Report on the Participation of the UNAC in the anti-NATO actions in Brussels.
On Thursday, May 25 NATO held a summit in Brussels, Belgium. Brussels is also the home of NATO, which is now headquartered in a brand-new building at an expense of $1.5 billion, which the people of Belgium must pay.
The arrival of Trump in Brussels for the conference was big news and was widely covered in the Belgium news media. Many comments in the media and on the streets portrayed Trump as a clown. People wondered how such a person could be elected in the U.S. to lead NATO and the world.
Besides the representatives of the 28 NATO countries, antiwar activists from around Europe and further away also poured into Brussels, including Ann Wright and myself, Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator of UNAC from the US.
There were two “alternative” summit meetings held on May 24 and 25, and there was mass march through the streets of downtown Brussels to protest the presence of NATO and of Donald Trump.
On May 24 the World Peace Council held a protest meeting titled “Yes to Peace, No to NATO,” at which I was invited to speak. The U.S. Peace Council, which is the U.S. affiliate of the World Peace Council, is a member of UNAC and has been a close collaborator, especially in the formation of the Hands off Syria Coalition and past protests against NATO.
The World Peace Council meeting was attended by about 80 people from 17 different countries. These delegates included two people from Odessa, Ukraine, where a determined group of people have been protesting the rise of fascism in their country and commemorating the massacre of dozens of people that took place on May 2, 2014 at the Odessa House of Trade Unions. The two people from Odessa were very familiar with UNAC for our work in organizing the Odessa Solidarity Committee (https://odessasolidaritycampaign.org/ ) and for the delegation that we sent to Odessa last year to attend the memorial for the May 2nd massacre, an event that took place under threat of attack by fascist groups.
At the end of the conference, the entire group walked to the assembly point for the mass march and formed a World Peace Council contingent for the march. I marched with this contingent. Also present were other contingents, including one supported by the No to War, No to NATO network that played a key role in organizing the second conference, which took place on the following day.
Other contingents included one opposed to the U.S. imposed blockade of Cuba, one organized by the International League for People’s Struggle, and many more. There were also many signs opposing Trump and US policies in general.
The march, estimated by organizers at 12,000 people, wound its way through the streets of Brussels for several miles and was cheered and supported by people who lined the sidewalks.
The second conference, held on Thursday, May 25th, took place near the NATO meeting and was attended by around 150 people. At this conference, Ann Wright gave a plenary report, and I spoke on a panel on the expansion of NATO.
As many may know, NATO, originally founded to oppose the Soviet Union and its allies, did not end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In an agreement made at the time of the Soviet collapse, the US promised that it would not expand NATO to the former Soviet republics or to the Warsaw Pact countries. However, this promise was ignored and today NATO has expanded to 28 countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. More and more, Russia is being surrounded by the US and NATO forces and by their so-called “missile defense system.” In their aggression towards Russia, Ukraine plays an important part. Of all the countries surrounding Russia, Ukraine has the longest border with it. The US hoped with its support of the 2014 coup to further its stranglehold on Russia, even if it meant supporting right-wing and fascist forces in Ukraine and the coup government of Ukraine.
UNAC’s presence at the demonstration and the conferences was very much welcomed by representatives of the progressive movements who gathered in Brussels. We made some important friends for future struggles that will require strong international cooperation.