REPRESENTATIVES of peace organisations from 13 countries gathered in London at the weekend for the annual European meeting of the World Peace Council (WPC).
It was hosted this year by the British Peace Assembly (BPA), a WPC affiliate. The BPA and the regional co-ordinator, the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation, jointly chaired the discussions.
The meeting at the Marx Memorial Library opened with an address by guest speaker Jamshid Ahmadi, who is the WPC vice-president and president of the Association for the defence of Peace, Solidarity and Democracy in Iran.
He told his audience that "the Middle East is currently facing a nightmare situation brought about by the US administration's withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran."
Mr Ahmadi emphasised that this has encouraged the Israeli government to attack targets in Syria, hoping to provoke a response from Tehran and start a proxy war that will eventually engulf the whole Middle East.
WPC executive secretary lraklis Tsavdaridis set the campaigning of the affiliated European organisations in the context of the council's work as a whole.
Representatives from Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey then shared reports and analysis of the evolving situation in Europe and internationally.
They also discussed the activities of their organisations and how to implement the action plan adopted by the WPC executive in Hanoi, Vietnam, in November 2017.
There was particular focus on the part to be played by European affiliates in the WPC "Yes to Peace! No to Nato!" campaign, including in Brussels to coincide with the Belgian capital hosting the forthcoming summit of the Western military alliance in mid-July.
US Peace Council representative Bahman Azad updated the meeting on the development of the Global Coalition Against US/Nato Military Bases. Those present agreed to give full support to this campaign, opposing the existence of all such bases and calling for their closure. They also agreed to support the campaign's plans to hold an international conference on this theme.
The Cyprus Peace Council stressed the importance of the renewed campaign against the British bases on the island and the part they are playing in military interventions in the region.
The delegate from Cyprus called for the BPA to support this campaign and also urged participation in the peace march at the British base of Akrotiri on June 10.
Originally published in the Morning Star on Tuesday, May 29 2018.