from the confrontation between two models of understanding Europe. On one side the "ultraliberal" Europe led by the hegemonic forces that represent "a growingly authoritarian Europe, with the power being more and more concentrated in less hands and, with the democratic principles suspended ". On the other side “a new political force that is pronounced on the emancipation of the guardianship of the financial policy of the markets and of the German pressure", that is the Greek government of Syriza, which seeks to implement its program of government.
Laurent's conclusion is that “the Greek crisis represents the crisis of the European model” He explained that after the victory of the Greek referendum against the politics of the Troika, “the forces that now dominate the construction of Europe have rejected any viable compromise to allow a social exit of the crisis in Greece, “demonstrating clearly what their conception of Europe is”.
Moreover, "now they want to make the Greek to pay for the results of the OXI in the referendum with their expulsion". "If they do so, it will be the denial of the sovereignty of the Greek people and will be a danger for all. It will be irresponsible because it will be the most expensive solution for Greece and for all", he said, pointing out the consequences of the bankruptcy in Greece.
The solution they want to impose is not about saving Europe, but that is due to the demands of the financial powers, no matter who are the victims, making citizens pay the crisis and destroying the European system of social protection.
This neoliberal model of Europe is the one that has been also applied to the integration of the Eastern European countries in the European Union, Pierre Laurent detailed. It was "an integration made not with the idea of a political enlargement but as an imposed model in which the countries of Eastern Europe remained as a reserve of cheap labour, and resources at the service of the interests of Europe and the United States. They used it for relocation and to lower the wages in the rest of Europe with the argument of being more competitive.”
"It was an attack of the system against labour rights" and the result is that "today we are in a situation where workers throughout the European Union are overexploited".
Integration principles were "very strict, a political and economic revenge by denying all the successes of the past, without social guarantees, destroying the society, disintegrating socialism, denying their culture and their democratic principles".
This desire for Western financial integration has been accompanied by NATO's expansionist policy, explained Pierre Laurent, who "are using Eastern European countries in its strategy of confrontation with Russia", an aggressive strategy that is creating too much tension in the countries that share a border with Russia, with risk of triggering a war in Eastern Europe. And therein, he said, "the expulsion of Greece would bring very serious and irresponsible geostrategic consequences ".
Another danger of which the president of the EL warned was the increase of power of the far right, nourished by the results caused by the harsh measures required for integration into the European Union, which were "accompanied by an anti-communism encouraged by European intelligence". And that danger is even more active with the anti-Greek campaign.
After describing the scenario, the President of the EL, went on with the issue of “what to do” and the work to be played by the European Left, which "has to be responsible to avoid the clash of civilizations.”
It corresponds to the Party of the European Left presenting the alternative. An alternative that Pierre Laurent exposed in his speech and that is based on the construction of a model of social harmonisation opposite to the competition between countries. This harmonization includes the claim of a convergent minimum wage, which the European trade unions begin to claim, “and that must be accompanied by social protection to avoid the social dumping”. He emphasized in the defence and protection of the women's rights “Superiors in the Eastern countries than in the Southern ones” since they are crucial in this battle.
Another pillar of the alternative of the left is to "promote the productive capacity of each country against the depletion of resources and the industry by transnational corporations". He said that the destruction of national productive capacities is affecting everyone, including France. And for carrying out the economic policies "we must rebuild and regain financial markets" with the creation of a European public investment bank.
And the last exposed axis was the peace and the disarmament opposite to “otanization” and militarization of the European Union”.
He told that all these battles are European battles and “it is necessary to develop politics of active solidarity so that all the Europeans be concerned by what it happens in Greece, in Spain, in Ireland or in any other country. We cannot go on with only national solutions, which are fundamental, but the important thing is an European exit”, he concluded.
The second working day was dedicated to a debate on the integration or the division of Europe, in a moment marked by the tension of the hard negotiations with Greece and the serious threat of the Grexit.
Canadian Professor Leo Panitch began the plenary with a historical view of the contradictions of capitalism around the world and the evolution of the labour parties, which concluded in an analysis of the political situation in Greece. He spoke of the creation of new parties on the left and the new type of internationalism that has been generated linked to social movements. He gave as an example Syriza and how they were involved in the revolt of students, the way they worked with the movements and the approach of unit which was forged. He recalled when Alexis Tsipras said the crisis and economic torture were so unbearable that they had to get the power to control the change, and that the only way to do so was by the union of all those who walked in the same direction.
The Greek people relied on the Alexis´s proposals and gave him an almost absolute majority to lead the Government, but the current situation is that "Syriza finds itself trapped in negotiations with little room of manoeuvre (...) Syriza has tried to square the circle, seeing if it is possible to change Greece and remain in the European Union at the same time". The fundamental question, as Panich explained, is if it is possible to change the Greek State staying in the European Union.
The president of the EL, Pierre Laurent, replied by saying that today there are three positions toward the European Union. On the one hand, those who want to maintain the current neo-liberal order, "increasingly authoritarian (…) who are the leaders that are acting against Greece. On the other hand, the forces of the far right, who want to burn Europe, with a consequent rise of nationalism. And finally, those of us who advocate a Europe of solidarity that combat the battle to the Europe of the Finance”.
When asked if it is possible to change a country from inside of the European Union, Laurent responded forcefully that yes. "We believe in the European Union and that is the reason why we have created the Party of the European Left, to work together to change Europe. But for transforming a country it is necessary to transform Europe too. They are two struggles at the same time”
The president of the European Left pointed that this is “a process of difficult struggle”, which has not been won on January 25 nor with the recent referendum, “it will be a question of years. Syriza will reach a difficult compromise with the correlation of force that exists today in Europe. The important thing, he highlighted, is to be able to use this battle to change Europe. “The peoples of Europe look at the others because what it happens in Spain, in France…, in other countries, it will be important for all of them. The battle that is carrying out Greece is a political battle to change the forces relation and to fight against the austerity in each of our countries”.
About the room for manoeuvre, Pierre Laurent argued that it is a battle and every conquest is a political victory. "We fight for another model of European Union that amplifies room for manoeuvre to peoples and, from the respect for national sovereignty, to use that room for manoeuvre to strengthen solidarity with those who need it most.
“In these moments - Laurent concluded – along with the political work, it is necessary to reinforce immediate solidarity, expand the mobilizations and multiply the delegations of Greece so that they can explain what happens, and respond to the social emergencies that Greece needs”. Pierre Laurent, reported how thanks to the solidarity campaign in France, today the majority of the public opinion supports Greece, and it has made that the President of the Republic -inside the double speech he uses- has said “no” to the Grexit.
Elisabeth Gauthier, who moderated the plenary, ratified the increase of the big demonstrations that have been taking place since the victory on Syriza in the January elections, with the support of intellectuals, social movements, all the left, the Greens... and which have joined trade unions. She pointed out that after the referendum, the whole of the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation has demanded a fair deal with Greece, the same that have done leaders of national trade unions.
Natasa Theodorakopoulou, of the direction of Syriza, spoke with the tension of the last moments of a difficult negotiation, in which the European institutions were about to decide whether Greece would continue to be part of the European Union or an expelled country. She explained that these are moments of support and not criticism because "the only alternative is Syriza and the failure would be the rise of the extreme right".
The final plenary of the Summer University was devoted to how to change Europe to achieve a sustainable global future.
The moderator, Cornelia Hildebrandt, opened the discussion by advocating for the construction of another society that is not grounded in the markets, the accumulation and the production, but in an ecological policy which gives priority to the conditions of sustainable livelihoods and the defence of fundamental resources as water, energy, etc, as common goods. She summed it up in the need for "a new way of thinking and of organizing in solidarity".
The vice president of the EL, Maite Mola, introduced the work made by the Party of the European Left to promote a change in the correlation of forces in the European Union that allows to build this sustainable global future. She explained that the EL, at its last Congress in December 2013, decided to present the Tsipras candidacy to the European Commission, as a way to visualize the arguments and proposals of the European Left.
One of the key steps to begin this transformation has been the victory of Syriza in Greece, which allows to have a government in Europe, the only one for the time being, that has faced against the policy of austerity of neoliberal institutions. The EL proposal worked well, and today the left rises also in other regions and other countries, she said.
"The European Union is false, because it is not based on the union of the peoples but in the union of the markets ( …) and wanted to expel Greece to give example to other countries such as Spain", but the idea of the EL, as well as the Syriza, "it is not against the European Union, but against this model of the European Union", the vice president of the EL added.
The construction of another Europe is a difficult work that Greece cannot make alone, that's why it is necessary to study thoroughly the agreement that they have signed and in what conditions they have done it, because there is going to be a hard campaign against Syriza saying that they have accepted the conditions of the Troika. The true thing, at the moment, is that the Greek government has money and three years to try to raise the country, she argued.
Maite Mola explained the "very important" campaign which is developing against the austerity, not only as solidarity with Greece but as an outlet for everybody. "We must build the platform in each country, which is a common thread of popular unity, with the left, the social movements and the trade unions. And the platform has to be coordinated at European level to be able to organize the struggle against an enemy that is strong and relentless".
The Alliance against the Austerity has to be simple, without political programs, prioritizing what joins us. She gives the example of the campaign against the TTIP, a fundamental work, because “it will not be the European Union the only one that dictates the rules but also the United States will do it”. She spoke of the topic of the peace, “a fundamental question for the left in its struggle against the imperialism”. And finally, she explained that the next concrete space to work hard is the preparation of the COP21, which will be held at the end of year in Paris, “where we have to join in order to show our proposals about to the climate change”.
"Unity is not only for the elections but for every day, in the street, at work..., and if we get it also in the institutions, it will be welcome", concluded Mola.
Walter Baier, coordinator of transform! europe, urged on the need to revise what is useful and what needs to change because, he said, "we are in the biggest crisis in the history, with a failure in the austerity policies, migration and refugees, in the European institutions, Governments of Europe... and in Europe in general" adding that the war in Ukraine is a potential for the failure of all of Europe and warning that the far right is taking advantage of it.
Baier spoke of labour inequalities around the world, the need to restore the international law and to invest in development the money they spend in weaponry. He argued about the need to transform human and environmental relations and deepen in the relationship between the ecological crisis and the social injustices. Finally, Baier call for the "EU emancipation of NATO, which is the greatest danger for security in the world".
Ana Elisa Osorio, member of the Latin American Parliament, by Venezuela, explained the process of integration in Latin America that have been generated over the last decade. The first was the ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative, which started from conversations between Chavez and Fidel and is based on the unit of Bolivarian transformation. The ALBA is a space where the integration privileges the solidarity and the complementarity among the peoples. We take in account the capacities and the strengths of every country and promote facilities for the exchange. This way, for example, if a country has oil, it can exchanges it with others for cattle, and the operation is done in sucres that it is a virtual currency with which it is not necessary to use the international currencies of the member countries.
She also spoke of the Petrocaribe mechanism, to provide oil to smaller countries, with extremely favourable conditions that include the requirement to invest in social programs.
The Venezuelan parliamentarian explained to the participants of the Summer University of the EL another two fundamental mechanisms of integration, as there are the Union of Nations of South America (UNASUR), with its Human Rights observatory, and the CELAC, which assembles all the Latin-American countries, from Mexico to the Patagonia. “For Venezuela, the topic of the unit is a priority” as it demonstrates the fact that there have already been two summits between the CELAC and the European Union, she concluded.