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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Une mobilisation pacifiste s’impose

by Gaël De Santis

A Pacifist Mobilisation Imposes Itself

Translated Wednesday 1 April 2009, by Nikita Shah and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Arielle Denis is Co-President of the Peace Movement and leader of the NATO-Afghanistan group.

How does the Peace Movement react to the festivities for the sixtieth anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to have France integrated into its leadership?

Denis: Almost a year ago the President of the Republic evoked the possibility of France’s return to NATO’s head command. Integration into the Atlantic alliance is not new. France is a big contributor to it. It supplies 6% of the organisation’s budget. And its presence is important at the time of military interventions.

Integration is the sign of a determined, ideological will. Firstly, France wishes to align itself with what Nicolas Sarkozy calls the ‘Western family’. That is to say, formalising membership with one specific side. Secondly, the organisation of a NATO summit at a moment when the matter of European dynamics is in debate is not born out of innocence. It is about anchoring the European Union (UE) in the Atlantic alliance.

We have here two extremely dangerous signs with regard to the rest of the world. And that burdens the new chances of a multilateralist development, above all with the defeat of the neoconservatives in the United States of America. With the all-out expansion of membership, we have a less and less camouflaged substitution of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) by NATO. NATO, the armed wing of globalisation and the big powers, will become the place where the security of the world is decided.

In preparation for the April 4th protest in Strasbourg against the NATO summit, you have launched a cycle of public meetings. What do they bring to the fore?

Denis: With the group of organisations against NATO, we realised that information within the population was very partial. There is the need for debate about NATO and matters of security. These are organised by local groups. The more the campaign develops, the more people there are.

Whilst the National Assembly discusses France’s participation in NATO’s integrated head command, we have launched a cyber letter campaign to the Members of Parliament (1). And a gathering will take place today at 2.30pm. We will be received by all political groups. We will try to bring pressure to bear that will amount to censure of the government.

How do you interpret the fact that this is a debate on France’s foreign policy, and not specifically the more pushed-for integration into NATO?

Denis: This debate scares the President. Additionally, Nicolas Sarkozy put a stick in our wheel when it came to the organisation of a counter-summit in Strasbourg on April 4th. Millions of Euros were spent, cameras installed, trees cut in order to guarantee security. Public places will be closed, and 40,000 soldiers will be deployed. But with more than 500 organisations, we have the willpower to protest in Strasbourg. There will be a lot of Germans. A train will be chartered from London, two planes from Greece. The Kurds, the Turks, the Austrians and the Belgians will be present. There will be Afghans and Pakistanis, the United States Peace Movement. And protests will be held from Istanbul to Washington.

(1) Meet on www.mvtpaix.org

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