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Speech at the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties Lisbon, 10.-12.11.2006

02.12.2006 - 18:33
(updated: 06.06.2016 - 13:48)
First of all I wish to thank the Communist Party of Portugal for having organised this meeting. It is indeed important that Communist and other Left parties collectively assess the present situation, that we exchange experiences, consolidate common actions against war and neo-liberalism and develop alternatives opening prospects to overcome capitalism and moving towards socialism.

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Wars and growing aggressiveness are an expression of the economic, social, political and cultural crisis of capitalism. While more money then ever is spent on the arms’ race - last year roughly 1,000 billion dollars - almost half of the world population has to survive with less then 2 dollars per day. The acceleration of the climate change shows how economic development driven by capitalistic logics represents a threat for the existence of humanity.

The neo-conservative administration of the USA and its allies strive to ensure exploitation, to plunder natural resources and to perpetuate a system based on the dominating position of multinationals by reducing democracy, intensifying brainwashing of public opinion and strengthening militarism both on international level and inside countries. The price for the new spiral of the arms’ race is increased poverty and inequality.

The US administration uses the continuous "war on terror" as a means to impose its control over energy resources and energy markets based on the central position of the US dollar. Instead of acknowledging the disastrous consequences of the occupation wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US government aim at expanding military operations directing them next against Iran and at implementing their imperialist goals of a "Greater Middle-East" in other parts of the region as well as in Central Asia. This region accounts for about two third of the world’s known oil resources. And the number of victims of these wars counts already in millions.

The reactionary US administration has openly proclaimed its intentions to ensure by military means its hegemony, one of the pillars of which is the control over the oil resources in the Middle-East. During the cold war period, military pressures and aggression were justified by means of the "Communist threat". Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, terrorism, in particular the perceived threat of Islamic terrorism, has become the justification. At the same time, the United States, the European Union and Japan are engaged in an accelerating competition with the growing economic powers of Asia and Latin America, such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.

"Preventive wars" are today central political tools of US and NATO strategies. The UN Charter and the principles of International Law have been replaced by the imperialist policy of war. They are being violated in the most blatant way by the invasion of Iraq, the suppression of the rights of the Palestinian people, the continued blockade against Cuba and conspiracies against Venezuela and its Bolivarian revolution. There is an urgent necessity to democratise the United Nations and to free them from the bonds of the US lead imperialist forces.

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The European Union has set itself the goal to become the world’s most competitive economic area by the year 2010. Key role in this connection plays the Lisbon strategy, the implementation of which has also been defined as one of the priorities of the Finnish Presidency.

The EU tries more and more to use the same competitive means as the United States. This entails collective dismissals, dismantling of collective agreements and extensive use of casual labour, targeting in particular youth, immigrants and the sectors employing mainly women. The social security and public services - achievements of the struggle of the labour movement -are weakened and privatised. At the same time, the control over economic, social and trade policies is being concentrated at the Union level. And the militarization of the EU goes ahead in close co-operation with the NATO.

As part of the Lisbon strategy, the European Union aims at consolidating the so-called energetic security, in other words the position of European big corporations on the energy markets of the Middle East and Russia. The energy single market of the European Union is being created, which will speed up the process of the creation of monopolies and lead to the rise of energy prices. As an example of this, one can mention the Nordic electricity stock market, which has generated sky-rocking profits for the energy companies.

The close link between the energy policy of the European Union and the interests of big energy corporations acting at world level can be seen in the fact that the EU criticizes the aspirations of Russia and Venezuela to exercise control over their energy resources by means of State ownership. The interests of big corporations can also be seen in the fact how the objectives of the climate policy under the Finnish Presidency have been linked to the argument of "all countries advancing at the same pace". Thus the reduction of greenhouse gases, where the EU could act as a pioneer, has been coupled to the reactionary line of the US government. At the same time, this means that the needs of developing countries are neglected.

One of the contradictions of the Finnish EU Presidency is evidenced by the fact that at the same time when Finland celebrates 100 years of general and equal suffrage, the government led by the Centre and Social-democratic parties has placed before parliament the ratification of the European Constitutional Treaty, which in the name of competitiveness and freedom of capital ignores the democratic and social rights gained as a result of struggles of the working people. Majority of Finnish people are against the ratification and this is why the government is not ready to have even a referendum about the Constitution.

Another contradiction is the fact that during the first Presidency of a military non-aligned Finland it was decided to establish the EU battle groups and that now, during the second Finnish Presidency, these battle groups are being deployed. Even the majority of Left and Green members of parliament voted in favour of a change of legislation allowing for Finnish battle groups to join EU and NATO led operations, if needed without UN mandate. The Finnish government decided a short while ago that the troops will start exercising with the NATO rapid deployment forces. Moreover, for the first time after the Second World War, Finnish air forces will be equipped with offensive weapons and these weapons will be purchased from the USA.

The Communist Party of Finland is against the European Constitution and the militarization of the EU. During the Finnish Presidency we have organized together with many other left and progressive forces a series of demonstrations for another kind of Europe - a democratic, peaceful Europe that is larger than the EU and where the well-being of human beings and nature is more important than the free market of capital. During the ASEM-summit in Helsinki we organized an international demonstration and seminar, too. We oppose the proposals, made by right wing and some social-democratic leaders, that Finland should join the NATO.

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The antiwar movement, the struggles of the trade union movement, the demonstrations by students, the social forums or, for instance demonstrations on the climate change presently organised all over the world show that neo-liberalism and capitalist globalisation generate resistance.

Today protecting workers’ rights is intrinsically linked with the struggle against neo-liberal politics, against power structures like the European Union and against the transnational corporations. It is by joining forces locally, nationally and internationally that the labour movement, the antiwar movement and the new social movements can open up the door for a different development. That is why the question of democracy is in the centre of the notion of socialism in the beginning of the 21st century. It is equally indispensable to create a new type of model for economic development, which is socially and ecologically sustainable.

The progress made by the Left forces in Latin American countries shows that there is no need to surrender even if after the collapse of European real socialism the international balance of forces changed in favour of imperialism. The Left forces of Latin America have also challenged the free trade ideology promoted by the US and the EU. The ALBA agreement launched by Cuba and Venezuela offers an example of an alternative way of integration, based upon equality, social justice and struggle against poverty.

The Communist Party of Finland considers essential to develop the cooperation between Communist and Left parties. Gatherings such as this one play an important role in this connection. We need, in addition to our common discussions and statements, to coordinate our political struggle and to build common campaigns. We also need more cooperation and forums on Marxist theory. Our party participates as observer in the activity of the European Left Party and we hope that it could become an All-European forum for cooperation. We think it is important that Communists take initiatives in movements such as the social forums in order to build a culture of a new type of discussion and cooperation between the Left, the trade union movement and the new civic movements.

Workers’ internationalism and anti-imperialist solidarity are our response to the efforts of capitalists to make workers’ of different countries compete against each other as to who produces at lower costs. This is our response to the Right wing efforts to spread war, racism, nationalism and euro nationalism.

The present course, neo-liberalism and imperialism lead towards greater inequalities, barbarity and destruction. We believe that a different world is possible. It’s a new type of socialism, based on the activity of working and oppressed people, a socialism that has learned its lessons and responds to the challenges of the third millennium.

Yrjö Hakanen, Chairman of the Communist Party of Finland