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No military bases of imperialism on our territory!

27. March 2007

The KSM struggles against US military base in the Czech Republic

The Communist Youth Union (KSM) in the Czech Republic has launched before parliamentary elections in summer 2006 as the first organization in the country a campaign against a plan to construct a US military missile base in the Czech Republic which should be a part of the missile defence system of the USA. Negotiations about this plan were started by the government of the USA and government of the Czech Republic led by social democratic party in secrecy several years before information about them were published thanks to MPs of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. The KSM subsequently started its struggle against this plan and was gradually joined by a number of organizations.

The KSM leads its campaign against the US military base on two lines: 1/ the KSM organizes its own communist campaign together with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and a couple of other civic associations and 2/ the KSM actively participates in a wider initiative called “No to military bases” which is a politically more diverse coalition of forces.

The situation in the Czech Republic was after the mentioned parliamentary elections very complicated. After 7 months of political crisis without a government backed by majority in the parliament, new majority right-wing government led by a strongest right-wing political party in the country – Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has been installed.

It is relevant to mention that the government of the USA waited until the right-wing government led by the ODS gained majority in the House of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic to announce officially its decision to ask the Czech Republic’s government for agreement with building of the US military base in the country. This announcement of the USA government was published just SEVERAL MINUTES after the Czech right-wing government received majority support in the parliament (winning 2 of social democratic MPs).

The KSM demanded in its campaign publication of all the documents of the secret negotiations about the plan to construct the US military base in the country, resolutely opposed this plan and asked for the referendum on this crucial issue concerning the whole country and all its inhabitants.

The position of the relevant political parties to the question of the US military base and to the referendum on this matter differs significantly. The right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) refuses the democratic institution of referendum generally, states that the people are not competent to decide about questions of national security like this crucial issue and eagerly struggles for the interests of the USA to show its loyalty to its ally. Another government right-centrist party Christian Democratic Party – Czechoslovak People’s Party has not engaged itself so visibly in this issue but generally supports the line followed by the ODS. The third ruling party – the Green Party which originally advocated institution of referendum in its pre-elections expressions very vehemently and profiled itself as a non-militarist political party dropped its previous promises which attracted a significant number of especially young people and together with its anticommunism preferred its government position to choose in result an unprincipled stance supporting the US base under a precondition that the US base should be officially part of a NATO system. The position of the Green Party in the Czech Republic on the issue of military bases as well as its anticommunist behaviour makes this political party an object of critical views of its foreign Green fellow-parties. Also positions of the Czech Social Democratic Party concerning the issue of the US military base are worthy a more detailed comment. The negotiations about the plan to construct a US military base in the Czech Republic were started during the period of the government led by social democrats. Also chairman of the social democratic party Jiri Paroubek after his initial unclear statements declared that he would support the US base in the country. Nevertheless, when the social democratic party was ousted of the power it officially declared a negative attitude to the US military base plan and supported the idea of referendum on the issue. Simultaneously, significant voices from inside of the social democratic party speak out in favour of the construction of the US military base. Generally it may be summed up that the social democratic party’s position was determined by its non/government position and followed a logic of maximalization of its political capital using in the situation when a vast majority of society opposes the US military base plan its new opposition position to win political points. The only consistent opponent of the US military base is the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia which also proposed a bill on the referendum on the US military base which was nevertheless defeated in the parliament. The attitude to the demand of a national referendum documents the real attitude to democracy of relevant political parties in the Czech Republic where the Communist Party is in debates repeatedly accused by the other political parties of its alleged lack of democratic character – an argument which is instrumentally used as a tool for delegitimization of their principal political opponent.

There have been also demands to organize local referenda on the issue of the US military base in the municipalities which are potential neighbours of the US military base. Such a referendum has been organized in the municipality of Trokavec where a vast majority of its inhabitants opposed the US military base plan. It is also relevant to mention that in 3 out of 4 municipalities in the close neighbourhood of potential US military base the mayors are representatives of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia.

Originally the official plan was to build the US military base either in the Czech Republic or in Poland. Later the plan was modified, as it was presented because of a strong opposition to the plan of the mobilized public opinion in the Czech Republic where cca. 80% of the people refuse the US military base in their country. The new proposal was to build a missile base in Poland and a radar base as a part of this military base in the Czech Republic.

The KSM’s anti-base campaign has been very successful. The KSM has organized a number of public protests, demonstrations, debates with citizens and also a very successful petition under which 80 000 signatures have been gathered so far. This is a great success taking into consideration that it is a petition organized by the KSM – an organization of young people which has been officially dissolved by the state. (A parallely organized petition of the large initiative “No to military bases” has so far gathered 20 000 signatures.). The work of the KSM among the people on the streets is important also because it shows them that this banned youth organization struggles in the front line for concrete demands of majority of them.

Radim Gonda
Vice-chairman of the KSM
Czech Republic