Interview with Iraklis Tsavdaridis-World Peace Council

Iraklis Tsavdaridis talks to Liberation about the enduring resilience, relevance and reach of a popular international organisation founded after World War II under the slogan ‘No More War, No More Fascism’

The recent 22nd Assembly of the World Peace Council – in Hanoi, Vietnam, in November 2022 – has been acclaimed as a great success by those who attended. What is the nature of that success and how, in your view, was it achieved?

The XXII Assembly of the World Peace Council (WPC) was held with extra-ordinary success and
with the participation of more than 100 delegates from over 50 countries, representing anti-imperialist peace movements and organisations, invited national and international organisations.

After the necessary adjustments we had to do during the Covid-19 Pandemic, it was the first big international in-person meeting in excellent conditions provided by our host organisation, the Vietnam Peace Committee. The second element
of success was that we had managed to hold four regional consultative meetings prior to the assembly in Portugal, Bangladesh, Cuba and Amman respectively, which allowed the better preparations overall.

Thirdly, our Assembly was a self-financed event, since the WPC is genuinely “non-governmental” since we do not
receive any direct or indirect governmental funding, neither from institutions nor from “millionaire NGOs” who are tend to white-wash the imperialist crimes of their sponsors. The WPC relies on the support of the members and
friends of the WPC who are struggling together for a World of genuine peace and social Justice.

Last but not least, the rich deliberations during the Assembly were held in smooth and fraternal atmosphere and the conclusions were unanimous, while a new collective leadership (Executive Committee and Secretariat) was elected with a new Presidential Organisation from India and Pallab Sengupta as President of the WPC.

Next year (2024) we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the World Peace Council. To what extent, if at all, have its key objectives changed in that time and what is its key focus today?

The WPC was founded in 1949 right after the end of the Second World War on the ashes of Europe and after the liberation from Fascism and Nazism by peace loving forces, the resistance of the peoples and the great contribution of the Soviet Union and its Red Army. The slogan of the founding days was “No more War-No more Fascism”. From those days till today the WPC has always remained committed on the side of the poor and the oppressed. There was no just cause and liberation struggle for which the WPC did not stand up firmly mobilizing its members and friends. And so we are doing also today. The “enemies of peace” are powerful and waging regional wars, occupation, interference in domestic affairs of sovereign countries, coups d’etat but also carrying out economic wars, sanctions and illegal coercive measures in order to boost the profits and serve the interests of the big capital and the multinational corporations.

For example, the WPC was against NATO since it was founded in 1949, denouncing it till today as the armed wing of imperialism and today we have a firm and clear anti-imperialist position towards and against the European Union which goes hand in hand with the USA and NATO in many corners of the world, despite internal antagonisms.

When the international correlation of forces changed dramatically in 1991 many people and even friends thought the WPC would not have any future. As we approach our 75th anniversary next year we can only underline that the WPC proved and reaffirmed its existence and struggle constituting a necessary tool in the hands of the peace movement and the peoples struggling for their just causes till today.

Why was it so significant that the 22nd Assembly was held in Vietnam?

Vietnam and its Peace Committee is a prestigious historical member of the WPC. The first President of the Vietnam Peace Committee (VPC) in 1950 was the legendary Ho Chi Minh himself. Given the objectively difficult conditions in which this Assembly took place, we have to underline that very few organisations can carry out what the VPC delivered by hosting our Assembly. The high prestige and respect the Vietnamese people gained from the multiple fights and struggles against powerful invaders from Japan in the past, from the French colonialists later and finally from the US imperialists, remains till today a source of inspiration for the peoples and their movements in the world.

Vietnam, being a peaceful nation, defeated the most powerful enemies in defence of their freedom and dignity, united under the banners of the Communist Party of Vietnam, for their right to determine alone their destiny and future. The brave people of Vietnam paid a high price for its freedom and are facing the consequences of the dirty US war against Vietnam till today. The delegates and participants of the WPC assembly had thus the opportunity to learn and get to know the history of the people and country in favour of which previous generations in dozens of countries mobilized and demonstrated.

In what ways does the WPC benefit from the experience of organisations simultaneously fighting for peace in more than 90 countries?

The internationalist solidarity was and is an important tool and “weapon” in the hands of the peoples. Through the WPC and its members in dozens of countries and with their cooperation with the organized popular and labour movement in those countries, we coordinate efforts, campaigns and take initiatives on a mass level in order to raise conscience about the root causes for wars, misery, hunger and unemployment, for the millions of victims of imperialist wars and aggression.

We strongly believe that the problems and challenges of the vast majority of humanity on the planet have common roots and if the social and political forces who act against the interests of the peoples unite and coordinate, then we have to do the same in order to reveal, fight back and defeat those forces.

What are the most urgent things that the WPC and its member organisations must do at the present time to pull the peoples of the world back from the brink of nuclear war and devastation?

Today, given existing weaponry, a new war of unprecedented proportions, more destructive than the two world wars of the 20th century, there can only be one outcome – the destruction of humanity as we know it. It is therefore more urgent than ever before to defend such principles as the peoples’ right to self-determination, national sovereignty, and independence; non-interference in the domestic affairs of states; peaceful resolution of international conflicts; an end to all forms of national oppression; disarmament; the dissolution of political-military blocs; and cooperation among the peoples and countries for a world of peace and emancipation and for humanity’s progress.

Global capitalism’s relentless drive for profit results in devastation of the natural environment through depletion of resources, pollution of the land and water, and global climate change. This indiscriminate destruction ruins the lives of billions of people, displaces millions around the world, and threatens the survival of the entire human race. The bulk of the environmental crisis has been caused by the economic activities of the richest countries, which refuse to bear their full share of responsibility.

The WPC, in accordance with its character, does not support wars for forced redistribution of natural
resources, markets and spheres of influence amongst big capitalist powers for their geopolitical interests,
attempting to change borders and impose their rule over the peoples, including by means of violent regime change, through controlling the corporate media and manipulation of peoples’ ability to access information and analysis. We denounce the foreign debt and the conditions that are imposed on the people as a great obstacle to peace and to facing up to climate change, as well as preventing the exercise of sovereign policies for the well-being of the people.

Iraklis Tsavdaridis is Executive Secretary of the WPC and representative of the Greek Committee for International Détente and Peace (EEDYE) at the WPC. He was leadership member of KNE, the youth wing of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and elected President of World Federation of Democratic Youth from 1999-2003. Since 2004, he has been Executive Secretary of WPC, a full-time task. This involves the running of the Secretariat of the WPC at its Headquarters in Athens.

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