EVALUATION OF ALTERSUMMIT ATHENS 7-9 JUNE 2013
The Altersummit in Athens was not a very successful event and it has remained extremely isolated. Approximately one thousand people were present (half as much as the participants at the Firenze 10 +10 event) in the Velodrome of the Athens Olympic site. Greek organizers originally expected five thousand participants, but even at the Saturday’s big demo only 1350 people showed up. In particular – the Greeks stayed away from the Altersummit in a big number, which phenomenon should be thoroughly analyzed. One of the reasons for the low Greek participation might have been the fragmentation of the Left, so the political forces were unable to act together. This seems to be the most plausible explanation, because 3 separate demonstrations were organized at the same time and many Greeks considered the Altersummit as Syriza promotion action. At the end of our march/rally, the “Gay Parade” began, when the parade participants were marching through in between the sidelined rows of Altersummit protestors. Nearly 200 organizations from 20 countries, including professional organizations (e.g. CGT, IG Metall, Solidaire, GSEE, ADEDY), feminists, civil society organizations (large numbers of French ATTAC), left-wing parties (NPD, Die Linke, Syriza) party foundations (e.g. Rosa Luxemburg), think tanks close to the European Left Party (e.g. Transform-network members). Apart from few exceptions no news were given about the event in abroad, but in many countries the whole media remained silent. One concrete hope is the international anti-fascist conference to be held in 2014 in Budapest, if the financial and other support from the „Altersummit leadership” will be provided. In this matter, Walter Baier (Transform-Austria) will soon pay a visit to Budapest .
Key public event of the Altersummit on 7th June Friday evening was a very tiring 3.5 hours long introduction and the adoption of the so called “People’s Manifesto” (Manifesto) in a plenary meeting, attended by Syriza’s Tsipras himself as well. The Manifesto formulated urgent demands against the austerity, the cuts attacking bourgeois democracy, social and labor rights, as well as issues of poverty and women. One of the about two dozen speakers was Karoly Gyorgy (representing Hungarian Trade Union Confederation – MSZOSZ), who was repeating the essentially well-known reformist demands (fair and decent wage, job creation, etc). There was the same mistake as which caused the failure of the ESF process: many speakers representing many individual countries (instead of cohorts of European societies) repeated to explain what was wrong in their country.
On 8th June Saturday at the thematic discussions (Assemblies) 14 topics were analyzed: fascism, debt crisis, peace, poverty, public services, democracy, labor rights, housing, health, education, migration, environment, euro-zone, banks, solidarity actions. The most important meeting for the Central and Eastern European participants was the Assembly on far right, in which about 120 people took part. Several members of the Prague Spring 2 (PS2) Network took the floor, like Hermann Dworczak, Jan Kavan, Mirek Prokes, Matyas Benyik, Nadia Shevchenko and Aleh Novikau. At the end of the meeting we have adopted a joint declaration on the advance of far-right all over Europe.
a.) study conference on the far right in Athens next autumn,
b.) a big meeting against the far right and neo Nazis next year in Budapest,
c.) rising interest to work together with PS2 Network. According to Mirek Prokes, besides our assembly on far right, the best debates/side actions were organized by GUE/NGL with several MEPs and top economists.
CEE participants in Altersummit think that their knowledge and ability of diagnosis/prognosis in the field of economic, political and social situation in Europe – based on CEE countries’ historical experiences – were underestimated. They wish to invite Altersummit organizers’ attention to three problems:
1. Nomination of speakers from CEE (first planned only one for 11 countries representing more than one third of EU countries, then problems with the Czech and Hungarian speaker, negative response to a proposal of Pio itr Ikonowicz as a Polish speaker);
2. Solidarity fund for CEE representatives;
3. Rejection to read a 3-minutes long CEE declaration in Zagreb at the Altersummit meeting or to adopt it as an official document of the AlterSummit which it aimed to address.
The People’s Manifesto against the austerity policies are essentially moderate neokeynesian alternatives, requiring only “pay rise” or “adequate minimum wage” rather than radicalism. Not even the nationalization of the banks is mentioned- only democratic control. The Manifesto narrows Europe to the European Union, it is afraid of the disruption of the EU and it demands to place the EU institutions under (bourgeois) democratic control, but of course, it is concerned about the growing inequality and the weakening of social cohesion. It is an absurd idea that the EU can be a potential guarantor of “protecting the public interest and social needs are met,” because the EU – with the national governments’ complicit support – is representing the interests of the ruling elite now and in the future, too. This is well illustrated by the brutal social cuts introduced and the accelerated deterioration of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Situation in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe is no less favorable than in those countries mentioned before and CEE countries have no chance of “catching up”. The debt rescheduling and auditing are not solutions, within the existing system there seems no solution.
Budapest, Wien, Prague,Warsaw, 28th June 2013.
On behalf of Prague Spring 2 Network
Matyas Benyik Hermann Dworczak Mirek Prokes Nina Sankari