Hundreds of peace activists and members of left-wing organizations took to the streets across Europe over the past few days, protesting the Trident Juncture 18 NATO military exercises that are scheduled to be held in Norway from October 25-November 7. In Trondheim in Norway, activists raised slogans such as “time for peace, time for peace,” during an event organized by the Communist Party of Norway (NKP), Communist Youth of Norway, Socialist Left Party, Red Party etc.
Following the protest, a meeting was held to deliberate on the fight against imperialism. The conference was attended by delegates from the Communist Party of Sweden (SKP), the Communist Party in Denmark (KPiD), the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the German Communist Party (DKP).
In Athens, on October 23, thousands of people participated in a rally organized by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its youth wing in Athens against the presence of US-NATO bases in Greece. The demonstrators demanded the closure of all foreign military bases and the return of all Greek soldiers who participate in NATO missions abroad. Marches also took place in other major cities of Greece, including Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis, Chania, Volos, Patras, Kalamata, Corfu and Kilkis.
The Trident Juncture 18 (TRJE18), is expected to be the largest exercise of its kind in Norway since the 1980s. As many as 50,000 participants from 31 NATO and partner countries are expected to participate, Around 250 aircraft, 65 vessels and up to 10,000 vehicles will be deployed. The exercise will be held in central and eastern Norway, and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Seas, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden.
This exercise and the complicity of European governments has raised the hackles of European activists. While addressing the protesters, KKE general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said, “The SYRIZA-ANEL government in Greece serves the interests of monopoly groups and promotes their plans in the broader region”.
He added, “Alongside NATO, the EU is also moving towards militarization, ..The decision of the Trump government to withdraw from the nuclear arms treaty between the US and the Soviet Union shows how competition between the imperialist centers has dangerously escalated,” he added.
According to a report in the Greek newspaper Rizospastis, sailors deployed on the frigate, Navarinon, and the Fast Attack Craft Ritsos – vessels which are frequently sent for NATO drills and missions – were among those who condemned the country’s involvement in NATO activities in the region.
For Norway too, the exercise comes at a key moment in the country’s history. As part of a recent agreement, Norway permitted the deployment of 700 American marines on the border with Russia for 5 years. This marks a clear divergence from traditional Norwegian policy which did not allow the establishment of permanent foreign military bases on its territory. Reports state that a fear-mongering campaign initiated by the right-wing over supposed Russian threats swayed a significant section of Norwegians in favor of the military exercises.
The Communist Party of Norway has called for another round of protests in Oslo on October 27.