The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was present at the Conference, represented by cde Ilias Baltas, who delivered the following intervention:
“Dear friends and comrades,
Let me first of all thank the World Peace Council and the “Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals” for organizing and inviting the WFTU to this very important conference on the occasion of the 15 years since the NATO aggression against the peoples of Yugoslavia in 1999 that paved the way for later imperialist aggressions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali and the threats today against the Syrian people. The imperialist aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999 and its detrimental impact on the peoples in the region and on world peace is a crime that should neither be forgiven, nor forgotten.
Let me start with an assessment expressed during the latest session of the WFTU Presidential Council of the WFTU, held in Rome, Italy last month. Today, when the capitalist financial crisis that hit all developed capitalist countries has dramatically worsened the situation for the working class in all aspects of their lives. In all countries and continents, the capitalists the monopolies, taking advantage of the world capitalist crisis, accelerate the anti-workers measures they had elaborated long before with the aim to extort bigger surplus value. In all continents and regions, the policies aiming to an “exit from the crisis” elaborated by capitalist governments, no matter the name or the composition of the parties governing, and the international imperialist mechanisms (IMF, World Bank, European Central Bank etc.) have as a main prerequisite very low wages and salaries, their constant decrease, less workers and union rights, unemployment, state and employer sponsored terrorism, oppression and increase of the exploitation rate for the youth, especially of the children of the working class
On the international arena, the financial crisis generates big overturns and shakings of the imperialist system. It intensifies international rivalries and creates a shift in the correlations of economic power. As the global capitalism is getting deeper into the international capitalist crisis, facing its own contradictions, the competition of life and death among the large monopoly groups is intensifying. This means that the imperialist aggressiveness, aiming at the exploitation of natural and economic resources and energy transfer routes becomes more ruthless. This means new wars and imperialist aggression against the people. The imperialist interventions against the people of Syria, in Mali, Libya, Central African Republic, Ukraine, confirm the assessment that there are risks of generalized warfare.
The imperialists try to fool the people, hiding their real goals under the hypocritical covers of lies, misinformation, numerous appeals for “freedom”, “democracy”, “justice”, “fight against terrorism” etc.
Their pretexts are totally hypocritical. The NATO and the EU countries bombed Libya, now they threaten Syria, under the pretext of “democracy”, while on the same time the US and its allies have excellent relations with the oppressive regimes of the Gulf Monarchies, while they try to destabilize democratically elected governments –like in Venezuela- or supporting coups d’ etat (see Honduras), even creating alliances with nazi and fascist forces like in the recent case of Ukraine. The US and the NATO led the “war against terror”, while still keeping in prison Cuban patriots for fighting against terrorism. Here in Serbia, the imperialist aggression led to the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the illegal secession of Kosovo, in the name of “freedom”. At the same time in Palestine, the USA with their unbridled support for Israel, which occupies most of the Palestinian territory, deprive Palestinians of their freedom and independence, of the right to be sovereign nation, a fact that has cost thousands of lives to the Palestinian brothers and sisters and with the consequent destruction of almost all the national territory.
International law is –in these cases- flexible and relevant. Today, international law is shaped, interpreted and applied according to the needs of the powerful, according to the plans and alliances of the imperialists and the international monopolies. UN Resolutions, international conventions and international laws have no meaning when they are inconvenient for the plans of the imperialists. Their violation by the imperialist governments bears no consequences. For example, the UN has voted various and repeated resolutions on Palestine, on Cyprus, for the end of the criminal US blockade against the people of Cuba. But up to today, the imperialists attitude has not changed.
Imperialist wars, imperialist aggression and interventions of every kind are always against the workers and the peoples, generating new suffering for them. Millions of people are fleeing as migrants and thousands get killed, among them children and non combatant civilians. The workers have no common interests with the imperialists or the bourgeoisie of their countries. So, they have nothing to gain from their wars and rivalries.
The WFTU takes sides. It takes the side of the working class and simple people in every country. It is the duty of the WFTU, of the international class oriented trade union movement to inform workers, tell them the truth about who’s to blame for this dire situation.
The WFTU is a class oriented, anti-imperialist, internationalist organization, which fights for the interests of the working class, for peace and friendship -not between social classes- but among the workers and the peoples of the world, against imperialist wars. We strongly defend the right of every people to decide for themselves on their present and future.
In this framework, the WFTU, along with its affiliates in the 5 continents, representing more than 86 million unionized workers, organize various activities (protests, conferences, international campaigns) to raise awareness within the workers and the trade union movement and express our solidarity with the people who suffer because of imperialism, against imperialist interventions of any kind. These events are spread all over the world, in America, Asia, Africa, even in Europe where our forces are still smaller.
The WFTU has always expressed its solidarity with the peoples that were affected by imperialism, denouncing the imperialist wars in Lybia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic, while, other so called workers representatives –like the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC- have even expressed their support, like in the cases of Mali, Libya, siding with the imperialists arguments for “democracy” and “international law”… The WFTU has, also, been a stable friend and ally of the Palestinian people, in their cause for an independent viable state, a stable supporter of the Cuban people in their fight against imperialist aggression of the US, who maintains the criminal blockade against Cuba and imprisoned the 5 Cuban patriots. We solidarize with the people of Cyprus, the people of Venezuela and their respective struggles against imperialism. We have undertaken various initiatives to support all those causes.
Dear friends, dear comrades,
There is no reason why the workers and our peoples should live in poverty, experience imperialist wars, destruction, torment, capitalist exploitation, lack of proper public healthcare and education. The WFTU calls for the unity of the workers on the world for their own class interests, their alliance with the poor farmers, the self-employed, the women, the youth and their fight for social justice, against imperialism and war and against the causes that generate these wars and the suffering for the peoples.
Because, the workers, the working class has to be -also- in the first line of the struggle for peace in the world. And there won’t be a lasting and socially just peace, without the overturning of the last exploitation system of the human history, the capitalist system, if we don’t end the exploitation of man by man.”