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The world needs peace and peace needs its builders

05.08.2022 - 17:57
(updated: 08.05.2023 - 18:04)
  • Ei militarismille ei Natolle kuva Emma Grönqvist

The world needs peace and peace needs its builders

Resolution adopted by the Congress of the Communist Party of Finland (CPF), 11-12 June 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine brought war to the heart of Europe. It demonstrated the failure of Europe's post-Cold War security arrangements. Instead of cooperation and common security, the continent has been redivided by the expansion of the European Union and NATO. Distrust, confrontation, power politics, nationalism and hatred have accumulated in Europe. The elite in autocratic Russia are trying to use war to restore Russia's superpower status. Ukraine, which has applied for NATO membership, has found itself in a war, ultimately pitting nuclear-armed Russia against the United States and its NATO partners.

There are numerous other wars and conflicts taking place around the world, including in Ethiopia, Iraq, Yemen, Mali, Somalia and Syria. Israel continues its illegal occupation of Palestine and is conquering more land for settlements. Turkey bombs Kurdish villages in the north of Syria and Iraq. The situation in Afghanistan remains perilous. The US  considers it entitled to interfere militarily in the affairs of other countries and is building an alliance against China and Russia. The threat of the use of nuclear weapons has increased, despite the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the arms race has also accelerated. Competition for dwindling natural resources and power is adding tension to the international situation.

When security is sought through an arms build-up and military alliances, the result is a spiral of insecurity. Increasing armaments and military alliances increase the perception of threats and insecurity on the other side of the border. Military capabilities are increased and responded to on the other side of the border. Ultimately, this can lead to the threat of war, even nuclear war. As the cycle of mistrust, armament and confrontation continues, it can lead to armed confrontation.

The environment demands peace

Money spent on armaments is diverted from more necessary expenditure. With a fraction of the money spent on military spending worldwide – more than $ 2 100 billion in 2021 – many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals could have been achieved.

Armaments devour material and human resources that should be used to solve the environmental crisis and contribute to human well-being. The materials used for weapons are out of the earth's finite ores and other materials.

Wars, military exercises and armaments generate huge greenhouse emissions and environmental damage. The annual carbon dioxide emissions from fuels used by the US military alone are greater than those of Finland as a whole. Although reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) have identified the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the reduction of emissions from military activities has still not been included in international climate targets.

Halting climate change, biodiversity loss and overconsumption of natural resources requires concerted action and international cooperation. Such cooperation can only be developed in a climate of peace and trust. Confrontation and tension in international relations are a serious obstacle to solving global problems such as the environmental crisis and pandemics. The war in Ukraine, for example, threatens to lead to a major food crisis, as the supply of Ukrainian and Russian exports of cereals has decreased and prices on food markets have already risen.

Peace in Ukraine

Russia's invasion of Ukraine violated the principles of the UN, the OSCE and the Minsk agreements, the implementation of which Russia itself had previously required. The war has spread death and destruction. It has also led to widespread sanctions against Russia and fuelled anti-Russian sentiment. In Ukraine, it has strengthened a government which, even before the war, was widely and justifiably criticised for favouring oligarchs, for anti-social policies, for allowing neo-Nazis to operate and for curtailing democracy, including by banning the Communist Party.

It is imperative for Ukraine, Russia and Europe as a whole that a ceasefire is established in Ukraine and that diplomatic negotiations progress towards a peace agreement. An important part of this is Ukraine's military non-alignment. The war in Ukraine will not end with war, but with agreement.

Building common European security

Since the Second World War, Europe has been a relatively peaceful continent. The violent break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and now the war in Ukraine and the threat of its escalation show that Europe needs a collective system of common security. Security is indivisible; the security of one cannot be achieved at the expense of another or others. It is not based on armed force but on cooperation.

Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe have done enormous damage to efforts to build a common European security. Europe's security arrangements must be rebuilt to bring lasting peace to Ukraine and to prevent Europe from experiencing further wars.
Rebuilding trust and cooperation after war is not easy. But history shows that it can be done in a relatively short period of time, provided that we do not get stuck in wartime attitudes.

In addition to ending the war in Ukraine, we need a Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe with equal participation of all European countries. It is clear that it cannot be a reminiscence of the 1975 OSCE meeting in Helsinki, but a meeting for which important new decisions will be prepared, laying the foundations for a series of meetings and revitalising the OSCE to meet the challenges of a changed situation. Finland must play an active role in this.
The most urgent thing is to agree that everyone commits not to use military force and not to attack other countries, and commits to take action to reduce tension and refrain from increasing armaments and troops.
In the longer term, agreement must be sought on a gradual reduction in armaments and troops. European countries should not export troops outside their own countries. An exception to this might be UN-mandated peacekeeping missions. Arms trade must be limited to the framework of the UN treaty (Arms Trade Treaty) and strictly controlled. The new OSCE treaty must also include strengthening the status of nuclear-weapon-free zones and militarily non-aligned countries.

As a result of these negotiations and agreements, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe can be built into an effective and influential, genuinely European organisation. In this way, it will be possible to move forward in Europe without military alliances. Europe must also be an active promoter of disarmament and the UN Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Joining NATO is a historic blunder

Since 1944, Finland has lived in peace as a neighbour of the Soviet Union and Russia. The starting point has been to build trust and cooperation between the countries. Trust was achieved through a peace-oriented foreign policy and military non-alignment, on the basis of which the neighbouring country knew that Finland would not allow its territory to be used for armed aggression and would not ally itself with states hostile to its neighbour.

The foreign and security policy reports before Parliament have repeatedly stated - including during the war in Ukraine - that Finland is not threatened by military aggression. Despite this, the right has justified its ever-increasing arms purchases and accession to NATO on the grounds of the Russian threat. The acquisition of new F-35 fighters and warships will already raise Finland's defence spending to a top level in Europe in relation to population size.
The current authoritarian regime in Russia, made up of oligarchs and elites in the security apparatus, is implementing an undemocratic, unequal and nationalistic policy of great power, which the Communist Party of Finland does not accept. Finland is, however, a neighbour of Russia, with which we should strive to build proper relations of cooperation. History has shown that cutting off ties, hatred, arms races and seeking support through military alliances is a dangerous path.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the atrocities of war have understandably frightened Finns. However, joining the US-led military alliance NATO is the wrong conclusion and a historical mistake. Membership of NATO does not strengthen security, but creates more tension on Finland's borders and in neighbouring areas. The transformation of Finland's border into an outpost of NATO against Russia, which ultimately relies on the military power of the United States and the nuclear deterrent, will increase the risks.

As a member of NATO, Finland will be committed to NATO's nuclear weapons policy and strategy, which includes rejection of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the readiness to use military force without a UN mandate as required by international law, the deployment of troops on the borders against Russia and confrontation also with China. In this way, Finland is helping to intensify the new Cold War and the imperialist ambitions of the US-led alliance. At the same time, membership of NATO increases the risk of being drawn into conflicts of the United States and NATO with other countries, conflicts in which Finland has no part and no stake.
Already the application for membership has led to demands for changes in Finland's foreign policy and human rights policy, with Turkey demanding the removal of barriers to arms exports and the return to Turkey of refugees who claim to be supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party for trial. Joining NATO will also reduce Finland's ability to act as a mediator in conflicts and a peace-builder.

Parliament's decision to apply for NATO membership was taken in great haste, with the fear of war and without examining the possibilities and benefits of continuing on the path of military non-alignment. Unlike all the other Nordic countries, Parliament did not even set any conditions for membership. All the parties in Parliament were in favour of joining NATO. The majority of Left Alliance representatives even blessed the decisions, which went against the party's programme. Finland's decision to join NATO also put pressure on Sweden to renounce non-alignment.

For peace

The CPF continues to campaign against NATO membership and reminds that Parliament still has the opportunity to reject NATO membership.

Even if NATO membership were to become a reality, we will continue to call for withdrawal from NATO and a return to military non-alignment. We must return from a security policy based on arms, NATO and nuclear deterrence to a policy of peace.

Even if Finland were a member of NATO, we demand a foreign and security policy of our own, the essential starting points of which are as follows:

  • Neither nuclear weapons nor NATO troops and bases must be brought to Finland.
  • Finnish troops must only be deployed abroad for peacekeeping missions authorised by the UN. The arrival of peacekeepers must be accepted by all parties.
  • Finland must not allow any other country or NATO to use our territory for hostile purposes against other countries.
  • Finland must join the UN Treaty banning nuclear weapons and actively promote disarmament.
  • Finland must remain aloof from NATO-Russia conflicts and superpower conflicts and will not participate in the US-led alliance against China.
  • Finland must maintain a proper dialogue with Russia, for example to end the war in Ukraine, support Russian anti-war activists and seek to maintain civil society contacts with Russia. Finland should not blame ordinary Russian people for the crimes of President Putin's regime.
  • Finland must contribute to opening up prospects of a return to economic and other cooperation with Russia when the military action is ended, instead of continuing with endless sanctions.

The CPF will continue the tradition of the anti-war and anti-militarist workers' movement. At the same time, we are involved in building the broadest possible common front against war, NATO and the arms race. A peace opposition is needed to counter the hysteria of war and the preparations for war, fear and hatred. Here the peace organisations and the extension of peace work in the trade union movement have a key role to play.

Now is the time for peace policy initiatives and the strengthening of the anti-war movement!

The Communist Party of Finland